Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Season

Normally, winter is not big deal to me. It's annoying in Kentucky because of it being just around freezing, and cloudy. I don't usually get to the point of really complaining often and cursing the weather for affecting me. This winter, though, I was just over it. By like January 3rd, I was like wow, this is no fun.

Life gets like that too, sometimes.

The usual stuff of life can seem like no big deal, day to day, month to month, year to year....then it hits you. You start to notice. Something gives just enough to make you want to leave or change things up or just have some alternative. What was no big deal, what was bearable, suddenly seems heavy and fits you all wrong.

That's what happened to me lately.

Winter annoyed me, because my life had some aspects that were annoying me. I couldn't just push through and feel like I was living the full life I am meant to live and love. I don't just mean it got hard. No, I've had harder seasons of life than this one.

I feel like what's happening in my heart is a natural progression. It's like when I was outgrowing my Barbie dolls. If you are becoming a teenager and then adult (and you don't have some strange over-fascination with Barbies), they just lose their fun factor. Other aspects of life and goals become important, and the timing is ready for me to shift into some other roles.

This is a bit of an awkward time for me now. I'm wrapping up some of my involvement with the university (and leaving that job on a good note), starting a new job, and starting to invest myself more fully into changing education for some kids in Campbellsville. And those three things are all confusing right now. It's transition and it's slightly awkward and I am finding my place.

I can feel the Lord so close though. When someone asked me the other day what God is showing me lately, my answer was "that I am really taken care of." That's the strongest message I'm hearing/feeling/knowing as I navigate these waters. I have peace from the Lord and provision. People are honoring me in so many ways, and it's making it easier for me to feel out the new paths, to explore the territories and map out my next moves.

Winter is over, y'all. It's time for those dormant places to wake up and start to grow so that, come Fall, we have a harvest.

What season do you feel like you're in now?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Perfect



Lately, I haven't wanted to really begin or continue some of my projects that are connected to life goals. I feel like I'm not ready. In my mind it isn't that things need to be perfect per se, but they most certainly need to be good enough. Up to par. Meeting my standards.

When I feel I have achieved "good enough" or "ready," that "thing" I've been working on has often been honed and sharpened to the degree that I feel is acceptable. Approvable. It's been perfected.

I reach the perfected point, I feel:

my knowledge is sound and complete, ready to stand out in the world.
I have everything figured out.
there's no room for error.
no one has a chance to criticize.
things are going smoothly.

As I'm plodding forward, toward that point of perfection, however, there are snags, things that throw me off. I get tired, things get hard, people aren't cheering me on like I hoped, my fires inside begin to wane. So, I make the choice. I either step out and give it up, or I step back, take a breather, and push ahead.

I've definitely done both. Multiple times. Every time I focus more on the perfecting way, rather than focusing on the goal and the Voice of the Lord on the inside, I slow to a standstill, because I get busy perfecting or getting distracted. Perfect is not gonna come to me, and perfect is not something I can reach.

This life is a process of grace. Grace from my friends and family, who see my setbacks and encourage me (and set me straight). Grace from myself, intentionally changing my self-talk from "wow, that was a flop," to, "ok, that is not working, let me try something differently and press on." Grace from the Lord as He reminds me of His love, of truth and the larger story and the significance of it all.

That's what makes it possible to press on and not burn out, to keep hope and not let bitterness seep into my bones. This is how I stay connected to joy, to that deeper river, always running, always there. I open up and let the grace flow over me.

We've got to open up to receive the good and the hard. To feel the joy and the frustration. And self-protection only causes us to protect ourselves from the good stuff too, whether or not it's our intention.

I'm going to keep listening, keep singing, keep writing, keep asking, keep trying, keep creating, and keep hoping, because I know He is good and He's keeping me close, and it's all worth it. The glories of heaven have been unlocked and they're meshing together with earth, and lately in my life, heaven looks like grace. It looks like me receiving words of truth. It looks like giving a few minutes to listen and empathize with someone who doesn't need solution from me, but needs to talk. It looks like letting go of some things, and taking hold of others, even as my hands tremble. It's stopping and sitting in the driveway because the stars are so breathtaking.

It's life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Teach?


We all teach. Accidentally and on purpose. Paid and unpaid. I've been teaching in different capacities for a little while, and I was recently asked "why do you teach?" Here's my answer, and I look forward to also hearing yours.

I teach so that others hunger will grow and so that their thirst will be filled.
Concepts, fact, and world views must be communicated, shaped, applied, and made useful. I teach to show learners that there is more, and that the "more" brings both empowerment and accountability.

I teach because I cannot stand the ignorance so prevalent in our society. I teach for justice. I teach to show learners that they are important enough for me to invest myself in.

I teach because I can't hold all that's inside me, I'll explode!

I teach to be a shortcut to wisdom, knowledge and the better way. I am an eager, excited forerunner. I run ahead to see what is there, to experience it first and prepare those waiting and ready to go ahead. I run through the woods, often to strike out a new path, then run back and call back, "come this way! Watch out at the stream and keep an eye out for the branches. Don't slow down though, keep your momentum and try! Raise your eyes higher and push just a bit farther. Oh, and don't take that easy way, you'll miss so much beauty."

I teach to free learners from ignorance and blindness. I teach so learners can take a mirror to themselves, to see what they think and assume, to point the light in their direction, and invite the to see truth. Then, they are empowered to make new choices.

When I teach, I light fires. I look for sparks of hope and vision inside of people, and I gently fan them to life. I also teach fire-building. "Lay the small twigs first, then this size of sticks, so your can have coals that will sustain the logs, the big things you want to impact."

When my heart is truly in it, I distill the best of what I have. I break it down, boil it down until only the valuable goodness is leftover.

That's why I teach. What about you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Life

It's pursuit,
pursuit,
a lifelong dream,
a shower of blessing and pain and sting,
Lift your head and see the sky,
Still your heart from all the "why's"
Let the pain and choke wear off,
Rise and see the summer stalks.
The fields grow green, just look, you'll see,
The pain and dark isn't meant for me,
I can walk in the here and there,
I can see eternity's share,
Mixed yet separate,
A full cup of gold
Overflowing
I can't hold it all,
Here, have some!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Value, sacrifice, life

I was thinking about life and the value we place on it, mostly because I was reading about abortion. I wanted to write a half-ranting post, but I'm going to stick with this:

We must sacrifice for what we value.

If you value life, then you will sacrifice for life, whether that means helping teenagers who are trying to figure out who they are, but whose parents can't really help them, or opening your home to a single mom who just got kicked out of her apartment for not being able to pay rent.

If your money goes there, you value that thing.

If your time goes to someone, you value them.

And it is a sacrifice.

Living a self-centered life is only going to get us to places of frustration and despair. What is valuable is what Jesus taught and then gave his body up for: life, love, selflessness, hope, peace, joy...the goodness of this Kingdom that is upside-down thinking, to us. It's actions that seem small but yet show who is great, it's a narrow path and humility, yet also honor and strength.

We sacrifice for what's valuable, and if we value life, we will sacrifice to keep it pure and preserve others' lives. 

What do you value?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Experience Beauty

Experience Beauty

One thing that I love to do when I see something beautiful is just let my soul just ache with the goodness of it. Just feel it, immerse myself in it, and let an inner sigh settle over my whole self.

I think this inner sigh happens because in our depths, we are made to experience beauty and to live in it, to flourish there.
Have you ever noticed? We flock to about any park we can find, we are captured by music, we are drawn to mountains.... We aren't just fulfilled by beauty, we desire it.
You'll find people coming to out-of-the-way places, seeking to experience beauty. We don't come because we can buy something, although we are treasure-hunting. We are seeking something, seeking beauty,  seeking fulfillment to our souls. We desire to dwell in beauty and to wrap ourselves up in it, experientially, to know that we are connected to it. To know that we, too, are beautiful. Glorious.

Our desire to experience beauty is totally evident. You can hear it in the disappointed tone in a voice of a recent traveler. "I'm telling you, it was absolutely gorgeous, this photo doesn't do it justice." Or a concert-goer: "You think they sound good on the album? Man, you should hear them live!" Or a lover: "She's the most amazing person I have ever met, I can't wait to introduce you to her!"

People place parks (try saying that three times fast) and little green spaces in the midst of wealth and affluence. High dollar land is space for rest. For beauty. There's so much value and beauty that a group of 10,000 people in a city district will choose to have space for a park rather than another business or school. There is something in our souls that aches for the experience of beauty in all forms. We need to experience and connect with the beauty of nature, of excellent music, of graceful movement, of exquisite food, and of our friends and family, and live in that eternity-moment.

and just be.

just enjoy.


Jesus didn't have to create this concept we call "beauty" and He didn't have to create us to enjoy beauty, to long for it. But He did.

Sometimes I hear people who love God and to share his message also "share" that it's not good and holy to enjoy beauty. But that's another post for another day.
Of course, I do not mean that it is fine to be a self-centered pleasure seeker who makes it her only mission to have a good time. No, that is extreme shallowness and leads to an empty, unfulfilled life.

To enjoy is much different than to lust after, it's much different than obsession, because as we immerse ourselves in goodness, that gives glory to the Maker, the One who thought it all up and made it happen. Plus, when it's a shared experience, we multiply the joy.

Today, here's my message: embrace beauty, especially when your soul feels tired or thirsty, just step back and know that the Lord has created you to experience beauty. It comes from Him, beauty was his idea. In fact, it tells us something of who He is. It's in those places we find soul-filling. In rest we can find the Father and see His creative heart, but more than that, see His glorious Self, lavishing in His love for us.

Share in the joy of the achingly beautiful life that surrounds us. Give yourself to the shared experience of joyous beauty, and there you will meet face-to-face with the ever-deeper, glorious Creator and Father of us all.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's Saving my Life

Right now, my life is filled with joys and smiles, aches and pains, and connecting them all are common threads that are saving my life.

Truth is saving my life.
I lift my head and see truth when I press through fear and say, "no, this is not normal for a child of God. A daughter of the Most High doesn't act like life is over if things go wrong." It's in the question, "where is the hope?" and in the truth-filled answer of "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, is here, is advancing, unstoppable."

What's saving my life is the exchange of life.
The flowing out and the opening wide, letting the waves of life and love and loss all spill out and flow in from those standing beside me. When I say to a friend, "ok, this is what is really happening, and it's not fun." or "gosh, I don't know what to do with all this overflow of joy!" It's sharing life both ways, an exchange of life.


Knowing that my Father is with me always, is saving my life. And, He is always, always good. My life is being saved as I turn to Him and feel safe in His arms, leaning into the realities of what's around me, not knowing why, and yet knowing peace.
 

Conversation is saving my life.
Trusting my Father enough to know He will whisper and shout the truths to me, even when I plow through the messiness of a confrontational conversation with whoever is beside me, that is giving me life. It's because I know that regardless of the outcome, He can bring me to the place of truth, if I will open my heart to the realities and accept my role within His boundaries. 


Looking hard at what my motive really is, and then revealing that motive to whoever is beside me, is saving my life. In the same way, letting whoever is beside me probe into my heart and shed light into what's happening inside, what beliefs I am living out of, that saves my life, too. I have the great privilege of having safe people around me who will see my motives, healthy or unhealthy, give my motives their rightful name, then continue loving me and encouraging me forward.
 

Asking my Heavenly Father, "What do I need to know? Just show me that, You know the rest," that's saving my life. It's the choice that takes me away from the clutches of worry and fear and lets me lay my head down in green pastures.
 

Looking back and seeing actual growth, that's saving my life. I can remember my yesterdays, and see how I fully live in more and more joy as my journey progresses.
 

Knowing this is the year of "strengthen" and not of new frontiers (yet), finding who I truly am in the larger scheme of life, that's saving my life.

What's saving yours?

(inspired by Sarah Bessey, an amazing writer. You can read her blog here, she's been writing about what's saving her life and challenged readers to explore what's saving their lives. I'll be elaborating on each of the things that save me in the following weeks.)