Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thoughts on church and a prayer and change.

Update: When I think of them, I'm randomly adding names to this post. If you would like your name added, just leave a comment.
I've heard, and even repeated the statement before that you can't love God, and hate His bride. And I don't think I hate the church of people... but I walk into that building and often I feel a compression that shrinks down who I am, and what I long to become in God and leaves me feeling a little empty. It's no ones fault, unless I choose to blame myself for it.

I've always been a difficult person. Wanting things, yet completely unable to express what it is I'm wanting. I want big, and small, powerful and wonderfully simple. I want meaningful.
I want God.

This love/hate relationship I have with Church.... I wish it would end. And, as I forever try to 'fix' myself, I wonder about the different ways to stop shrinking when I walk in those doors.

At the same time, it almost seems ungrateful and wrong to use the word 'shrink' when God has worked so much in the last 3 years.

Today, in this very hour, I do feel grateful. I know despite my seemingly incessant hairpulling and groaning, that God has brought me out. I step out, free, and liberated today and simply pray He keeps the wolves of sin from me. The fears and doubts and protective wall that I so diligently guard myself with leave me bitter and frustrated. I choose better. I choose God.
Let me trust so much that I become trust.
Let me believe so much that I become belief.
Let me be so open that I become openness itself.
Let me love so wholly, that I become as Christ.

I do see the new year as opportunity for new beginnings. But I don't want to wait to start those beginnings. I want them now December 28th. May I climb the tree of Life as happy as a child. May I sit as a work wearied laborer under it's branches and find it as refreshing as cool clear water. May I trust in the roots, and find joy in every leaf and find complete nourishment in it's fruit.

Let my soul be satisfied in You Oh Lord. I pray that You would occupy my vision until the things of this world become things seen only through You rather than around You or instead of You. That my words to others would first pass the filter of You. I pray with each and every passing day that I become ever increasingly lost in You, till I wonder what is me, and what is Thee.
I pray Your love and mercies sustain me, and that I would never again doubt in the darkness the decisions I've made in the light. I pray Your right hand of righteousness would uphold me, and I pray for courage as I face the times I desperately need to be upheld.
Help me to no longer trust in this world for my hope. But for You alone to be my hope. That said, I pray my heart would constantly and prayerfully hope for the world.

Consume me Father, consume every fiber of my doubts and fears and each sin that comes between me and You. Until I cannot help but give you all I am, because You are all I desire.
I pray that Christ would be lifted up in this broken and hurting world as Your day of return is ever closer. That all might see. That all might know.

I pray this same prayer for each of these:

Linda K.
Linda S.
Nancy M.
Deborah M.
Deborah U.
Mike B.

Consume them, uphold them, burn away in them the dross that stands between them and Your absolute glory.
Open our eyes Lord, until all we seek is You. Then Father, oh that we might find You one day in the fullness of Your glory and grace. May we revel and wonder every moment of every day.
Oh Father that it might be according to Your will.

What will you become?

Let us pray so much that we become Prayer. Let us laugh so much, O God, that we become Laughter. Let us sing so much that we become Song. Let us give so much that we become Gift.
found on Mollys blog.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Making headlines.

My school/work made ESPN news. God did too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Be of good courage

My car is fixed, my plumbing is fixed, and new measures have been taken to keep my pipes from freezing on me again. I've accepted the job offer, and will start the new job January 12th, but will also be working part time in the evenings to keep the timekeeping up at my old job until my replacement is hired, because everything is crazy there and no one has time to take on my work.

If you've been reading my blog, surely you've seen that physical problems are rarely my biggest struggle. I struggle with believing God, trusting God and simply resting in His promises. So, while it's nice that the physical problems are coming together, they are nothing compared to the relief of every step I take that gets me back closer to the relationship I used to have with God.


Tonight, I went to church. My empty quiet church, lit by Christmas lights. I went and I prayed, and I believed, and I yelled, and I cried - the good kind of tears.
llnw (I know this character only by his/her isp name) but they consistently go to previous posts of mine that speak to me, just at the right time.

Tonight, after a long absence I found he/she had returned and I found llnw had led me to a post I wrote back in 2007 whose primary message is this:

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalms 27:14

And I said "I'll wait."

I believe that something happened tonight... I'm not sure what it was exactly, but something happened tonight. Maybe I didn't change anything important to anyone else, maybe the whole matter was that I needed something to change in me in order to be able to pray, and believe, and yell and cry in all the best ways, rather than writhing in the torment of doubt and fear.

And I guess, coming home, it was nice to see that reminder. It's not wait and be afraid. It's wait, have courage and He shall strengthen thine heart.
Isn't that interesting? You would think that if you were 'of good courage' you wouldn't be in need of God to "strengthen thine heart".

But it's like saying "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief".

Be of good courage.

And He'll strengthen your heart.

Maybe He strengthens your heart in different ways. Maybe there is a profound statement one of you will give me that will clarify the whole idea. Or maybe it's just that courage is a mental thing. You set your mind to mentally persevere in the face of danger, and bad circumstances - and God will strengthen your heart.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20,21

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Now that's awesome

Like SLW posted, this is just too cool not to pass on. Just hit play.

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

What does God say?

Jon, over at Stuff Christians Like, wrote a great post "Fixing Our Motives" and I want to give you the snippet of what he thinks God might say to him. Please stop by and read the whole post though, it's terrific.

Don't you see what you're doing? This is the enemy's favorite lie. This is the idea of needing something else when you've already got me. This is the same lie that he told in the garden. Adam and Eve already had my presence, but he told them there is something they were missing. This is simply a way for the enemy to put conditions on something that is unconditional, my love. What you're saying is that your motives aren't pure. They aren't noble. You come to me with a wish list sometimes. Your heart is in the wrong place. You feel guilty and distraught, because your heart isn't right. Well stop. Stop thinking you must stand outside my presence waiting until you have the right motives to come in. You will never be noble enough on your own to come into my presence. That is why I sent Christ. You will never have a heart that is pure enough before you can come into my presence. I alone can purify and sanctify your heart. That is something that happens in me and through me, never before me. I make motives noble. I make hearts pure. Not you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

No really, WOW.

I don't have a single complaint.

Sure things are a little crazy right now, but I don't have a single complaint.

Even yesterday, I think my one major complaint was that I was not clean. I guess you don't realize how important that is to you until you find yourself without water to clean yourself. Even brushing your teeth is not as good if you don't have any way to rinse and spit.

Today, I'm finally clean and I have water. I'm thankful for water.

My car isn't fixed yet, but it will be. The mechanic said one half shaft on my car was bad. And the other one (the one I said needed to be looked at), he said he didn't know how it was holding onto my wheel.

My car, didn't lose a wheel going down the road. I'm thankful for that.

Sometime around 4am Thursday the belt that connects with my alternator fell off. I had enough battery power to make it till about 10am. It could have just as easily stranded me, with no lights or power at all, at 5am. In the middle of the road with no lights to warn people that I was there. When it did die, I even had a battery in the trunk to put in so I was able to drive my car (very little) until it got to the mechanics shop.

My car had many bad times in which it could have run out of power. Instead, it ran out at the most perfect time I could imagine - and gave me enough time to make arrangements for it to be fixed the next day. I'm thankful for that.

And right now, in this horrible economy I've got 3 different jobs to pick and choose what I want to do, for how many hours, and for how much money. I'm not only thankful, but acknowledge that I am profoundly blessed.

It seems like there are a lot of problems, but in reality they are all just small things. Some of my most major problems required a 3 dollar part, and a 20 dollar part. But it's easy to focus on them.

I was watching the skit by Lifehouse today. I've posted it before, and watched it over and over again because I appreciate the reminder of how things get between us and God. But in the skit it talks about how the teen is struggling against things standing between her and God: men, alcohol, money, looks, until finally a despair and inability to cope comes on her and she considers suicide. I don't care if you've seen the video before, go watch it again. It's good.

Despite feeling a little tossed about in the waves of one thing after another, I thought about how in our lives little things can come between God and me too if I'm not careful. Maybe it's not alcohol, maybe it's a huge bill that needs to be paid. Maybe it's not money, but it's a neighbor that's harassing you. Maybe it's not men, but it is your busy schedule.

I focus in on details sometimes, I need to buy weatherstripping, I need to do laundry, I need to clean house better, I need to paint or fix a door, when's the last time I washed my car? when do the kids come? have I done enough, said enough, talked to the person that needed talking to, where will I, how will I, when will I, who will I, what will I? Until my thoughts are so consumed with daily life, that I've completely forgotten about a better one.

Life this week has just been tiring. But it was important to remember, that even though I was unhappy about not being clean - everything that was happening was just extra in a life that has been blessed. This week, my little hedge of protection meant that my car could go down, but it wasn't allowed to hurt me.

I cannot complain. I've nothing to complain about. God's been good.
And the best part is, I actually mean that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I don't smell nice.

I've been out of water since Tuesday when it all froze in the pipe.
I got it unfrozen, unfortunately when I did that, it unfroze on full blast and won't go off.
My own attempts at repairs were going well until an unfortunate move sent a geyser flooding into my bathroom.

Then I received word that I was being offered a new job.
Then two lights (brakes and alternator) went on in my car, and a wheel started knocking.

Then the car died.

Then I realized my kitten was pregnant. What nasty Tom went after this poor kit?

Then, some lady walked into my office and showed me horrific pictures of kids that are "cutters". It came out of no where and was entirely unnecessary and almost insane that she shoved this paper in my face and continued describing horrible things to me - me, someone who only wanted her signature on hiring papers.

All within 3 days.

I need a nap.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thoughts on grace.

I never once imagined that I'd find within myself any scrap of thankfulness for all the doubt and fears of the last year.

And yet, here I am. Thankful. Not overly so, I'm not crazy... but these months have done a great deal to break me. I remember the tears and frustration before I came to Christ for this personal relationship. And suddenly, 6 years later, I was at that exact same point again.
Only, this time it accompanied with it the fact that I was not supposed to question the things I was questioning. It's not right, it's not good. It's not something you're suppose to do 6 years down the road.

But, sitting here now, I've been considering the amazing fact of my sins, my anger and violence towards God, has separated me from the presence of God but not the grace of God. And even in that, I believe I would be spending far more precious time within His presence if I were simply able to put aside the last year.

Carmen wrote a song once called "The River" Its' lyrics say:
It doesn't matter who you are
It doesn't matter where you've been
It doesn't matter what the scar
It doesn't matter what the sin
It doesn't matter how you failed
Somewhere along the way
There is healing for your life today.

(it goes on, you can read all the lyrics here)

But, pushing all those thoughts together I considered that my sins don't matter to God.
And now I'll say, OF COURSE my sins matter to God.
But, at the same time, MY sins don't matter to God.
Maybe... keep in mind this is all just theory and conjecture from someone who cries far too much lately.

But, my sins, I often think are something new. They're MY sins. I own the sin, and no one else in the world could possibly have my complex combination of shame and guilt, and fear and doubt and stubbornness etc. etc. etc.
But, since the creation of the world my Father has been watching sin destroy people. Much the same way we watch cancer destroy people now. While everyone asks where the cancer is found, what specific part is it attacking - we all know that most cancer, if left untreated spells death to whomever it touched. The only way to ward it off is violent and painful, extraordinarily expensive and often life changing treatments. The fact that it is in the stomach, colon, lungs... are mere details.

Yet, we define our sins by those details. And I wonder if God just sees the spirit-destroying cancer that is, just as it's aforementioned counterpart, spreading.

Whatever our sin, the cure is still the same. It is costly, life-changing, and most profoundly painful.

But God, somehow in His ways that I don't understand, separated me from my sin. While I writhed in the pain of my sin, separating myself from so many people - He still held onto me. He saw my sin, my struggle as something simply to be gone through.
In this age of divorce, such a commitment would be compared to a couple making it through an affair. Trust broken, anger, lies, and vile things entering into such a blessed union - yet love and absolute unwavering commitment holds the one partner to completely forgive.

Herein lies the problem.

The adulterous spouse, will never find that blessed peaceful happiness they once had with their committed spouse - until they forgive themselves. A fact that will grieve both spouses equally.

In my world, sin comes at a physical cost.
My Savior confuses me and I struggle at the difficult notion of "No child, it's free to you, I've paid the price already."

In my world, sin is never forgotten.
My Savior, watches as I stand guarded, waiting for Him to remind me of old sins each time He sees new ones.

But in my world also, no one would have held onto me after this last year.
But He did.

So tonight, my humbled prayer is simply this:
Father, help me to find the depths of pleasure I once found in our walk together. Help me to embrace Your simple and perfect love, and let go of my distorted views on it. Help me to let go of the sins that only I hold so tightly between us. Thank You Father, for holding onto me and never letting go. You have truly made me wonder, "What can separate me from the love of Christ?"

To connect these thoughts somewhat, there is a great post over at "Christ The Truth" called "Sinning really isn't the worst thing."
It's a good read, and connects with what I'm thinking out loud in this post quite well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A quote

The struggles you’re facing don’t disprove God’s promises.
They’re the very reason He made the promises to begin with.
Pastor Steven Furtick

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trusting when the streets are closed.

It was right after a Christmas parade, I was driving my niece and nephew home. The regular streets were all closed because of the parade, so I was taking a roundabout way to their house.
All of a sudden, despite having already understood that we were going to their house, my nephew asked me "Where are we going?"

"We're going to your house" I said.
"This isn't the right way."

Even as I explained about the streets being closed, I realized how much he sounded like me.

"Let's go somewhere God."
......This way
"This isn't the right way."

Friday, December 05, 2008

My big and powerful God.

I can't say that tomorrow I won't wake up struggling against the pricks again, but this week the quietness has continued.
I've spent the week settling back into my old routines. I'm reading my bible again. I read before, but it was always in preparation for either the services at my house, or the meetings held in someone elses home. It was not for personal gain or to see Jesus better. It was because I had to.

And in this quietness, I'm thinking about my great big God, and wondering if in my quest for spiritual gifts and maturity, and the ability to change the world, if I shrunk Him down into something that I should be able to control and make demands of.

I want my great big God back.

This last year hurt, and I wondered if maybe I just missed the boat and it was too soon for me to be a foster parent. Maybe I just wasn't mature enough to handle the stress and emotions of it. I still want my Bell back so much it hurts.
Or maybe this is all just part of the shaking up that comes with growing up.
Or maybe the whole struggling year has just been me being stupid and stubborn.

In the aftermath of my bitter barb that I slung at God, I was instantly sorry. I regretted it. The bible tells me that my heart controls my words, and even though this word never was verbally spoken, the bible also tells me that He knows my thoughts. And in the quietness where my thoughts gathered I realized, I really love God.

I've never understood love very well. Never been sure of it, never trusted in it. People say they love you all the time, and it means virtually nothing. And I confess, I've wondered if I was capable of it. You have emotions, and sometimes you think it's love but it's not - maybe it's just affection, or just that you enjoy someones company, it could be many things - are you sure it's love? I wasn't. Never have been.

I've said I love God so many times, but what I felt after that hurtful barb... thinking about it later I just knew, I felt that way because I really did love Him. I wished He couldn't have heard that thought. I wish I'd never have thought it. And I didn't wish those things because I didn't want to hurt Gods feelings (is that even possible?) but because I loved Him.

It's hard to explain why I would have thought such a hurtful thing if I loved Him. I don't know the answer to that. I just know it's true. God has been good to me. He's comforted me, protected me, taught me, filled me with the Holy Ghost, spoke to me, healed me, and loved me. And while trust has never come easy for me, and so often my trust in Him has faltered (or even crashed and burned), I still want to trust Him with my life.

He loves me too. I'm sitting here, saved by precious grace and I know I've given Him many a reason to revoke that salvation. But He didn't. I deserve a lot worse that this patience He's shown me. But instead He's hung on for the ride and somehow held on to me. I'm saved. Not of works that I could still be proud of it, but by grace.

There is a lot to think about - but for the most part I just want to keep being quiet. I'm tired of all the doubts, the struggle and confusion. I'm ok with trying to just keep my heart and mind quiet, and asking God to show Himself to me. Not in the form of powerful works and wonders, but just in the form of who He is.
I want to get reacquainted with my big and powerful God.