{re}purposed

flutterfly

 

I’ve been really wrestling through the whole concept of who I am in Christ.  Churning over scriptures, shifting through my heart, allowing God to bring me to a place of clarity.  This last week has been one where old fears and insecurities have resurfaced.  The kind of fears that you thought you had finally worked through…only to have them seep back into the peripheral corners of your thoughts.  When coming face to face with my struggles, especially in the area of fear, I have taught myself to try to locate the source.  Just like a water leak that seeps through your ceiling after a rainstorm, I wanted to find out where these fears were flooding in from and how they were overtaking my heart.  It was pretty easy to pin point where it started and when.  I just finally joined Facebook this last week.  There have been many reasons why I procrastinated in jumping into the fray, but the biggest reason was due to a deep seeded weakness of mine that can really be amplified and fed in an arena like social media….

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having a crisis of identity

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 In the mirror all I see, is who I don’t want to be…

Remind me who I am…. 

If I’m Your beloved, can you help me believe it.”

~ Jason Gray REMIND ME WHO I AM

 I’m having an identity crisis. Seriously.  I truly struggle with my identity in Christ.   How He sees me, how He loves me….not just knowing it, but  truly BELIEVING it.  There is a big difference.  I know what the word of God says about me.  I have the verses taped around my house.  It is taking that knowledge and letting it sink into my heart.  The deep, deep place where conviction dwells.  The “I know that I know, that I know, that I know…” place where I am certain beyond a reasonable doubt.  I can wrap my finite little brain around God’s love, His grace, His mercy for OTHER people – but wrestle with how the same God who loves my neighbor actually sees ME.   God’s infinite love is completely able to cover a multitude of sins for everyone else- but somewhere in me I struggle with how that also applies to myself.  I know that is flawed theology.  I know that is a flawed way of thinking about the Lord.  It is a definite crisis of identity….

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is there room for one more?

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As I look outside, I can still see the leaves on my trees falling. Over in the corner is our Halloween candy waiting to be passed out. My kids have their costumes ready. I can’t believe I am already thinking of Christmas. It seemed just like last weekend where we were sitting outside in 90 degree weather with our shorts and flip-flops on. I know I’m not the only one…just last week Target began unloading boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations. People are murmuring about what size turkey to buy, the best pumpkin pie recipes, Christmas lists, and getting their guests rooms ready. The red cups from Starbucks are out! It really isn’t too far away to begin to prepare for the upcoming season….

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a series of unfortunate events

photo by silvia sala

“I have to take a break. I am knee-deep in a sludgy mess of once frozen food. Meals I had lovingly planned out for my family are no longer edible. Meals I had hoped to pull out in a moment of need… now rotting in black trash bags at the curb. (sigh) I didn’t have time for this today. I didn’t plan for this to happen. I wasn’t ready. Instead of reading that great new book I bought as a reward for completing my home projects…I am wiping out a stinky fridge that reads 107 degrees. Instead of using the money in our savings account for a special little trip with my husband, we have to buy a new refrigerator. I am sad and I am discouraged. I just didn’t want this to happen today.” (from my journal entry on October 9th, 2014)

Do you wake up with a sense that a storm is on the horizon? That your day may need a little bit more prayer to make it through. Yesterday was one of those mornings. I woke up with a horrible headache; the kind that makes your neck, shoulders, and back ache as well. The flu.  If that wasn’t enough, I wasn’t able to get my kids to school on time.  Our garage has decided to intermittently work for the last week. By refusing to open, it has made our car it’s prisoner at the most inopportune times. The repair man arrived later that day with bad news in tow…the part will not be available for two weeks. Homework craziness, husband had to work late…I forgot to make my crock-pot dinner. It was 6 o’clock…everyone was hungry.  Out came the cereal boxes…dinner of champions. Cheers all around!…

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don’t look down

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My mom said something to me once that has stayed with me all these years. She was waiting to pick me up outside my high school. When I got in the car she asked, “Why do you always walk with your head to the ground?  You never look up. Is there something bothering you?”  The tumultuous years of hormone-induced melancholy. As a parent of two teenagers- I completely get her concern for me at that point in my life. I was so myopic- so turned inward to the struggles I was facing. I couldn’t look up because I was so overwhelmed with my insecurities, my fears, and the drama that comes with being a teenager.

This is such a visual picture for me in my mind. Seeing my younger self hunched over with my hair hanging over my face as I walked through life. Letting the cares of the world weigh me down to the point where I couldn’t even lift my head from under it. I wish I could say that I no longer walk with my head down. I still struggle under the weight, at times, and I find my heart burdened and heavy when life throws me a curve ball….

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{practice} hospitality

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Does the thought of having people over make you feel completely over-whelmed? Do you feel like you do not have the time, money, or the creative ability to open up your home? Are you embarrassed that your home isn’t pretty enough to invite someone over for dinner?  You are welcome here!

Romans 12:9-16    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

I LOVE the part in this scripture where it simply says:   Practice hospitality.  I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I play one on TV.   For my simple mind, practice can mean two things…don’t think- just do.  Or it can also mean…repeatedly performing the activity in order to improve.   I like both options, but I think the majority of us fall in the area of needing to practice rather than just doing.  Practicing requires you to be intentional.  Just like learning to ride a bike, you have to repeatedly get on that bike to get better at it.  You can’t just think about getting better- you have to put your feet on the pedals and push-off.  You may be wobbly at first, you may crash and burn…but you have to just get in there and do it.  After a while of hitting trees and parked cars- one day you will get on that bike and it will be smooth sailing.  Your practice will have paid off….

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let’s do life

let's do life

My son, my husband, Jon, Amy, and me holding my daughter 2002.  Amy was the ‘Ethel’ to my ‘Lucy’. We got into more trouble together.  They held us up when we couldn’t stand on our own.

 

There is a lot of talk out there about being intentional with people, to unrush your life, and to make time to do life with people. Even recently, our pastor at the church I attend has devoted an entire series called “The Power of Friending”.  I was struck by our pastor’s words- we are more connected to the world than we ever are before- Skype, texting, FaceTime, social media- yet in many cases people feel more isolated than ever before.  That gripped my heart.  How can that be?  But as I let this sink in…it really became clear to me in my own life.

When I first met my husband, he was in his third year of medical school. He was awarded a Medical Scholarship through the Army that paid for his four years of medical school in exchange for seven years of military service. When graduation came, we were debt-free and ready to move where the Army needed him to serve. His orders arrived for Tripler Army Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii. (What a horrible place to be stationed…right?!)  It was my first time moving far away from home. The farthest I had ever lived from my family was, at the most, about 10 miles.  With all our wedding presents still unopened and the contents of our small newlywed apartment packed into 5 large wooden crates that were placed on a ship for a 4 week journey….we boarded the plane unsure of what God had in store for us in Hawaii. Visions of white sandy beaches, coconut-scented sunscreen, and living a 365 day vacation were pushed aside when my husband’s internship and residency demanded 120+ work weeks….

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let’s be real

 

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Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. 1 Peter 3:4 MSG

I LOVE Instagram… that  social media app where you can post pictures with neat little descriptions and hashtags. I really can’t get enough of the people and companies I follow who post great outfit ideas, beautiful home design, insights into healthy living, and of course the all too popular selfie. People out in the world are so creative! I am blown away by the artists, the photographers, and crafty people who truly are gifted beyond my silly little hobbies. It is so much fun.  It inspires me to get out and use my little camera phone and take artistic-ish photos. I love the filters and enhancements. Even the most mundane shots of my feet turn into trendy, hipster works of art. I can throw in a few hashtags…BOOM! The little orange bubble lights up with “hearts” that show I am liked and people want to follow me. What a cool app. People like me who don’t even know me at all.

Don’t you wish everyday life was a lot like that app? If you said something that didn’t sound to great- ‘delete comment’. If that pimple on your chin still hasn’t gone away and no amount of concealer can cover it…”soften, change the hue, un-sharpen, beautiful filter”. Voila! It’s gone. If the house is messy and someone is coming over…”crop, lighting change, delete”. Perfection. If you are feeling lonely and insecure- “click for likes, think of a clever hashtag, etc”. Instant acceptance.

In some ways I think we sort of live our lives like that without a fancy app to do all the work. I know I am guilty of it. It is all to easy for me to simply show the good things going on in my life. To only allow people to see how well put together I am. When I am struggling deep down in my soul- the last thing I want to do is let people see that I am weak. I’m actually pretty good at that. I’m not very honest with people because I don’t want to be a burden, I don’t want to seem like a downer, or to be more blunt- I don’t want to seem less spiritual. It is just like enhancing our real self with photo filters. We work so hard to project an outward image rather than letting people into very core of our hearts. It’s safer that way- its less complicated- less risky. When we hold people at arms length- like in a selfie- we are presenting such a limited, unrealistic perspective to the true person God created us to truly be in this world….

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God chooses the weak

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“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”   I Corinthians 1:26-31

If we simply sit and let that passage sink into the marrow of our bones- let it seep into the deepest parts of our heart…it can radically change how we see things. We need to be reminded of this over and over again. Letting it’s truth wash over us like a wave in the shore break. He chose the foolish, the weak, the lowly things, the despised, and the things that are not.  This is so completely different from what our culture places in such high regard. Our world takes success, strength, wealth, status, eloquence, and beauty- wrapping it up and marketing it brilliantly for all to strive for. You can’t get a way from it. Movies and TV worship it. Social media feed it. Ads and magazines promote it. Even in the church this is so. How do we live our lives in this culture and not be drawn into it?…

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being radiant in a dark world

 Golden To The Sun

I didn’t realize all the research that went into the purchase of my wedding ring. My husband took the job very seriously. We went ring shopping with a notebook full of his questions to ask the jeweler. I thought all I had to do was point out the one I thought would look amazing on my ring finger. Boy, I was clueless. The only jewelry I wore was a small pair of itty-bitty diamonds given to me by my grandmother. I gave my husband-to-be complete freedom to choose, and I would love anything he picked out. And I did! What a treasure. A token of love, a symbol of our marriage, a daily reminder of his promise to me.

A few years later- I had to take my ring in to be repaired. The jeweler complimented my husband’s diamond choice. Diamonds are rated on a scale for cut, clarity, and color. My ring was rated high on this scale. Even though very modest in size- the color, clarity, and cut made it a near perfect jewel. The jeweler then said it was a shame to have this ring covered in dirt and grime. I felt embarrassed and tried to explain that I was a busy mom and housewife…trying to explain why my ring was so dirty. He laughed and said it was okay- day-to-day life just makes it a magnet for dirt. He steamed it clean and handed it to me. WOW! It looked just as shiny and beautiful as the first day it was given to me on that dusty hiking trail in Castle Rock State Park. It wasn’t just me. I had a lady come up to me and say that my ring sparkled across the room. I kid you not- my ring isn’t from a fancy blue-boxed jewelry store. It is modest, it is simple….but boy does it catch people’s attention when the light hits it just right. Perfectly brilliant.

With all the dirt, old lotions, past p,b, & j sandwiches left on that precious stone it was not able to display its full beauty. It was cut and shaped to reflect as much light as possible. Every facet, every angle has a purpose. With all that grime in the way- that little diamond was not able to fulfill it’s true purpose….to SHINE. It was chosen for its beauty. In its raw form- it was seen for its potential. Under the master-hand of a gem cutter- it was sculpted into a work of art. Just like how we were created to be……..

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