Chasing Joy

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

Category: wholeness (page 1 of 3)

race pacing

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8th grade students sit awkwardly with anxious and overwhelmed parents.  parents stare at their phones while students look around to see if they can spot someone they know.  the guidance counselor takes the stage and from behind a familiar looking podium (they’ve all had to watch the debates for social studies after all) he begins to enlighten and inform of what it will take to graduate high school.  the slides on the screen are creatively composed as signposts along a long and curvy road.  credits and requirements and pre-ap/ap and electives and carreer pathways and magnet school within a school and the arts and sciences and three tiers of diplomas and pick your breakout session next and don’t forget these important dates and deadlines.  seeing the slides up close makes my head spin.  but the camera pans out and we are given a birds eye view of the entire road before the next slide fills the screen.

we are there to gather information.  we stand before a sign with two options-both which apply to our boy.  it is hard not to wonder what would have happened had we turned right to the library instead of left to the cafeteria.  would what we had heard there altered his course?  we are overwhelmed, our son is confused.  after the breakout sessions we are all re-grouped and herded into the gym.  a mother and father and son standing in the middle of a noisy crowded high school gym-set up with tables and tired teachers standing at the ready to answer 100 questions.  what questions do we need answered?  what information do we need?

as we slip out the nearest exit i remember that birds eye view of the road.

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Whether it’s because of your personality or your season of life, your pace is your pace and that’s okay.

-emily p. freeman

i have a girl about to graduate high school at the age of 16.  she has been able to define her Art since she was 8.  she has visited the one campus she is interested in and is only applying to that one school.

i have a boy just trying to make it through the 8th grade.   he dreams of playing soccer with the pros-but didn’t know that till he tried it for the first time only 2 years ago.  he is gifted at turning 88 keys into soul-stirring music and making any item into a drum-it’s how he tends his soul and has no desire to make it a career.  he really had fun building a bridge out of toothpicks and thinks maybe engineering or architecting would make a good back-up job if the professional soccer thing doesn’t work out.  this is new from last week when he was quite excited about what it would look like to be a lawyer or FBI agent.

 one thing we know about this boy is that he needs a lot of margin in his life.  he needs a slower pace to get all those credits in.  is that really ok?  our girl needed a faster pace.  is that really ok too?

every runner knows bad pacing can ruin a race.  i have been running, i know this well.  that birds eye view of the road to graduating high school is the only information we needed.  the rest we already know.  no one else can help us with the questions we need answered.

can i embrace the shape of my child’s heart, cheer on their courageous attempts to live out of who they really are?  can i be willing to do the next thing with freedom and courage even tho it may not work?  can i celebrate their individual pace in freedom?  can they?

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Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.

-emily p. freeman

Let us run with endurance the race marked out for us….

the wilderness

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Elijah was hungry for an experience of divine Presence, and even the public display of God’s power in the fire that consumed the altars of Baal could not fully satisfy that hunger.  He had some inkling of where to go to find what he was looking for, and he was willing to walk faithfully and resolutely in that direction.

-Ruth Haley Barton Invitation to Solitude and Silence

i enter the building for the first time this year,  my prior absence purposeful.  the greetings are warm and expressions of being missed do not carry any subliminal motives or guilt.  should i return i will be welcomed back.  should i not, care for my person overshadow the real and felt needs that remain.

this is a gift.

i’ve traversed the wilderness before-but before i’d trek in and back out again, in and back out, in and back out.  keeping up with obligations that i lacked courage to shed along with real and necessary responsibilities (motherhood sleeps for no man.) this time the invitation has been different.  the hunger and longing unable to be satisfied by short trips.  i too have an inkling of where to go to find what i’m looking for, the question of willingness answered by my intentional withdrawal from people and places near and dear to my heart.

On top of this willingness to walk away from the peopled places of his life, places that had a bit of definition, Elijah had an even deeper willingness:  he was willing to walk into the emptiness of the wilderness in order to find what he was looking for.

-Ruth Haley Barton Invitation to Solitude and Silence

as i’ve traversed this mysterious place, respecting my desire enough to keep walking tho still not having found what i’m looking for, a few things have become clear:

the alter of ‘definition’ is a strong temptation.  living in the unexplainable, undefinable mystery is uncomfortable.

stating clearly expectations for myself during this time has been life giving.  my daily docket has 4 items; walk or run, silence, create needed atmosphere in kitchen/living room, be available for my teen girl.  it’s not that this is all that happens, it’s that this is where my primary focus is, the bare necessities if you will,  giving me a filter for my inner dialog and external opportunities.

there is power in patience and courage in support.

-being misunderstood remains a constant companion.  recognizing where this is a result of my lack and where this is due to another’s issues makes all the difference.  God is dealing with me, He can deal with them in His way and His time.

-the process of deep soul work releases art.  In this wilderness, while withdrawn from previous work-some projects have begun to take shape.  i’ve given them respect and weight, allowing them to exist without clear definitions.  Nothing tangible may come, but my soul will be more alive and that alone is worth it.

help comes just when i need it by the God in heaven who keeps track of the stars.  a chance glance at the library leads to a timely book.  a small conversation outside the grocery store, an online course or blog post. the bird call that draws me outside for a needed walk. He knows my frame, and tho i daily flounder, He has not left me alone to find my way.

Elijah walked through the emptiness of the desert for forty days and forty nights until he settled into a cave on the side of Mt. Horeb, and there he waited for a visitation from God.  He probably had no idea when, if or how anything even remotely meaningful would happen, but he was willing to stay in the wilderness until it did.

-Ruth Haley Barton Invitation to Solitude and Silence

when i entered that building for the first time this year, i was afraid.  i hesitated for a long time when the short request came to fill in for a friend.  i was afraid that i would self-sabotage my willingness to stay in the wilderness.  but i didn’t.  i received the warm welcome and responded in kind.  i completed the task-and then i left-not seeking to explain my absence or guiltily volunteering to give more.   this was an “now I know that you fear God….” moment.  revealing the growth that has been happening underground.

for i still haven’t found what i’m looking for.

and i this time it appears i actually am willing to wait here as a true friend to my soul until i do.

Your true friends will be willing to sit with you in silence not for a week, but for as long as it takes.  Your real friends will encourage you to keep talking, crying out to, arguing with God.  And when you would be tempted to despair and quit the dance floor, saying that you simply lack the strength or the faith to go on, it is only your real friends who will have the love to leave you all alone with the One who desires, above all, to finish the dance with you.

-Michael Card  A Sacred Sorrow


to draw further in:  Genesis 22-especially vs. 12; 1 Kings 19:1-19; David Crowder’s Let me Feel you Shine; U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For; Need to Breathe’s Through Smoke

learning to rest while choosing to stay

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He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  -Jim Elliot

the details are long, but the short of it is that we could leave now.   the market has shifted in town and this little run down house could be sold for 4 times what we still owe.  elementary school has ended for us and the middle school years are just plain hard.  especially here.  we could retreat.  sell this house, and re-locate.

it is true that i need rest.  i have responded to the Lord’s invitation into hiddenness with a wholehearted; “i am willing, show me the way.” the danger has been in the timing of the real opportunity to leave it all behind.  it would seem logical that if the Lord is inviting me to ‘a solitary place’ that leaving the noise of the city for the quiet of the mountains would be precisely the solution.

except that it’s not…..not exactly.

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we didn’t move here to start a ministry.  we didn’t even move here to love our neighbors.  we moved here in the midst of a real trauma, doing the best we could with what we had.  it was the God of the Samaritan who had a ministry in mind for us, a church, a school, and neighbors to love.   the only thing that has shifted now is the financial freedom to choose a different location.  couldn’t we relocate and love those we’re called to love from afar?  put a little distance between us and the constant visible needs of those around us?

the reality is, the reason i have a bus schedule on my fridge to share with the friend sleeping on my couch is because we are familiar with utilizing the city bus.  i cannot love well from afar.

it is costly, this way of the Samaritan, this daily dying to self, this obedience.  He’s not asking me to stop obeying in order to rest, but into a deeper obedience.

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“A decision to release the world and our fate to God runs contrary to everything within and around us.  We have been had by a system of behavior that was here before we were and seeps into every pore of our being. “Sin,” Paul tells us, “was in the world,” even before the law came.  it forms us internally and pressures us externally.  Hence we must learn to choose things that meet with God’s actions of grace to break us out of the system.  These things are the disciplines of life in the Spirit, well known from Christian history but much avoided and misunderstood.  For those who do not understand our desperate situation, these disciplines look strange or even harmful.  But they are absolutely necessary for those who would find rest for their soul in God and not live the distracted existence….solitude and silence are the most radical of the spiritual disciplines…”  -Dallas Willard in his forward to Ruth Haley Barton’s Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

what i’m being asked to do is walk the path of entering His rest, of withdrawing by myself to a solitary place, setting aside the needs of those around me for communion with Him….while at the same time moving out with compassion for those who come my way.  it’s complicated, it’s messy, it takes discernment to know when to set aside my plan for the day for the need of another and when to shut my door and turn off my phone.  it means knowing full well that i am in a season of stepping back from actively serving in order to tend to my soul, yet making a bed up on my couch to ‘provide the poor wanderer with shelter.’

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it’s trusting Him to provide what i most need.

He knows the way that i take.  He’s walked this same road of compassion and self-care.  He shows me the way. He says there is more for me here in this little house, that it is not finished.  i believe it’s more of Him.  more of learning the disciplines of life in the Spirit through staying the course, persevering, lifting my eyes up to the hills and remembering where my help comes from.  there will be days of retreating up to the mountains for a time but more often there will be days of taking a walk by myself through my neighborhood to pray.  i have much to learn and a patient Teacher.

 i’ve counted up the cost, oh i’ve counted up the cost…
            and You. are. worth it.
-Rend Collective

to draw further in:  Matthew 14; Isaiah 58; Hebrews 4

underground

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As you wait upon the Lord, you learn to see things from His perspective, move at His pace, and function under His directives.  Waiting times are growing times and learning times.  As you quiet your heart, you enter His peace: as you sense your weakness, you receive His strength: as you lay down your will, you hear His calling. When you mount up, you are being lifted by the wind of His Spirit…When you move ahead, you are sensitive to His timing, When you act, you give yourself only to the things He has asked you to do.

–Roy Lessin

i entered summer bone tired and weary from a long season of care-giving and loving of others.  the One who knows my frame made it clear to me i was to step away from certain ministries i’d been a part of for a very long time. since obedience is better than sacrifice, i obeyed.  it really wasn’t that difficult at the time, there was the natural end of the school year which always put these things on pause coupled with having my children home for the summer and all of the hidden work that comes from where we live and move and have our being.  a couple of weeks before my youngest’s last day of school i penned these words in my journal:

i’ve heard it said that as swimming is to fish so is loving to a Christian.  does a fish ever get fatigued from swimming?

my heart is struggling with fatigue, yes, but something else has taken root, something subtle, yet it feels a bit ominous.

maybe its time to go underground for a while.  to hide away with my savior and work through what it is that is threatening my heart:  a growing resentment for those who sleep ignorantly peaceful in their beds while the whole world is hurting.  a resentment for not having control over being inconvenienced when it comes to strangers….or a call to love. an anger at being so alone in our way of living.

i’m finding it hard to be in the presence of others.  i am aware of my inner pulling away….
                something is wrong here.

i walked through summer with this sleeping dragon in my heart.  my Wonder of a Counselor and i have been getting to the root of things and it has felt messy.  and very difficult to explain.  the light and warmth and fun and slowness of summer has been a nice companion, but community remains challenging.  there have been conversations that have set my heart to churning and made plain the reality of my aloneness.

i’ve longed to write here as i live and process through this season.  but have felt a quiet nudge to allow these stories i am living and struggles i am feeling to remain hidden….for a time.

and so i wait.

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the voices of our day call out; “show yourself, show yourself, make your story known!”  they are loud voices, constant voices, overpowering voices.  so to find myself in this underground and hidden place, well i have felt this need to rush.  to hurry up and learn what i need to learn; grow and process through, and then get back to work.  for goodness sake, the time is short and there is no place for waiting or hiding, the investing of time in the inner man needs to be minimal, and the work that flows out of that needs to be made known.

but there are other voices.  they rise above the noise.  it is important that they do.  because without the courage to speak of another world, another type of King, another Life, those of us traveling the narrow road lose our footing wondering if maybe we have made a mistake.  i have numerous drafts written regarding this season of hiddenness, unpublished because i’ve been unsure. could i really declare this as holy work?

and then one ordinary day i am given the gift of these words:

One of the reasons that hiddenness is such an important aspect of the spiritual life is that it keeps us focused on God. In hiddenness we do not receive human acclamation, admiration, support, or encouragement. In hiddenness we have to go to God with our sorrows and joys and trust that God will give us what we most need.

In our society we are inclined to avoid hiddenness. We want to be seen and acknowledged. We want to be useful to others and influence the course of events. But as we become visible and popular, we quickly grow dependent on people and their responses and easily lose touch with God, the true source of our being. Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.

Henri Nouwen via Shawn Smucker on the Importance of Hiddenness

waiting and hiddenness-i do declare it to be a wild and holy work.  i am learning to see things from His perspective, more than ever going to Him with my sorrows and joys and learning to trust that He will give me what i most need.  as i choose not to rush through this season, accepting what comes as direct from His hand, blurred lines are coming clearly into focus that it is He, the God of Israel, who calls me by my name.


to draw further in: proverbs 1:20. Isaiah 45:3; the hymn Be Still My Soul

this will do

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sitting on the back porch the welcoming sounds of birds mixes with the edgy sounds of man and machine.  windows open mean the sounds will follow me inside-even the bird songs make it through, soft as they are.  the tea whistles and i cringe in fear i’ve ruined my quiet.  i laugh a bit at the irony of the thought.  but the birds and man and machine do not belong to me, nor do they require anything from me.  it’s both voluntary and hidden, my response to their presence.

June is here.  school has ended. mornings have slowed.

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my front garden is wild with columbine and pansies that i didn’t plant.  well, that’s not entirely true.  when we first moved here i had planted pansies in a pot for the front step-they grew well there so i repeated the process the next year.  but the squirrels and their constant overturning and digging and dragging them off finally had their way and i stopped altogether, throwing out the pots, now chipped and cracked from all the abuse.  a few years back i received a columbine plant as a mother’s day present.  waiting a bit too long i did nestle it in the ground, a lone beauty in a sea of unkempt attempts at making something of the plot of land i’d been handed.

but this year, my columbine, she has sisters galore.  they stand tall towards the back as though they are watching over their young pansy charges.

their beauty invites me in to pull up all the thorny weeds and dandelions.  i’ve been pining for a real landscaper with a real eye for composition and real knowledge of planting to come and give me something to work with, to joy in, to welcome me home.  last night, for the first time in the 7 years we’ve made our way here, i walked the path to the door gazing at this bed freshly weeded and breathed;

this’ll do.

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my soul is weary from a long winter.  spring arrived out the windows and moved into summer, yet my soul struggled to take notice or nourishment.  aware of the bone deep fatigue all the while life buzzes around i have been paying attention.  “this is why missionaries have furloughs” i tell myself.  “you are not that type of missionary” i respond.  and there is truth to those words.  but the need for a ‘furlough’ of sorts is real along with the understanding that it will look its own way.  so i’ve been sitting with myself, stealing moments when they come, gently requiring nothing of the time.  no figuring things out.  no formulating plans for a different way of living.  instead letting the anger pour out, the sorrow, the loneliness, alongside the amazement and joy and beauty.  allowing repentance to do it’s lovely work and security to come from being seen by the One who knows my frame.

      I have always imagined gratitude as a kind of discipline.  It is a practice.  A choice.  I still think this is true.  However, I begin to glimpse a long-buried and misguided assumption.  I have believed that the practice of noticing good gifts in my life would widen some sort of divine exchange.  As if noticing the gifts and giving thanks for them could bring me more of what i noticed.

These days are dark, and I sometimes think I glimpse floodwaters rising.  Yet because of November’s emphasis on gratitude, I cannot help but lift up my eyes to the mountains (Ps. 121:1)

What if gratitude is more about seeing the face of God?  Of locking our eyes on his and remembering where our help comes from?  Perhaps gratitude is not only a discipline but also a gift, one we are given in special measure just before we pass through the door to suffering.

Christie Purifoy; Roots & Sky-A Journey Home in Four Seasons

 

dominoes

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they line them up oh so carefully, pleading with everyone near to “please don’t stomp and keep the dog out!”  if they can keep their hands steady, the dominoes snake around and about for a long long way.  if it all goes according to plan, one tap on the first tile will bring about delight and wonder.  if not, well, they re-position and try again.

my boys love this activity.  so much so, one boy bought the other boy a complete set dedicated to just such purposes.  no number dots on these ones, just wooden rectangles that can be stacked and wound around for hours on end.

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obedience is like dominoes i think…..except i don’t really believe it.  at least when it comes to me and especially the things that are hard to obey.  i behave based on what makes sense to me, the problem is the places where my thinking is off.  the places i’ve concluded don’t matter, except that they actually do.

remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in…the face of suffering.  do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised…we are not of those who shrink back.

i’m talking about all the things.  doing the dishes types of things mostly.  the lie is it doesn’t matter, the truth is it does.  it matters if i show up vulnerable and authentic to a conversation, it matters if i take a deep breath and pray and then pursue my child i just wounded…or my child who just wounded me.  it matters if i do the dishes…or don’t depending on the need of the moment.  and it matters if i follow my Shepherd into the places He’s calling me.

the tiles -they are strategically placed and tap-taping along. removing myself from the path brings the whole thing to a halt along with the reward of delight and wonder.

i believe You Lord, help me overcome my unbelief!


to draw further in:  Hebrews 10, quoted above vs. 32-39;  Mark 9:14-24; Hebrews 12

 

life | down paths i fear to see

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I said, “Let me walk in the field.”
God said, “No, walk in the town.”
I said, “There are no flowers there.”
He said, “No flowers, but a crown.”

I said, “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din.”
He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin.”

I pleaded for time to be given.
He said, “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in heaven
to have followed the steps of your Guide.”

I cast one look at the field,
Then set my face to the town.
He said, “My child do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for a crown?”

Then into His hand went mine,
and into my heart came He.
Now i walk with a light Divine,
The path i had feared to see.

-What Christ Said by George MacDonald. 
find the complete poem here

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ten years ago i found myself in the middle of packing boxes preparing to move into the tiniest house ever right smack dab in the middle of town instead of the dreamed and worked towards log cabin in the mountains.  i remember clearly hearing the Lord’s whisper; “I am answering your prayers”  It made no sense at the time for it felt like He was answering my prayers with a big fat NO! still i pondered His whisper in my heart and watched and waited.  now, these 10 years later, i can see it.  how my deep heart longings and desires for my children and family were answered with a big YES! via a path i would never have known to choose.

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the children have grown from toddlers to teens, yet following my Guide down paths i fear to see has remained a consistant theme for me.  what i’m beginning to grasp is that these are becoming the very places where He does His best heart work.  where He grows us and heals us and frees us.  these paths are often neither easy nor comfortable, and at times i’m being led straight into the valley of sorrow unable to comprehend the rivers of joy that await me on the other side.

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recently i found myself praying during the long dark hours of the night.  unable to sleep with an ache that can only be quieted by the One who knows, i walked circles in the floor and laid my heart bare before my faithful and wise God.  daylight came and life continued on as it does, but there was a settling and a watching and a waiting on my capable Father.  doors appeared and decisions were made completely unrelated to my late night longings….or so i thought.  as far as the eye could see there was no connection between the ordinary goings about in that day and the restless wrestling of the night before.

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but the One who governs the sun, moon and stars-He knew.  and today i find myself completely amazed at the way He orchestrated such a perfect answer to those prayers that night.  i’m in awe at the ways He is responding to the desires and secret petitions of my heart.  here again it is on a path where i have said-out loud to other people-that i would not walk.  a path i said wasn’t a good fit for our family.  today-this particular path-is precisely what our family needed.

what if the thing we think we need will actually prevent our true longings from being fulfilled?  what if the things we think will ruin everything will actually give us life?

could it be that some of the places we run away from are the very places that hold the deepest treasures, deepest freedoms, deepest joys?

 

He’s teaching me to go where He says go, when He says to –not because i understand, or even expect anything but more pain or frustration, or even have any notion of the connection between the latest command and prayer of my heart –no, i go because my Guide can be trusted where He leads, because He is for me, and He knows better how to fulfill my heart longings than my small brain can comprehend.

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where is it for you?  is there somewhere you are running away from, turning back because what is ahead is a valley of sorrow and you are afraid? confused?  take heart!  there is a whole cloud of witnesses cheering you on.  david was afraid too as he trusted in his God.  Abe was confused too when he reasoned that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead.  and dear ol’ Paul, through learning, was persuaded that this One he knew and believed was able to keep that which he had committed to Him.  and then there is JJ Heller….

He is able.  i know Whom i have believed.  i will trust.

 

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in

Psalm 37;  2 Timothy 1:12, Genesis 22:5; Hebrews 11:19

life | running

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the alarm goes off in the dark of summer.  the inability to quit on my girl is stronger than the mighty ability to quit on myself, so i get up and rouse her out of her slumber.  we push it to the very edge, she and i, giving ourselves first 20, then 10, and then 5 minutes to get ready. yes, 5 minutes will be enough, our sleep hungry bodies think.  this is the logic of one whose natural body rhythm does not include mornings.  so we run late and we don’t comb our hair, but we show up.  she has a swimming class.  and i will run.

my health is not where i want it to be.  and i am a simple minded person, not one to cook complicated food or start complicated plans.  i know two things that need addressing, an addiction to sugar and a lack of exercise.  there are more, but two things are enough to focus on for the time being.  so for the sugar addiction I’ve replaced my daily chai tea lattes with just tea and for the exercise, i’m running.

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i want to quit.  i really do.  mightily when the alarm goes off yes, but even still after my girl has sauntered off to class. i rationalize other things to do during this hour, maybe stay in the car and read, or go sit next to the other moms by the pool and get to know them-that would be neighborly and right wouldn’t it?  no, that still small voice replies,

run.

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I’m Brennan.  I’m an alcoholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I was a priest, but am no longer a priest.  I was a married man but am no longer a married man.
How I got to those places, why I left those places, is the story of my life too.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I’m a sinner saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

-Brennan Manning from The Furious Longing of God

there is a storm swirling around inside, dark clouds looming thick and strong.

and when i run it rises up from those deep places within and spills forth into view and i see it.  like Brennan, this is not my whole story, only one part of many other parts that make up the whole of me.  but it is an important part to look at and sit with.  today, however, i resisted for 30 minutes.  i just sat in the car and kept the storm just below the surface, glancing at it a little, forming words around it a little, only a little.  but the One who always wins had His way.  knowing the invitation for what it was, i opened the door and got out of the car.

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too often i think satan is winning.  too often it feels like he is winning.

he is not winning.

he does not win.

O LORD, the king rejoices in Your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories You give.

-psalm 21

i am no king, but i too rejoice in the victories He gives.

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today as my feet hit the pavement the tears flowed freely.  out here on these public streets we wrestle, He and i, deep calling to deep, mining for the treasures He’s promised in the dark places.

personal words with real and deep laments brought before me to hold in my hands and look at from all directions. invited to know that He is the Lord, the God of Israel who summons me by name.

i have no hope for change or remedy or relief.  these are the places the fight has gone, He knows this.

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but i am still running.

and there is hope in that.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in:  Psalm 21:1 and Isaiah 45:3

 

life | in anguish

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God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says -“I will be with him in trouble.” It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man’s life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God.  We are “more than conquerors in all these things.”  Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ.  Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in.

“Shall tribulation…..?” Let tribulation be what it may-exhausting, galling, it is not able to separate us from the love of God.  Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.

“Shall anguish….?” -can God’s love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall famine….?” -can we not only believe in the love of God but be more than conquerors, even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are against God’s character.  Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things.  Only one thing can account for it-the love of God in Christ.

“Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

-Oswald Chambers

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


 

to draw further in; Romans 8

life | dreaming

 

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my boys, they talk of firemen and joining the army and playing baseball for lots of money.  my girl, at the wise old age of 2, announced she wanted to be a garbage man when she grew up.  “cause then i can make all the children of the neighborhood happy.”  fully believing that every child enjoyed watching that garbage truck come and pick up the trash in its especially interesting way.

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she glowed with excitement as an eight year old girl, when she described what she dreamed of becoming when all grown and out on her own.

and i did what any mother of an eight year old does.  shared her delight and encouraged her in her dream.  not because i thought she knew anymore than that 2 year old aspiring garbage collector knew.

i delighted in her dream because i delighted in her.

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here we are, this grown taller than me fifteen year old and i, and that eight-year old dream still resides in her heart.  she’s more passionate now and carries more wisdom than her eight-year old self.  she’s experienced more of life and more of joy and more of sorrow.  the dream has taken the shape of a calling, a calling from the One who knit her together and mapped out her course.  and the invitation has come to this mother to watch out for the opportunities to spur her on into who she is.

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those watching seem to find themselves perplexed and needing to form conclusions.  we visited a campus this past weekend, you see, and i’ve heard so many declarations of; “wow, you are on top of things” as if we held some superpower they lacked.  or; “a campus visit as a sophomore?  why didn’t you wait?” as if we lacked some wisdom they held.

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the truth is i don’t know what i’m doing, mothering these kids.  what i do know is that the One who knits together and gives desires is holding their future in His hands.  and He’s entrusted me with walking alongside them as they journey into who He is making them to be.  and He’s been teaching me about becoming.  about becoming more fully myself.  about listening to the desires of my heart and unpacking them in His presence.  and as He’s gifted me with encouragers along my way, i have drunk deep from refreshing springs when the journey feels foolish and stupid and wasteful.  so why would i offer my daughter something else?

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i have no idea how we ended up far from home in an airplane hanger listening to all it takes to become a missionary pilot.  i don’t recall how we learned of this school.  or why, when the postcard came inviting us to Experience Spokane!, we took notice and decided to go.  this wasn’t a well-thought out plan.  i’d like to think that this is the movement of that Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth light.  that the One who called to Abram to leave and go to the place He would show him, calls forth Abraham’s children to follow step by step still.  that maybe He who breathed the starry host into existence, can enable an absent minded mother to tune into the symphony He is forming within her daughter….. His daughter.  i have lived long enough to know that it is entirely possible that this movement towards flight school may or may not produce a missionary pilot at its end. regardless, any movement towards the direction of the Spirit contains its own promised end….

…the eyes of your heart enlightened
in order that you may know the hope
to which He has called you,
the riches
of His glorious inheritance in the saints,
and His incomparably great power
for us who believe.

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maybe, just maybe, a dream is an invitation from the One who gathers the waters of the sea into jars.  “Take Courage,” He says; “it is I, don’t be afraid.”

step into your dream, my child, and live

 

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in: Ephesians 1; Psalm 33; Genesis 1, 12

1st – 4th and 6th photos taken by Hannah, 5th and 7th by me on our recent trip to Spokane, WA

 

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