Saturday, December 17, 2011

Grey for Gray.

Life is precious. Fragile. Too short. Uncertain and flimsy.

Today as I sat with a few hundred friends laughing and remembering the joy of a friend's life - his laughter and fabulous gift of being ridiculous, the ferocious competitiveness, incredible strength and courage, absolute dedication to the Lord and to so many lives that collided with his, his belief in and support of the beautiful ministry of Young Life and a deep deep love for his precious wife and children - I am left without words at how beautiful the Lord is.

A man that brought laughter with him wherever he was and people together throughout his life, has yet again brought a glimpse of heaven through a life lived in fullness - inviting friends to come together to celebrate and remember this incredible God, even though he got to be with Jesus before us.

His life was soaked in hope. In not an idea but a reality that our God is bigger than, more beautiful than, more gracious than, more outrageous than, more adventuresome than, more compassionate than all of our dreams.

HOPE. Such a simple, short word for a man that lived life so big, that loved so deeply, that called forth joy so preciously.

I can see so clearly him striding forward to meet the Lord - his son in the arms of kids that have seen Jesus more clearly because of this brave  Father, sitting in the place that his father met Jesus so many years ago.  I can see a huge smile as He wrestles with this big man with a bigger heart and whispers "Welcome home, good and faithful servant.." And as we sat thinking, laughing and remembering, I know that the Lord was listening and smiling, laughing and crying with us as we celebrated the live of a brave man, friend, father, husband, son and brother.

Thankful for the many lives that have seen holy because of Troy Gray. For his courage and deep joy, big dreams and faithfulness. We are changed because of how he lived so ferociously and for how he loved a BIG God.

His life is a beautiful glimpse of what we strive for - memories abounding, dreams exploding, love spilling forth, and joy so deep as to change our souls. And a calling for us to walk into the same. To be intentional with our time and with our love. And to never underestimate how big our God is and how deeply He craves our souls..

Life is precious.

But oh so beautiful. So powerful it shakes the soul. So stunning it leaves me speechless.

A holy moment as we sang How Great Thou Art today, celebrating a life and a God that have brought so much beauty to our lives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Whats up with praise?

It is the season of giving, of thanks, of sharing, of 'goodwill'. And it seems for a few weeks now I've been wrestling with this thought of gratitude, of grace, of thankfulness... 

There's several blogs that I 'subscribe to' and when I get a email that there is a new post, I want to drop everything to read the words that come from the depths of their hearts; they bring me to the feet of Jesus as I am overwhelmed with the vulnerability and truth that seeps into my aching heart. These women are incredibly strong, stunningly beautiful, overwhelmed and in high demand, not perfect and utterly amazing. And I have been noticing a theme in what the Lord is revealing to them and to me, and its this :

     recognizing the importance of gratitude & its role in our experience of 'full life'.

We are taught those polite manners and social 'nicities' such as "thank you'', ''your welcome'', ''have a good day'', ''great to see you", etc. from the cradle; they're ingrained and in reality they're a front, a fake, an unconscious greeting or parting comment most of the time. And sometimes it frustrates me that they are used as something to hide behind, a quick get-a-way as we are walking in opposite directions, you know what I'm talking about... And I have caught myself several times lately falling into the play-by-play we all know, without any intentionality or genuineness in the midst of the 'hustle and bustle' of this season.

And I wonder, how much do I rely on the ingrained or convenient phrases as I communicate with God? How much do I over look because all I say is "Thanks God, great going today!", or "Oh hey Jesus, hope you have a great day - peace out!", and the classic "So wonderful to see you, lets catch up SOON!"... And I realize, that sucks. I want more. And yes, Little Mermaid song is running through my head as I write that last sentence!

This word of "adoration" has come up many times lately... WHAT does it mean? HOW are we supposed to do it? HOW important is it? And WHY the heck is it seemingly so hard to do..?

Adoration : the act of paying honor. reverent homage. fervent and devoted love. worship given 
                           to God alone. profound love and regard. praise.

Well, there you go.. that's why its so hard. It requires of me in order to express fervent and devoted love. Its not an absentminded "Oh hey, what's up?" or a "You're pretty cool, I guess.." but an expression of utter thankfulness, of deep awareness of who He is and how He is working in my life and in the lives of people around me - near and far.

There is also the element of stability. I am praising and adoring the character of who God is, not just how pleased I am that He worked things out to how I wanted them to be in a certain circumstance. I am expressing love and devotion even when I don't have the answers and my heart is aching. I am putting my heart in a place of trust and depending on who He has promised to be, not only when its convenient but when I have all these lies going to and fro in my mind. I am choosing to praise through life and joy, but also in death and sickness by believing He is faithful.

One of my favorite writer's Sara (She's adopted 3 girls and 1 boy from Africa and has an incredible story as well as a beautiful gift of putting words together, check out her blog here) wrote this post, putting words to what I was trying to flesh out in my mind. And these words resonated with my heart :

     "Then come the questions - the shadows over my vision: Who am I? and Where is He? they 
     whisper. They seek to draw me back to the well of uncertainty, feeling low about myself and 
     all that I'm not and having forgotten the very thing which gives me life: who HE is.

     Enter adoration. Moments of praise aren't just for the ones who feel all filled-up with praise,
     but they are the weapons of war for those who have forgotten their last song. Praise is for 
     the bored, the broken, the barely-surviving. Adoration is like oxygen, infusing, building and
     rebuilding... Him into us, and us built-up in Him. You and me, on our worst days, have been 
     given a way out. A way up."

Praise isn't only when I'm happy-go-lucky and when there are rainbows and unicorns  all over my world or just standing in church on a Sunday night. But maybe more importantly when I don't have much else left.. When I'm having really hard conversations.. When I am yet again curled up in a chair in the middle of the night at the hospital waiting for news of friends.. When I can't breathe because my heart hurts so bad. When I have so many questions rolling around in my head, the "why did this have to happen this way?" 's or the "why did it have to happen now?'' 's and the "why did it have to happen to that person?'' 's... When I don't have the words to offer comfort and can just sit next to them... When my empty arms ache to hold the one's I know need hugs, to let them know that someone care's and to wipe away the tears. When my lips ache to kiss the precious foreheads and boo boos that need comfort and healing.. When I'm stuck in the cold in the parking lot with a dead car in the middle of the night.. When my wallet and bank account have pennies in them instead of dollars yet again... 

Maybe these are the moments that praise is for... To know that I'm not alone in the ER waiting for news but am with my Papa, believing and knowing that He is faithful and good.  When my arms are empty and boo boos are going un-kissed, that their real Father has them in His lap - cuddling and soothing and healing and protecting in ways that I couldn't. When the empty wallet shows how intimately He know my needs and provides for them through people and circumstances... When there aren't words to comfort or heal or erase the past, the Holy Spirit in me is with us and healing as we sit in the silence. When my heart is breaking, getting a little glimpse of how intimately He craves all of me and how deeply He loves. And when the questions come a-knocking, answering with assurance of and trust in who He is. 

Praise is powerful.

Praise puts my heart in line with His, that no matter the outcome - He is good and faithful and true.

Praise is getting my head out of my butt and focusing on who He is and what He has promised instead of slipping into doubt or frustration or anger or bitterness.

Praise is healing.

Praise is a breath of fresh air and a peace where there wasn't one before.

Praise is hard, but it is so integral to my survival. Because in praise I can recognize how powerful He is; I can acknowledge my limitations and lack of control and give Him reign to be sovereign; I can release my aching heart into His care, knowing that He will give it back to me a little bit more healed and a little bit more beautiful. And I can declare how He has brought me this far, how He redeems, how He pursues the heck out of me. I can proclaim not just with my lips and words but with my heart and soul that He is good.

And so in this season of reunions and goodbyes, laughter and tears, changes and patterns, new memories and loses - I am choosing to praise with all of me. Choosing to declare, recognize, proclaim, acknowledge, whisper and scream that He is faithful and good and true, that He delights in us, that He calls us home to His side and His heart, and that He loves. And I'm choosing to remember the blessings that I have and the people that I love - whether they are with me or not. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coming awake..

Some days I wonder...

Some days I ache...

Some days I get frustrated and unsure...

Some days I am so excited that I start shaking... 

Some days I simply don't understand...

And I am discovering something really important - that no matter what I'm feeling that day - if I let myself step back and right into Jesus with the fears and trepidation, those blasted insecurities, the shaking-in-my-boot excitement, the wonder and amazement, the frustration and the millions of questions or simply with my aching heart... He meets me there.

I came across these words last night and felt such peace... 

           "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is 
           the only way we'll know we're living truly, living God's reality. It's also the way
           to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For
           God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do 
           ourselves." (1 John 3:18-20)

I love that this starts out with talking about real love, about living a full life. And He knows that for us that means so many emotions, so many hard situations, such pain and longing, such joy and grace... And the best way to keep out of my head the revolving parade of mistakes, the "I shoulda's" and the "I'm not worth  ____'s..." is to keep. Keep loving, keep walking forward, keep moving towards His heart, keep breathing when that's all I can do, keep trusting with all of me, keep listening even when the silence is deafening, keep asking questions and keep expecting Him to answer in His time...

I want to live "in God's reality". I want to be so awed by who He is and how He redeems that I'm speechless. I want to see people's souls shake when they realize how deeply they are loved. I want to know in my gut, in my soul, that God is faithful and steadfast. And I'm realizing that the more I ask of God, the more I want Him to be revealed and the more I need grace - the deeper I need to sink into trust. 

I thought that He was good and in my head I knew that "He worked everything together for His marvelous plan"- but the closer I get to His heart, the more I need to not just read but rely on His promises; the more I need to believe and not have thoughts about how good He is; the more I need to know and not just think that He knows me, my heart, my journey AND everyone else's to align them together for His perfect will; the more I need to act in deep trust instead of just saying the words that His timing is so much better than my own... 

Because this journey is not my own. Because even though I don't exactly enjoy roller coasters (well, more the plummet to the earth with great speed and force part) or the shoving myself off of things from great heights - there is the beautiful moment of feeling so blessedly alive as the ground is racing up to meet your face. I think that we are made to be alive, to come awake. Made to do and be. Made to have a crazy story, live this amazing adventure. To look back and say "WOW! That was a crazy ride!"...

And to be alive and come awake means that I need to step out of complacency and of comparison into compassion, into grace, into joy and laughter, into tears and hard conversations... For what else is fullness about after all?

I'm discovering that as I walk into what He is calling for me, the more I need all of Him - not just the comfortable parts - and that requires all of me - not just the convenient, the pretty, the comfortable but the aching, the questions, the confusion, the past experiences, the uncomfortable and ugly parts... And the incredible thing is, He wants it. He wants me - baggage, failures, and the greatness all roled into one. He delights in me, He made me, He desires my ME and He is continuously pursuing my stubborn heart.. Go figure, huh? 

I love how the passage wraps up with "for God is greater than our worried hearts and know more about us than we do ourselves." It makes sense, doesn't it? My silly little heart takes so much onto itself - the details, the stories of others, the "planning", the confusion but He is bigger than it all. And He can handle it. He doesn't need my input or questions or doubt every half second and it certainly isn't good for my stress level.  Now if I could just get that into my head and heart a little deeper, I might be a little smarter... This gives me peace, that even though my heart is fickle and my eyes are woozy, He is still good, still God, still sovereign, still faithful and still deeply in love with me.

In the words of  C.S. Lewis, "the great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go, God's love does not."  Amen, my friend. For some days, that's all I can I can hold onto. I am so thankful that He is so much more faithful that my fickle heart and so much more steadfast then my wandering eye, that He wants me close to His heart and that His patience level is light years beyond mine. 

Time isn't guaranteed for any of us. And I don't know when I'll get to see Jesus face to face, but I do know that I want the people that I love to meet me there. And to be celebrating, dancing/hopping around, signing (off key for me) and hanging out with Jesus for eva... To be able to tell Him that I loved deeply, that I walked toward Him even when I didn't understand, and that I trusted who He is and was and will be. And so today I am singing this song over and over wanting the words to sink deep into my aching heart... Because we are meant to come awake.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Holla, mi nombre es..."

One of the things that is rolling round 'n round in my head is this idea of names. I was talking about it with some friends a bit ago and since then, I've been loving what the Lord is showing me about my name and about our identities.

Maybe Shakespeare was onto something in Romeo and Juliet with his famous "what's in a name?" quote - it is such a powerful question. When someone asks who you are, the natural response is "Well, I'm (insert your name)", and that's that. Our name is what we are known by, it's our identity, something we can embrace or hide behind, something we can be proud of or want to walk away from. It has this power, this element of revealing our soul.

There can be so much love in someone's voice when they say our name.. Or such indifference. Someone remembering my name has the power make me feel loved, known, wanted and important; but on the flip side, if someone's like 'Oh yeah, you... how's it going?', I feel a little lost and a lot insignificant.

It got me thinking... about my name and what it says about me. So, (and if you know me, you know what I did next..), yep I googled the meaning of my name (big surprise right!). And this is what I found:

      Kailey means 'keeper of the keys', 'pure/purity', 'darling', 'beloved', 'rare beauty'.

      Elizabeth means 'God's promise', 'God is my oath'.

I sat there and was overwhelmed. I mean, 'keeper of the keys'? Seriously? THAT'S really me? 'God's promise'? What does that EVEN mean??! I've been captivated with how John is so fully rooted in being 'the beloved one' but I don't know if I could really call myself that...

And some beautiful words came from Jesus to soak into my heart.. Sometimes it blows me away how intimately the Lord knows my heart - He KNEW that I would need my name to be BELOVED so that I could soak in it, so that I could remember every time my name is spoken, called or yelled that I am really hearing 'darling, My beloved'. He KNEW that I would need something as ridiculous as a middle name to remember that my identity, my reason for living is to be apart of fulfilling His promises of love and redemption here as I walk this earth.

And the whole 'keeper of the keys' thing, I don't know what that is all about but there is something in my soul that resonates as I hear those words... So I'm going to keep thinking over those words and see what other sweet things the Lord has for my heart in them :)

The more days I live, the more I am coming to realize that importance of knowing who we are. Not just the random 'I can do this weird trick' (though that's fun and good), but more who I am - where my heart is, what makes me come alive, what makes me stop and thank Jesus, what makes me ache for grace, what makes me rest in His faithfulness, what makes me reach for trust, what brings me to my knees, what stops my heart with beauty, what makes me run away and what pisses me off, what stirs my soul...

Cause if we don't know who we are, if we aren't sure-without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt/deeply-aware/living-in-the-midst of our identity as the loved one, then I don't think we can fully come alive.. I know that when I'm trying to patch this/just make it to the next moment/cross things off my list/stay above the water, then I'm missing something vital, something crucial. That isn't me living a full life, it's not me coming alive, it only existing.

I don't want to just exist.

want 'm gonna dance.
want 'm gonna be joyful.
I want 'm gonna stand in awe.
I want 'm gonna be speechless.
I want 'm gonna laugh so hard I cry.
I want 'm gonna ask hard questions.
I want 'm gonna intimately know God's heart.
I want 'm gonna know that meaning of family.
I want 'm gonna love so hard my heart hearts and my hands are dirty.
I want 'm gonna have the 'stampeding elephants' feeling in my stomaching.

And so, I am going to live out my name to it's fullest. I'm going to be the person that my name calls out to me to be.

I'm not going to lie, it's hard. Hard to stand firm in my 'belovedness' when I have so many things screaming at me that I'm not worth it, that all I got is junk. Hard to sink deep into 'God's promise' when I have a video on replay in my mind of all the times I've screwed up.

BUT, thank goodness for the His faithfulness. For His grace. For His peace. For the way that He covers all my inadequacies so that I can just keep breathing in and moving closer to His heart and who He has made me to be... :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dirty Hands...


I want my life to look like the lyrics of this song. I want 'this' to be bigger than me. I want my soul to be awake. I want to breathe out Jesus is how I love and how I pursue girls. I want to invest my life in love, to be remembered for how big I loved. I want Jesus to be so big in me that I cease to exist, and it is solely Him chasing after hearts through me.

My heart aches for the faces that pass through my mind almost constantly. I want my heart to be broken, I want to see redemption. I want to be stunned and speechless at how BIG the Lord is and how infinite He is. I want my soul to stand in places of injustice and brokenness. I want to trust and dream big - bigger than my comfort zone, bigger than what I think I can do, past all of me

I want to push my dreams solely into God's realm so I know without a shadow of a doubt that it was because of Him and His grace that they are coming true. 

And I am. Moment by moment. Taking the next step or falling to my knees at how the Lord is pursuing my heart. Conversations in my car driving down 40 or 2 hour long talks in my kitchen that I know are only because of the Lord knowing my heart so deeply and intimately, knowing the words I need to hear to challenge, inspire and call me out.                                                                                
Filling a mop bucket and coming face to face with my need for control, gasping for grace and grabbing for Jesus.                        

Standing in a room with 350 friends, men and woman, that are crying out for hearts broken over our cities, for healing and redemption, for God to show up and be glorified. Standing soul to soul proclaiming and declaring that we're walking in faith towards Jesus, taking as many of our middle school, high school and college friends with us.

Reading the words of incredible women as they reveal not only their insecurities but also the holy moments of their adoption journeys and the adventure they are trusting the Lord with. The passion the Lord has given them to rescue and bring home their children from around the world, just as Jesus pulled us and rescued us, bringing us home to be in His arms... 

I believe the Lord absolutely delights in us moving closer to His heart; asking for ours to be broken for what breaks His; for the moments He gets to romance my heart and show me how worth it I am; the chance to wake me up with a loud boom of thunder and huge hail hitting my window so that I can smile and fall back asleep thinking how cool Jesus is... 

I'm still prone to impatience.. I'm still sick to my stomach at how selfish I am... I still have an awful terrible struggle with letting go of control and trusting..

And yet, the Lord is asking big things of me. Instead of standing up and proclaiming "I got this God, thanks for the chance to show off how great I am - oh yeah, and You too!", I want to be on my knees asking for more grace and holiness, thanking Him for using the mess I am, asking to be closer to His heart then ever before. 

I've been learning so much recently about what it means to lead, to be a leader and to be a follower. I am realizing more and more the people in my life that "lead me" towards Jesus  are the ones on their knees, getting their hands dirty. 
The more I see and discover the kind of leader I want to be, the more I want to be on my knees and get my hands dirty. The more I want to talk to Jesus. The more I want my eyes to be open and my heart to be looking for the holy moments, the glimpses of Jesus working and walking and crying and dancing with me. 

A friend wrote this as his status and I was captured by these words:  "Live the kind of faith that ought to require seat belts; do the kind of work that ought to require gloves." 

I can't wait to stand before Jesus, say that I definitely needed a seat belt and that I got my hands dirty :) 

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I came across this poem as I was reading a friend's blog this morning and it struck me hard... This past year (and still going) has been and is so much about trusting myself and trusting Jesus; about His faithfulness and me learning to be faithful; about healing and brokenness; about redemption and grace; about peace and joy; and wrapped up in all of that, its been about waiting...   

I've prayed word for word some of the lines in this poem - wishing for fast answers and quick fixes, for immediate gratification and for my heart not to be broken. And yet, the Lord has met me here - when my heart is broken He can speak and heal; when I'm tired and lacking faith, He covers me and my selfishness; when I'm frustrated and not at all patient, I can  see His grace in this elaborate redemption adventure He has asked me to be apart of.

                                                                         Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said,"Wait.""
Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!"
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?
"I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.
You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply.
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?
"He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.
You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.
You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.
So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still "WAIT".
~Author Unknown

And so I wait. 

I wait for God to continue pursuing my heart and revealing a little bit more about where He has called me; I wait and open my arms to the people that are in my life now, loving and crying and living and dreaming together; I wait and I pray for the faces that pass through my mind and dig deep into my heart; I wait and dream of possibilities and opportunities and adventures; I wait and I learn and seek knowledge and wisdom, I ask questions and dream; I wait and I rest, knowing that my life will not look like this much longer; I wait and learn patience and just a little bit more about relying on the Lord with all of me, instead of just a part; I wait and I pray for friends now and friends to be, for an abundance of grace and a mass of courage, for the adventure and plans that are unfolding, for God to be bigger than I could dream imagine and even bigger to even comprehend...

I'm captivated by this song... The lyrics are words from my heart and so I listen to this on repeat for hours, knowing that Jesus delights in my waiting, that He is meeting me here and preparing the adventures to come, the relationships and faces to meet, the joys and the heartaches in store, the profound grace and the chances to catch deeper glimpses into His heart, to come face to face and heart to heart with His unconditional and all consuming love. 

I sit and I dance and I pray and I cry and I trust and I love as I am waiting for the next step, the next piece to fall into place, the next challenge to jump into on this crazy adventure of life that He for me. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Into the light...



I am completely speechless, surely I should fall to my knees..

My God leaves me utterly speechless that He chooses me.

I have been given much and much is expected of me.

Much is on my heart, on my soul... My empty arms ache and my heart hurts as it longs for what the Lord is putting together...

I am excited, heart broken, passionate, emotional and a little scared - what a fantastic place to be!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stampeding Elephants :)

Have you ever prayed a prayer that sounded great and meaningful and then not really expected an answer to it?

There have been a few times that I have prayed an 'innocent' (insert finger quotations) prayer, not anticipating, expecting or really even looking for an answer or solution, and THAT is when the Lord pounces on my heart and throws a curve ball, reveals answers, provides wisdom or nudges someone to call me out, etc..

Each time, no joke, this has happened I am shaken, I am moved, I am uncomfortable, and I realize anew how much He delights in pulling me closer to His heart. 

I can not move closer to Jesus, I can not be redeemed and healed if I'm oblivious, if I'm comfortable and stagnant, if I'm totally confident that I got it all figured out, can I? Of course not.

So as the birthdays keep going up, I'm realizing more and more that I ache to be surprised by Jesus. I crave to be thrown a curve, to get that tingling in the stomach when I am little out of my comfort zone, and the HUGE "elephants on a stampede" feeling when I'm way WAY WAAAAYYYY past my "I got this!" zone..

Because, it's those places that I meet Jesus in ways that totally blow my mind. 

It's when I show up when it's hard and even though it hurts that I'm on my knees talking or crying with Jesus, not at Him. Its the moments that push me past all predictability, my own plans and convenience into nothing less then holy moments; into conversations that stir my heart with truth and healing; into 
opportunities that change my life and into lives that collide with mine in powerful ways that can only be from Jesus. 

I 'innocently', (again, insert finger quotations), was walking in the woods and talking to Jesus about a year ago and just asking questions, wondering what Jesus would say / how He would answer if He was walking next to me and just asked for Him to "show me what breaks Your heart, that is where I want to be...". Yup, even as I read this, I'm like "What the HECK was I thinking with THAT one!"...  

Looking back to that moment I can see the Lord with a gentle smile and tears in His eyes as He says "Just wait my darling, come and see what I have in mind for you... Look and dream, cry and laugh, be patient and move forward as I align things to answer this in incredible ways; as I give, provide, and stretch in ways more than you can ever dream and imagine on your own!"... 

It shakes my soul when I get glimpses of how completely He knows my heart, my dreams, my personality (quirks, included!), what makes my heart hurt and where I get frustrated. And in all of this, He knows where I fit in this grand dream of redemption and family He has... Boy, does He have big dreams!

My soul stutters at how He has begun to show me how He is answering that prayer from a year ago... And I can see little flashes of conversations, books, holy moments, classes, verses and people from that past that He put in place years before I even thought to pray those words as signs along the way, as directions in the journey, as motivators and inspiration to start ideas and dreams growing and flowing in my head and heart.

So here's to me aligning my heart to His, to a "stampeding elephants in my stomach" future and a journey that is bigger, fuller, deeper than I could dream or imagine... :)

I figure I can't out-dream God, so I'm gonna go WAY BIG - gotta keep Him on His toes, you know ;)

Peter and grace...

I am Peter. Jesus built His church on Peter (his name means "rock", go figure!) but he was probably the worst disciple. Ever. He screwed up big time and yet because our God is a god of miracles and grace,(and 2nd, 9th and 21st chances) God chose someone who needs a ton of grace and lots of patience to be the stronghold for the church. I am definitely Peter.

Jesus told His friends that it was God's plan for Him to be arrested - when things were going how God put them together that night in the garden, who freaks out and cuts off someone's ear? Yup, Peter. I can hear Jesus chuckling as He picks up the bloody ear and puts it back on the soldier's face, "Peter, do you think for a MINUTE that I'm not going to do what the Father asks of Me? That I won't drink the cup the Father has given Me..?" I wonder what went through Peter's mind as he saw the Lord literally healing the wounds he had caused by his rash behavior and lack of trust...

Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him 3 times; Peter says "No, no! Jesus, I love you, I would NEVER not claim you! I would never forget, never give up, never walk away, never get frustrated!". But we know how the story plays out, Peter DOES reject and deny his relationship with Jesus 3 times before the sunrises. This after just watching Jesus heal the ear problem hours before, Peter resorts to pride and proclaims "I WOULD NEVER!", only to be insecure and untruthful by doing EXACTLY as the Jesus said he would. And in that moment that the crow echoes through the allies as he is huddled around a fire trying to get warm in the dusky morning glow, how his heart must have plummeted... Those sinking feelings of failure, fear, and loss. Yet our God is one of grace and had it in abundance in that moment and in the ones after..

After Jesus has risen, He went to see His friends while they were fishing on the water. What does Peter do...? Oh yeah, in his rush to get to Jesus he jumps/dives/belly flops off the boat and into the water and swims/doggy paddles to the shore; while the boat simply turns around and heads towards Jesus on the shoreline (makes sense right?), gotta think the boat got there first... So good 'ol Peter, soaking wet and muddy, tiredly crawls up the bank of the water to plop down at Jesus feet. I can see His smile as He looks down at Peter - full of love, patience and grace - and then He opens His arms and welcomes Peter home...

I am Peter. I think I got it all figured out and so jump out of the boat, in a rush to get to the 'destination' and end up at the Lord's feet soaking wet, having taken the longer, and of course more exhausting way; then we just chuckle as He picks me up or both cry as He reaches down to hold my hand and pull me close against His heart. I love the Lord; I want to step out in faith; I want to be courageous instead of living in fear; I want to chose to love and be intentional like Jesus but I wonder how many times I deny Him through my actions, my "me" oriented thoughts or attitude...? Yes, I am Peter. I have my own time-line, my own ways of jumping in to "save the day" instead of trusting Jesus to show up and work miracles.

And yet, I am left speechless at the grace, the peace, the patience and this God who wants my heart so desperately. When I jump instead of sitting at the Lords feet praying and asking Him or when I get afraid or insecure, these are the moments that God's grace and His love are so clear. The peace that comes in the place of the expected disappointment is remarkable. I am shaken not by fear of failure, disappointment or unworthiness but by this love that defies all understanding, that covers my heart, that delights in vulnerability and trust, that seeks peace and grace instead of anger, guilt and hurt...

I am beginning to understand what Paul is talking about in 2 Corthinians 12,

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was give the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was to push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me 'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength come into its own in your weakness.' Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen! I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift! It was a case of Christ's strength moving in my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." ( vs. 7-10)

I can delight in the grace because I am so loved. That astounding grace covers me - all my limitations, my insecurities, my doubts, my mistakes. And because I am not perfect, God's love and grace are somehow made more evident in me. Praise JESUS that I don't have to be perfect, that I don't have to be afraid of making the wrong decisions.

THANK YOU JESUS that I am called to love deeply and live alongside people, not save them; that I am called to walk in truth and joy and then to challenge the people around me to do the same... What an honor for this broken, sometimes selfish heart to talk about how the Lord has redeemed me and how He continues day in and day out to do so, to talk about how great and true His love is. Through my quirks, my past and everything else un-perfect about me, the Lord can be revealed in power and glory. Amen :)

Jesus sits with Peter and asks him if he loves Him 3 times. And after each time Peter says "Yes, you know I do!". Then Jesus gives him instructions : "Feed My lambs", "Shepard My sheep", and "Follow Me". After everything that he's done, Peter is asked by God to live alongside people and love deeply, called to live a redeemed life. I am Peter. I am called to walk in redemption and bring other people with me. To live in love and bring hope, joy and truth. To invite people to "come and see" that the Lord is good and holy and oh, so full of grace!

So here I go. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

I give her love - Ryan Long

I came a cross this song and something about it just... soothes my heart.

What will ever happen if I stop loving you...    
Until then I’ll be everything you need
I’ll carve your name in oak
And plant my hearts first seed
I’ll gather you all the money I could ever hope to make
I’ll even hold you up if your world begins to break
I’ll place my body on the line
Bless your lips that breathe
Give you all my money if I should ever choose to leave

For the dead and dying
In purgatory
I wait to give her love
I hide her memory
In the shadow lays a love
Under all the weeping trees

What will ever happen if I don’t stop loving you
You’re always every single thing I need
With every turning summer
And every fallen leaf
I shouldn’t want to give my heart away
With all the stories my mother said to me
I’d always be your man in every time of need
To give you more than moments should you ever choose to leave

For the dead and dying
In purgatory
I wait to give her love
And hide her memories
In the shadows lays a love
Under all of the weeping trees
Under all of the weeping trees

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Woman who fits the character.

So, I have been reading Donald Millers blog - his thoughts as he is putting together another book! I love the way he talks about life, Jesus and his heart, something about the way he can put words together captures my heart and allows me to see Jesus in new ways... 

This week he had some really interesting thoughts and there has been a lot of  talk about them so thought I'd put aside little extra time to settle in and read them. The title is "How to have a great love story" Vol. 1 and 11 (first one for girls, second for the guys..)   

Love when I talk to Jesus about something that is on my heart, when I ask questions, when I struggle and wrestle with something, He answers.. Last few weeks been having really beautiful conversations with friends about love stories, about singleness, about marriage, about intimacy, about ways the Lord works - so of course, the Lord chuckles and nudges one of my favorite authors to share his thoughts. Jesus is so cool - I love that He gets what I need and what makes my heart heal and what challenges me!  

To start out : I don't agree with ever single statement in both posts, but I DO think there is truth and a lot of important points he made. Coming from women and gender classes stressing empowerment, asserting independence, equality, gender roles, etc. - some of his comments rubbed the wrong way and aren't aligned with my heart.  BUT, he did have some wisdom -whether you're the woman declaring 'chauvinistic pig' or agreeing with everything he said, I believe he has valid points.  

One of the things that really stood out to me was this sentence, "become the woman who fits the character in the love story you want to live.." (Vol 1).  How true... 

How can I expect this great love story if I am not be willing to work for it? 

How can I dream of this man that is so in love with Jesus and deeply loves the people in his life; that has passion, patience, wisdom; that seeks adventure, that is willing to take risks and goes forth on trust; that brings joy and laughter... How can I dream of spending my life with someone like this if I'm not willing to be make decisions that reflect this; if I'm not actively seeking Jesus, daring to trust and walk forward in His love? 

I want to be a woman that is worthy of the man above; I want to be able to walk beside him (not behind or in front of); I want to be able to push him to be closer to Jesus.. I DO want this crazy cool, wild and adventurous life and love story -- I'm not going to wait to be trusting Jesus or wait to make important decisions or wait to be this woman, because I don't have this man in my life yet. One thing that D.M. talked about that I that I totally agree with - being a naggy, bitchy, wishy-washy female doesn't help me, him OR Jesus. 

It has taken a long time but I'm beginning to believe that I deserve and am worth this man above; to spend my life playing, working and loving beside my best friend... (P.S. this still shocks me! Just a testament to how big God is!) I want to be the wife and best friend that he wants to spend the rest of his life; that Jesus uses to challenge and bring grace and truth. 

I can't do that if I'm hanging out and just waiting for this guy to show up. It is integral that I am living my life with Jesus NOW; that I am being challenged, stretched, molded, built and sharpened in the present, in my daily life if we are going to be able to have this incredible, crazy, wild, joyful, exciting, emotional, blessed, adventurous life together in the future. 

Whether the Lord is putting a future together for us in the soon or in the distant, this man is already pushing my heart and soul towards Jesus in ways that continue to stun me!

I want to be able to stand next to him and Jesus with a heart that is redeemed, full of truth, joyful, adventurous and seeking still more of Jesus... So that is what I am going to do :)  

P.S. I had Pandora playing while I was reading the posts / writing this and one of my favorite Brandon Heath songs 'Love Never Fails' came on... So cool how Jesus knows me heart and as I'm processing this all out - reminding me of the power, importance and absolute beauty of love. No wonder this is what our hearts crave, what our soul longs for, what we desperately need in our lives...    

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big dreams...

Sometimes I loose site of the present, I get wrapped up in crossing things off a list or what I don't have in my life or adventures yet to be had.. Unfortunately, I have this idea of a life that I want to live -- random dreams, details, concepts, and pictures in my head that I think is this ideal life -- and these things crowd my head and pull me away from the present. I find myself sometimes making decisions based on what I think my life should look in a year, or 5 years, or 20 years instead of what I'm learning now, instead of asking Jesus where He wants me, instead of being intentional with my time, my emotions, confronting my fears in the NOW...

I think for me its easier to plan, to focus on the future possibilities than it is to be present, be vulnerable, be honest in the present. Its hard to admit that I hide in plans or in the future because I am scared of being hurt, of being too vulnerable, of not being good enough in my life where I am right now.. 

Plans and dreams for the future remove me from my current reality.

In no way am I saying that plans and dreams are a bad thing at all! Dreams are huge motivators and definitely ways that the Lord works and reveals Himself in our lives. But it changes when God isn't apart of our dreaming... My very active imagination would conjure up this alter-reality in my head of a really sweet life and then it would sometimes be frustrating when I'd ''crash back to earth'' and find that I wasn't living that life.

Something the Lord has been teaching me over this last year is finding the balance between being inspired by dreams (which is fun and exciting and adventurous!!) while walking hand in hand with reality. I keep discovering He wants us to have this exciting, pee-your-pants, stomach-in-your-throat, release of control, this sweeeet adventure for our lives -- if He could dream up the WORLD and and the intricacies of the human body and the trillion of other details of our universe, then OF COURSE He would want this incredible life story for us, the one thing that He declared not only as good but very good.

I need be in communication with this crazy adventurous God that I keep underestimating. I need to come to the place that I have nothing left, that I can release this concept of control and this plan that I've held to so tightly and let it be replaced with something so much more precious and holy. I need to let go of hurt and the past and learn and live in deep trust - with myself, with people I love and with my Jesus. I need to learn how to live my life in a place of patience and grace. I need to allow profound joy to enter my life. I need to show up in people's lives and be real about my life, my fears, and challenge them to do the same.. 

I feel like I say this all the time but sometimes I still just don't get why Jesus chose me - insecurities, lack of trust, stubbornness, pride, arrogance all wrapped up in a 5'3, green eyed package! But the more I find I lack of myself, the more screwed up, the deeper the sin - this is where I more thoroughly begin to understand God's grace, how intimately He restores my aching heart, how deeply He desires my trust, how He redeems my past and my dreams, and how stunningly He loves me..

I'm beginning to understand what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians when he said "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (12:9) I'm okay with still having a lot to learn, with this journey to be full of ups and downs because all of this points to how BIG, how deep and how incredible my God is. 

If I'm living my life with my whole heart with Jesus then my life is going to be more adventurous, completely immersed in joy, deeply filled with love and more full then I could dream up on my own in 10 lifetimes.. I am choosing to walk in love and trust knowing that no matter how I fail by my standards or the worlds - I am chosen by God to be who I am...

Praise Jesus :)