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...