Wednesday, August 24, 2011

solace...

"She found solace in things most people took for granted: books. Within the pages of her life she found that books held a quiet comfort. They took her away from her present-day troubles and allowed her a glimpse into the life of another. Books were a hiding place, books were an escape. But then she discovered prayer, and books were set aside for a more divine Hiding Place and instead of running to the pages of some novel for escape, she ran into Heavenly Arms for comfort."

~ Shanna Bryant

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

shot like an arrow

sitting in a coffee shop... reading the Word... God led me here:

Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."

Instruct and teach? Isn't that repetitive, God? I mean, don't those mean the same thing? I began to look up the original language (http://www.blueletterbible.org/) and here's what I found:

"Instruct": sakal, meaning to have insight, to be prudent and wisely understand. Got it. No surprise there.
"Teach": yarah, meaning to throw, shoot, cast, to shoot arrows. um... interesting word choice.

So apparently, God grants us insight into situations and then shoots us like arrows in the direction we should go.... Enter free will and outside circumstances....  

Will we go in the direction God is shooting us or will we let the wind blow us off course?

Ask for wisdom and you will find it...

Recently in my life I have been in a very stressful situation... a situation I would not wish on any human enemy (and I really mean that)... Sunday night, while the pastor was preaching, I was listening (your welcome, Brian) and he said something that hit me. He asked a question, "How does God feel about you right now?" My brain took that and flipped it into "how do I feel about God right now?" I have to be honest, I have dealt with some anger and bitterness towards God for allowing this situation to happen and for putting me in it. I have taken those feelings to Him and allowed Him to heal and redeem, but I still was stressing about a meeting the next morning. I began to not pay attention to the sermon (sorry Brian) and I began to pray. I began to cry out to God for wisdom, for Him to tell me exactly what He expected of me the next day. I knew that if I just knew what He wanted, if I obeyed, everything would be ok. It's as if my obedience was paramount not just for me, but for the whole situation. I began to ask for wisdom.

The Bible says that if you lack wisdom, ask for it, and it will be given to you and that's exactly what happened. I thought, where is the wisdom in the Bible? Proverbs! And then I skipped over Proverbs and went to Ecclesiates. He led me right to where I needed to go to hear what He wanted me to do in the meeting.

Ecc. 4:6 "Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind."

And then I pulled a Gideon and said to God, "umm... what?" He answered in the next chapter.

Ecc. 5:2 "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."

Ok, I said to God... I think I've got it now... You just want me to be quiet and let other people do the talking.... um.... why? Again, He answered two chapters over.

Ecc. 7:13-14 "Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future."

I began to understand. God has orchestrated these events, has allowed these things to happen, who am I to try and step in and "fix" it when I can stand back and let the Author set things back to His liking? I'm no one, I'm a vessel of the Lord of lords. I'm not to step into His world and tell Him how to act or how I think things ought to be. They are His.

And so I was silent in the meeting and I knew in my spirit that I walked away from it blameless in the eyes of God because I obeyed His commands to me regarding that very specific situation. Glory to God on high who gives direction and understanding to His children when they ask and obey!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life.
— Walt Whitman

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

from Chambers today...

"If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" —Matthew 5:30

Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” The principle taught here is the strictest discipline or lesson that ever hit humankind.

When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!”

There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.

The Christian life is a maimed life initially, but in Matthew 5:48 Jesus gave us the picture of a perfectly well-rounded life— “You shall be, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” -Chambers

When God said to cut off your right hand, He didn't have to tell us how painful it would be, it's a given. Cutting off your own hand is going to HURT! But better to endure the pain of losing a limb than to struggle with sin and reap the fruit of that sin. But what if the sin isn't yours? What if it's someone else's in your life? Cut them off. It's going to HURT, you will cry and your heart may break, but God will honor your decision to live holy in His sight by stepping away from the sin. That being said, don't just write off people who screw up, we're all human and we all mess up. But unrepented, intentional sin needs to be dealt with. If you have confronted them by yourself, and then again with a mediator, and then again with your leadership and still there is no change, cut him off.... It's going to HURT. Believe me. It hurts. But God blesses and He has mercy on your pain and loves you through it. Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances I have ever endured in my life, God is good, God is love, God is my Rock. I'm doing this for Him, under His direction, and for His people. My human heart may be breaking, but God is faithful to restore it! Will I cry? Already am. Will I hurt more? Yes. Will I need a time of healing? Most definitely. Is God ever-faithful to me? Without doubt! Will I obey Him? Without question.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strength can be our biggest weakness...

The more I grow and learn, the more I realize that there is a group of people in this world that seem to be built a little differently. They have a certain something about them that makes them seem stronger, able to handle more than others. A majority of these people are called women. Women seem to be built with a few uncanny qualities that few men I’ve known possess. I think most will agree that women have certain abilities that men are just not made with, and I’m not just talking about childbirth. I’m talking about the ability to look at you and see into your soul; the ability to fix everything with a hug, kind words, and good back scratch (the kind that you can still feel 15 minutes later); and the ability to hold what seems like the weight of the world on their shoulders and not only still stand up straight, but counsel another friend at the same time. Women are strong, strong people. But from this strength can come a huge problem, the “I can handle this” problem.

Sometimes we women get so used to “handling it” that we forget the Almighty God who wants to handle things for us. He wants to take the world off of our shoulders so we can go through the day without a headache! The only catch is that we have to let go of the world before He can take it. We have to willingly give it to Him and not try to take it back. There’s the rub. Some of the strongest women I know have gained their strength because they have not had someone stronger than them in their lives to help relieve the burdens they have carried and as a result they have trouble giving their own burdens to God and letting Him keep them.

I was speaking with a friend that has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her job is demanding, her living situation is very demanding, and her family is currently going through more than one crisis. She is so stressed that her body is physically sick. She is very close to becoming angry and bitter at God. At one point, she questioned God for giving her too much to handle at one time. And don’t all women do that at some point? Do we not all try to tell God how much we can and cannot handle and how dare He cross that line and give us too much? Of course we do, whether we admit or not, we do, we have, and we will.

A few years ago, I was told that I had “grit”...  from a thesaurus “courage, bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance.” These are nice things to have as they have come in very handy when dealing with certain aspects of my life, but they have also been a hindrance because I start to think that I can handle things better than God. Now, I don’t go around saying that I can handle things better than God, that would just be crazy. But every time I try to handle something without consulting Him, without letting Him be the leader, without having His guidance, without giving it to Him, I’m basically telling Him that I can do it better than He can.

Yes, women are strong. We have to be. Coming from a military family, I have seen and see daily how women are strong for their husbands, how women support their husbands. In my experience, the supporter must be as strong or stronger than the supported. Yes, men are physically stronger, and in a battle of the sexes, men might win. And yes, this is a battle, but not of the sexes, but for the sexes! As Christian men and women, our struggle is not against each other, but we fight side by side against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12 NKJV). God made men and women to work together, to work in harmony with each other against the evil powers of this world. But two are better than one only if God has put those together. We women sometimes have to hard time being alone, which is ironic when you stop to consider who strong we are. Society has made us feel incomplete if we are not married or with at least with someone. A single woman in her thirties is nearing “old maid” status and should probably invest in at least two cats if you follow society’s philosophy on the subject… unless of course, you are a career woman, and then it’s okay to be single as long as you plan on getting married at some point in your life.

Ladies, society has lied to you! We have spent too much of our lives watching Walt Disney’s ideas on love, Prince Charming, and a heroine with perfect hair, that we have forgotten God’s reality! God has a plan for your life, a plan that you have been carefully crafted by His hands to accomplish and everything in your life, all the weights you have carried over the years are for that plan! The daily headaches I struggle with make my compassion for the pains of others skyrocket because I have a special, very personal understanding of what that pain really feels like. And when the pain gets so bad my eyes can’t focus anymore, I have to stop, pray for strength and wisdom, and continue on with the plan in the full knowledge that God is working through me because my strength is completely gone. Sometimes, we have to get to that point before we learn the lesson on how to give things to God and let Him keep them. It’s not that God enjoys laying more and more on our shoulders, it’s that He understands that we have been built to hold so much, that we have to be broken by the weight before we remember to give things to Him. It is sad that it has to happen that way and I wish it were not so, but we are stubborn people with stubborn souls and He is a patient God who only wants the best for us. In our weakness, He is at His strongest because it is when we are weak that we rely most on Him. Would that we were weak all the time! I wish I had never been told that I had grit! I wish I never realized my own strength so that I would have always relied on God for everything! But pride rarely fails to step in and tell me that I can handle it on my own.

Sisters (and brothers too) we are not made to handle things alone! We are made to give things to God and let Him work through us. What are you still holding on to that you know God wants? In order for you grasp all the good things that God has for you, you have to empty your hands of all the things you are holding onto. Release your grasp on the stresses, the worries, the fears, and even the joys. Give them all to God and be ready to be amazed at the gifts He gives you in return. Who else would give you a blessing for giving Him a burden? God wants your burdens as much as any parent wants to relieve their child of hurtful things. Let God have it and you’ll be amazed at the blessings that He pours into you that you never knew you always wanted and needed!

Friend, I love you and God loves you, both more than you know. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Top 10 Myths about Introverts

I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.

Top 10 Myths about Introverts

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Anxiety is secretive. He does not trust anyone, not even his friends, Worry, Terror, Doubt and Panic … He likes to visit me late at night when I am alone and exhausted. I have never slept with him, but he kissed me on the forehead once, and I had a headache for two years.
— by, J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities 
The relationship of a girl and her favorite novel can be complex indeed.
— Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hallway time

Last night we had prayer meeting in my apt. 12 people sitting in various places and positions around my living room. Some with uplifted faces, others playing guitars, while still others lay flat on their faces before God. I sat in the hallway, only looking into the living room sporadically, having my own time with God. Hallway time. 


As people sang their hearts out in the other room, I was struck by my own heart and the state in which God finds it. I work in the ministry for a church. I'm "church staff". But what does that really mean? Does it mean that I'm held to a higher standard than others? Does it mean that I have to act a certain way or live my life in public eye? Perhaps. The Bible says that those in leadership are held accountable for the lives they influence. Pretty heavy stuff. I was struck last night by just how heavy this responsibility really is. Now, I'm not the pastor or even a small group leader. But I'm a mentor. I meet with women on a regular basis who ask for my guidance in their lives, who listen to the things I say and who value my opinion. Some of them watch how I live my life very closely and (not in a bad way) judge me. They see how I live, how things effect me, and sometimes take their cue from me. Is this something I'm ready for? Well, ready or not, here it is. 


God has positioned me in a such a place and such a time as this for some very specific reasons. While I'm not aware of all of them, I am aware of some. I see my purpose in a few very  important places in my life and, while it can be stressful sometimes, I wouldn't trade it for anything. As I work for God, as I live my life for Him (in public and private) I'm so protected. My leadership would throw themselves in the line of fire for me if they could. They act as a shield for me as much as they can and I love them for it. 


My job description is very different from my actual job. My job description says "church administration" and everything that goes along with that. But my actual job involves more of a "do what God tells you to do" kind of thing. Yes, I do church administration. I'm a paper pusher and I'm pretty good at it. But that is not all I am or all that God has given me to do. My job involves everyone in my office, to love them and be a helper to them. But in order to do that, I must be in a certain "place" in my spiritual life. I'm not there yet. 


This is a growing process. This faith we have isn't something that comes into its fullness the instant you accept it. No, we must grow into our roles that God has ordained for us. All I have experienced has made an impact on the person that I am and on what I bring into the office with me every day. Some things I learned in school, some things I learned in life, and other things I have prayed specifically for. For example, I learned basic social cues in life, I learned how to understand the human psyche in school, but I have prayed to be able to look at people and know the truth. All of these things together allow me to serve people in a way that someone without my specific experiences would be unprepared to handle. 


That being said, my hallway time taught me that I'm not where I need to be. I need to be spending SO much more time in the Word, time near my God, focusing on Him and letting Him be my strength. No person can ever take the place of God in my life, not that anyone would ever try! My eyes need to stay focused on Him and His plan for my life and my heart. It's surprisingly easy to get distracted by... things and people. 


My prayer for my growth: God,  be my words. Inhabit my prayers. Infuse my mind, my body, my soul. Turn my humanity towards You that it may be washed in Your light and cleansed to reflect Your glory and Your love to overflowing! Bend my will to Yours! Bend my ears to Your holy lips, that I might always hear You! Turn my eyes to Your way, that I might see You and see as You see. Surround my heart with Yours, that I might love as You love. Teach my Your ways, that may be Yours.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I want to do today....

I want to do this today and not much else....






with Mumford and Sons playing in the background... yeah, perfection for this day. :-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

my life of books...

First off, let me tell you that I am a book lover. Just accept it, it'll make this whole thing much easier to understand.

When I was a kid, I loved books. They followed me everywhere and I spent much of my day with my nose buried in a book.

By high school, most of my brain power was given over to books and the lives their stories contained. I was aware of reality, but only in respect to whatever book I was reading at the time.  

By college, I was well into discovering who I was going to become by falling down a rabbit hole, losing my way for a while, but then waking up to find I really liked who was I on the path to becoming. 
Grad school brought a whole new level of reading, exhaustion, and discovery. I read more than I had ever read in my life and often fell asleep with a book on my face (which wasn't really new). I learned more of who I didn't want to be than who I needed to be.

My reality now is much more "normalized". A good book and a cup of tea make the perfect afternoon. But I know I cannot live in the stories I read, God is writing too good of a story with my life for me to lose myself in fiction. I love a good book and always will, but God's reality is SO much more exciting!!


To Be Continued....

Monday, January 24, 2011

When God speaks, write it down!

January 23, 2011, GCC Worship Service. God spoke,  I wrote:

I am the Rock so that you can lean on Me. I'm strong so you can be real. I'm worthy so you can just be human. Don't be what you're not. If you're tired,  be tired. If you're weak, be weak. Let Me handle this. I love you enough to be all of the things you need and cannot be. I love you so much! I want to be everything for you and that doesn't even begin to cover it! I love you enough to not only die for you, but to leave my grave and take care of you! I want to take care of you! I ask nothing of you in return. I just want to wrap My arms around you when you're sad, fix you when you're broken, touch you when you're desperate for Me, heal your heart when it bleeds.

I am the Rock so that you don't have to be. I'm strong so you can be weak. I'm Holy Spirit so you can be human. I'm perfect. Don't try to be what you're not! It will only hurt you, tear you down, and leave you defeated. I'm your victory! Let Me be that for you!

I know you are broken, let Me fix you. Let Me be your restoration, let Me be your smile. It's not easy and if it were, I would have called someone else. But I called you for a reason. Trust and rely on Me and you will grow to a place beyond your imagination! Trust me with your heart, your talents, your strength, and your love. I crafted you for this, let Me continue to mold you as it pleases Me for the ministry of my people.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

sooo... it's 2011 now

I haven't gotten used to writing that date yet. Since the only times I ever really write the date anymore are on checks and since I pretty much don't write those but once a month, I'm really not used to writing 2011.

2010 was a pretty awesome year! Lots of new things started (*ahemGENESIScough*) and my new job that lies therein. I've gone through quite a few steps in my learning this year. My painting has improved a bit as well, which is always nice. :-)

What am I hoping for for 2011.... I'm hoping for some more of God's awesome plans to fall down on me. Someone looked at me yesterday and said, "You have a really good life." I could only agree, but prefaced it with "it hasn't always been this way." I have worked for the things I have, and I have to continue to work for them. I am very well taken care of, but that's because I have learned myself enough to know what I need and that God has my needs at heart and let Him run this life-show. For 2011, I'm hoping that God continues this work He has started in me and, more importantly, that I let Him.