A Last Word on Less {Goodbye 2012}

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I remember the initial challenge. One. Word. A word that sets your intention for the year. I am not one who struggles to find words. Words are the chariots of fire that roll through my mind in the dark of night. Words are the fuel that propel me onward through days that become one in a never-ending story. Committing to one word for me was like asking a kangaroo to lasso a great white shark, from a boat…during a blizzard…at night. On another planet. OK, maybe I exaggerate. Just a little. I think knowing that others were setting there intention and focus through these communities helped me feel less alone. But still…when God whispered to me in that still small voice the word Less, I was really not thrilled  exactly open to the idea. Yet, I knew there was wisdom in it. Though my flesh did protest, I listened and accepted this One Word for 2012. Less. 
He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30
So I pondered, prayed and wrote up that post and joined my one word with many one words and became one with a whole bunch of others…and asked God to answer me the question Could Less Be Best?
Because you know I tend to be a little slow and sometimes I don’t hear so well…that is when God is talking to me anyway. Fortunately He is fairly patient with me. I mean sometimes I get a little nervous and think He might just have the earth split and swallow me, but so far He shows me grace and mercy despite my stubborn sheep tendency. He does faithfully lead me beside the still water but occasionally He will also Take Me To The River  (so I can hear him better). 

I’d like to say I have it all together after walking a year with this word looking back at me from my desk, blog and heart. Instead I recognize it is this Living Word, very real Savior and Faithful Guide who leads me to His ultimate destination His way, in His time and by means that amaze and humble me. I know not the way He goes, but I know that there is no turning back. In all of it I learn to yield, trust, submit to that which I still do not fully grasp. In this process there is transformation, reconciliation and true salvation. All being worked together without my effort, acknowledgement or often, awareness. This holy path from which I will not depart but walk at exactly the right pace, as He allows it to widen or narrow before me. 

I still have much to learn…but this year as I pondered how much more Jesus needs to reign within my heart I was led to the verses which exemplify what love looks like so well. The timeless verses of 1 Corinthians 13. The Love chapter. I realized that less of me and more of Jesus might mean that love would be magnified in me. That Jesus would reign and be revealed. 

My paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 with the help of “The Message” Bible:

Love: 
Never gives up.
Cares more for others than self. 
Doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Doesn’t strut.
Doesn’t have a swelled head.
Doesn’t force itself on others.
Isn’t always me first. 
Doesn’t fly off the handle. 
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.
Doesn’t revel when another grovels.
Enjoys truth’s growth.
Is never offended.
Trusts in God completely. 
Always sees the good.
Does not look back. 
Perseveres til the end.

This is a portrait of Christ. He lives within you and me and ultimately He will have His own look just like Him! Oh, Lord, I have so far to go. But I do hope in you!

The pursuit of Less led me to Love and authentic Love always leads to the One who is love and that is God. (1 John 4:8)

The Women’s Bible Study I participated  in wrapped up in December, and when I missed a class the leader  made sure to save me a special “challenge” card that each lady had received. On the front there was a bible verse and theme; on the back a specific directive to follow. It was no surprise to me that I got Ephesians 5:21. Submit to One Another. On the back: “Specifically this week consider where you fit in in the body of Christ or in family relationships. We are not always #1!” Ouch. Less of me Lord, more of You. I have always struggled with the fitting in. As a matter of fact, I mostly go through life feeling pretty much like I don’t fit in! But God says we all have a place and it comes in the submitting one to another that begins with considering where we fit in, only after we submit to Him. If we are not submitted to Him, we will not be ready to submit to those we love or others in a healthy, balanced way. Selfishness  reigns and He is dethroned. But if we submit ourselves to Him, He enables us to submit to one another. He is glorified.

 “Submit to one another<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-family: 'Charis SIL', charis, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; text-align: start; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesians 5:21

Less of me and more of Him…
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
Still learning.
Abba, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, as I learn to fly…
I thank you for these lessons, your patience and your promises. 

“Take these broken wings and learn to fly
 All your life 
You were only waiting for this moment to arise…”
Paul McCartney

A special thank you to Bonnie @ Faith Barista, Alece @ One Word 365, and Melanie @ Only A Breath who make this Bloggy World a whole lot smaller in a really BIG, wonderful way! Thank you, Ladies!

He. Changed. Me.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  
Who I was
(am apart from Christ’s transforming love, grace and mercy)
driven, a slave to sin, argumentative, ungrateful, selfish, murderer, promiscuous, unfaithful, slanderer, gossip, fool, arrogant, liar, self-righteous, proud, self-focused, self centered, full of selfish ambition, manipulative, angry, hateful, blind, insecure, mean-spirited, impulsive, opportunist, insensitive, discontent, never satisfied, hopeless, fiercely competitive, ignorant, cheat, deceitful, shame-filled, secretive, limited (conditional) love, spiritually dead. 
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Who I am 
(in Christ – am being conformed and transformed into)
holy, beloved, righteous, redeemed, forgiven, set apart, saint, child of The One True Living God, free,
spiritually alive, saved from the power of sin and death, heaven bound, victorious, precious in His sight, called, conformed to His image, complete, faithful, self-controlled, Spirit-filled, wise, humble, healed, blood bought, yielded and willing to yield, able to truly love unconditionally, kind, compassionate, sensitive to others, hopeful, thankful, with understanding, gracious, peaceful, unashamed, transparent, patient, Christ/God centered and focused. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians Chapter 2

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Faith In Open Water {Faith Life Preservers- Day 23}

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Waiting with hope is very difficult, 
but true patience is expressed 
when we must even wait for hope. 
I will have reached the point of greatest strength 
once I have learned to wait for hope. 
George Matheson
Many of you know I have the ever so tiniest obsession with a certain creature from the sea. If you are new to me and have not followed me long I will fill you in, friends. I am slightly shark obsessed. I have never outgrown my grade school inspired fascination with these creatures as well as most of the amazing and mysterious ocean. It inspires within me wonder, fear and awe. Amazement. Of course, knowing the One who created it is also both relief and more awesome, still. But I want to share with you some of my pondering today about faith, hope and the deep blue sea. Maybe there is some encouragement to be found in open water and even bad movies.
Since I am a shark fan (Of course I watch Shark Week!) and the classic movie Jaws, you can imagine that if a movie is released that is about sharks I have to see it! I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau after all and in my imagination I have swam with him on many adventures since early childhood. Sometimes television can be good, I suppose.
Shortly after I got married, a movie had been released called Open Water. Although my hubby and I did not go to the movie theater to see it (thankfully), I talked him into watching it with me one night. He does not share my shark enthusiasm but he graciously agreed.
To say that this movie upset me would be a monumental understatement. The movie infuriated me and at the end of it I stormed out of the living room (my poor hubs had suffered through the whole thing with me) and went into quite a rant about the ending of it. Let me give you some background (or click the link for more details as I don’t recommend seeing the movie, at least until you hear me out-and yes I am giving spoilers, so if you don’t want to know do not read on). The movie is about a couple who goes off on a scuba diving excursion among 18 others. It is a low budget film and feels very real and surreal at the same time. I want to say that what bothered me about this movie is not the filming, or the footage because that was frighteningly real and disturbing on it’s own. It is my understanding that the shark footage was authentic. No mechanical mayhem, as in Jaws. So on that note horribly accurate shark behavior and reality. (OK, that is actually disturbing as well) The story is the thing for me, so let’s get to it. We journey with the couple as they swim off from the others who have signed on for the trip to explore the deep blue sea. The mix ups that occur on the boat during the couple’s absence is filmed and we see that the tally of who is aboard the boat for the agreed upon departing time is inaccurate. The small boat leaves the couple out in open water and returns to port. When the couple finally surface from the deep, they see the boat off in the distance. They assume it will return and the next hours are spent waiting. Add nausea here. We spend the night with them as they are stung by jelly fish, nibbled on by sharks, surrounded by darkness and consumed by fear. They try to keep one another’s hopes up but in the end…this is the clincher. In the end, both are consumed by sharks in a feeding frenzy that starts with the man and ends when (enter rant here) the woman seeing all hope gone removes her gear and sinks into the sea of sharks. 
Enter hopelessness. I have never been more upset with a movie. It angered me because of the utter hopelessness it portrayed. The absence of God. The darkness and void of a seemingly meaninglessness existence and situation. The too late response of the crew recognizing those left behind. The earnest search in morning light. Hopelessness. 
The final scene only fueled my anger more:
 “After Susan slips below the water’s surface, the film scene flashes elsewhere, revealing a fishing crew cutting open a newly-caught shark’s abdomen and stomach, and finding a waterproof diving camera, ostensibly that of Daniel and Susan. One of the fishermen asks off-handedly to another, “Wonder if it works?” (Source: Wikpedia)
See it bothered me because I know that even if…
He is God. 
He is good. 
He exists. 
He is not void.
We are not without hope.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution 
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future,
 nor any powers,  neither height nor depth,
 nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God
 that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 35, 38

My paraphrase: 
No bad movie, or frenzied, 
flesh consuming shark 
can consume my soul.
Christ owns me.
I am in the palm of His hand
wherever I am. 
Like Jonah in the Whale’s belly or
 Job surrounded by foolish friends. 
His love never lets me go.
His love will never let you go.
Always hope.
In Him.
One more thing: Beware of Bad movies. 
But, even a bad movie can be a reminder of God’s goodness!
God is Sovereign.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:8-10


I have included the official movie trailer clip
and have to confess I still feel sick when I watch EVEN this much.
So use discretion if you watch.
Not for the fainthearted. 

31 Days of Faith Life Preservers 
October 1-31, 2012
See all other Faith Life Preserver Posts HERE.

Check out all of the other 
31 Day Topics and Bloggers HERE!

Linking with these lovely communities:

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When You Feel You Don’t Fit In {Faith Life Preservers- Day 22}

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Praise the Lord! He is good.
    God’s love never fails.
Psalm 136:1
Expectations of Christianity circulate through my blood and bones, 
seeking to be pumped out into real life.
Sometimes I resent the very flesh that encases me.
I think I have it all figured out when
 I am reminded by circumstances of the reality that won’t go away.
The feeling that never subsides. 
That feeling of never really fitting in.
It’s not like I dwell on this.
It’s so much more insidious than that.
Subtle.
Snakelike.
Ever present but unassuming.
And I know I am supposed to say it’s all good and wonderful.
But the truth is, it’s not true at all.
I didn’t start this Faith Life Preserver series to blow smoke in your face.
I started this series as a step of faith aware of  the enemy sneering at me from the sidelines hissing, threatening, mocking me and this life of faith I live.
This 31 Day series is being fleshed out in a painful place. 
From need more than want, friends, I write in this place. 
I wonder if it was ever supposed to be a happily ever after here in this world anyway. 
I resent the blissful, cheery utopia I find so many Christian folks striving after 
and I start to feel my chest tighten at the thought of it.
 I’m wondering what to do when those I love hate The One I love most.
When people judge and are so full of self I can’t even see God in them at all, just a wall.
When they have lived relatively sheltered lives and can’t comprehend
 that the things I have experienced in life and seen would make them cry out in horror.
And I know they cannot understand at all.
Can never really know the what it is like to walk in these shoes.
Cannot relate to me at all.
But if no-one understands me.
And my lot in life is of no importance to them.
I know this.
There is One who does know me.
This One who I live for and believe in.
This One who I know will never leave me nor forsake me.
This One who sacrificed His own life to pay the penalty for my sin.
Who lives forever.
Seated at the right hand of The Father in Heaven.
This One who lives to intercede for me.
This One who never fails, because He himself is Love and cannot fail.
Love.
Never.
Fails.
He upholds me and will keep me from sinking. 
He will not let my foot slip nor give me over to my enemies.
When I feel the enemy stalking and using those closest to me to whisper lies and accusations,
I cling to the one who stays closer than a brother.
The One True Faith Life Preserver whose name I cling to
today and for the stormy days ahead.
The Most High God.

May this same One be your very own Faith Life Preserver
as you face the storms in your life. 

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:9-16
31 Days of Faith Life Preservers 
October 1-31, 2012
See all other Faith Life Preserver Posts HERE.

Check out all of the other 
31 Day Topics and Bloggers HERE!
I have decided to keep it quiet by not replying to comments over here
 for the next few weeks.

I will instead be visiting and reading blogs and trying to keep pace
 with own life and writing!
Hope this makes sense.

Please accept the words here as gifts, and have a blessed day.

 I can always be reached
via e-mail and on the FB page.

Grateful for you.

On In Around button

The Green Hat {A Love Letter To My Girl}

…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty 
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:4
My Girl,
How I love you more than words can ever express. 
How is it that in motherhood God has so captured
His own inexpressible love and squeezes it out in tears and hugs daily? 
I can’t even grasp the depth of my love toward you and yet I know it is, indeed finite.
 It is limited, this love I have for you my sweet girl. 
 I have dipped my fingertip into the pool of inexhaustible love that never sleeps nor grows weary,
 and I suspect I have felt a portion of it coursing through my veins, welling up in my heart at times. 
Yet I do grow weary at times. 
I want to apologize in advance for the mistakes I know I will make along this journey. 
Have already made. 
I wish I could be perfect for you.
 The perfect mother I never had, that none of us have, can ever have. 
It is impossible, my dear one. 
Those are shoes that only One should ever fill. 
I fear it is not even a good desire. 
The fact is I do grow weary, am imperfect and will fail you. 
Oh, I pray not.
 But I know better. 
I know that you in your youth have already spotted my weaknesses. 
Some are glaring flaws that prowl like tigers. 
Others are just my own buried wounds and scars forgotten, 
but tender to the touch. Exposed in the heat of the moment. 
I am after all being transformed and conformed. I don’t have all the answers. 
Even still. I do have this one thing, a confidence in the one who knit you together in my womb.
 This same One who promised to never leave, nor forsake me, though every other human possibly could.
 I don’t have confidence in myself, I just have no place to get it from but Him.
 I trust in this, that He promises to lead those who have young.
That if all else fails, you can count on this. 
His love never fails. 
If you turn from me, 
harden your heart towards Him and 
turn from all I have dreamed for you…
I will trust in His goodness. 
Not my wonderful parenting, not my ability to give you the life I never had, not my excellent mothering skills, not the hope that you will do what I think you should. 
I come to the table with empty hands. But with these hands I can pray, I can praise and seek Him who is seeking you and pursing you before you even desire to return His love.
 I am fully confident in the fact that this love that wells up within me as life itself is a down payment on the bigger transaction of grace taking place in the quietness of my soul. 
I am bought with a price and my love for you is tapped 
right into that bigger reservoir of eternal love. 
Not wasted. Precious. Pure and Holy. 
I want more than ever for you to feel beautiful, because it is already true.
 That He has created you, and I wish upon wish upon hope, that you would feel beautiful. 
Because even He is beautiful. 
It is His beauty that has transformed me to the woman of grace that I am continuing to become. 
That you can become. How I remember the days you felt beautiful, in your innocence.
 How you burst through the rooms of our home in dresses and tutus and scathing beauty.Unashamed. But age brings the knowledge of the unholy and the world competes for your allegiance. 
It hurts my heart when you lean that way and I see you feeling less beautiful. 
Because it is not true. You are beautiful. 
You are loved. 
You are precious. 
You were birthed in beauty, because 
He created you- kissed your precious face right their in that hidden place. 
Saw you swaddled in embryonic fluid and adored you right there fully. 
Beautiful.
The memories of you already fill me to the brim.
 A million snapshot moments, stream through my mind.
I remember our shopping day a few years back…and the momentary joy of a green hat. 
Your smile filled the room, beauty glowing forth. Confident. 
We snapped a picture, moment in time. One moment. One hat. 
Maybe you will forget that moment in time. 
But I saw something in your eye that I wished I could keep for you to give back to you when you feel beauty abandons you. 
You felt beautiful. 
But I have found my Green Hat. 
The One who is Beauty itself.
 The One who’s Beauty is without blemish and unfading.
And if I could just give it to you I would. 
But unlike the green hat on the clearance table we passed up that day…
eleven dollars of motherly regret.
Beauty that would fade in time anyway.
His hat of grace is available when you are ready to receive it. 
He will adorn you with imperishable beauty and
 you will be secure in His fit. 
You are precious in His sight.
Beautiful.
I love you, and you will always be my sweet, little girl.

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