Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A new season

Its pouring outside. The rain streams down the windows and makes it hard to see.

A friend sent me a text today.... a friend I haven't talked to in quite awhile. She asked me if I had read One Thousand gifts. I laughed as I wrote back that I had. We started talking about it and somehow I find myself here... it's been a little while since I have last been here. In fact I never did finish writing on the last chapters of that book.

I think about that book as I text back and forth with her. I read back over some posts I had written and conviction comes and suddenly here I am... writing.

When the rain comes and life gets busy some things.... things that should not be, are forgotten.

It's my favorite time of the year.... the time when leaves turn and the air grows cold. Nights are longer and He sends down the rain.... the ground which has been thirsty for so long drinks deeply.

Summer is harsh down here.... the heat suffocates everything and slowly death comes.

Yet the Lord's timing is perfect just as the roses begin to breath their last a drop of rain falls and a dip in the temperature becomes their saving grace. Now the air is cool and the flowers in the garden give one last burst of color before winter sets. The beauty that fall brings is breath taking.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do not grow weary

Those are the words that come out as I listen to her. She is a fresh graduate, so much going for her but a past that tries so hard to hold her back. This transition is hard enough without bleeding wounds, my mind can't fathom being so young and so scarred. My heart is heavy as my ears take in the hurt from her voice, and my eyes see the longing just to be free from the past.

It hurts to see one so young struggle so hard yet I know that God heals and that He uses those hurts to grow us stronger and to help those in need. Yet it never gets easier to listen to the hurt, to the pain... to see how crafty the enemy is at making lies sound like truth and how he loves to beat those that are fallen.

Why do we believe when he tells us that God won't forgive us again... and that this time, we've messed up so bad there's no going back.

I read this blog (forgive me for not bookmarking it, I wish I remember where I read it as I has stuck with me all week), and the story the author wrote was just what I needed to hear and just what I needed to share.

It was the story of the prodigal son.... you know the one. That son who grabbed up his inheritance early then squandered it on worthless junk that soon was gone and ended up eating with pigs. We all know how it ends too.... with the father welcoming him home with open arms, no questions about where he had been or what he spent his inheritance on.... the father was simple glad he was home and safe.

But what happened next? What about the next morning when the son got up? How did the father treat him then? Had the son learned his lesson?

From my own experience, what happens is that the son hangs around for a few days/weeks trying to figure out how to earn back the Father's love. It doesn't take long to realize that he will never earn it and so away he runs.... and the Father? Well the Father once again takes up residence at the top of the hill constantly looking out for the lost son to once again come home. And when he does, he greets him the same way.... ever.single.time.

I told her that story... and realizing that I myself needed the words just as much as her. Life is hard.... we grow weary, we mess up, we throw tantrums and God keeps forgiving. All He expects from us is to get back up and take the next step... to do the next right thing.

Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up.
Galatians 6:8

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Results!!!!

Well the show was a success!!! We accomplished our goal of having a relaxed ride and there was no incidents. Romeo could not of behaved any better!!!

As far as competition goes we placed 6th out of 7 in our first class and 6th out of 8th in our second class. Considering that all of those riders have been doing this way longer then me and that most of those horses were high class horses.... aka, high dollar horses, we did pretty darn well!!! Our scores were very fair and higher then I thought they would be:)

Our day started off early.... horses were loaded at 6am... yes I said LOADED at 6 AM. We arrived at the how grounds around 6:30.
As one of the first to arrive we got the spot right next to the arena.

Tif and Jo were up first and had a great ride.

She rode at 8 and again close to 10. Then we had the pleasure of waiting in the horribly lovely AR weather, which was 94 and humid:-/ till my first ride at 3. In between we got to watch our trainer's other-half ride his lovely mare and one of her student's on her horse.
M and Jeeves:)
Usually Dressage shows are very prime and proper and require you to follow strict dress codes. However because this is just a local schooling show... (because this is AR and dressage is a foreign sport in this state and hardly anyone does it, so we have a local group that puts together somewhat cheap shows so we can practice in order to go to the BIG shows out of state where you pay ridiculous amounts of money. And yes I know this makes no sense and I won't even try to explain it because frankly horse people are known for doing crazy and senseless things all the time.)
All that to say... since this is a schooling show the organization does a tropical-themed show for June and July when it's crazy hot and we need some sort of extra motivation to get out. So no, normally the horses are not wearing silly flowers in their manes and the riders don't usually wear pick feathers on their helmets but we did have a lot of fun with it!!

Next up was Romeo and I!! But first let me show you my crafty side.... These are the browbands I made. One for Romeo, one for Ria. I sewed in the beads and such on them. They are super hard to capture on film. So much prettier in person.
The far one is mine and it has some blue crystals in, the near one is Ria's and it has some green crystals in it.
Here we are about to go in the ring, I stuck with the classy look and added a few flowers to his mane.  Love the completed look:) 

And here we are in the ring.


Trainer M had nothing but praise for both of us.

All smiles:)
Our second test was much better then our first as my nerves were settled. I was so proud of how well he did.

Tif had the best score of the day on her mare Ria.
And Trainer M's other student was by far the cutest of the day:-)

Overall it was a fantastic day and besides the heat it couldn't of been a better show!

Now it's time to get back to work... only 3 1/2 weeks till the next one and this time Romeo and I have to actually look like a dressage pair.
*Notice how he holds his head in the ring compared to the other horses.... we have to be there.... but trust me when I say it is way easier said then done and takes TONS of practice to get there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's show time!!

Well really I have no excuse as to why I haven't updated recently. I have quite a few things mulling around in my head to write about but have yet to start typing any of them.

I did however think that an update was necessary. The past two weeks I have done very little other then ride, or think about riding. My show is tomorrow.... It has been several years since I last showed and when I did it was on the mare who always carried me through, not the other way around. Dutch is the rock and I always was nervous so she took charge.

Well Romeo is the opposite..... tomorrow will be his first show and I know that I will have to reach down and find that courage that I know is there. He will need me to carry him and be confident as he will not be!!!

We visited our trainer in hot springs over memorial day for a 4- day clinic/vacation were we had what I call a mini-bootcamp. Romeo received many fantastic compliments from my trainer... I can't even begin to tell you how happy that made me!! All that hard work over the winter had paid off!!! Now we just have to put all that training together, pray for some confidence for me, obedience from Romeo and show off that hard work tomorrow afternoon.

Here are some pics from our clinic weekend....


Hope to have some pics next week of the show... and maybe a video, lol.

Hope all of you are having a fabulous weekend!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Drastic changes part 2

Singleness has been a struggle for me for some years now and last year when I moved to my current house and prayed about training and showing my young horse I very much felt that this was the direction God wanted me to go down.... I am also very certain that going down this path meant that I would be single for a few more years, many tears were shed but I said ok, and I chose to follow Him down this path. I used to pray that God would just take away the desire until He was ready to fulfill it (wish life worked that way) but I don't pray that way any more.... I know better. Instead I pray for the strength to endure and also that He would give me other things to think about.

Well for the past month He has done just that and that particular struggle has been far more manageable. So much that I didn't even realize that I wasn't struggling with it. When it dawned on me last week, I started praying immediately and thanked Him, then I asked the why and how questions (that's the philosopher in me). The past few weeks had been so peaceful. And I think that a large part of it was that I was not spending an enormous amount of time with this group of people. This shocked me as in the past when I have had weeks away from them my walk was usually worse off as these friends are one of the tools that God has always used to keep me on "track" and encourage me. They have very much been a rock for me in the past and so I was very confused.

Of course I prayed and asked for clarity and it came in form of a coffee date with one of those friends. She is so precious to me and I am so thankful for a friend that I can be completely honest with without worries of what she will think. She knows my heart and is a great soundboard: ) So I came to her with this issue and she just listened. She knows how hard the past few months have been and through it all has stuck with me and sought me out when I retreated.

The more I talked about it.... the more I prayed about it..... it made sense. And then I spent time with the group for the first time in a long time and on the way home I knew what He was saying. Change is hard and often uncomfortable but that doesn't mean it is wrong.

You see in our group... and I am only talking in regards to the girls.... there are several single guys in the group but I personally do not see it appropriate to talk about such matters of the heart with the opposite sex (too many dangers there that are not worth taking). In our group of friends that meet together regularly I am the only single person. I used to never really notice it but lately I have. I notice that I really don't fit into the conversations anymore. As we sit around and talk about our week, theirs consist of cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, finding little time to sleep, little time to do other things. My week consists of sitting in front of this computer, calling customers about insurance, and running a farm. Their struggles are finding balance between kids and husbands, work schedules and family time. My struggles are dealing with a 5 month old puppy and his chewing stage and trying to decide how best to use my evenings, riding or building fences.

I know that there is nothing wrong with what I do, or how I spend my time but when your friends are talking about the stress of dealing with a toddler, and while a 5 month old puppy and a toddler do have things in common, it doesn't sound good to compare the two. And conversations about horses and dogs seem trivial compared to talks about the difficulties in marriage. And usually the phrase... "You'll understand one day" gets thrown in a time or two, and that frustrates me and I usually end up finding a kid or two to do something with at that point.

And then I read this article Monday morning from incourage and I realized that when I was around them as a group (things are great one-on-one) I put on a mask. I pretend to be ok just sitting on the outside looking in, I smile and nod my head in agreement to their comments (as if I understand what it is like to live with a man). Trust me it's just easier to nod and smile like you do. Realizing this frustrated me because I am not a person who wears a mask often and here I am with people I look to most often and I have a mask on. It makes me take some steps back and really think about things.

While I do not think nor will I cease to be apart of this group of friends I do think that taking a few steps back is the right thing to do. God has been so gracious to put some great people in my path recently that have really encouraged me and they are completely unrelated to this group. I also learned in the past week that a very good friend from early college days has moved back and lives just down the street.... She is a strong believer and loves horses like I do. While she is not single, her husband is deployed leaving her with two small children all by herself. I do not think that this is a coincident at all. I think God is making some changes in my life that are quite drastic and slightly uncomfortable and He is asking me to just hold on. I have no idea what direction that will be and who will be apart of it... for that matter I'm not really sure where I am going with this post either : ) But I know it feels good to write about it and maybe one of you can relate, offer advice, or just needed a laugh.

One thing I know is that life is full of seasons and while they may look different or take us down a path we didn't anticipate God will never leave us to fend for ourselves. He takes care of those He loves and if He leads us down a path you can be certain that it worth going down.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drastic changes part 1

Sorry for the lack of writing this month.... There are some things that God is teaching me that are complicated. I can't tell you how many drafts I have in my posting section. Some topics just don't yet make sense in writing and some are subjects that need to be written carefully. And then there are some that just don't come out right. So bare with me over the next few weeks and pray that God will bring clarity on these teachings... I really need it.

One of the difficult things about these lessons is that they are mostly about my friendships and their impact on my spiritual health. Usually when God brings things to mind I talk it over with several different close friends... talking helps me sort things out, after all things can sound great in your head but then you say them and you realize that its crazy or the light bulb comes on:-)

The problem is.... some of the things God is revealing is about them.

The last month has flown by and I am pretty sure that I have lost an entire month of my life without realizing it. I seriously don't remember much of April and May... Is it already May??? Oh, wait, June starts next week.... AGH!!!!!! Where has this year gone?? I feel like I am just now recovering from Christmas and now summer is here???

That being said the past month has been unusual. I have not seen many of my good friends and life has just kept us all very busy.... meanwhile some new friends have crept in and time got away. Early last week I realized that I had not seen a few of my good friends in at least three weeks which shocked me as we rarely go 7 days without at least catching up through texting... but even that had not happened.

But something else hit me too..... you know that one thing I struggle with.... that thing called singleness.... well it hasn't reared its ugly head in awhile..... so I got-to-thinking (uh oh).

What was different about the past few weeks? The one thing that stuck out was my time away from this group of people. Now I just want you to know that I do not think that there is any person that is responsible for my struggles, they are mine.... and I alone make them smaller then they should be or larger then they should be. However when we are struggling in an area I do not think that it is always a bad idea to make some changes that might make that struggle easier to deal with. There are definitely times when we need to face situations and deal with the struggle head on and that is my usual approach. However for several months I had dealt with this issue head on with no change and then all of a sudden there was a drastic change.


*this post got really long so I broke it up into 2 parts... come by tomorrow to read part 2

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger's back up:-)

I am sure many of you already are aware but blogger was done for like days!!! Craziness!!!! I am doing a 30 day challenge over at Life with Romeo and now I am behind:-/

I've been working on several posts in my head for a few days now... that's how all my post start. Usually days ahead of time, lots of thinking, lots of praying. Funny... that's pretty much how every single one of my at least a thousand papers I wrote to get my two degrees... typing didn't usually occur till the day before the due date:-)

I haven't forgotten about the last chapters of Ann's book, because I have yet to get past chapter 8.

The chapter has been read, and reread again and again. I can't seem to move past the story of Moses tucked away in a cleft... in complete darkness, while the presence of God passes by him.


"Dark is the holiest place."

It is the most beautiful picture of His redemptive grace.
It is also the most gruesome picture in all of history.

Because the holiest place was also the darkest place and the blood that ran was innocent blood... blood that should of been mine.

But it wasn't mine and it wasn't yours and He willingly shed His own so that I wouldn't have to shed mine.

And yes I know that Easter was weeks ago but I can't seem to move past it... and I don't want to move past it and it breaks my heart that so much of Easter focus on the resurrection and the darkness of the holiday is often glanced over. 

It is in that darkness that we can find comfort.... that the same Savior who provides us with hope can also identify with our sufferings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An update

The last week has been quite crazy around here. April is a month for rain in this great state and this year we got slammed. Saturday night we got well over 6 inches just while I slept... and then it continue for the next 24 hours. The central part of this state is experiencing flooding like never before and I am thanking God that my family has remained unaffected by all of the craziness the weather has brought upon as of late.

Just a week ago we were slammed with tornadoes... the same line of storms that did so much devastation in AL did not leave this state unscathed before moving on. Thankfully the two that came through central AR went on either side of where I am and left my place alone.

Besides all the crazy and unpredictable weather that puppy that was supposed to go to live with my nephew.... well..... he isn't going anywhere.

Turns out the mostly Aussie mix is really a mostly Catahoula mix. If you, like me, are unfamiliar with a Catahoula let me educate you. A Catahoula is a stock dog... known around these parts as a Louisiana hog dog, they are primarily used to hunt... you guessed it.... hogs. Big, mean, wild hogs. They are known for not backing down in a fight and for being aggressive. They are also extremely dominate and tend to be a one-person dog. Not really a good first dog for a 4-yr old.

However.... he is really cute and really sweet and really smart soooo..... I decided to keep him.

And some days I ask myself why???

He is extremely energetic and tends to be a trouble maker :-/ but he has a strong desire to please and loves me to death. I can already see that one-person trait in him. As far as any aggression, only when food is involved and we work on that every day. I take him everywhere and socialize the mess out of him as I want to avoid any future problems concerning strangers. And I have even started to get up early and take him and my old lab for a walk :-o yes... i did just say get up early.... which for me means anything before 8 and I will say that I have been doing pretty well at that at least 4 days a week... Go me!!!!!

Here are a few pics of my new little guy.... Meet Bentley


You can be sure you will be seeing more of this cute little guy soon :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Dark is the Holiest place"

That quote from Ann's book keeps consuming my mind. It fills my thoughts. Makes me think hard, possible because Friday is coming.

Friday.... a day we set aside to remember.... because we forget.

We forget that Friday, a day we call Good Friday, wasn't really a "good" day. I would rather think of it as "dark" Friday. Because that is really the only way to describe it.

The very people He came to save rejected Him.

The men He spent so much time with abandoned Him, and one even went as far as to betray Him.

He was dragged to court in the dead of night and wrongly accused.

The morning of that dark Friday He stood before a crowd.... a crowd made up of people who at that very moment were in the midst of one their most sacred religious festivals. Passover, a period of 7 days in which the Jews were supposed to remember where they came from, and to dwell in the hope that was to come. A time to remember slavery... to remember living in darkness and to remember being brought out of the darkness. A time to remember that one day their Messiah would come to save them from eternal darkness.

And yet there He was, standing right in front of their very eyes and yet they forgot.....

So He stood there, looking into the crowd, into the very eyes which He came to set free. His ears took in their hate filled cries, yet He never looked back. No matter what they said.... no matter what they did He still loved them..... He still wanted to offer them grace... saving grace.

It only got worse.... He was dragged off and beaten, like a lamb led to be slaughtered. His body was torn and His blood ran. He suffered through the humiliation, and made the lonely walk to the top of the hill where He would breathe His last. Then men picked up hammers and began to nail His hands, the very hands that created them, to a tree.

Then the dreadful moment came upon Him.... that moment when the sins of the world... my sins... your sins..... where laid on His back. The Father had to turn His face from the Son. Forsaken by the Father, the ultimate darkness. And for a brief moment it appeared that evil had won.

Darkness......

The day, it was dark, but oh how Holy it was. And as I think on that dark Friday that quote fills my thoughts and yes, I see it. The words slowly begin to make sense. It was dark that day..... the darkest this world has ever experienced. But oh how Holy it was.... maybe even the Holiest of days.... because the Son, the Lamb of God had finally done what He had came to do.... be the perfect sacrifice.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John 1:10-14

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend update

It's been a little while since I have done a random updating post and I figured that now would be a good time for one:-) It's spring here in Arkansas and since I now live on a 10 acre farm that means LOTS of work. My roomate/the farm owner does most of the work but I try to help where and when I can. This years spring task was to reseed 5 acres and split up the current pastures into smaller 1-horse paddocks. Not-so-easy of a task. All that to say there has been little time for riding.... which probably contributes to the downer attitude I have over the last few months. Maybe you have heard the old saying from Winston Churchill, "There is something about the outside of the horse that is good for the inside of a man." Let me tell..... man is that true. Thankfully most of the farm work is done and as long as the weather holds out riding can be the primary focus in the evenings after work. My soul is very thankful and is praying for good weather!!!

So other things going on besides farm work..... well..... not much, lol. Actually this week has been kinda quiet, although I forsee the next week to be extremely busy!!!

Well I'm a fantastic aunt.... really, I am:-) I just helped my sis find my nephew a puppy for his 4th birthday:-o Oh and he is a cutie!!! He is part aussie part who knows, a shelter find and sweet as they come. He is currently staying at the Flying Solo as we await the little guy's birthday.... the puppy is actually is a present from his grandparents but they are out of town so I stepped up, lol.

Reason #1 for a crazy week.... I now have a 5 month old puppy for a week to deal with. A puppy who is not housebroke and not crate trained:-/ I will say that the first day/night wasn't so bad. While he has no idea that he is supposed to pee outside, he does understand that peeing in the crate is a no-no, the bathroom floor is far more inviting!! Crate training isn't so bad. He only barked for a few minutes last nights and was quiet the rest of the night, and even went in quietly after our 2 am potty break (which after 10 min out in the windy cold air he still wouldn't go). Hopefully he will only get better!!

I will try and post some pics of the little guy... whose name is Bentley (it suited him  so we just left it) and show off all his cuteness!!! My dog strider doesn't really know what to think of this new puppy..... I think he will be glad to see him go, he gets a little jealous, lol.

Reason #2 for a crazy week..... I am, along with the bestie, taking 2 p girls to the Disney Princess on ice for their 5th and 11th birthday. Bestie and I are picking them up for a picnik then meeting their mom, other 2 sisters, and 3 friends for the show. It's going to be an awesome day but will kinda through the week off since I have to figure out how to get my Wed job done in the evenings after work and find time to ride as well, plus keep tabs on a puppy.

Hoepfully I will find some time to jump on here and post a few this week.... we will see!!! Hope your weekend has been fabulous and that your week will be quieter then mine will:-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The perspective of years

On Monday I continued writing on my journey through Ann's book. Chapter 8 is on trusting God and I only got through a portion of the chapter in my last post so consider this Chapter 8 part 2:-)

Towards the end of the chapter Ann makes this statement.
"Sometimes we don't fully see in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good - until we have the perspective of years.
In time, years, dust settles.
In memory, ages, God emerges.
Then when we look back, we see God's back."
Then she uses a beautiful illustration from Exodus 33. Moses asks to see God's glory, and this is the response he gets.
"And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” -Exodus 33:19-21
I have read this story... taught on this story many times, and never have I thought of the cleft God stuck Moses in as a dark place. But Ann catches it, and I read on.... and it catches me off guard because one would think that sticking Moses in a cleft and covering him would be just a minor detail, yet now I see it as the most important detail. It's dark in the cleft.... it's even darker when He places His hand over the cleft. Darkness.... unable to see.... no way to know what is going outside..... that is where Moses was placed. It was only after Moses entered the darkness.... the unknown..... that He was then able to see the glory of God. And Ann has this to say.
"When it gets dark, it's only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand?... In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look."
Can it really be true, this idea that "dark is the holiest ground?" The statement is hard, and I want to see it as impossible.... but what about the lesson I taught just a few days ago to those young ones. Did not Jesus experience the darkest possible place that day as He hung on the cross? But isn't it through the darkness of the cross... through the death of an innocent man that God's glory was fully revealed? And suddenly the statement doesn't seem so impossible.

But sometimes we don't see Him in the midst of darkness... sometimes it's so dark and we can't see a thing, that is when we have to trust (there's that word again) that He is faithful and will never leave. Because sometimes we don't see Him till later on down the road, till we take a peck in that rear-view mirror. And As Ann says, "I've an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long. long distance, before we can look back and see God's back in the rear-view mirror... maybe sometimes about as far as heaven- that kind of distance."

*I wrote Ch 8 part 1 here.
*All unmarked quotes are from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Always reminding

I write on trust and struggle hard to live what I write. The practice isn't easy and a life long with patterns of distrust is hard to change. One day is easier then the previous and yet the next is harder then before. It comes and goes... this nailing of new habits. Some days I wake up, hammer in hand and ready to pound. Other days I wake and I don't even look at the hammer, the old habit looks far too enticing. Sure some days I just forget, while other days I chose to forget. A text from a friend, a verse sent to my inbox.... gentle reminders that I do not fight the battle alone, because He is always there... always reminding.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 
Psalm 112:6-8

Monday, April 11, 2011

"God and I, we've long had trust issues."

That is the first line of chapter 8.... and suddenly I can't breathe. It's only eight words long yet it makes my heart stop. Oh Ann, really, you too? I thought I was alone.... I thought that most "christians" didn't: long have trust issues. Sure I know everyone struggles to trust at times... but to long have trust issues, I thought, maybe, I was alone. That is my life, summed up in eight simple words. "God and I, we've long had trust issues."

And then I close the book, place it on the nightstand, and turn off the light. Nope.... just not going to go there Ann.

I lay there, staring at the ceiling.... I kind of want to know what Ann says about it... kind of.

Sleep never comes, might as well read.

In the New Testament the word pisteuo is found two hundred and twenty times. We usually see this word translated in to belief. However Ann's research says it literally means "to put one's faith in; to trust."

Hmmm..... not so sure I like where this is going. I tend to wrinkle my nose up to that "T" word.... apparently Ann does too... because she says so just a few sentences later. Yet she is braver then I and proposes the question, one I would never have the courage to ask.
"Without trust in the good news of Jesus, without trust in the good news of God's saving work even in this moment, without an active, moment-by-moment trust in the good news of all-sovereign, all-good God, how can we claim to fully believe?"
I know... have known this truth, yet it's one of those things that I struggle to push from the "knowing of the head to the bleeding of the heart." It's not a new truth, one I know and often fail to remember. Ann names it, and it's not a pretty name and the name of it in one way shocks me, yet really doesn't, after all it makes complete sense.
"If authentic, saving belief is the act of trusting, them to choose stress is an act of disbelief.... atheism.
Anything less then gratitude and trust is practical atheism."
 Because the lack of faith isn't necessarily an intellectual disbelief in God's existence as much as it is a distrust that there is a good God. But if I don't emotionally believe and trust in the goodness of God, do I truly believe? Doesn't a believer have to trust? And isn't trust a day-to-day action, not a one-time event?

Sunday comes and it's the first Sunday of the month, the week my church sets aside to remember. To break the bread and drink the blood in remembrance of Him. Because He says to. And we give thanks and remember the sacrifice, the sacrifice that was made so that we could fully live. Do we fully grasped what it means to fully live? Do we understand this faith we claim to live by? Do we even care to find out?

We live in a world that appears to beg for tolerance, yet really what they want is something that is real. Too many times I see Christianity described as just another one of the world's religions, and so many.... too many live their life as if it were. Far too often we forget... I forget.... that the reason why our God is different is because He is real..... and He seeks relationships. I recently read, and I wish I remember where, that we serve a BIG God, but not too big because He cares for every little sparrow, every little circumstance, every single person. The God we serve isn't interest is religion, He is interested in you.... and in me. Faith isn't just knowledge in a Holy, supreme and sovereign God. Faith is an action, one that requires trust, and that seeks for joy in every situation, in every single second of the day.
"This is what faith really is:
believing, not with the head or the lips or out of habit,
but believing with one's whole life.
It means seeking community with...
Christ in every situation in life..."
~Jurgen Moltmann
We don't get to chose what area of our life we give to Him and what area we get to keep. When we truly believe.... trust.... in Him then we give it all up. Oh how we forget that God isn't some far off being who sits high on His throne, unapproachable, and without a care as to what we do. He is approachable, He is near, He is attentive to His children. Yet He is King over all and He is Sovereign and no, I don't quite understand how a God so powerful, so mighty, so Holy can be so near, and so attentive, and have time for lowly little me. And I guess that's why I forget because I believe the lie that He doesn't have time to fulfill His promises, that He doesn't want to hear my little requests. The truth is that He is not satisfied when I settle to just know of Him, He wants me to know Him. To personally, know, to personally walk with Him. 
 “God is not a belief to which you give your assent. God becomes a reality whom you know intimately, meet everyday, one whose strength becomes your strength, whose love, your love. Live this life of the presence of God long enough and when someone asks you, “Do you believe there is a God?” you may find yourself answering, “No, I do not believe there is a God. I know there is a God.”
 ~Ernest Boyer, Jr.
 And knowing God is the only way to fully live, but knowing God requires trusting Him. Ann says, "It's only when you live the prayer of thanksgiving that you live the power of trusting God." Once again we are led back to eucharisteo. Because it is because of the grace (charis) that we get the chance to live, and only through giving thanks (eucharisteo) can we receive joy (chara). And isn't that what we really want? A joy filled life is the only way to fully live, and joy isn't an emotion, it's a way of life. We can find joy in the dark, we can find it in the sadness... in the pain.... and in ever other circumstance because the sovereign God we serve is in control and all things work out for those who love Him (Ro 8:28).

#635-649

New friends

Late talks, all about Him

Encouragement from the new friends

Sweet memories made with precious children

Sunshine

New flowers

Thunderstorms

Baking bread with a friend

The smell of fresh baked bread

Watching children enjoy the fresh bread

Teaching a lesson on remembering

Unleaven bread, a prefect picture of our need for remembrance

A Father who is willing to remind us, over and over again

A Father who never forgets

For the blood that saves

* I wrote about chapter 7 here
* All unmarked quotes come from chapter 8 of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts

Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't forget

I read a book and write a post about needing to remember His gifts, to remember that He is in control, and to remember that I must come to Him empty. I wrestle with the issue of emptiness because the pouring out is painful. As my flesh pours out I realize how incapable I am, and that my life is not for me to direct. And for a strong-willed, independent, fighter like me,  that reality does not sit well. But this outpouring of flesh must continue.... He will not be satisfied with a half-empty person.

I was directed to this blog, and the quote in the first paragraph was one that I can't help but share.
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!"
-Abraham Kuyper
He is not satisfied with a little... we cannot just say the yes, we must learn to live it. And the word live is not a past action... because it is not good enough that we lived the yes last week. No, we must LIVE the yes. That means day after day we must die to self, pour out the flesh and allow Him to fill every inch of our being. It takes practice and practice isn't easy, but it's the practice that makes the life change.

Later that day my eyes take in another quote on a friends facebook that catches my attention.
 "Over and over again, in order to move forward in his relationship with God, Abraham was called to make a fresh surrender to God. To do so required that he let go, relinquish control, and trust a God he could not see."
Nancy DeMoss
Even Abraham had to practice. But our practice is not in vain. We do not rest in our faith, because we are mere humans who fail over and over again. It is in His faithfulness that we rest. It is the faith of Almighty to which we cling and it will never fail us.

My guess is... after two quotes on the same subject that He is making sure that I don't forget:-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The fight for a blessing

In the first few pages of chapter 7 from Ann's book I read this quote that Ann so beautifully states, "That God tries to gently drive the words of Caussade from the knowing of my head to the bleeding of my heart." Oh how I long for the knowledge that sits in the brain to make its way into the veins. To live the knowledge... the yes.... that my head knows. The quote is strong, makes me think hard, and I want this quote to make it all the way down to the heart, and I want my heart to pump it to ever corner of my being.
"You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies - though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you expect by the will of God, and yet (God's) beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is." 
If I cling to that truth... that all is His will.... then I will see Him in everything. And then I read this, "I'm blind to joy's well every time I really don't want it." So I don't see joy because I chose not to, never because it isn't there. Joy.... grace.... God..... is always there, but I don't always want to see Him. She takes it a step further. When we reject joy it is not just joy we are rejecting. It is Him, the giver of joy, that we ultimately reject. And when we reject Him we are really saying that don't want God. Never will He withhold joy from our lives, we withhold it from ourselves.

I read on..... she tells the story of Jacob. Oh how I love the story of Jacob, I am a Jacob. Jacob the rusher, the one who believed the lie that He wouldn't fulfill His promise. Jacob, the man who thought God needed help. And Jacob, the one known for his fight with an angel.
"All that while Jacob hadn't known who he was wrestling. Just a man in the dark, a man he couldn't see. And in the black, all that night, it was the face of God over him that he was struggling again. God is behind the faces."
He is behind it all... even in the dark He is there. It is up to us to seek out His face. And sometimes we have to fight for the blessings.... fight through the dark in order to reach the light. 


* I wrote about chapter 6 here
* All quotes are from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts

Monday, April 4, 2011

His promises never fail

It's officially spring in Arkansas but with the rain coupled with cold weather it doesn't quite feel like spring just yet. However it is beginning to look like spring. Small bits of green are forming on the branches and the tulips and daffodils are in full swing.

As I sit inside sipping on fresh coffee I think about how deceiving it looks outside. I can see the pretty tulips, their bright colors filling my porch with beauty, and the green grass starting to form in the yard. It sure does look like spring. But as I found out that morning as I opened the back door to go feed my Romeo, it does not feel like spring. It is cold, and wet, and I quickly went back inside to dig out my warm gloves and a heavy jacket.

Although it is cold and miserable outside I know spring is almost here. Winter is on its way out and I have no doubt that warmer weather will shortly arrive. Spring always follows winter, every time. it never fails.

As I make the long drive to church later that morning I wrestle out loud and He hears. He speaks and I hear. Then later that morning I sit and I listen some more. The message speaks right to my heart. The pastor reads from a book and my dry soul soaks in the much needed water. He then reads a verse that does far more to quench my thirst then pages from a book.
You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
Joshua 23:14
So even though it still looks like winter spring is on its way. Because He always fulfills His promises, and He has made me many. It is in His faithfulness that I must cling to. He is ALWAYS faithful and His promises never fail. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What a week

Well a quick side trip from Ann's book. This past week has been CRAZY!!! It actually sorta started a few weeks ago when my cat started showing some weird symptoms that I just wasn't sure if they were odd or just a phase she was going through, then she started having accidents and that is extremely odd for her so then I started to worry and scheduled a vet appointment. After doing some research I became very worried that she had some major disease that would require me to have to put her down. I can deal with many things but not accidents, especially not from a cat.

Well Sunday morning my dumb, er lovely dog darted out the door and into the sun. Something he does every other week or so and it really just makes me mad. He was running off almost every day so that caused him to have to be tied up instead of having his freedom to run around the farm. Dogs who don't stay on the farm on their own are confined to a rope.

So Sunday morning I'm tired, not yet awake and he takes advantage of the door opening, and away he goes. No big deal really, I'm already running late so whatever I'll deal with him later. After all the dog always comes back within 12 hours. Meanwhile I go about my Sunday as usual with a few moments spent worrying about tomorrows appointment for Pippin. She is after all my companion of 8 years and has moved everywhere with me and is very well behaved, she's my baby. The dog is NOT my baby, he is my dog, whom I love but he is not well behaved thus not as special as the cat (mind you this is being written shortly after he ran off so not many good thoughts about him right now, however I really do love him).

So I come home, late, no dog. Hmmmm.... ok whatever, I'm tired so I'm going to bed. So be it if he wants to sleep out in the cold and the rain. Monday morning and still.... no dog. At this point maybe I should of started to be worried. My roommate I think thought of him more then I did as she kept asking if he had come home, but not me, remember I'm worried about my baby. So cat is loaded in carrier, she's a nervous traveler so I'm not thrilled about having to do this but I need to know what if something is wrong so we are going.

We get to vet, spend an hour with the vet, and a huge vet bill later I walk out in a daze..... diabetes..... my cat has diabetes. Really??!!??? Oh and a bladder infection, with urinary problems that require a special diet.  Oh, and did I mention.... diabetes??? Yep, I am also leaving with a vial of insulin and a package of needles because my cat now needs a shot twice a day for the rest of her life.... and a special diet which is different then the urinary diet.

And then the roomie texts again about the dog.... ummmm, the dog?? What dog??? I can no longer afford a dog..... he better not come home!!!! That's how I felt about the dog at that moment.

Back to the diabetes, who has a cat that has diabetes???? What the heck??? I mean for real!!! So I decided that I was going to treat it for a month. See how it goes, see if I can find a way to pay for insulin, and see if Pip doesn't hate me after giving her a shot. Oh and did I mention she has to have shots. I mean with a real needle. Needles make me lightheaded, like I can't even watch the vet give my horses, my dog, my cat a shot.... and now I am going to be giving a shot twice a day!!!!

Meanwhile, someone else is texting me about the dog... grrrr, I really want at this moment to NOT own a dog.

Roommate comes home and comments, not on the cat's diabetes, but on how weird it is that Strider is still missing. I smile and say something polite.... really Strider.... I'm so not worried about you.

He apparently doesn't care that I'm not worried about him, after all he always has, and always will do whatever he wants to do, not what I want him to do. Because..... Monday night he appears..... and not in way that would at all improve upon my feelings towards him.

The cat and I, after a long stressful day, had gone to bed early, before midnight actually (never happens). But around midnight I am jolted awake by this horrendous noise..... after I register what is going on I realize exactly what that noise is..... my dog!!! Some siren is going off somewhere and it hurts his ears, so he howls. Not a pretty howl but a loud obnoxious howl that I would recognize anywhere. So like a good mom, I crawl out of bed and let him and pet him, and tell him I'm glad he is home, and even feed him dinner (ok, so maybe I was a little worried about him).

Thankfully although the week started out on a crazy note, it didn't continue like that. I have done an enormous amount of research on diabetes and have resolved to get over my fear of giving shots. The dog and I are trying to communicate better and hopefully he will lose his stubborn-I-don't-want-to-listen-to-you attitude someday before he dies (he is 7, and pretty stuck in ways but I remain hopeful!!!).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not so unlike an Israelite

I have been studying the Old Testament, partly because it is what I have been teaching to my Sunday school class.... partly because I love the history and the way I can identify with the ones who have walked before.

I read chapter 6 of that book and Ann is honest and silently I am relieved that she is human and that she forgets too. Even the one who wrote the book on it forgets to count and suddenly I realize I'm too hard on myself, expect too much, and essentially set myself up for failure.
"I am a wandering Israelite who sees the flame in the sky above, the pillar, the smoke from the mountain, the earth open up and give way, and still I forget."
How many times do I read those stories and laugh at their stupidity, at how many times they screw up, time and time again they forget that He always comes through. But then I stop and and I think about myself and at how many times I do the same thing. I forget every day, I fail to live the yes, and I live the no, yet I criticize the Israelites for the very thing I am so good at doing myself. They lived under reminders, a cloud during the day and a flame at night, and yet, still, they forgot.

So I keep reading. I read of her chasing the moon and smile because I have my own "chasing the moon experiences." Slowly my mind traces back over those "chasing the moon" experiences and suddenly I feel a smidgen of that desire for Him that has been covered by dark and all of a sudden a spark of light is seen.
"Eucharisteo is everywhere and I want to see eucharisteo everywhere and I want to remember how badly I really want to see it."
And that has been my prayer as of late, that I would remember how badly I want Him, how badly I need Him. That I would want to want Him.

My attention is drawn back to the fact that we live in a sin-cursed world and in sin-cursed bodies that need reminding. And sometimes the only way to remember is to fall.
"Pain is everywhere, and wherever the pain there can be everywhere grace, and yes Jesus, I am struggling and I get turned around but I think I know, at least, in part, what I want. If I had never run, if I had never fallen, and here, I am not sure I would have known with blazing clarity. I may not know all that it means, but this is what I want."
And the cycle will be endless, because we are just like the Israelites, and history always repeats itself. That is why we cling to faith because faith is not something that we did but it is something that we live. It's not a thing to put in the past, its a thing to cling to in the present. 
"Faith is not a one-in-the-past action, but faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything."
We must look and we must seek because we only find what we are looking for when we seek. And to find Him we cannot seek merely with our eyes, no, to find Him we must seek with all our heart, all our mind, and with all our soul. For it is not enough to just gaze upon Him, we must empty ourselves of all that is meaningless and allow Him to make us whole.

* I wrote about chapter 5 here
* All quotes come from Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Ch 6

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hard Eucharisteo

What is your hard eucharisteo? I'm sure it is different then mine. And in the years to come harder ones will come my way. The fact is we live in a sin-cursed world and there will be pain. It affects us all differently but if does affect everyone. We must realize that it will come, that it will in fact hit us when we least expect it. The thing to remember is that when it comes God is still good, He is still there, and He knows.

Questions asked from those young ones sitting in a circle.... they look to me for the answers. One can never prepare for the hard questions that come from ones so young. "Why... why does Jesus ask, as He prays alone in the garden, if there is any other way? Doesn't He, being fully God, already know the answer."

I let out a chuckle, oh to grasp the incarnation, if only that was possible. But it is a good question.

Why did He ask? Why did He want another way? Why did He not do it another way? Why the cross?  Is it because He knew that we would need to see the hands nail-scarred? Is it because we need to know that He knows?

There is comfort in knowing that the hands that cup my face during the hard eucharisteo understand the pain. Those "nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, 'I know. I know.' "

He knows, and He does not ignore our pain, and we don't have to pretend that it doesn't hurt. And the honest words of Ann ring true to my heart because we can be honest about our feelings towards the Almighty, He can handle our anger, He can handle our hurt, and we don't offend Him by being honest, and He doesn't need protection from our anguish.
"I won't shield God from my anguish by claiming He's not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he's a lion on a leash and the God who govern all can be be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this - and He did."
 And then I read "Sometimes we need time to answer the hard eucharisteo." And my heart stops and my surroundings fade because I needed to hear that. For weeks I feel defeated because the battle has raged for months and it feels like it will never end and I wonder what is wrong with me. I keep telling people I need time and the looks I get make me feel dirty, because shouldn't I be able to move on quicker then this. I've never been stuck like this before and the words I hear are words that sting, and they seem to say that this struggle is small and one day I'll look back and laugh because I shouldn't have fought so hard, and I let out a laugh to smooth out the moment but inside I'm feeling ripped apart because it is hard and they don't understand because they haven't struggled there.

But I know what the real struggle is and it's that He wants me empty and it's that process of emptying that hurts because in the emptiness there is darkness. And it's only in the darkness that we find the light. And He knows because He went there... to the ultimate darkness... the cross. But it is out of that darkness that the world found life...... "And there is no other way." Oh but I want there to be another way. 

But there's not and I must learn to accept it and I must let it come. Because only the "emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy."

And she ends the chapter with words that I must cling to....
"The good news that all those living in the land of shadow of death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun. That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart - and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty."

* I wrote about chapter 4 here
* all quotes are from Ann Voskamsp's book One Thousand Gifts chapter 5

Monday, March 28, 2011

The hurry leaves us empty

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
J. R. R. Tolkien
The quote that begins chapter 4 brings back to mind a recent conversation with a dear friend who lives far away. Normally we spend days, even weeks playing phone tag and in recent months the times we have caught one another have been for just a few minutes. Why.... because life is busy and I fail time after time to slow down and just live.

But finally the day came when our schedules finally aligned and a few hours were found to truly catch up and oh how good it was for my soul. She is such a dear friend and one whom God knew that I needed in my life. Sometimes we just need a friend who is not connected to our everyday journeys, one who can offer fresh perspective because she doesn't see the day to day. And sometimes it's good to just hear yourself say your thoughts out loud.

We talked about life and about our struggles. And a point was made that mid-twenties is just a weird place to be. She listened and I listened and we both identified with not knowing the future and realizing that what we wanted three years ago wasn't where we were and that there is nothing wrong with that.

Part of the issue is the society we live in.... everyone is always asking about the next season... when do you plan on getting married, when do you plan on having kids, when are you having another kid, when are you going to stop having kids, when are you going to retire, when, when, when.... and it never stops.

We live for what's next.... and we hurry through life and then wonder why we were are left empty.
"Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there's no out running it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too. Race for more and you'll snag on time and leak empty. The longer I keep running, the longer the gash, and I drain, bleed away. 
Hurry always empties a soul."
Ann has figured out the problem.

But she stirs my soul when she reminds that it is God who gives us time, yet it seems we have so little time to give Him.

And why do we hurry?? "Maybe it is the hurt that drives us on? For all our frenzied running seemingly toward something, could it be that we are in fact fleeing - desperate to escape pain that pursues?" And yes maybe, maybe Ann you are right. It makes sense, in a rather illogical way, to escape the hurt we hurry through life so we don't have to face it. But really all we do is exhaust ourselves because running from the pain doesn't make it go away.

Can we slow it down? Ann seems to suggest that we can. She quotes a favorite, a godly woman who writes so beautifully... "Wherever you are, be all there." And the scripture says to give thanks in all things, and Ann suggests that the problem isn't that we don't have enough time but that we don't have enough thanksgiving. Eucharisteo living... joy-filled living.

We can give thanks in all things, because He is in all things and He is all powerful, always in control. And "life is not an emergency. Life is eucharisteo." And the times we think are cause for emergency, for hurry, are actually times to stop, to acknowledge Him. to trust Him.

And that's what this counting thing is all about. It's not just another list to create, not another thing to check off... no it's to change a habit. A habit that has you racing through life, forgetting, missing the beauty that is all around. Missing the One who gives us every second.

#624-634

Sunshine

Tulips bright and colorful

A clean flower bed, ready for planting

A day of dirt digging and soul filling with a best friend

A satisfied feeling after a day of hard work in the sun

Fence building

Tearing away weeds as tall as trees

An empty fence line fully visible

Fields ready for new seed

A chance to catch up with a faraway friend


* I wrote about chapter 3 here
* All quotes are from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts chapter 4

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old habits die hard

The last time I mentioned Ann's book I wrote about joy, eucharisteo, and how it is not a feeling, not an emotional mountain that is to be climbed. Well the next chapter, chapter 3, says that eucharisteo has to be learned. "And learning requires practice-- sometimes even mind-numbing practice..... practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation."

And it makes sense... and I let out a sigh of relief. Maybe I'm not the only one who struggles with developing good habits.  Maybe I'm not the only one who trudges on in what seems like mind-numbing practice. And I love how she admits that practice is hard because it is yet we tell ourselves it is easy and we tell each other that it is easy and we believe the lie that it should be easy.

But life isn't easy and it's better to admit that it's hard instead of pretending that it is easy. We never quit learning so we will never quit practicing and it will never get easier. An old habit will go away and a new one will form only to reveal another new old habit that must be nailed out. And Ann offers a strategy that seems to make sense.
"Life changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time."
And sometimes it takes a lot of nails... and a lot of time. So I'm not alone, and I am not the only one who clings hard to old habits. The key is to keep hammering... and the nails don't have to be big.

A life full of joy... full of thanksgiving requires fighting. The saying that old habits die hard is very true and when you add the spiritual battle ,your flesh fighting your spirit, those old habits are even harder to kill.The last thing the enemy wants is for Christians to be thankful. When you begin the journey towards a thankful life, a life of living eucharisteo, it will get harder before it gets easier.

As the chapter ends the words get harder to read... because Ann isn't interested in making you comfortable... she wants you to change. The last paragraph is a hard one and one I wrote about here because it's not an easy paragraph to read but it needs to be heard.

I love that Ann doesn't back down and that her words, while not coated with sugar, are written with so much grace.

* I wrote about chapter 2 here
* all quotes come from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts Chapter 3.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stumbling but never falling

The battle rages on and I hear of a brother who, like me, is fighting that hard fight of wanting what you can't have.

Wanting what you know won't fulfill but craving it still. 

The words that I hear others say don't sit well... and I realize how quickly we forget just how hard the battle is when we aren't fighting it.

A text is sent to that brother and he, like me admits that he is living the no and admits that he knows better. Yet that flesh rages hard and he is drawn to the dark.

I don't give him a lecture, like I'm sure everyone else does, after all who am I to lecture a rebel.

Instead I let him know that he is not alone is his fight... that all of us have been there, and will be there.

Rebellion manifest itself differently in each of us but essentially it is the same battle.... to want what we can't have.... to believe a lie that He withholds good from us... and that we are better off without Him. And from the outside it sounds ridiculous, after all who are we to think that the Almighty doesn't know better, and who are we that we deserve any good.

But when the flesh rages our minds are corrupted, lies take root, and they impair any rational thinking.

It is so unlike me to not have advice to give.... to not know the answer.... but maybe that is where He wants me. To realize that I don't have any answers, that it's not my place to have the answers, and as desperate as I am for answers there aren't any. And that maybe the place He wants me at is at a stand still... to realize that my life is nothing, that I cannot exist without Him.

So I end the conversation with a brother with no sound advice... no words of wisdom on how to get back on his feet.... but I reminded him that he is loved.... and that he is wanted. And there is one thing I know and that is that running doesn't work.... it is far better to fight, even if it means fighting against the very force that gives you breath. And I tell him to come back to us and to show his face... but he says he doesn't want to be fake, to pretend that everything is alright when what he did last night was so wrong.

Isn't that what the enemy wants... for us to think that what we did last night was worse then what our friends did last night, and that if we show our face to them that they will see through the facade and see the selfishness and ugliness that really makes up who we are?

We forget that the blood didn't just wash away our past but it washes away our future.... that never again are we seen as ugly.... no matter what we did last night. Once we are covered we are covered, and nothing we can do will ever change that.

We forget that real living means living the yes... even when we feel dirty. After all everyone of us did something last night that we shouldn't have. We all struggle, we all mess up, we are all sinners.

And even now as I sit her and write this He reminds me that we all struggle. The phone vibrates and an email is received.... a verse sent to my inbox at just the right moment.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:24
Yes we will stumble, we will fail, we will feel defeated. But we will never fall. We will never be cast away from the One who loves. He holds our hand. Even when we stumble, even when we pull away, He holds on tight. There is no way to escape Him, no words can make Him loosen His grip..... and I sure am thankful for that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seek and you will find

I love how God has placed this book in my life at just the right time.  The words in chapter 2 are not ones that I want to hear hear.... especially when I am fighting.... when I want to just sit and settle.

Ann seems to know my heart condition.... that feeling as if I am the walking dead. You know what I'm talking about. The times when we just go through the motions.... the hollow, the shallow, the lifeless motions of existing. She points out that thing I do.... self-protecting by self-distracting. The point where we lose our capacity to feel anything.

Then the paragraph is read that reminds my heart what my head already knows.... "that joy is not an "exotic location of an emotional mountain peak experience." Joy is a choice..... not a feeling.... and it's something that God expects from His children.

It only gets worse...... I read that sentence..... the one that makes me wrinkle my nose up.... the one that makes me wish I had never picked up this book.

"Eucharisteo (thanksgiving) always PRECEDES the miracle"

Oh Ann.... why did you have to write that out for my eyes to see?????

She continues... "Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace."

Sigh..... I really did already know that.... after all isn't that what this fighting is all about?? I'm not thankful for what He has given me because I don't want to accept it. I'm still shaking my head no. I don't want to give thanks because I'm not yet ready to accept this place I am at.

But if Ann's words are true... and I am sure they are.... the miracle will not happen until my spirit is thankful. The only way to accept this place is to find the good.... find the things to be thankful for.... to search for them. And in searching for the good am I not really searching for Him.... for His fingerprints? And I know that if I will just look then I will find.


So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 
Luke 11:9


* I wrote about chapter 1 here
All quotes come from chapter 2 of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dayspring review

Awhile back as I was perusing around the lovely Dayspring site I came across their Life collection and it was love-at-first-sight : )

For Christmas this year my sister got me this lovely pitcher.... which is perfect for holding sweet tea.


 And then for my birthday my sweet mom got me this platter....




So you can imagine how excited I was when one day I came home and this lovely plate setting was on my doorstep.



I'm pretty sure that my favorite thing about this collection is the words.... lots and lots of words :-o and you guys know how I LOVE me some words!!!

As I opened the box each it was like Christmas in March!!  Set before me were 4 boxes each holding a different plate. The first plate is full of bright colors which makes me happy every time I look at them.


 The verse in the middle is John 10:10 I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.

The second plate is probably my favorite because red is my favorite color and its paired with black which looks fantastic with red.... almost as fantastic as blue looks with red : )


Don't you just love the flowers and leaves in the middle... and the script is just gorgeous.

The next plate is a lovely black and white plate that has the word life written in all different languages!!! The platter above also has the word life written all over it in different languages and it is one of my favorite things about this collection. I think it really sets it apart from other collections.


The last plate and the one that sits on top is this cute and striped plate that has the word life in the middle. I love the simplicity of the plate.


I really love this collection and have high hopes of collecting more of the place settings so that one day in my own home it can fill that lovely china cabinet that once belonged to my great grandma.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Live the yes

I read Ann's book and watch the chapter videos and listen to her pour out her heart. She asks"have you ever felt: that He didn't answer a prayer the way you thought it should of been answered.... wounded by Him..... that He wasn't there when you thought He would be (or rather not in the way you thought He should of been)??" and I shout yes to everyone of them.

She doesn't stop there. Ann keeps going... keeps prodding.... keeps convicting. How do I respond to Him in these situations? Do I hold His hand and keep walking or do I stop and shake my head no?

Do the words that come out of my mouth match up to the path my feet trod? Do I whisper yes, only to live the no?

In the first chapter of her book Ann boldly announces the great deceiver's lie, "It's the cornerstone of his movement. That God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us."

A few more paragraphs and I read this, "Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." And I cringe.... because isn't that what this fight is all about? Isn't the whole reason for these feeling that are raging through me because I want, I crave something different then what He has set before me?

So the question I now ask myself is do I really want joy? Because if I do then it is up to me to change. He is there... always there.... all I have to do is live the yes.

The hard part of coming back to Him is that we... I think that to come back I need to superglue the pieces together before approaching His throne. I forget that He doesn't ask for us to come to Him whole.... in fact He requires us to come to Him broken, for only He can make us whole.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The fight

The day came.... I knew it would... but I had wished it wouldn't.

I desperately wanted to run.... but I can't, because of all the things I am, a runner is not one of them.

However I am a fighter. A stubborn and rebellious fighter who does not back down easily.

I looked her in the eyes, I cannot hide from her. She sees my jaw rigorously set and those fists clenched tight. I get ready to fight, to defend. But she doesn't suit up, refuses to fight, because she knows that it would do no good. She simply asks one question..... Why?

Tears fill my eyes because I cannot answer. She knows, I know she knows yet the words stay inside.

Because locking them up and keeping them in keeps me from getting hurt..... right???

If I don't feel, if I don't think, if I stuff it all away then I don't have to deal with the hurt... with the pain.

and i don't want to hurt anymore

I want to do things my way.... because my way won't hurt..... at least that's the lie I have been living.

I want to run.... really..... I really want to run. I want to leave this all behind and do life a different way. I even told Him to go away.... and I meant it.

The Father hears His daughter's cries and they break His heart.... I know yet still I let the words come out.

I have desperately tried to pry His hands away. I screamed and yelled, begging Him to just let me go. I dug in my nails and watched Him bleed, yet He still hung on. Tears streaming down His face but His arms never relented.

Later that evening she asks if I'm okay... if what she said made me mad at her? Yes, it did make me mad, but I tell her no, because really I'm not mad at her.... I'm mad at myself. It is I that went down this path, it is I that has chosen to believe the lies.


The long drive home is not a quiet one. A favorite band's new album is blaring over the speakers, lyrics washing over because these guys write about feelings and how they control us, how they deceive us, and they are uncomfortably  honest.

And as the tears roll down I hear their words, and yes I feel abandoned, I feel forgotten but it was I that tried to live without. I suffocated myself. And yes the words buried beneath describe me, I'm being buried by me... my own selfishness is desperately trying to choke the life out of me. I tell myself to run yet there is something that keeps my feet locked. Of all the thoughts that course through my brain I know that I cannot run from Him. I may not like what He says, I may not like the direction, the way this path makes me feel, but I know that I do not exist without Him.

As I got up to leave she asked if I was going to run... she knows I want to.
I shook my head.... no, I'm not going to run, because I am a fighter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WinterJam

So much to share. I am currently reading Ann's book and my fav band released a new cd so be prepared for a lot of Ann Voskamp quotes and many songs written by Red:-)

Other then that there is not much to report. The roomie and I are building fences and tearing up pastures to be reseeded, and in between trying to keep the horses in training as show season is quickly approaching so I am exhausted!!!!

I went to winter jam last night and had a blast!! Although they only let Red and Crowder play 4 songs so it felt like a tease:-( Red was AMAZING!!!! Here's a little secret you might not have known about me...... I love hardcore(but only Red). 


Crowder was a much needed worship time. I wish they could of played all night. I love it when your worshiping and you feel as though your body is constraining your feelings and you just wish you could go up to heaven and stay worshiping at His throne forever:-) Heaven is going to be FANTASTIC!!!!!

Well that's all.... just wanted to jump on for a quick minute:-) Hopefully tomorrow I will get a chance to get on here and actually post on a Monday:-0

Thursday, February 24, 2011

and so begins the season of storms

The day begins with out a speck of sun, dark clouds cover the sky and it makes getting out of bed so much harder. I wake up smiling.... this not-a-morning-person is smiling first thing. I wonder why and a glance at my bedside table reveals the culprit. That book, most of you know which one I'm talking about. That one which tells us that the secret to a full life is gratitude. And I remember how I fell asleep last night.... counting. Hmmm..... it really does work, doesn't it? This concept of taking captive every moment and turning it into a God-moment really does affect the soul.

I also remember how last nights chapter ended and the smile goes away. She says true gratitude isn't thankful so that life will change, no true gratitude is being thankful here, where I am at right now, and with no change expected.

I rather dislike that statement.

I sit here at work and watch the sky grow darker, and the wind get stronger. It's that time of the year again. Winter is on it's way out and the storm season is rolling on in. Spring is eagerly anticipated but with it comes the storms. Storms that while they quench the grounds can wreck havoc, devastating the earth. Yet we must have these storms, without the rain there can be no new life. New life requires the old to be stripped away, to be pruned, to be destroyed.

And the same must happen to us. The old must be torn down. We must be pruned, the dead things stripped away so that new life can grow.

Ann likens our lives to a canvas. The things that happen to us, the plans that fail, the dreams unfilled, and the pain that occurs all rip holes in our canvas. Ann proposes that instead of looking at these things as ruining our canvas, rather look at those things as holes to see God. That maybe the tough things in life happen so that we may see that it is God that controls our lives.

The wind dies down and the rain slows to a steady fall. The sound of the drops on the metal shop roof fill the office and I smile. I don't yet know if this idea of gratitude works in the long run, but I can tell that it worked today:-)

#615-623

Fun times at Awana's

Sweet note from a missing T&T

Sweet greetings from soft noses over the fence

My dog, never ever has he been disappointed to see me.

Those daffodils still a bright and cheery yellow

Raindrops hitting a metal roof

The howl of the wind

Soft thunder in the distant, always a reminder just how powerful my God is