a new beginning

Today is the last day of 2012. I’ve been praying that God would reveal a word for me to focus on and live out this next year. Instead of a list of 20 resolutions, I wanted one word to encapsulate this next year for me. This morning it hit me like a brick.

unrelenting.

Through a host of books I’ve finished and one that I just started (reviews to follow in the coming weeks) this word truly brings out what God has been teaching me and revealing in me.

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Unrelenting is a way of saying never ceasing and this is the year of being unrelenting in…

my quest to be freed from the bondage that is holding my heart captive to trusting
my desire to daily pursue gratitude and thankfulness for everything in my vision
my pursuit of God and the hearts of my husband, children, family and friends.

I do not give up easily in life on 99% of things…except Jesus.
I give up on Jesus all the time because “I know better.” (ha!)

This year I long to be 99% unrelenting in my pursuit of Him. Irregardless of where it might lead me.
For where He leads me will be 150% more amazing than anywhere I might have imagined.

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evil present

I’ve been pondering and reading a whole host of responses to the tragedy that occurred last Friday in Connecticut.
My first thought, obviously, was to my own children who at that time were still sitting in their classrooms in their own elementary school . My second thought was to all the times I had sat in a closet or bathroom with my students for “intruder drills” and I thought about all those teachers who were doing that same thing; only it was real.

I’ve read a host of comments about obviously the question of “why?”. Some people have mentioned that it’s all because pray and God was taken out of schools. And the thing is, God never left public schools. I don’t say this to make any sort of argument for or against any type of schooling decision, but the fact that we even begin to think that we remove God. The idea that we can move God where we want Him to be or not be.

God was present in that school. And so was evil. Just as evil entered into the Garden, sin walked into that school on Friday. A fallen man made a fallen choice and destroyed countless young lives. I see photos and hear names and ages of the children that died and hold my own 6 year old a little closer. And I remember that although evil walked in; it won’t have the final word.

Satan wants nothing more than to destroy the innocent and often times he uses the innocent to do that. For in destroying the innocent, he attempts to destroy us. He makes us question God and God’s intentions. He makes us doubt. And when we doubt; when we say that there is no way God was there in that maddness, we let evil get hold of us. God was there in the Garden. Satan didn’t slink his way in, our God is so much bigger than that. And God was there in that school.

God hears our cries. He hears the cries of everyone who is touched by this tragedy. He even heard the cries of the man who did this. And He has a plan. His plan from the beginning was to rescue us. It is a plan that involves fear and love; death and life. And hope.

3The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

4“Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
Again you will take up your tambourines,
And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.

5“Again you will plant vineyards
On the hills of Samaria;
The planters will plant
And will enjoy them.

6“For there will be a day when watchmen
On the hills of Ephraim call out,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the LORD our God.’”

7For thus says the LORD,
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chief of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise and say,
‘O LORD, save Your people,
The remnant of Israel.’

8“Behold, I am bringing them from the north country,
And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together;
A great company, they will return here.

9“With weeping they will come,
And by supplication I will lead them;
I will make them walk by streams of waters,
On a straight path in which they will not stumble;
For I am a father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.”

10Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
And declare in the coastlands afar off,
And say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him
And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”

11For the LORD has ransomed Jacob
And redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.

12“They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.

13“Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together,
For I will turn their mourning into joy
And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.

14“I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance,
And My people will be satisfied with My goodness,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31

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dragging

I feel like I am dragging.
Dragging this huge bag around full of frustrations and hurts and wounds and so much junk.
I keep looking up to heaven and asking Him to take it.
All the while I keep stuffing it full of more and more.

Then I read in John of Mary and Martha. Oh, so encouraging to see women so close to Jesus whose mouths speak such nonsense. Just. like. mine.
Lazarus is dead. They are frustrated. Do they carry around a “bag” like mine? Stuffing it full until the Lord comes near so they can dump it on Him?
Jesus does come and they open up their mouths wide with words. Oh such words.
“Where have you been?” they cry
“Why weren’t you here?
“He wouldn’t have died had you been here!”
All these pent up frustrations. All these moments of wanting Him to see them.
But not realizing that He does see them.
He knows the silly things they keep stuffing.
And he wants them to toss it all out onto Him.
So, He weeps.
He weeps for the loss of the one they loved.
The one He loved.
He weeps for the words that these women threw all over Him.

And then He speaks.
He opens His mouth and He tells them what to do.
And what do these crazy women do?
They argue with Him, with Him of all people! The Lord of Heaven.
And yet He is still gentle and patient with these women whose mouths speak foolishness and hurt.
And even despite their disbelief, they obey.
And out walks the impossible.

Because this is what God does.
He moves rocks.
He asks us to do crazy things.
He takes all the bags of frustrations off of us.
He lets us dump everything out onto Him.
And even in the midst of all our stupidity…
all of our crazy words and disbelief.
He wakes the dead.

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leftovers

I like leftovers.
Leftovers mean that my husband has 5 more minutes to sit on the couch with me in the morning instead of making a lunch.
Leftovers mean that I don’t have to scrounge around at lunch time and figure out what to eat.
They mean that maybe I get a night “off” from making dinner.
In an odd way they bring me peace because there is less work for me to do.
If I have something leftover I feel a sense of security.

But lately, I’m figuring out that God doesn’t work with leftovers.
They are not faith builders.
When I know that I have something left in the fridge to eat, I don’t have to think about anything.
I have a back up.

God has continually been filling up our plates.
He has been giving us exactly what we need…for that meal.
Like the manna that fell in the wilderness, as much as I’ve wanted to have something to save, I haven’t.
And it’s driving me mad.

I want something leftover, because I’m clinging to the leftover.
And honestly, there is very little that is leftover that is still as good as it was the day you made it.
Why would I cling to that?
Why would I think that having something left-over would bring me more satisfaction?
would cause me to count me to count more blessings.

Sunday night I had some of the best pizza that I’ve had in a long time.
But, I guarantee had we had any leftover it would have tasted nothing like it did the night before.
And as the 4 of us sat and stared at the last couple of pieces, we knew that.
Deep down, all of us knew that we couldn’t leave any of it.
It would be a loss to just leave it there and not eat it.
It would be a loss to take it home and reheat it the next day.
So we all shared in it.
We enjoyed it.
We embraced that moment and gave thanks for it.
Something as small as a pizza.

And that is what God is calling me to. Repeatedly.
Banging me on the head with. Repeatedly.
To embrace right now.
To enjoy what is front of me right now.
To praise Him for the provision….right now.
Refusing to focus on whether there will be leftovers.
Not worrying about what to do if there isn’t any left.
But calling out thanksgiving for this.

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a new series

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An introduction: Not that I’m not “real” when I write on other days, but there was something (probably rather someone) prompting me to start a new series in this space that forces me to write about things that I might not otherwise. Thoughts, struggles, worries or joys that otherwise would go unpublished. That said…I hate pictures of myself which is why I made this button. It’s me being real and that is what I hope you will find in this space.
So here goes.

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If you have read any of my posts in the last month you will know that I’ve recently had surgery. It was a surgery that had been scheduled in June and yet was something we didn’t really share too much publicly. I waited a long time before I even mentioned the word “surgery” in the web world at all. I never mentioned it on facebook to friends until most recently when I wrote this post. And while I felt strongly that I needed to share that post, hitting publish was totally freaky.

But what I haven’t really shared is this: I had a hysterectomy. This is where the “real” comes in. I’ve struggled with that word. When people have asked what is going on and I’ve shared I had surgery…I’ve whispered that word. There are certain crowds of people in my life I haven’t even wanted to say that word. It is a word that can make a room go silent. Nobody knows what to say.
And honestly, I’m not here to tell you what to say.
But what’s been coursing through my head these last few days is why?
Why have I been so afraid to tell others what is going on in my life. Not in a billboard sort of way, but in a way that frees others to talk with me about it?

I think one reason is because I am ashamed.
I am ashamed because I made a choice to have something that physically made me a mother be removed. While it had to happen; it was still a choice. But does having the amazing privilege of being able to physically grow and birth my children really make me a mother? I am surrounded by friends who have adopted children and they are just as much mothers as I am. Yet, while I know the Lord obviously didn’t call us to birth a large family, there is that part of me that is ashamed that now I can’t. And I’ve got to let it go.

I think the other reason is because I don’t want to grieve.
I have grieved partly, back in June when we first knew this was the best course of action. But for the most part I’m not opening my clenched fists to let it all out. My sweet friends who have questioned where I am in this and have pursued well have brought me close to that place of grief, but in all my strength I have not fully entered into it. I am totally freaked out with who is going to be the person that I finally lose it with. But last week made me realize I’ve got to let it out. As I sat in a dentist chair and listened to a hygienist who clearly had no “shut up” button in her head go on and on about her experience finally tell me that I had lost my “baby sack” I knew that it was time.

It was time to say the word out loud in order to release my shame and release my grief.

And then this morning, as I read about Rivers of Peace and Waves of Sorrow I knew that I was beyond blessed with friends and a gracious family to whom I could “lose it” with and in the end know that I will find joy.

The Bible speaks to such waves of joy and pain. For example, we are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Even though we are treated (for good reason) as sorrowful, like Paul we can also continue rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). As Christian Hedonists, in both celebrations and agonies, our aim is to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).

As one of my mentors says, “God always gives us enough to remain hopeful and he always gives us enough to remain dependent.” That’s right. Both are for more of him. Both belief and suffering are loving gifts (Philippians 1:29). ~ find the full post here

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