Monday, December 17, 2012

Isaiah 55:8-13

Jesus, come quickly.

Never in my life have I ever said those words. Normally, I say Jesus give me more time – more time to love, more time to share, more time to shine my light, more of You…Jesus tells us that for everything, there is a season. Jesus tells us that the time is now to find Him. Jesus tells us that we are salt and light. Jesus tells us that we should be a light unto the world. Jesus tells us that he wants NONE to perish – but all to have everlasting life. For me. For now. Jesus come. How can our hearts carry this burden? How can our hearts carry this fear of uncertainty? Jesus tells us He will restore us...but Jesus, come now and come quickly because the time between now and our restoration in You seems a million lifetimes away.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

Jesus tells me in the space between awake and asleep that I was made for times as these. He tells me to let Him in. He tells me to surrender. And while I would love to say He always wins, He doesn’t. And while I would love to say that I am always obedient, I’m not. He tells me to have faith – to TRUST Him – wholly, entirely, selfishly even – because that type of love gives way to His. That type of love makes His ways, my ways; makes His command to go out and speak Truth, my ability. Such a place as this is hard – but we need it for times such as these. We are the sowers, the spreaders, the shepherds, the seed… but most of all we are the sheep ourselves. We are to follow our one master and not stray. We are to TRUST Him – that his ways are above our ways, that his thoughts above our thoughts … because the only way to make it through times as these is to believe that. The only way to make it through times as these is to TRUST that His purpose prevails and while our hearts feel as though they may shatter, the truth is that He stands beside us guiding every tear to water a perfect fruit of our sadness… a perfect fruit - ripe for His picking and His glory.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

And from the solitude of our despair, we pick up the ashes of our desperate hearts and we bring it to Him. Blowing the ashes, scattering them across the desert to the furthest point where the sky and the sand meet…and He is there. In ALL the spaces and ALL the gaps between where you can see and where you are. In His eyes you watch the desert turn to garden. The blooms revealing colors you haven’t seen in a while and the fragrance of spring renewing your mind. The mountains that spring up from the flat, weary surface remind you that there IS a person who LIVES inside you. She has a purpose. He has a plan. She has a broken heart. He repairs it, one ash at a time. He promises that weeping endures for the night, but joy does come in the morning. He promises renewal. He promises endurance in Him. He promises a new song for her growing broken heart. He only asks her to Trust.

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever."


Sunday, December 16, 2012

As a Nation, As a Mom...

As a nation, we grieve.

As a nation, we mourn.

As a nation, we band together and pray.

As a nation, we weep.

As a nation, we are speechless.

As a nation, we cannot fathom.

As a nation, we have no answers.

As a nation, we lament.

As a Mom...I do all these things and more.

As a Mom, I push impatience aside and remember the Mom who would hear a lifetime of whining for one more I love you.

As a Mom, I search for signs of upset and fear on my own babies faces because they are right in front of me and I am afriad they can see my heart.

As a Mom, I second guess my decision to be where I am and have what I have because I wonder if the risk will outweigh the benefit.

As a Mom, I knit my heart with other Moms - and while my sense of loss pales in comparison to theirs, this community of mothers feels each loss in their core.

As a Mom, my compassion alternates between tears of anger and tears of joy that these special children each were a gift to this world, and that gift is everlasting.

As a Mom, I look to my faith to help me understand. My heart says - if I grieve this much, how much MORE does He grieve this loss? My heart says - "Do not be afraid, I am with You."... My heart says - just be still and know that He is God...

As a Mom, I know that one thing is certain. That my God sits on His throne and He is sovereign above all. He loves. He creates. He gives and He takes away. He is our safety, our refuge, and bottles all our tears. As a Mom, I pray that the Mom's whose arms are empty tonight can rest in this truth.

As a nation, we stand - under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Join me in prayer for the hurting families. It does not matter what your religion is, how active you are, your past, your present..what matters is that we can join together. Jesus says that when two or more are gathered in His name, we will hear from heaven. Let the families affected by this tragedy hear from heaven. Please join  me in the shout.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Empty Me

I have this index card on my desk that has a quote from one of the email devotionals that waits for me every morning when I get to work. It reads:

"The moment our hearts are emptied of pride, selfishness, ambition, and everything that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the spirit of God. We must be emptied before we are filled"


I avoid this index card even though it is taped along the bottom of my monitor and written in faded blue ink. It's followed me from desk to desk offering the same message that my heart does not want to hear.

You see, I struggle with pride, selfishness, and ambition. Daily. It's a fine line between feeling satisfied at a job well done and proud of an accomplishment. It's a fine line between working hard to get what you want and working only to get what you want. It's a fine line between going after a goal and being driven by ambition.

This index card challenges me more than any other words on a page. When I reflect on them, I find myself wondering, was I humble enough? Were my motivations right? Did I leave room for God to be glorified? Did I give God the glory or did I think, in my mere mind, that I was the one responsible for ANY of the success I found?

We must be emptied before we are filled.... but who wants to run to empty? I do it with my gas tank because I am lazy...but I often kick myself in the behind because I end up having to get gas at the most inconvenient times for the most outrageous price. It is so easy to see how we err, isn't it? But as easy as it is, it is equally as hard to correct our bad behavior. Most of it is impulsive, isn't it? Its like a child that you say no repeatedly to that is still drawn to their offense. Uncontrollable.

Pride, selfishness, and ambition are necessary for worth - I am absolutely sure... but how much of it do we need to strike a balance? I suppose that answer is different for everyone. I could spend time trying to answer it here, but it might only apply to me.

I have sat by a friend who hit absolute rock bottom - a friend who was proud, a wee bit selfish, and definitely full of ambition. This friend was hollowed out by grief, pain, loss, uncertainty, hopelessness ... The shell that stood, lamenting, next to me felt as though it would shatter at the slightest whisper of air. In this brokenness, in this emptying of pride, selfishness, and ambition, the Holy Spirit swooped in and turned moaning into shouts of joy. Oh how He loves us.

Our God is a God of second and third and fourth and infinite chances. He wants us to be able to glorify Him - and so what He does is allow us to be emptied so that all we have is Him, His word, and His promise. When we accept this, when we lean into this and use it as a crutch to take the next step, then He weeps tears of joy and celebrates the victory. He has made us more than conquerors - we are His friends, His disciples, His missionaries, His heart of praise and worship. On the upside of it all, He allows us to be blessed to a measure that is bigger than our hearts desire - which makes us humble and full of awe - which makes us shout from rooftops what our God has done for us even when we don't necessarily deserve it.

Empty yourselves, friends. It may be easy for some, hard for others...but the glory of the goodness of our God will fill your hearts - every single corner. Trust Him.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bumper Sticker: Never Satisfied

HIIII!!! I missed you, pruned branches blog!!! Let's get reacquainted, shall we?

A while back, I saw this bumper sticker while sitting in traffic on the highway. The bumper sticker read "NEVER SATISFIED" ... I found it ironic that the person who chose this sort of proclamation also drove an old Ford Escort hatchback. I wondered if that bumper sticker was there because of the car or because the person driving the car truly was never satisfied. As we crawled along, inch by inch by mile, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Back and forth my heart went wondering about the person in the car. Sad to say, I never caught up to them to take a sneak peek (and no, I'm not the only person to look at people while they drive by!) but I did spend some time imagining who they were.

Perhaps I would've seen an overweight woman  - she is never satisfied and uses food to fill the desire she has deep, deep in her heart. Perhaps I would've seen a young college aged girl - one who is never satisfied despite the fact that her parents worked hard at saving for her education and can't understand why they grumbled at paying $40 for a cotton tshirt with a store's logo on it. Perhaps I would've seen a hard working man who is acting passive aggressive towards his wife and alluding to the fact that he works his tail off only to feel like it's never enough for her. Maybe a high school boy slapped that bumper sticker on his Escort to tell the world that this wasn't it for him - the Escort will one day be a Mercedes or better because he is driven enough to work hard enough for it.

Never satisfied.

While speculating about the Escort's ghost driver, I was struck with a healthy (but heavy) dose of conviction. Why would this be interesting to me? Why would I care so much about it? Know why? Because I am one who struggles with this.  I think the term struck so close to home because I find myself there, ... more often than I care to admit if I'm being honest. I can't tell you how many times I have thought "if I only, if we could just, why can't we have/do/see/experience?" Instead of reveling in the blessings in my life, I spend more energy thinking about and looking at the things I don't have. What am I trying to do by doing that? What could I possibly gain? The things of this world will one day decay and be destroyed by moths and rust - why do I covet them? Why do I look to find fulfillment in them? Why do I look to be satisfied by them?

In truth, TRUE satisfaction is something our hearts feel when we've done something according to God's will. If He calls, and we answer, our hearts are satisfied. Our hearts feel full to bursting with the joy of our Lord. What this bumper sticker taught me was that if we really allow ourselves to be His hands and feet; and if we allow ourselves to live out His will for our lives, then we will be satisfied with the most satisfying satisfaction (say that three times fast!). There is no comparable measure on earth to a God-satisfied heart.

So... if we measure our satisfaction through our God-satisfied heart, we will find that food nor things will ever compare; nor will anything of this world ever satisfy you so fully and wholly. Look to God, and not anywhere else, to find satisfaction. His words taste better than any meal and His kingdom is worth more than any earthly gain.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you. ~Psalm 63:2-5

Monday, June 25, 2012

Head vs. Heart, Round 1

Ahhhhhh *sigh* ... FINALLY a chance to sit and write. I don't like to put writing on the back burner, but life DOES move at the speed of light. School has ended - I officially have a Kindergartner and a SECOND grader...and the baby will be starting preschool in a few short months. Can someone explain this? Please?

Anyway - I've been thinking a lot about the battle of the head versus the battle of the heart. I think that most of us will use both when making decisions.  I know that I can say that I am not usually a "follow your heart" kind of girl...and I'm usually not a "follow your head" kind of girl...I am sure that the circumstance that I face dictates how I react.

 In my devotional time recently, I was reminded of this scripture "love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind" Mt. 22:37. I was struck at the fact that we are commanded to first love Him with our heart... and last with our mind. Our hearts are irrational and deceitful, yet it is our hearts that hold the capacity to understand feelings that words cannot express. Our hearts are capable of hate and wickedness and gossip, yet are full of compassion and love and understanding. To say our hearts are complex is an understatement. Our hearts are actually capable of thinking, planning, imagining...all the things a 'mind' can do, a heart can do better.

So then why does our mind butt in? Why does our mind force us to consider every possible outcome? Why do we feel the need to cross every T and dot every I before we even  make one small move? There is much to be said about a decision made through the use of logic and deductive reasoning...but is that decision always the right one? What I  mean to say is - is that decision always the BEST one? The outcome might be as we predicted, but does that make it 'right?' What if we followed our heart instead? The outcome might be better than our logic can understand. But then again, perhaps its not (<--- that's my head talking!)

Follow my heart logic here: IF the heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23) and (eternal) life is given when you accept Jesus Christ into your heart (Romans 10:9-10), THEN learning to be more faithful frees us to follow our heart and anticipate the outcome will be pleasing to ourself and to Him. I'm not talking religion here, I'm talking faith. The technical definition of faith is trust or belief. If we trust Jesus - in His redemptive power, in His provision, in His sacrifice and forgiveness - then we are free to trust our heart..."You will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:7.

Father, I thank you for Your will in our lives. I am humbled by Your belief in us and Your provision for us. Please continue to encourage me to follow my heart and the desires that You have placed there...and please do the same for my friends who are looking for the same. Lord, I ask that you place urgency in complacent hearts - urgency for us to further Your kingdom and serve with grace, humility, and love. Let rivers of living water flow from our hearts so that we can bask in Your peace and live the life You have prepared for each of us. ♥

Until next time...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Matthew 6:26

It always seems like the birds chirp loudest after a thunderous rain.  True? Is this because the sound of the rain drowns out their melody? Or is this because we are too busy to acknowledge the sound exists and the sudden difference in volume forces us to hear? One? The other? Both? A different reason altogether? Whatever it is, there is truth to this statement: the birds chirp loudest after a thunderous rain.

Do you think the birds capitalize on the newly found silence? Their chirping sounds a bit like rejoicing to me - sort of like a melodious high-five. There is always a tone of joy and encouragement that tips up the end of each sound right before their breath for the next chorus and refrain.

Are we like the birds? Do we sing loudest after a torrential downpour? During the rain all we hear is the constant drumming and pounding of the ceaseless cascade - so loud as to cause even our own thoughts to drown. At the end of the rain, we rejoice. Our confident heart cries hope to the open spaces where drops and sheets and sprinkles used to occupy. Our delight anchors us to the moment, the sound of our dreams undeferred soar past the places we can see.

Follow that sound.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Won Me Over

Sometimes... well, more often than not really... I connect with songs - and I know I'm not the only one. If you're like me, our response is primal - it seems stitched and sewn into each pore. It resounds in our hearts like the echoing sounds of a gong - sailing soundlessly across space and fading, yet always leaving a memory behind. For me - and for some of you I'm sure - it's not just the melody that surrounds us, but also the words that melt their way into the mold of the music. The brilliance of the lyricist brings the magic of the composer to life - and a perfect and inspirational piece of art is formed.

I tend to understand and process things through music. Music is my memories. Music is my very present help. Music is validation that I'm headed in the right direction or way off the path. Music, my friends, is due north on my compass.

As I face trials, and we ALL do, I use music as an escape. I allow my mind reprieve by focusing only on the words and often times tuning out the words and letting the melody become a part of the moment. On this particular day, in this particular moment, Franklin (my iPod touch) decided to put on a song that was full of joy even though, in this particular moment, my heart was not. But since I was too lazy to switch the song, I decided to focus on the lyrics. Lyrics I've listened to a thousand times...yet they proved to be lyrics I've never HEARD. They went a little something like this:

"Was on the run, a road that I ruined,
chasing a lie I thought I believed in
Don't know why I do what I do"
~Audrey Assad, Won Me Over

OHHH friends... to be cliche, it hit me like a ton of bricks! But instead of making this specifically about me, I think we can all relate.

How many times have you been on a path - one that you stay on because it's easier than turning back and facing what you left. One that you stay on because the road is too crumbly and destructed to be able to weather the journey back - and besides? who wants to return to what you were running from? It's easier to run - although its WAY more self destructive to run. Does it ever solve anything? Not permanently...Is it worth it? Well, you believe that at first, but eventually you see the light. It's easy to do what feels 'normal,' but much harder to do what feels right.

How many times do we make decisions based on feelings alone? And when we do, and we realize that it was the wrong one or there was a  better or more fulfilling one - how does that make us feel. How does it feel when something you USED to believe in suddenly becomes foreign to you and feels more and more wrong and uncomfortable every day?

 Friends, I don't have the answer for all of you - but I can tell you that my answer for myself is you change it. You walk arm in arm with God and as you hold the lamp at your feet, you trust Him to guide every single step. You lean on the Word and press in to prayer. You look back at the crumbly road and see it for what it is - decaying, old, deteriorated, defeated - and you accept the fact that roads built on chasing lies are not meant to withstand the elements. You simply look ahead or side to side and find the next road - the next path that God wants for you. He will reveal the way to go - but only if you trust Him one step at a time.

I choose trust. I choose faith. I choose hope. . . and Jesus? I choose You. I choose Your Word above mine, Your will above mine, Your leading above mine, Your steps in front of mine, Your power above my self, Your promises above my weak heart, and Your faithfulness above my inability to understand. I encourage you all to do the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I've Been Thinking...

Hey blog friends!!

It's been a while - I know. My fingers have been itching to graze the keys on my laptop in order to write to you for a while now, but life as I  know it has escaped me as of late. It seems the more crowded my mind is, the faster time goes ... or is it the faster time goes, the more crowded my mind is? I don't know - nor will I ever - so I'll let it go.

I know you're waiting for it - my famous last words - "I've been thinking..." <--- so there you have it. I've been thinking, a LOT lately... I know, I know - you're thinking that I say that ALL the time - and you'd be correct. When I think and have coherent, sticky thoughts, I feel the need to blog - hence the reason you always hear me 'say' "Ive been thinking..." So here I am - with thoughts - and in no particular order of importance, here they are:

I love when you meet people and you're accidental friends. By this I mean there is something in you that roots in them and grows in an unlikely place. I have a friend like this - and I marvel at the thought that she would even call me friend. Now you ALL know I don't struggle with self-worth, but even I tend to second guess mySELF at times - yet she, in her beauty and open heart, never second guesses ME or our friendship. In fact, it seems she embraces it and welcomes it and accepts it. She acknowledges that it has grown in an unlikely place - and yet she continues to visit this garden we've seeded, watered, and watched bloom. The simplicity of it amazes me, the complexity of it is beautiful to me, the unspoken and spoken words that fertilize the soil continue to produce beautiful blossoms despite the alternating frigidity and warmth in the air. Every time I leave her, I shake  my head and pinch my arm and feel grateful that she'll walk arm and arm with me despite the random prickers and thorns.

In my heart, I've made a decision. Well, my whole adult-life I've been contemplating an idea. One that I never thought possible despite people urging and pleading with me to pursue it. One that I wasn't sure I was talented enough to pull off. But my AMAZING Pastor preached a sermon that pre-heated the oven that is my heart and this idea baked - and baked to perfection. Now there is much, much more to the story than that, but what you need to know is that there is NO other time in my life that I've been so sure of what I need to do. None. No other. So many things point to this - too many to blog about :) But just know that I am being "strong and courageous. I am not being discouraged...because I know that the Lord MY God is with me wherever I go." I also know that He is in whatever I do with this because my intention is to glorify His holy and righteous name.

Let's see....It's been a month - surely I've got more to tell you??

Oh - well, this may be a little cryptic as I have to be cautious because this IS a public place...but let's see how well I can do. I've learned a very valuable lesson about myself recently. If you know me in 'real life,' you know that I am a passionate person. If I believe in it, I BELIEVE in it. If I'm fired up by it, I am FIRED UP by it. It's part of my makeup. I suppose at one point, I didn't really understand it and I saw it as a burden - I saw it as a reason why so many people didn't understand ME. As I've reached *ahem* old age maturity in my 30's, I realize that this is actually a gift! It's taken me about a year to truly and wholly accept and acknowledge a few things about myself - and for real? It's made me LIKE myself even more!!! If you faithfully read my blog, I've written a little about this before - about being unapologetically me (read it here), but this is a little more than that.

I believe that God gives us gifts and abilities ( topic I'm PUMPED FOR LIFE about, but I'll save it for another time). I believe with my ENTIRE being, that one of the gifts He's given me is the gift of passion. I actually don't understand people who don't have passion. I don't understand how some people don't feel like their heart will explode, or maybe that they truly prefer to sit middle-of-the-road...but God shapes us all as He will. Well, for a minute there, I was thinking that my passion was a burden, not a gift. I know that it can be misunderstood - I know it can come across VERY strong...but I also know that people with passion have an ace in their back pocket. They can push and excel and get results. They can take risks and dare to dream simply because their passion drives them forward. How do I know this? Well, because I've accepted this part of me - embraced it, really. I refuse to be weighed down by it even when people want me to stuff it down. I refuse to be anyone except who I am - and if that means taking chances and putting myself out there- then so be it. God gifted me this for a purpose - and I will not waste it. Absolutely not.

I've got so much more to say - TONS more, really, but I'll leave you instead with this encouragement:

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8

He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved. Psalm 62:6

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A 3 Dimensional View

HA! As I was sitting here, thinking about crafting this post, I was struck with the title. It made me laugh right out loud. Forgive me for being boastful, but I LOVE IT when the little brain I have is able to produce something clever. The title here makes PERFECT sense - and you'll see why if you continue to read.

Whether you know this from reading my blog or from knowing me in real life, I have spent the last 6 or so weeks fasting Facebook. In addition to fasting it, I have been doing a '40 Days in the Word' challenge at church. It is an AWESOME program about different study methods that you can use while reading the bible. It's not just all about reading and letting the Holy Spirit guide you (although that works!), it's about carving time and space in your day and your heart to sit and meditate and pull apart the wisdom and beauty that you find there. As Pastor Dave says, this book is the ONLY book that you can ask the author questions as you're reading it and can also get answers :)

So - as a result of this 'challenge,' I have been in the word more. There were some suggested readings for our 'homework' but being the classic over-achiever, I always wanted to read more. I actually CRAVED reading more. When I learn something new, I want to keep doing it over and over and over until it becomes boring - and then I want to find something else to do over and over and over ... I'm sure you catch my drift.


In the past 6 weeks or so, I have been blown away by a new found understanding I have about Jesus. BLOWN. AWAY. There is a song that plays on the radio that says "My God is not dead, He is surely alive!" and every time I heard it (before), I would think that yes, yes He is alive in my heart ... but I never GOT it. Oh friends, I've GOT it now and I'm holding tight.

Throughout the readings we've had to do, I've spent a LOT of time with Jesus. With His bolded, red words telling me parables and truths that most of the time require me to think VERY hard; yet at other times cause my spirit to soar with the hope I find there. What I have never, ever, EVER realized, is just how emotional Jesus was. He is SO much more emotional than I ever saw before.

Go with me. In my mind, God is love (1 John 4:8), and Jesus is part of the trinity that IS God and the Holy Spirit and Jesus all in one. Three in one. Three dimensions of the same being (hence the blog post title!!! HA!) YET each serving a purpose YET each existing because the other ones do YET encompassing ALL power and ALL glory and ALL mercy. I could go on and on and on. But the point of this is, that in my mind, Jesus was ALWAYS love. When I think of Him, that is what I see. Love. And while I know He is MORE than that, I never really saw it.. until my time in the word.

Jesus was MUCH more emotional and complex than I thought. What started me off on this was when I was in Matthew 21:12 where Jesus clears the temple. He "drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned tables ... " Clearly, he gets angry - or perhaps anger is a strong word for that emotion - maybe frustrated? He OVERTURNED tables! He drove people out (which I'm sure he didn't do by asking politely and smiling). This king sent to earth to save ME, was acting... well... human? Go to this scripture. Read it. Mediate on it. This is Jesus in his MOST human form. Dealing with the emotion that so many of us have to battle on a daily basis.

Another thing I found was that Jesus grieved. Another VERY strong human emotion. When He was in the garden of Gethsemane, He said (Matthew 26:37-39) "37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Jesus knew the PROMISE of heaven. He KNEW it because all things He could see so could His Father God. He innately understood the HOPE of heaven - He knew the riches there. YET he STILL grieved? This was Jesus in his MOST human form. Desiring life, yet knowing that His life would save mine. 

One of the best things I found was that Jesus was truly honorable. I spent some time in prayer over Matthew 26-27 this Easter season, (the death and resurrection) and Matthew 26:10-13 jumped out at me and screamed just HOW honorable Jesus was. Jesus says “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.The poor you will always have with you,but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Jesus wants to honor this woman (who is Lazarus' sister Mary) by using her example of worship to represent what is true, noble, and right. Jesus wants to honor her... I keep saying it and reading it and being blown away by it. If Jesus wants to honor her, how much MORE would he want to honor us? We should be at his feet. We should be doting on His word just as she had the privilege of doing to his flesh. We should be sitting with Him, worshipping Him, cleansing our hearts through Him... all the things she did. He chooses to honor her. We need to honor Him.

See friends, our God is ALIVE. When He was alive (in Jesus), He was human - and though he was (super)human, He was still able to live a fully righteous life FULL of trial and tribulation. What a responsibility He had. Imagine, shouldering the salvation of the world on your shoulders ... and having the help of 12 other men to get the word out before it was too late. Imagine, the weight of his human-ness bearing down hard against the Truth He knew was awaiting Him in heaven - despite KNOWING for SURE where He came from and where He was going, He STILL fought back panic and grieved. Just imagine...

I still stand in awe of His sacrifice, friends. I still stand in awe of the courage it took and the trust it took for Jesus to take the blame. I still stand in humbled adoration, covered by the blood...and my thoughts repeatedly sigh 'what can I do, Lord...what can I do that would EVER equate to Your contribution to my life.'  And in the still of His presence, the peace He gives me answers my heart is seeking for.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Beacon

In the middle of the spotted sleep I tend to get every night, I am often inspired. Random thoughts here, random thoughts there...but rarely am I ever driven to actually get up (at 2:30 a.m.) and write it down...Last night I was, but I didn't get up. As a result, I could not sleep a WINK because I was overwhelmed with a vision...and the feeling that I needed to write this out has not left me all I'm heeding to the 'call' to get this on 'paper'... Follow me.

Here is what I remember:

It was night time - the pitch black kind. No stars in the sky. The wind was as relentless as my worry. I was waiting - watching - unsure for whom or what. I can't remember if it was raining or if what I felt was a spray from the stormy sea. There was a HUGE cliff to the left of me, it's jagged silhouette murderously cutting the waves; being sure to assert it's dominance over the fierceness of the ocean. I stood on wet sand - it was firm beneath my feet. The shells showed no mercy as the wind had her way with them. I was cold, and full of anticipation. I remember the angry smell of the ocean - turned inside out and upside down; as unsettled as my thoughts. I was completely alone. No car behind me. No people beside me. Alone.

Luckily enough, there was a lighthouse built on rock right in front of me. The stack of rocks that it was built on was high enough that not even the acerbic waves could reach it. I found myself concentrating in the dark to see if I could tell if the beacon was moving.

As though my thoughts themselves were pushing the light around in the lantern room, I felt assured that the beacon would find me soon - even though my impatience caused time to slow to a snails pace. I thought about pacing the short shoreline because I thought that perhaps if I moved, time would also...but I was firmly planted. I remember clasping my hands together and holding tight to the hope I knew was coming.

In the way that only 'dreams' can, the next part happened in slow-motion, fast-forward. The beacon light was getting ready to pass 1:00 when suddenly it started to move faster and faster like it had gained momentum because it was heading down hill. As it passed through the pitch black, I saw people. Some of the people were crowded together, others were individually placed, ALL of them I knew.

I remember being able to know each one by name - even the ones in the crowd. I saw people I love now, people I've loved before, and people who have left me and moved to the place where Love has been fully revealed to them. I felt SO comforted by this...I knew that even though it seemed I was alone all along, I truly wasn't. I had these people who were WITH me, who were and ARE a part of me, who have become a piece of the fabric that has stitched up my quilted heart. The flood of hope that this brought my soul was indescribable. To know that a little light could reveal a changeable truth.

When the beacon rounded the next corner, it stopped on me. My logical mind felt as though I had to shade my eyes because a light that can steer a ship into safe harbor would most certainly NOT be a light that my mortal eyes could see. But I was wrong. This light was beauty - it was all colors and none. It was a symphony with a resounding chorus, and a moment in the back of a church where a widow mourns in silence. It was my past, my present, and my future. As this light rested on me, I felt possibility, peace, and immeasurable gratitude.

When I 'awoke,' I remembered a scripture: Isaiah 42:6-7 " I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will guard and support you, for I have given you to my people as the personal confirmation of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide all nations to me. You will open the eyes of the blind and free the captives from prison. You will release those who sit in dark dungeons." It dawned on me - this vision I had was a LITERAL interpretation of this scripture!!!

I stood in the spot I was placed. I stood in waiting. And my 'awake' self would have been scared to even be where I was in my 'vision,' but my unconscious self stood there, guarded and supported by the people who were there, but who were not revealed to me until I was ready to flee. These people - my friends and family - were a personal confirmation of love and support in a dark and anxious time. Then the light came and it WAS the light that guides the nations --> the nation was the league of friends and family that were there. I know, I know...this all sounds crazy...and I wish that I were better at explaining this part... but I know that I know that I know that this came NOW for a reason...although I am unsure what the reason is at this very moment...

If you've read this far, you deserve a round of applause!!! Thank you ... and for my faithful friends (old and new!) and family, thank you for everything.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Which I Call Myself Out. . . .#embarrassed

I've been thinking...

As a few of you may know, I am currently fasting Facebook...and I talk about it. Often. Truth be told, I miss it. Desperately. I want nothing more than to log in and see what everyone is doing. I feel like a little kid who is told to go to bed but REALLY wants to stay up because the ordinary can turn to extraordinary at any given second.

My original reason was to fast the FB because I wanted to prepare my heart for Easter. I figured I would use the 'extra' time I had to get in the word more, or pray more, or do 'good.' (And yes, if you're wondering, I just admitted that I spend THAT much time on FB that giving it up translates to extra time in my day...). Like most of my good intentions, I have failed. Epically (<-- is that even a word?)

This scripture keeps coming up, around, and through me...Matthew 6:16-18  16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."  Up. Around. Through. I knew about this scripture - have for a while. When I am fasting in other ways, I follow this - no one would ever know... but for some (dumb) reason, I have exempt myself from this for FB. Ewwww... Gone against the words of Jesus (this IS a gospel message...) for Facebook? What the HECK?

Ashamed and disgusted are probably the first two words that come to mind. Not only have I NOT spent any additional time in the word or prayer, but I have also presented myself as a hypocrite??!? Trust  me when I tell you this is NOT a 'woe is me' post...but more its a post where myself is calling myself OUT on this whole thing...even though my 'self' is acutely aware.

So what is the point of fasting something when you are not fulfilling the INTENTION  of the fast? What is the point? So in my case, spending more time playing games on my iPad OR blogging is ok, but FB is not? Isn't that just this for that?

Ashamed and disgusted...yet here I am, blogging away...

My Pastor is starting a course on Thursday night "40 days in the Word" and when I first found out about it, I was SUPEREXCITED!! I have been desperate for something like this - something structured and 'tutorial.' Not that I can't/don't know how to read my bible, but if you know me, you know this is RIGHT up my alley. In hindsight, the reason I am so excited about it is because by doing it and following it, I am actually DOING what I intended on doing in the first place during this sacred season...My prayer is that this 'study' will truly take over my lack-of-FB-made-up-for-via-iPad-games balderdash. So if I don't post much, know I am fulfilling my promise to 'get ready' for Easter - because if there is ANYONE and ANY time to get ready for, it is Him and now.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Words . . .

Sometimes they are just words. Words that make sound to fill the silence of the space between insignificant thoughts. Words that run into each other to try and cover up nervous butterflies. Words that have no meaning when linked together - like pink shine & thunderous  (or do they ... ;)  )  Words can sometimes JUST be words.

But words can sometimes JUST be MORE than words themselves. They can speak life, they can speak truth, they can speak hatred and spite.  They can build up and empower...or they can break down and belittle. Words, my friends, are powerful in and of themselves. Words have the power to motivate...or destroy.

If I say to you "worthy" you MAY agree you are, or you may shake your head and quiet the whisper in your heart that says you're not. It may have filled you with hope or longing. It may have revealed a truth to you - to a part of you that has been camouflaged but ready to break free.

If I say to you "no" you MAY agree that was the right thing to say given the circumstances you are in. You may be upset I said it to you. You may feel relieved because I gave you permission to NOT do something you were hesitant about doing. Perhaps indifference is the response because my opinion doesn't matter anyway ...

In my life, words have been a very powerful thing. I write them. I say them. I wish I could take them back at times. I regret them. I love them. I appreciate them. I am grateful for them. I don't have them - and sometimes I do. Most often though, I think I take them for granted.

In conversation today, someone quoted something I said to them. Something, that at the time seemed appropriate - but irrelevant. In fact, I forgot I even said these words until they were brought back to the surface. In hindsight, I realize how powerful these words were. How they spoke truth in his life. How they encouraged him when he was in an incorrigible place. At the time, I didn't understand the power these specific words held. Now, I am beholden to their authenticity in a life changing moment.

My most favorite thing of all about words is the simple complexity that they hold. The simplest thing can cause a cascade of complex thoughts - each person having those thoughts explore different perspectives, reaching a different conclusion depending on the path their hearts took.

My prayer for you today is that you will always remember how powerful words can be. Remember that the intention behind the word is just as strong. Remember that some words are double-edged swords that can cause irreparable damage. Remember that most words spoken come from your heart - and they will reflect the attitude that resides there.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It Is You...

Hi friends...Out of anything I've ever posted, this is giving me the most hesitation... Not that a lot of you read my blog (by ANY stretch!) but this seems to be the most personal thing I've ever posted on here. Funny thing is, I've posted a LOT of personal things!!

I recently had a bunch of 'writing' bubble up from a secret place that my heart sought out and found...and I think they're meant to be songs. I'm not entirely sure...but there seems to be a faint, haunting melody that comes along with each of them. I actually have a few times this has happened recently...weird.

The one that I have posted below was inspired the other night after I read through Psalm 57... The Psalm is about His faithfulness, help and love in times of trouble. So... before I chicken out, here it is!!!!

It is You

Verse 1:
My stirring soul awakens the dawn,
Quiet thoughts bustle and then they're gone;
Replaced by music my heart can dwell on,
It is You.

Your hands, Your heart, Your sacrifice
You, who paid the highest price
To rescue me - the least of these -
I give you my life

Verse 2:
My heart is steadfast, I rejoice in your name,
Humbled, at your feet - it is You I proclaim
Be exalted, O God, above all the earth
Only You remain the same!

One hand to guide me, the other to hold;
One hand to catch me when all else unfolds;
One hand to rest my weary soul...Safe in the arms of my Savior

Chorus 2/Ending:
My hands, my heart, my sacrifice;
For You, no matter what the price,
You rescued me - brought me to my knees,
I promised you my life...
Yes, Lord...I promise you my life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I'll Throw the Rope.. You Catch

I am convinced that friendships start by someone throwing a rope...and the other person deciding to catch. But it doesn't end there. Friendships - of the strongest kind - are actually a constant catch and release...each time this happens, the rope gets thicker, but coincidentally, lighter...such is the beauty of friendship.

I have a friend. Well, I'm blessed with a few... but I have this one particular friend who, well, let's just say that her and I share the better pieces of our hearts. I am her and she is me and we, together, are a perfect reflection of the best parts of ourselves. This is my rope to her. I hope I've thrown it far enough for her to catch...

To my friend...

I remember when you threw the rope to me. I played it cool, but I caught it. Secretly gleeful and holding as tight a I could without you noticing. It seemed from the start our friendship was written in the books of time as lasting forever. . . it seemed that there never was a moment that we didn't know each other. As a matter of fact, time is FOR us in our friendship - I just thought of this. Time has given us the gift of timelessness.

As the years went by, we each sat in our rowboats tossing the rope back and forth - though in reflection, it seems that you tossed a LOT more than you caught. My wild heart shouted secrets to yours and your gentle kindess coralled my spirit and helped point it Home.

When asked now how I ended up where I am, your name is quick to come up...I use words like 'rock,' 'hope when I was hopeless, rest when I was restless,' 'understands the words in my heart when they can only come out as tears.' And these are just SOME - I could go on and on. So, friend, I know that I know that I know that YOU know all these things...but I wanted to remind you. Because I'm throwing the rope. You catch.

I always had the questions. You always had the answers.. and they usually went like this "God says this...let's pray about can find the answers in this book of our bible..." Your constant shepherding, your compassionate heart, and most of all your steadfast faith were and are an inspiration.

But it seems that things have changed a bit. The armor was off so the arrows were able to hit the soft spots in your heart. Each step was weighted with the burdens you carry. And while 'running on fumes' lasted a while, the peace in your heart is now pretty much empty..but let the peace of God rule in your heart. You say you know what you need to do - and I believe you. I believe IN you with all of my heart. BUT what I want you to do is ACT on it.

If I look with my wide-view lens ... you know, the one that God lets me borrow every once in a while? ... I can see that this will unfold according to the way that will entirely glorify Him. And you know - cause you tell me all the time - that how He delivers is not necessarily in the way that we expect or want, but it is ALWAYS in the way we need. And isn't hindsight ALWAYS 20/20? Press on, friend. Fight the GOOD fight. Have patience that the burdens you shoulder can be lessed through grace with a dash of prayer for good measure. Even though the pathways may seem crooked, and the signs may be unclear, trust that He put you on the road you are on because the final destination is MUCH better than you could imagine. Do not carry fear in your heart about the journey - instead, carry hope.

And as Jesus is carrying you right this very moment, I pray you know that so am I. I storm the gates of heaven for your every need. I shout louder than the praise of the angels so that God Himself, in His throneroom, hears my pleas on your behalf. And though I may join those same angles in a resounding chorus of "holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty!" I am sure to petition the needs and prayers in my heart as well.

I threw the rope, friend. I know you caught it. My prayer is that you are able to pull it in, pull it tight and feel the love that I soaked in every fiber. 'Cause it's there. I am beyond grateful to be in the place I am - the place you helped me get - because now I have the opportunity to do for you what you've done for me...and while I doubt my ability to do it as well as you have, I know that my heart sings of the hope that you may not be able to see yet...But I do.

Love and light, dear friend.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just Below the Surface

Hi friends..

Life is a circus as of late - lots of flaming pins being juggled in the air at the same .. I'm currently taking bets which one will fall first. The heaviest one you say? Well you must be right... :)

I observed something recently that made me think 'I need to blog this' ... and I'm not even sure what to to say/think about it, but I figure that it's worth making sense of in writing.

The girls planted seedlings at church a few weeks ago. Some forget-me-nots and a strawberry plant. They had a grand old time painting their clay pots and wrapping them up to give as Valentine's presents to us. As it typically goes with ANY living thing that requires care, we have now inherited these small plants :)

As I was watering them the other day, I noticed something that perhaps I hadn't before. One of them - my oldest's - watered nicely. The soil drank down the cool stream of water and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when it was full. The other one was much, much different.

As I poured the water, it immediately began to overflow - not because it was already watered, but because it was SO SO dry and the soil wasn't packed tight enough. The water I was pouring actually caused the soil to shift and float .. and then the water actually created a bubble on the top - as though I had poured it on the counter top. What did this mean? So I, who LOATHES getting my hands dirty, put the water down and tried to pack down the soil. It was so far beyond repair that it just caused WAY more of a mess - dry soil in the sink, tidbits of earth stuck to my fingers, water with swirls of grime racing across the table...what a mess.

So being who I am, I instantly thought about this from a metaphorical point of view. From the surface, both of these pots looked similar. Their size was the same. They appeared to be even with the amount of soil there was. Even though the painting and name on the outside of the pots were different, the fact that paint was there in the first place is 'same' enough. They came from the same seedling packet. From the same store. They were made in the same place - pretty much at the same time.

BUT the truth? The truth is that under what appeared to be the same, they weren't. One was made to endure the pressure of water. The other was not. One soaked up the life-giving liquid and seemed to sigh with contentment. The other pushed away this life-giving liquid and required intervention to be put back together.

So what did I ultimately do? Normally, I would have just thrown it out  essentially considered the 'mess' not worth the investment to make it right (read: dirty hands and a few minutes of time). But not this time. This time, I carefully and deliberately packed and repacked the soil. I made sure that it was watered to contentment and the outside of the pot was cleaned.

SO what did this teach me? Many things, surprisingly. It taught me that a little investment goes a long, long way - and can even be 'life-giving.' If that seedling does in fact grow in that pot, I know that it was my effort that encouraged that. This situation also taught me that what appears to be the same on the outside is definitely NOT on the inside. . .

Think about this the next time you see two successful business women walking together into a beautiful building, or maybe the next time you see two new Moms walking their babies in strollers to get off the extra few pounds. Two similarly packaged people doing the same thing. Perhaps one would flourish with watering...perhaps the other would break with watering - but always know that you can make the conscious decision to help them pack down the soil and withstand the tension from the steady stream.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If The Wind Will Not Serve, Take To The Oars

I ran across a ancient Latin proverb the other day scrawled in the margins of my copy of “Quicksand and Passing” from back in my college days. It reads “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” Powerful. It speaks of taking action when circumstances seem as though they will lead to anything but what’s expected. If the wind is not blowing, your boat will sit stagnant; though never still. . . always ebbing and flowing with the tides and undercurrents below. You will have no control over where you will end up. You will be at the mercy of the air that surrounds you and the water that keeps you afloat. Take to the oars. Gain control over your boat and make things happen. Even if you don’t know the direction, take to the oars. Progress is progress – and progress (even in the wrong direction) is better than waiting for the wind.

Today, I took to the oars of my boat. This boat is pirated only by me. It’s made of splintering wood and has been patched with glossy planks at different intervals of its journey. Each shiny new plank reminding me of a journey past. Each polished piece showing me a reflection of myself – and truthfully, there are times when this reflection catches me by surprise. Sometimes, I swear I can see myself the way the boat builder who repaired the broken section does…broken and beautiful.

Sometimes, in order to get where you want to go, you have to backtrack and start new. Today gave me an opportunity to do just that. Sometimes we sit, passive to the circumstances around us, waiting on incidents to dictate our interaction with other people. Now and then, those incidents come and it’s just not ‘your’ day. You are moody, you are brash, you don’t care as much as you should… and so this interaction becomes a nuisance rather than anything that could be considered productive. So what perhaps was supposed to be the start of something built on bricks, actually ends up being something build on sand. If you’ve ever seen the tide overtake the laborious work of a child, then you will know that anything built on sand will not last.

Since then, I have been waiting for the wind to serve – flowing and receding with the tumultuous currents below; patiently watching each sunrise through sunset for a glimpse of a change to the weather. No such luck. So today, with my heart as the map I followed, I took to my oars. I revisited the sandbar that I had started to build something I could no longer recognize. I knew that my labor was in vain and I needed a more solid place to sand. So today, I took to my oars and sought out a place to build a foundation of bricks. I found one. . .one that will, hopefully, withstand erosion.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
~Matthew 7:24-27

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sometimes When God Speaks, He Shouts

On the wall above my fireplace, I have a beautiful saying painted. It says "Make time for the quiet moments, because God whispers and the world is loud." I often try to consider this as I feel consumed by the chaos that tends to surround me. Oddly enough, today, I feel as though God was shouting. At first, from afar through the words of a new, dear friend... but then through a megaphone directly in my ear. It caused a resounding shout of praise in my heart - and suddenly it seems as though this is what I've been waiting for all along.

Let me start at the beginning.

I had the opportunity today to talk to one of the most extraordinary people I know. Her grace is palpable. Her sincerity is exceptional. Her inner beauty shines a blindingly bright light. She listens to the nudges of her heart even if they whisper .. and did I mention she is incredibly inspiring? She spoke truths to me in a way that my heart understood. She did this selflessly and with a dollop of affection for good measure. My heart heard her heart and found a spark of hope... a spark that has now been fanned into a flame because of what happened next.

On my ride home, I turned on the radio and heard a song I had never heard before. The lyrics said: "Can't spend my whole life wasting everything I know I've been given...'Cause you've made me for so much more than sittin' on the side lines...I don't wanna look back and wonder if good enough could've been better...Everyday's a day to start over...So, why am I waiting for tomorrow?"

My heart exploded with the pure joy of answered prayer. Right then and there, God revealed to me that this conversation was the primer for me. If you heard the conversation we had, you would know that this song was the validation I needed. I swear, God had this song play at precisely THIS moment to let me know He was with me...and I am confident He was with her, too - guiding and prompting and nudging her to say exactly what was said even though some of it was hard for me to swallow.

When I got home, I came across a scripture in Lamentations. For the record, I use the word 'lament' often - when I need to make an emphatic point about something emotional. This scripture said "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail" 3:22. If you were part of our conversation today, you would know we talked about feeling consumed by feelings - feeling obsessive over things we shouldn't obsess about...but God, our God, revealed to me that I need to place my consumption in HIM, not in these trivial thoughts. He showed me I don't HAVE to be consumed because of His love...He will continue to show me mercy - a mercy that is sometimes hard for me to accept. A mercy that came by way of a conversation of truths today.

AND then - as if God wasn't shouting loud enough - He decides to remind me of other parts of our conversation. I saw this from my dear, dear friend " are you not meant for crawling, so don't. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly. You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings." All I could think was 'we talked about this' - not in these words, but her inspiration to me MEANT what these words say (if that even makes sense...). Her words were different. My heart understood them in the same way as my heart understands these.

So I can say.. with certainty.. that sometimes when God speaks, He shouts. When it's this obvious, the easy part is hearing Him. The hard part is trusting Him.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the spark. It seemed that for so long I was trying to rub two sticks together on a stone to try and find one...turns out you had someone with a match who wanted to share. I am grateful. Your goodness shines in the darkest places and sometimes I'd rather cover my eyes than see. I thank You for the answer. I thank You for the unexpected light that blazed through our conversation of truths today. I thank You for the wisdom and guidance You placed in her heart - and I thank You for the courage you gave her to share them with me. Lord, I had climbed my watchtower and was waiting to see what answer you would give to my complaint. I know what You planned does not happen right away. At times, You move slowly, steadily, surely, and You let things come to pass. Nothing You do is overdue a single day (Habakkuk 2:1,3). Today was the day I needed what You gave me. My hope is in You, God. Though I will fail, I am thankful Your compassion is new. Help me remember today so that I can walk the path before me with my head held high and in Your blessed assurance. *Amen*

"If God changes your heart, be willing to change your plans!"
     ~ Joyce Meyer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

... In Which I Clear The Air ...

I just looked back at my last few blog posts...and I realized a few things.

1. There was a lot of 'woe is me'
2. I guess I'm pretty dramatic...
3. Sharing my heart - even the doldrums - comes easy
4. Some of you care
5. Some of you don't
6. Some of you may feel that my ego drives this (I get *MAYBE* one hit a day to my blog so I ASSURE you, my ego is not involved)
7. Some of you feel a myriad of things that didn't make the top 6 list here... and that's ok. I"m all about understanding what your feelings are.

Truth be told, I use this blog as a place to share hopes and encouragement...and discouragements and frustrations. I realize I'm in a season of discouragement and frustration - but don't mistake my heartache on these pages as the attitude I carry with me every second of every day.

On any given day, if you saw me, you'd see a smile. It's not fake, it's real as they come. You will also hear laughter. It's not fake, it's real as it comes. You will see and hear encouragement to others, my faith in God, and my hope that the victory will ultimately glorify Him - even if I don't win the fight that I bet on winning.

What I'm trying to say is that I know the blog has been 'heavy' lately - and I'm sorry...but sometimes these words to the (web)page help me sort things out. I view this blog as a photographer would their pictures...There is a moment in time I need to 'capture' and by using my own words, I transfer the 'moment' from my heart and to a 'photograph'... this photograph reminds me that in that moment, in that memory, I was feeling or thinking a certain way. I can file that picture away and come back to it any time I want. I can learn from it, study it, but try as I might, I will never be able to re-create that exact same moment.. which is why it's important (to me) to get it down. I am not interested in repeating the same thing over and over (and expecting different results ... which according to my dear, dear friend is the definition of insanity)

So, until the next wave of inspiration strikes, I leave you with a smile and forward progress to whatever is next.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I am a Contradiction...

I am a contradiction.

I am content and wanting. I am luminous and dim. I am shadow and bright. I am foggy and unveiled. I am litigious and calm. I am the sea and the mountains - setting boundaries but also testing them through waves and falling rocks.

I am protected and exposed. I am obscure and known. I am hopeful and full of despair - not knowing when either will overtake my spirit.

I am ambitious and lazy. I am jealous and satisfied. I am looking out and looking in. I am wary and sure. I am the sun and the moon - eclipsing every once in a while to prove...

I am a contradiction.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hope Floats

The term 'hope floats' has been sailing in and out of my heart as of late...enough to where I've spent a few moments reflecting on what exactly it means. What exactly DOES hope floats mean? Of course, it's all relative - what it means to me is probably not what it means to you... but I have to wonder where it came from.

Does hope float because you can't see it? Is it similar to the air around you...because while you can't see that, you know it exists. You can see how air affects things  - like the leaves on trees or the waves in the sea. You can smell air - like the salt and sand by the ocean. You can FEEL air - as it warmly caresses your face  or as it lashes out in a raging cold. If the air we can't see can still cause our other senses to understand it's existence, than surely the hope we can't see should prove to do the same. Is that why hope floats?

At times, it feels as though I am under water; stuck in a sunken ship of lost dreams, tangled and trapped by seaweed that is my fears and failures. It is in the warped peace that this offers me that I realize that hope does, in fact, float. In this case, it floats away from me. I get consumed by the roaring silence of the mystery that is the ocean floor. I feel comforted by the seaweed that binds me because it allows me to falsely surrender to the 'support' it gives...the sunken ship keeps the fear of predators away because they are all too big to fit through the port hole I swam through to find refuge there.  It is here that my hope floats away from me to the surface. Hope is light. Hope is buoyant. Hope perseveres. And while I might no be these things when I am wrapped up in fears and failures, hope remains the same.

Hope rises to the surface. Even in the most dire circumstances, hope will rise. During loss, pain, indecision, misdirection, wrong turns... hope rises. Hope is what can drag you from the depth of the sea to the just need to believe that it floats.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MuDdy THOugHtS

Something has to give. Something. Lately, I seem to be wandering along and it seems that I am in a gully of I stare around at my confusion and doubt swirling about me like bees to nectar, I realize I've stopped moving. I look down and see that my feet are sinking, not-so-slowly but surely in the eroded landscape. I realize I need to act quickly, but the fog that is my confusion and doubt is sort-of attractive, in a way. It lulls me to complacency. It sings a sweet lullaby of ease and contentedness. My ears hear the melody of a sound that is so familiar, it is understood by my heart from before music overtook my soul. My eyes, clouded, do not cause worry - in an odd way, it causes relief because I will not have to see clearly or perhaps see anything at all. But its my heart that urges me to truly listen to whats around. Its my heart that implores me to see the reality of my circumstances. It is my heart that reaches down to my suffocated and submerged parts and pleads for them to find one last push, one last way to be put on a firm rock, a solid place to stand.

As I lift my filthy, earth laden legs; putting one foot in front of the other; making progress, but losing ground because the slower I move the further I sink. By now, it has started to rain. I had heard the thunder in the distance. I had seen the sky's definitive line that divides the sun's light from the cloud's cover. The stormless lullaby that almost engulfed me has now turned to a symphony of turbulent sounds. My legs are tired and weak from carrying the burden that is battle of my head versus my heart. Suddenly, I'm stuck. Up to my waist now. There is no branch above me. There is no rock below me. No words can escape my lips - which doesn't matter because no one hears me anyway even when I do speak with sound.

So what now?

I don't know. The weight of the drenched soil is unbearable. The rain roars like a lion when faced with his enemy. The raindrops wear away my resolve. The color of the sky matches the rising dread in my heart. I search for anything but darkness - one single star to prove hope...and as the clay around me seems to harden even though the onslaught of rain will not cease, I am still searching.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dear Fear,

Dear fear,

Know what? I'm sick of you. I'm sick of you invading my heart. I'm sick of the chaos you cause in my mind. I'm sick of the way you stifle my words and twist them up. Know what else? I'm done with you. Hope wins, every time. I hope you enjoy losing - because that's exactly what is going to happen. Fear reigns for only so long...and then it is dethroned and replaced with resolve and determination.

Know what, fear? I'm resolved and determined. And if you know me? You know that I. DON'T. LOSE. EVER. Ever. This girl finds a way to move mountains when mountains don't move. This girl is on the prowl to lessen the burden. This girl is committed to chasing a dream...and try as you might, you will NOT stop me. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not any day.

'Cause guess what, fear? I've turned you into courage. I've turned you into motivation. I've turned you - my biggest enemy - into my biggest ally. My intention is unwavering - God first. Family second. Everything else next. If I let you win, fear, you will replace God and family ... and at this point that is not going to happen.

I am steadfast in my commitment to ditch you, fear. I am also going to WIN the fight to turn you to courage. In a strange and twisted way, you motivate me. You push me to dig deeper, run faster, push harder, search longer, and reach higher than my complacency. While it would be polite to say thank you, it would also go against my being because I wish you never existed. I said it. No backsies.

So today, fear, you have officially been put on notice that I no longer FEAR you. You lose. I win. I vow to step out courageously even when you attempt to take over. My heart knows that as long as I keep God first, put my family second, and leave the rest for last, I will always be taken care of and all will be 'right.' You are no match for me, fear - especially now.

With smugness,

P.S. Don't forget your coat- it's cold out.
P. P. S. Don't let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out.