Obedient Fear

Obedient Fear

Do the thing that scares you

Look into the eyes of grace

And go where you dreamed on your darkest night

Do the thing that you haven’t been able to hear

For fears heartbeat pounding loudly in your ear

Are you where you want to be

Or sitting on your hands

Afraid of the clenched fist that they might become

Do the thing that scares you

Learn to love, with grace and forgiveness and trust

Do the thing that scares you.

And He who breathes heavenly hope into our hearts will not deceive or fail us when we press forward toward its realization. ~Streams in the Desert 3.26.~

Let me just say that 2015 has started off weird, not bad, just weird.  Namely I am sensing change is needed and realizing that most times that requires that I get up and do something about whatever is going on in my life.  Granted there are times life changes everything for you and there is very little you can do but hold on and enjoy the ride, but sometimes, sometimes the change most certainly starts when you confront that part of you that’s been scared of the great big what if sitting in the room.  And the following thought has been my diving board to the deep end of the pool.

Do the thing that scares you, the thing you look at wish could be apart of your resume of life.

I do not know how to quilt or really sew for that matter. Up until two weeks ago the last thing I had sewn of significance was a placemat project with my Aunt Ardene. I was trying to raise money for basketball trip overseas and hiring myself out for odd jobs. She decided it was time for me to learn to sew and that my first project would be learning the Lincoln log quilting pattern (it is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds).

(photo credit http://madlibster.blogspot.com/2013/05/alphabet-quilt.html)

Yup, that is it right there, each of those is a separate piece of fabric that has been cut out and then sewn together. I am pretty sure I heard brain cells exploding when she sat me down in front of the machine to start the whole thing.

Anyhow for each one of the completed squares (the above pattern is one square and mine were a little bigger) she would pay me $0.25, so basically it was the beginning of indentured servitude. I finished 4 squares, enough for one placemat (you are welcome Thompson family reunion) and then begged her for anything else to do, like scrubbing toilets. So she cut me loose and Melissa somehow got roped into doing the project and I decided that I would never ever sew again… ever.

Flash forward 15 years, I decided to try something that scared me quit frankly. You see Aunt Ardene was something of an artist, she painted with fabric, yes it was a blanket, a quilt, by all logical definitions, but art tends to defy both logic and definition, because it tugs at emotions that you were unaware of running beneath the still and silent surface. In the back of my mind I didn’t want to mess with memories happy, sad, or otherwise but I looked at my Mom and showed her some pictures of patchwork couches and said ‘Do you think we could do this?’

Do the thing that scares you.

What’s the worse thing that could happen, it wouldn’t look good? At least I could say I tried.

It is so easy to guard myself by the boundaries of things that scare me, it’s safe, I don’t get scars, you know those pesky emotional ones, especially when I stick only with what I know.

Do the thing that scares you.

It keeps echoing in my head, like a mantra I have been unaware of up until now because the pounding of my heart has been hiding this very simple truth, I am made of much more than I know.

Father God, help my unbelief.

 

 

Ted Drews

I live in StL, I was born here, moved away while my parents did mission work overseas and have moved back ‘home’ and last night broke me.

I am not condoning the violence by any stretch of the imagination but this kind of out cry does not come from a place of feeling like a person is being heard. I can’t help but partially feel as though this is almost Jesus flipping tables in the temple begging his beautiful bride to pay attention to the brokenness I choose to walk by daily.

God is sovereign, He is not surprised by any of this. We have all been fostering this culture of fear, for crying out loud I am super guilty of it. I would rather put stamps in my passport to ‘dangerous’ countries that go to ‘that’ part of town. The fear permeates us all, it is our flesh, which means this ‘race’ issue belongs to us all, but there is hope, there is always hope.

Jesus called us all to something before He was lifted into the clouds, the ministry of reconciliation. First with our own hearts and then the world that surrounds. It is so easy to respond to anger with anger, so easy, but family how does that make us any different.

For me my frustration comes from a place of feeling helpless. For wanting to tangibly make a difference, but the heart of the matter is the broken heart and I cannot fix that. However I can boldly pray for the soil of hearts to be tilled and softened starting with my own.

Just like any mission field I must be obedient and faithful and hit the deck flat on my face and pray, plead and cry out with the broken for mercy and grace from the great healer, because He is steadfast and ever loving.

And my heart is broken, realizing there are parts of my own city I haven’t been willing to go to because I am afraid and in turn a whole mission field 10 miles north of where I lay my head at night to sleep has been ignored by me (if I am truthful I ignore the one on the other side of my driveway as well).

So for me this is where it begins and I beg those reading this to join with me because this is not just about the city that was once known as the gateway to the west. Please pray for your ‘part’ of town that you won’t go to because its not safe, then put your passport back in the sock drawer and go into your Ferguson. Our Fathers heart is broken, it is shredded for the broken and ours should be too. The command was always simple, Love (john15:9-17)

Father God, please forgive my unbelief.  Father God, help my unbelief.

 

Waiting

 

Ozark Riverway (1 of 19)The fireflies are thick at night here, a silent symphony of sparkling lights, speaking to one another in some fractal pattern I can see but am to simple to understand. Yet I can sense the music they are speaking to one another because despite my inability to understand them, I can see they understand one another and work in an easy sort of harmony and that I can appreciate.

Lying in this hammock under an umbrella of trees, with the thicker forest behind me, I feel myself wrestling with many different realizations

* I love Jesus, but I am a jerk

* My sexuality is not my identity , yet it is how I judge those around me

* And while I am mostly okay with my singleness, I also let it rob me of my joy because in my heart I want to share life with someone and have in turn, let an idol become my identity

I don’t know who you are or when I’ll get to meet you or whether we will have 2 months or 42 years. What I do know is that I am sorry that I have been selfish and have judged you. You may wonder why I’d even say that but it’s the truth of all close relationships. I will want something out of it for me and I will judge your actions or lack there of because they don’t look or conform to mine. Inevitably my humanity will raise her head and she will be fully lacking in grace.

I find that my heart is somewhat bitter and jaded, as if fighting inner truths of myself I can’t yet understand. I have had made very poor choices for the most part about whom I have dated.  The man I should have stuck with I ran from because when you aren’t good enough for yourself, you seriously doubt the motives of those who see goodness in you. I am not that person anymore, pieces of that girl still exist but I am learning it is less of who I am and much more whose i am. Please know now, whom ever you are, that while I desperately want to share life with you it is only because my God, in whom my identity lies, has known my heart fully first.

I ask you please pray for me.  Please know I will need accountability to not idolize you or this relationship; I will prioritize it in such a way that it won’t reflect the glory and love of our Savior.

Henry Nouwen reminded me awhile ago in his book The Way of the Heart, about identity, I had forgotten what he had said until re-reading it.

“Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare show our wounds; only with a single minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature… Christ points the way in walking with the compulsion of false self saying, ‘ You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.’ He affirms that God alone is the source of true identity.” {Romans9:16&18}

And truthfully, I am maybe understanding He is the only spouse I will ever know. In a hypersexual world where choosing to abstain and live a chaste lifestyle is nearly looked upon with distain, maybe this is how I will be called to be ” in the world, not of the world”, because let’s be honest, our current society worships sex and relationships at a level few are willing to take a look at. If I am to be completely candid, the church has done a poor job of mentoring the singles, I may vent on occasion about my frustrations of my relationship status, but the response shouldn’t be one of listing off possible and potential partners’ as if we are playing a non-cyber version of e-harmony. As with any struggle we face, the response should be one of encouragement of pressing in to Christ.  Praying with and for those voicing their struggle, and listening, because as much as I love my friends, none of you will ever be able to fix my problems, ever.

It hasn’t been an easy choice. I’m in my 30’s not dead.  To deny that I have sexual urges would be a lie but to give into them would only declare to the world that my Jesus isn’t enough. That is something I do very well every day already and my tendency is to take this pain to the desert and isolate, convincing myself that I am getting away from it all, but truthfully hidden pain festers and becomes an outward ugliness.

That is why I am writing any of this right now; the culture is changing.  What I believe is being called out as straight up crazy and the bottom line is I can say I don’t know why I believe, Christ is the Savior. I feel like a heretic even saying that but it’s the truth. In my darkest, moments when I doubt myself, my salvation, and yes even my God, there is a conviction that lays at the foundation of my heart, that I did not place there.  That quietly states “I am the truth, the way, the life.” and I cannot tell you why, or how, but I know its the truth. And because I am human, I try to live life as though its not the truth, as if my version of truth is somehow more true.

So I find myself on my knees yet again praying for you, for me, for God’s will to be blatantly obvious, a place I should have gone to at the beginning. I will go on living and I am sensing part of my problem has been I have been holding a piece of my heart aside for you.  And guess what? that’s wrong,… because it doesn’t belong to you.  But because of that mindset I haven’t been living fully in the promises of Christ. However its a dichotomy of sorts because I am still waiting for you, because it’s what I am being called to do. That being said, I look forward to the day of knowing your face and sharing your heart and living in the promises that are ours from the day of Abraham.

 

 

Through the Trees

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My gramma sighed and stared out the window through the cottonwood branches and said to me, ‘Somedays I have to choose to love that man.’  I had been sitting next to the bed for about an hour, semi-oblivious to any tension and it caught me off guard.  They had been married for 40+ years, seen good years, lean years, family filled years, years of watching their own child fade in front of them.  I had never known them to be anything but a cohesive unit, yet here she lay her own body beginning to deny her continuation of an earthly existence and she tells me love is a choice.

This conversation replayed in my mind while listening to my friends discuss what it looks like to glorify God in everything not just those two hours at church.  When I’m driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, in everything what does that even look like. 

Glorifying God, it’s a complicated thought with a terribly beautiful answer and it returns me to that one word I  as a human have struggled with from the first moment I realized I had a free will, obediance.  My obediance to his commands glorifies my God, its the christian four letter word with 9 letters.

But what command, the first 10?  I am left thinking that those are all encompassed in the new command Christ gave us before, dieing for us

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Seems simple enough, until you look at what he is really saying, the Creator washing creations feet.  Stepping into that gap where the loving of the unlovable is as honest of a response as breathing, yet the problem lies in the fact that I am inheritantly selfish.

Looking back at that moment and at that conversation with my gramma, I am finally realizing what she was saying.  She was apologizing for her own selfish love in that moment stepping out of herself and understanding there was a greater love here, because Christ came for us all.  And though I believe and though she believed, the truth is I make idols of my own love and Christ will break me of myself until the new commandment can be breathed out fully of me because it is soley of him.

Love one another, just as I have loved you.

It is the kind of love that is a visible result of an unseen power.

I have grown up most of my life watching the effects of the wind on the northern plains.  You can never see her, but you are always aware of the change she brings.  I have watched knee high wheat be laid flat, an eagle soar never beating his wings, the snow drift and be carved into temporary white dunes, the clouds move and dance to the a melody I will never hear.

Yes I am very aware of the wind and can scientfically explain it, but I can never see it, just the effect that it has on the world around me.

It is how Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to Nicademous, when reborn in the Holy Spirit change will happen, irreversable change, change that I will never be able to explain but will be there none the less, change that glorifies the creator.

The wheat of my heart will be laid flat, the clouds of my soul will dance, and change I am completely incapable of on my own will take fruit because of the Holy Spirit residing in my being.  A part of the tri-une God living and working and changing me.  The Kingdom is here, the Glory is His, the time has always been now.

He left me with a command to cover it all, love one another, just as I have loved you.

Tension of the Strings

February Blizzard Days 001

 

I have been staring at my guitar for a while now and am realizing how much I take for granted the tension of this instrument.  When the strings are in tune and someone with talent places their hands to the strings and frets, melodies that will make a person’s heart soar and cry can come forth from metal and wood.  What I like to forget is that a piece of metal that runs the length of the neck of the guitar, unseen, is keeping the wood straight which with time and humidity can warp, causing the guitar to become impossible to play and horribly out of tune and the harmonic echoes nearly non-existent.  I want beauty from this instrument but it requires a beautiful and very necessary tension, which includes the strings that must be drawn tight, which is exactly how my soul feels right now.

Drawn tight, it is a strange thing to say because a string loose over the sound hole of a guitar will not produce any sound worthy of being noted, it will be flat, it will not hold its own amongst the cacophony of noise…. it must be drawn tight.  If music is the purpose of the guitar and the string, it must be pulled taut and sometimes it will be broken but the master luthier knows how to fix such things.

I came to a conclusion this November and it really wasn’t a pretty one, it came back to identity.  I have always struggled with negative titles of myself and God has been good to rid me of them, however the negative titles of myself that I have idolized are not the only thing I have been bowing to.  Even the positive titles detract from who I really am, identifying myself as anything less than the daughter of the King says the Cross is not enough.

Acknowledgement of my past and shelving it isn’t enough because it still owns a piece of my heart and my God loves me enough to cut away anything and everything that will keep me fully from Him.  Which includes positive titles of myself and seasons of grief that I have allowed to rule and breathe fear into my very being.

Historically November has been a month of trials and loss and at some point my fear of what might happen began to rule to the point of me feeling as though I couldn’t breathe and I might possibly snap.  Having walked a season of healing and letting go (mostly) it was as though God was asking me to not forget those I have lost in November but actually give them to him.  If I truly believe that they are in heaven, then why do I idolize each November as though they must die again?

Romans 14:7-9

For none of us live to himself, and none of us die to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So then whether we live or whether we die we are the Lords.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living.

He died once and rose, so that they in him could die once and rise again in him.

The grief of losing parts of me and their presence in my life will come at random times, I don’t know that you ever forget these things, but I also cannot place them on the mantle of my idol making heart.  That place belongs alone to God and he is asking me to trust him with November.  Meaning I am to trust, in him they are safe at home, I am to trust that my pressing into him means I am safe, something I am quick to forget.

God brought these people and circumstances, good and bad, into my life so that I might understand him in a capacity that I may not have been able to do without them.  They were not placed in my life to become a focal point of my existence.

I have noticed that when we lose people or things of value in our lives we are handed a book with stages of grief and I think that some get stuck in the grief because the pain becomes familiar and safe.  I know that, that was my truth.  However rarely have I heard someone say it’s okay to miss them and move on.  If I am to be constantly pressing in for comfort from God, than me standing in my grief does not really leave a whole lot of room for Him.

So the master Luthier does what he does best, he gets my attention.  He lets a string snap and then replaces it, pulling it tight across the sound hole of the guitar, so that what is played next is a sweet, sweet sound in his ears.

It is the sound of what is sometimes uncomfortable but always necessary, the tension of the strings.