Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 10)

gains and losses

the contrast of two clock towers – London, England

Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it at all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward.  Just in proportion as the desire grows, our fear lest it should be a mercenary desire will die away and finally be recognized as an absurdity.  But probably this will not, for most of us, happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.  
                                      -C.S. Lewis from “The Weight of Glory”

 so we’ve spent some time as a family talking about things.  this house.  school choices.  life choices. about what we lose by staying put, and what we gain.  because that’s just it.  every choice comes with both losses and gains.  the school choices are still in process-one has to move on as he’s entering 6th grade next year.  but everyone, everyone, wanted to stay put in this very house. 

at that meeting-when i spoke-passion welled up from within and spilled out and the words, they. just. came.

that i’m all in with regards to the ministry.  we’re all in. 

and i can’t speak for my family-and it doesn’t seem like any of them were in a place of questioning it all anyway- but something has shifted in me.  this process of late has culminated with an inner shift.

nothing has changed without, but within poetry is replacing grammar and longing is transforming obedience. 

this life we are living is beginning to look like art.

for today, this is where we will stay and do art.

     my heart is growing in contentment more consistently. 

i’ve always had this problem of pining away for something other than whatever it is that i have.  maybe it’s the growing up in a military family where moving was the norm rather than staying put?  the thanksgiving lists help refocus my vision.  but the restlessness for something other is always there.  this Spirit given shift has not removed my restlessness completely-there will always be that this side of heaven as it is heaven that my heart is longing for?  but the restlessness that comes from wanting a different picture painted, a different outcome, a different process, and if i really dig deep enough and am honest, the restlessness?   it’s restlessness wanting a different me

i wrote a bit ago that art + no shame = joy.

i have been living ashamed of my art.

ashamed of my home

ashamed of what i do with my time, or don’t do with my time

ashamed of the gospel (i know it is the power of God for those who believe, ….. but still often i am ashamed of it)

ashamed of my writing (the reason i haven’t really told anyone about this blog?)

ashamed of…….

me

that grounded ship of shame is being lifted by the tide

and my understanding of art is deepening

and the joy i’ve been running hard after

that traveling joy that Jesus promised could not be taken

it’s not been found in where i thought it would be

the tide rolls it in and deposits it on the shore of my heart as the shame is lifted out.

and so yes, i’m in.  all in.

the secondary gains and losses ever present

but with shame lost?

JOY gained

in or out?

i’ve been praying about a thing for a while now, but last week i picked it up more intensely. 

is it time to get out?

out of the ministry that brings the ruffians to my door

out of the house that is small, small, small

out of the school where the parade walks by?

there were some valid reasons for exiting the ministry-which prompted some of these prayers

and 9 men who do the work of elders and this woman met to pray and search the scriptures and plead for wisdom from the One who gives generously without finding fault.

and the question was put to my husband and i

and we were given the opportunity to get out

multiple times

and we searched the scriptures together to grasp wisdom for the issues. and we wrestled with the hard things.  and when all that was worked through.  what to do with the ministry and how to do it

the opportunity was put forth

to get out anyway. 

if the Lord is leading us out personally-

100% support for whatever we choose.

………………………………..

we attended a meeting for a new school for the one who will be heading off to middle school next year.  his brother could join him there-because they also have 4th grade.

i looked around at other neighborhoods, with other houses

where the teen could have her own room.

……………………………….

i’ve been sitting with the Lord about the direction my life is heading now-this season of transition.  and nothing has seemed clear.

and i know that i have confessed and apologized for the despising of what He’s chosen these last 10 years.  and i also know that i have enjoyed and embraced it too. 

i feel like the choices before me,  are mine to choose. 

am i in?  …..all in? 

or is it time to get out?  

que the interlude

feeling homesick?

this has happened before, this ache.  i don’t know if homesick is the correct term.  i’ve not really any childhood home or roots that call me back.  but it’s this knawing longing to be near. it happened when my younger sister was pregnant with her first so very far away in vermont.  i was pregnant with my third in colorado and we delivered within a week of eachother.  i longed so desperately to be near her.  to share it all with her. 

but could do nothing about it.

now my youngest sister is pregnant.  and the knawing longing is there heavy today.  wishing there was some way to not be so far away.   and seeing no solution. 

and all of that is miraculous, really

for this one who worked so very hard to distance myself as far as i could from my family.  it was necessary for healing.  and the Lord met me there and rescued me unto Himself.

but they still await their rescue and know Him not. 

and they are still my dear sisters* and i do love them very much.  and i long for relationships that are closer. 

but i can do nothing about it.

even if i moved to be close to one, the other would be half-way across the country.   it seems all us girls worked hard to distance ourselves for a time.  and we all ended up spread out around this great nation of ours. 

but now, reconciliation has begun.  and the youngest moved back home near mom and dad.  but the rest of us are settled into our new locations and we have all worked to see each other from time to time for weddings and thanksgivings and Christmases.

but the way relationships can deepen with time spent together is not possible for us.

how can a family fractured and healing go much farther when we are so far apart?

but i can do nothing about it.

and how much healing can even happen when there is no bonding over the Only One who makes completely whole?

and i can do nothing about that either.

so what does one do in a time like this?  where longings are strong and there is no relief to be had of my own making?

take it to the One

the only One

who can do something about it.

and i will thank Him for whatever it is He does do.

 

*there is another sister-the oldest-not pictured.  there is still much work of healing needed for complete restoration of all 4 of us.  will it happen this side of heaven??  will it happen the other side of heaven??  only the Lord, the God of Israel who is Mighty to Save and who came for this very reason knows the answer to that question.  


Veterans Day

somedays i wonder why our kids attend the school they do

but then there are days like today, and i am thankful

thankful that the entire school comes out with flags waving and cheers ready

where two boys who happen to belong to me remember their teacher’s instructions to dress well for the occasion

thankful that they get to go to school at all

and because they go to this school 

right on the path of our city’s annual Veterans Day parade

i am invited to join each and every grade on the sidewalk with their flags and cheeers

and when an Army Veteran joins them

 and calls out; “Truscott students, Attention!”

as only an Army Soldier can do

and they all stand at attention, saluting

i am reminded to be thankful

for these men and women who have sacrificed much

happy Veterans Day friends

Art and Traveling Joy

 Jesus reminds us we are art and empowers us to make art.  there isn’t only one right way to do the job of glorifying God.  There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in us and spills out of us into the world.  

-emily freeman

 (i’ve been thinking on this topic of Art for some time now.  i wrote about the way art (as we normally think of it) facilitated the drawing out my youngest’s truer self. Emily Freeman’s journey with art has also influenced me greatly.  She started 2011 on her blog with a series on Art.  This year, she did a series titled;Artists and Influencers. the quote above is from her newly released book: A Million Little Ways (p.29))

………………………………….

The Art of a Pastor

on any given Sunday there is this man.  he is a father, a grandpa, a husband, a shepherd.  throughout the week he wrestles and ponders and discovers truth from God for himself.  and then on Sunday he authentically shares it with us-hoping so much that we would grasp in some way the height and depth and width and breath of God’s love for such sinners as we are.  because he’s beginning to grasp it as the deep sinner that he knows he is. and he’s finding freedom and joy in the grasping. 

that is his art.

The Art of an Architect

there is this architect who still draws with pencil and paper.   i wanted to quote the entire post titled ‘drawing to a conclusion, the art of architecture part 1’ but instead i will settle for just this quote:

“the [homes] illustrated here (all produced by the agile hands of Bobby McAline) are the initial sparks of creation.  They are predicated by talking (and mostly listening) to what our client says.  Once we identify the heart of who is sitting in front of us and comprehend why the thing is, we can begin what the thing is.”

if i could ever afford an architect-this is exactly what i would want.  one who would listen to my heart and perform a work of art to become my home. 

The Art of an Italian Plaza Sketcher

There was this portrait artist my husband and i saw on our honeymoon.  we were young and niave (nice way to say stupid) and cheap/having limited funds.  we saw him on our first day of the tour in a plaza in Rome.  he was creating a portrait of a woman with pencil or charcoal.  it was breathtaking the way he was capturing her.  we were intrigued and desired one of ourselves.  but the 60.00 was a bit high-and we decided to wait until we returned to Rome at the end of our trip.  we didn’t know what was ahead and didn’t want to spend so much our first day out.  also thinking maybe this was something common in Italy and maybe we’d see more artists like him?  we didn’t.   and he was not there when we returned to the plaza 2 weeks later.  he had a gift of capturing a soul. 

The Art of mining for treasure with a friend

the Lord has gifted me with a dear one- a counselor who became my friend. a vessel in which the Lord has carried out His promise in Isaiah 45:3 as she came along side and mined for treasure in the darkness.  my life and the lives of those i come in contact with have been forever changed because of the insights she’s invited me to discover and deal with in her listening.  Her listening is her art.

Art+ no shame = Joy

the joy i see in the architect and my pastor and my friend seems directly related to not being ashamed of the way Christ is spilling out of them into the world.  they are not ashamed of their art. 

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
So that you may know that it is I,
The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.  (isaiah 45:3) 

the treasure of art

unashamedly formed within and spilling forth

from the Master Artist

 The Lord, The God of Israel,

who calls us by our very own name.

Fear, Art, and Matthew 8

 

it’s been quiet around here this week.

i wrote on Tuesday. 

but (obviously) did not publish. 

because the words stopped coming for a moment and so i walked away and then allowed fear and comparison to enter the void.

and then just moved on with my world….forgetting, actually forgetting, all about it until just now when i pulled up MSword to write on my ponderings of Matthew chapter 8.

Tuesday’s post was about artists. 

i let fear keep me from completing my art.

………………………..

 

Matthew 8 (it will make more sense if you read the passage too?) begins with 3 different stories of healing.  i am slowly learning to shift my vision and focus when i read scripture.  typically i’d read each story one at a time-and create a list of things to copy so the story could be mine too.  but this time i sat down and read the entire chapter all at once and mapped out verses 1-17.

the leper kneels and pleads with Jesus for healing-telling him exactly what he wants;

the centurion goes to Jesus and tells Him about the problem, not stating what he wants the solution to be.

Peter’s mom-in-law doesn’t do anything.  Jesus goes to her house, sees she is sick, touches her and she is healed and begins to wait on Him.

 “Lord what do You have for me here? because i can’t make a moral to do list, they are all so very different.  the only thing in common is that You healed them……the only thing in common is You…..and the word i am seeing repeated here in this chapter is….. Authority…..”

Jesus has authority over all of creation, time, space, infirmities, diseases. 

and He is very personal and relational about it.  and oh so full of grace. 

the leper was sure of His power, but unsure of His character; “Lord, if you are willing….”

the centurion seemed both sure of His authority and character-trusting that Jesus would care about the suffering of his servant and His ability to “just say the word and he will be healed.”

Peter’s mom-in-law.  she says nothing…..

once my husband was out of town and my 3 were off at school and i was sick as sick could be.  i spent the day laying in the bathroom-because the toilet needed to be that close.  my daughter comes home from school informing me that she and some classmates have made plans to get together at our house to work on a class project.  in about 10 minutes. 

WWWHHHHAAAATTTT???????

i wonder if that’s how peter’s mom-in-law felt.  and Jesus knowing the burden of hosting a Rabbi and his followers, just goes and touches her.  He doesn’t even say a word.  and nothing is recorded that she says anything back, she just gets up and performs the hospitality she’s been taught to do when a teacher comes calling with your son-in-law.

when i finish mapping it all out in my notebook the two questions i ask myself are:

what about His character do i need reassured of?  (“I am willing”)

How does this visual of His power and personal relating….
           comfort me?
           challenge me?

 ………………………….

what does that have to do with Tuesday’s unpublished post??

you see the fear of publishing my writing comes from that old comparison trouble.  these stories show that Jesus works personally with each person-there wasn’t some formula for approaching Him that could be gleaned from these stories-tho we have often tried so hard to do so.  i think that so misses the point. 

the point is that He has authority over time and space and His character is trustworthy. He cares about my humanity.

vs. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 

“He took up our infirmities
and carried our diseases.”

in so many areas of my life i need some sort of healing.  in this particular blog space i need to be delivered from the doubt and fear that so easily entangles me and causes me to walk away from my art without sharing it. 

and it robs me from the joy of having obeyed.
    regardless of the results of words that flow smoothly and words that fall way short of good writing.

and so, i’ve decided that tomorrow i will publish Tuesday’s post.  even if i can’t figure out how to wrap it up and it stops short in the middle of a thought.  Even if i don’t get all the links and acknowledgements and writing etiquette figured out proper.

Christ has authority over time and space and His character is trustworthy.  He cares about my art.

      for this blogging thing isn’t about putting on a show
                    it’s about unashamedly sharing my art
                                 resting in His authority and charactor to do with it what He will.

Oh my soul

Psalm 103

sunset over puelblo resevoir, CO (see the heart?)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

 

Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

 

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!


(photos of some of His benefits taken by myself except for the peacocks-those were taken by my daughter hannah.  the giraffe and the bridge are on the nile river north of uganda, the rest are from around colorado)

31 days on provision: the final prayer

 

The Lord God Almighty-He is our Great Provider.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.  ephesians 3:14-20

 

this concludes 31 days on Provision.  To see the first post in the series click here.  To read the entire series click here and read backwards (the first post is listed last, the latest post is listed first-i don’t know how to change that. thank you for grace.)

things provided

PROVISION:

1. The act of providing or making previous preparation.

2. Things provided; preparation; measures taken beforehand, either for security, defense or attack, or for the supply of wants.

 

PROVIDE:

v.t. [L. provideo,literally to see before; pro and video, to see.]

1. To procure beforehand; to get, collect or make ready for future use; to prepare.

Abraham said, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering. Gen.22.

5. To foresee; a Latinism. [Not in use.]

6. Provide, in a transitive sense, is followed by against or for. We provide warm clothing against the inclemencies of the weather; we provide necessaries against a time of need; or we provide warm clothing for winter, &c.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i remember when i stumbled upon Abe’s words.  

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.

i was walking along admiring some art and various quotes all art-ed up.  but his quote stopped me in my tracks. i stood and stared at it and pondered.  pondered what it must have been like for him to be president during the civil war.  pondered when he said that-maybe it was before he was president?  instantly i felt like i knew the man.  because i knew by experience exactly what he expressed so well.

as i’ve been thinking through this theme of provision this month-and the many time’s i’ve found myself driven to my knees because there was no where else…

i see the gift of having nowhere else to go-it’s teaching me to choose to go nowhere else.  my need is so great and His provisions my only hope.

because life is hard.  and the days are long. and the years are short. and discouragement is everywhere.  and life is beauty-full. and the days are filled with romance and art and breakfast in bed menus and sun sets that take my breath away. 

the really hard stuff.  and the really beautiful stuff.  both and all of it-

He sees it before, He takes measures beforehand, for security, defense, attack, and the supply of wants.  he makes ready for future use.  He provides……

hope for the hypocrite, art, courage, no school, cloud of witnesses, Father, Himself-Provider and Deliverer, wisdom, kept strong, His Presence….constant and faithful, growth in becoming ok with the person that is me, meeting me right here, a good story, power to enjoy, a place to go, sealed secure, rest, stores, knowledge, music, a Good Shepherd, help in the tension, romance, access, a hiding place, and an invitation to deeper understanding on a subject-in this case it was His provisions.

…..against this hard and beautiful life.


i was talking with my Father this morning.  and the truth that He whispered into my heart is this:

it’s really about you and I.  (our relationship)

about your heart growing and expanding as you

experience Me

 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.
 2 Peter 1: 3-4.


this is part of a 31 day series on Provision.  To see the first post in the series click here.  To read the entire series click here and read backwards (the first post is listed last, the latest post is listed first-i don’t know how to change that. thank you for grace.)


things provided: hope for the hypocrite






Matthew chapter 6.

“you are not to be like the hypocrites…..you are not to be like the hypocrites….you are not to be like the hypocrites….”  over and over –the Lord knows i need repetition to pay attention.

my hypocrisy .

in case reading Matthew 5 and 6 didn’t open my eyes to it, the Lord orchestrated some events to open my eyes to it.

Sunday my pastor said this;

“Sin loses its power when i tell the truth about it.”

so here it is.

the truth about it.

when they call i don’t want to answer.  when i answer i don’t want to help.  when they lost my number i was delighted.  now they have it again, i’m not delighted in the least bit.  when i help it is out of obedience, not desire.  i’m unable to now discern boundaries-because i want to build up a high tower and secure my fortress so that it is impenetrable-those are the boundaries i would like to operate under. 

another thing i’m chewing on that my pastor said Sunday; (his first day back after 6 weeks of leave) is this:

This summer i told the Lord over and over, “i can’t live like this”

now it’s; “how do i live like this?”

i’ve been saying it too.  for different reasons, but i can’t count how many times i’ve said to the Lord; “i can’t live like this.”

how do i welcome people into my world whom  i don’t love and don’t want to love?  how do i smile when i pick them up and say a cheerful hello when what i really feel is…..aarrgg? 

hypocrite.

it sounds so harsh and i so want to tell all about why how i’m feeling is perfectly justifiable. 

and some things may be-if my heart wasn’t so selfish and  hardened against them i would be able to discern that.

but my heart has calloused over and there is no love there that i can conjure up.

so here i am.

telling the truth about it.

to the One who is safe to bear it all to…..and the internet? that feels a little….um…foolish.

but that is the truth of this heart of mine.

and the only hope is the One who died for love of me.

the One whose power raises the dead.

these words of Switchfoot have been such an encouragement.  they’ve been on repeat in my brain for over a week now.  (from the Lord i’m sure so that i’d process through this awareness of my sin straight to the gospel and who. He. is. )

i’m not copping out.

because He’s raising the dead in me.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7


i keep forgetting to add this in….

this is part of a 31 day series on Provision.  To see the first post in the series click here.  To read the entire series click here and read backwards (the first post is listed last, the latest post is listed first-i don’t know how to change that. thank you for grace.)

 

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