Archives for the month of: October, 2019

For the record, I did not go to Seminary, nor am I an ordained preacher girl. I’m sure my tribe is cracking up by the mere notion but just to reiterate: I skipped the majority of my high school classes and then majored in having a wonderful time while partying my way through college.

I’m divorced and remarried. The best thing I’ve ever done is to raise five outstanding human beings and I have the body and wrinkles to prove it…and I don’t work very hard at all to fix any of that. I’m not driven and I don’t worry about things like I probably should. More often than not, I use unbecoming words as sentence enhancers and I enjoy a glass of celebratory Pinot most days of the week.

I’ve done things and made decisions that would probably make your hair curl like they did my moms. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a model Christian. I am a tattooed work in progress…but for a very long time, I was very ok with being good enough without regard to said progress work. I’m still working on that…

Now, I’m simply a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother on a quest to bring meaning to my purpose and the world around me. I have no special abilities above anyone else to think, study, reason, and openly speak about what I believe a deeper and higher understanding, but I’m understanding how to use my abilities more effectively. I’m in the process of understanding how to adapt to my environment. Sometimes, understanding doesn’t always connect with reason. I don’t think it is suppose to. I believe it’s the not always understanding that brings us to faith.

When I write, it’s simply an artistic expression in sharing from a place in-between the “I’ve experienced this to be true so I want to tell my friends” and the “I’m leaning in to learn from what I believe to be the highest source of wisdom”. I write to share personal findings of healing from my personal journey of discovery….which stem from devastating losses and the buttkicking hardships of a blended family marriage that the two of us were only enduring…until Jesus stepped in. I write to open the door of conversation between fellow explorers.

I make no bones about it; my healing and peace have been found because of and through Jesus. What I share about that is very much akin to me sharing a recipe I have found to be particularly delicious. If it doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, I hope you’ll just take a minute to read a different perspective. If it does, I hope you understand I’m not a gourmet chef, I’m just a person who enjoys the process of breaking through to meaningful truths that help to adequately describe the indescribable. Either way, stirring up hope is where my heart is centered.

On that note, a particular thought has become a reappearing theme. It’s notably shown up in scripture, different devos, and now in a conversation I just had with a girlfriend. I took that as motivation to dig a little deeper. By dig, I mean I dig picking apart words used in scripture, study their origin to then collectively assemble them in their context in an attempt to elevate a notion into solid truth.

The thought-to-truth I’m now dismantling revolves around how much we tend to unwittingly embrace complacency in our lives. We are ok with things being just ok. We are satisfied enough with the way things are going. At times, we tend to sit down in the “good enough” of our spirituality, our callings, our relationships, our involvements, even the lack of conflict we are experiencing, that in return enable us to just prop our feet up and settle in.

Sometimes we don’t feel compelled to examine a problem with being too comfortable because we don’t really feel like we have a problem, which is precisely the problem! Our obstacle is being cozy and content with the ok. We occasionally get too fulfilled and satisfied with the good enough.

“None of us is yet a grace graduate, but we’re satisfied. We all give evidence that we still need to grow, but we’re satisfied. And because we are satisfied, we are resistant to the grace that is our only hope. If you are able to convince yourself that you are healthy, even though there may be indicators that you are not, you are probably not going to the doctor asking for his diagnosis.” – P. Tripp

But here’s the thing: As Christians, we serve a dissatisfied Redeemer who isn’t ok with our ok-ness. Nah. He wants us to crave more than what’s good enough. He wants us to crave more, much in the same way a nursing baby craves it’s mother’s milk. In 1 Peter 2, he likens the craving of mother’s milk to the craving of the pure and spiritual milk of God’s word. The life offering and power sustaining word of God coming from His very breast, to nourish our inner beings. For this “milk” will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life. (1 Pet. 2:2)

The passage goes on to say that God calls us His chosen treasures. The Hebrew word is segulla which means “a possession”. It’s used in 1 Pet 2:9 to describe “a guarded wealth” indicating placement of the king’s jewels, treasures, etc., in a protected place because of their extraordinary value. God says that each believer is royalty in His eyes. His special treasure of importance – a treasure above all treasures.

The Bible states we have been set apart; our individual purposes are protected under God’s lock and key. Our purposes aren’t found in the ok or good enough. They are powerful resources that are being held in the invisible realm of His kingdom. They are not easy gifts to understand but they are waiting for us to decided that where we truly are…. isn’t where we truly long to be. BUT, the good news is that God knows that. He knows what we need. He knows that we need the motivational work of His powerful grace. Isn’t it the greatest thing to know that out of His gracious dissatisfaction, He won’t leave us hangin’ out in our complacency?

He sits down with us, assuring us again of His love, drawing out from us, love for Him, love for others and love for ourselves. He fills us with excitement to keep pursuing the work He has chosen for us to do. He doesn’t sit up on His throne and say “eh….that’ll do, she’s exceptional enough”. He’s dissatisfied with our indifferences and in my experience, doesn’t always wait around on us to come to Him.

He gets us and our limited potential satisfactions therefore, He comes to us, eager for us to get back to growing and evolving into the supernatural gifts that only those with eyes of faith can see, much less learn how to use. Which explains why we are in lifelong training. It’s a living, breathing, and working process.

It’s the nature of His grace as our Redeemer, to be so uncomfortable with our places of passivity, that He starts stirring our hearts as a way to motivate us to get up and move. Nothing can stop the movement of His transforming grace. I think the portion to grasp is that our faith is not our hope; His dedicated and impassioned commotion of grace is the only source of hope for our sometimes stagnant and idle faith.

So I believe we should pay particular attention to the gentle commotions of dissatisfaction within our hearts, not being so quick to write them off as “being ok”. I think we should examine and confront the blatant complacency associated with our numbered days. Maybe we should even intentionally record the subtle opening and closing of doors, becoming watchful and awake to the clicks of the heavenly codes that have each of our names on them.

We are the keys He uses to swing open the door in revealing the marvelous light of His glorious wonders to the world. It’s one reason why so many of us call Him, Master. He’s the Master that holds every key to everything we are searching for, even if we don’t fully realize we are searching for something.

Do you tell yourself things are good enough? GOD’S agenda is change. Are you anticipating or working towards change or are you complacent in things remaining as is? Maybe, like me, your need is a soul reaching and spirit electrifiying change.

Friends, first of all, if you’ve made it this far, thank you for staying with me….I clearly do not have the gift of editing.

Secondly, and with much passion I say to you: you aren’t called to be a passive observer of the world, God calls you to be an influencer of it. His instructions are clear; to be the living expression of the culture of the Kingdom that is coming. It’s not up to you to save a soul because Jesus is life, but you do have the power of Jesus living inside of you and that power has the potential to influence redemption, regeneration and restoration. To execute that power requires us to get up off our comfortable couches of complacency and resolve to be instruments of His grace, restoration and development of all things good.

Wanna know what restores change and beauty to treasures like silver, ivory, leather….and most importantly, you?

Milk.

It’s often alluded to in the Bible, as a symbol of pure, simple, and wholesome truth. The “pure spiritual milk” is the Lord himself dispensed to us in the Word of God.

Go on, get up and put your cup on the table. You are the overflow of His pouring out. There is no sense in crying over spilt milk. Why bemoan what has already been decided and will never be recalled? His kingdom came in His Son, it is now coming through His sons and daughters; THAT’S YOU!

Don’t wait until tomorrow because I can tell you from witnessing, tomorrow may never afford you the privilege. Live and ask from your position of privilege to abundantly exercise your inheritance for His purpose. Bless the world with the good and perfect gifts He has offered to YOU. (James 1:17)

To me, the only thing any of us should ever get comfortable with, is an uncomfortable resolve to be anything less than the continuous overflow of the beckoning cup He has already placed before each of us.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4 (via Billy)

And Jesus cried out in a loud voice and breathed His last breath. (pneuma- Breath of Life) Matt 27:50

And when the He, The Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you. John 16:13-14 (pneuma – Breath of Truth/Spirit of Truth)

Having said this, He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”John 20:22 (pneuma-Breath of Life/Breath of Truth/Holy Spirit)

A couple months ago, the Holy Spirit asked me to take a journey into the unknown that would forever change the course of my life. The travel invitation was something so foreign to my way of reasoning, my way of doing, and my way of rectifying that it called me to question if the voice I was hearing in my heart was actually of God. The intimidating request would cause me to confront a few of my biggest fears: rejection and abandonment.

I couldn’t wrap my heart or mind around the risk he was asking me to take so I asked for several confirmations. The confirmations were immediate, clear and came with a certain sense of peace, so I eventually boarded ship and set sail for the land of unfamiliar. I felt completely unprepared and exposed to the elements so I wrapped myself up in the only provisions I had; blind faith and determination. Out of sheer disorientation, I set my sight on where the wind of the Spirit was leading and that’s the point where my course began to turn.

It took me a minute to get acclimated to the the waves but once I did, I realized they truly didn’t matter if I kept my focus. I was steady, thanks to the love that surrounded me. Because of that, the pressure was off. I knew that Jesus is, was, and always will be good, so I stood firm in the radical booking and waited for instruction regarding the next stop. I had hope and confidence that the voyage would lead my family to a better place even though the journey was unclear.

To be perfectly honest, I thought the one thing I needed most in my life was missing. I was intent on having something completely different. After twenty three years of enduring an unanswered prayer, the missing link had begun to shape the way I viewed my life, the way I experienced joy, and what I believed about the goodness of God. Without being aware, I had been existing within an ever evolving spiritual battle for my heart. I tried everything I could to make things work until I grew too tired to make one more plan.

Here’s the thing with having your own plan; sometimes our step by step strategies don’t always line up with the Holy Spirit’s leading. Sometimes, God’s means of change and escape is not your choice. Sometimes it’s a very strange trip. Friends, don’t ever think Jesus won’t throw you a curve ball that spirals upward into a plot twist. Think about it….the most inconceivable, yet beautiful plot twist? The cross. Who would have ever initially thought that the cross would become consistent with a vision of glory. For us, more often than not, having a cross to bear plays a pivotal role in our stories of that kind of glorious and redeeming love.

The point is, sometimes God’s plans seem senseless and daunting because they don’t always line up with reason. That’s where grace steps in. Grace was God’s idea. He created grace so that we can have an undeniable encounter with a pure and dependable love that can be trusted no matter how reckless it may appear. Grace sets us free from the bondages that will never give us what only God can: the most unrestrained breath of life you will ever inhale.

So I spent 40 days adrift in The Wind. The symbolism of the 40 days was not lost on me. But unlike Jesus, I didn’t find I was tempted in the wilderness, but rather like Moses on the mountain, challenged by the authentic and confronted by a calling. During those 40 days, God unraveled everything I thought I needed and spoke truth about His sovereignty over my family. He eventually called me back to the same familiar place I had departed from but everything about it was completely different. Perfect? No. But definitely better; a new and exciting place to work from. During my absence, He stepped in, flipped the tables and rearranged them all…but it required my obedience in doing the unimaginable in order for Him to work His imaginable.

I fell asleep to the song posted below every night during those 40 days. It became my anthem that taught me to have courage when God calls me to make a difficult move, to speak up even if my voice is trembling and to take tiny steps forward in the faith of knowing….even if I had bits of doubt. The truth is, we serve a dissatisfied Redeemer who will never turn from His work of grace in our lives, even when we fail to esteem it or even work hard to resist it. With patient grace, He will call us to tune in, again.

Listen, God always knows what He’s asking us to do. It’s His intention to take us to a place we’ve never been before. He is asking us to explore and embrace the dazzling mystery that surrounds all that He is. The problem is, we want certainty, but that’s not how faith works. The promptings aren’t to prove anything to Him, it’s to unearth something in your heart that you’ve yet to discover: deeper faith, holy confidence, and richer understanding…..a powerful determination in your spirit to be braver than you have ever been before because you now realize you just totally survived and overcame the hardest thing He has ever asked you to do!

To this day I can’t listen to those lyrics and not be reminded of all that He is. He is all that I need. He can most certainly do the extraordinary and the incomprehensible. He can move every impassable mountain that blocks our paths and calm every impossible wave that feels like it might crush us.

I know Him as The Wind in my sails; the visionary that knows how to push me along in His current towards my truest purpose. The thing is, The Wind will always take us where we want to go, but rarely on the path we expect. We have to embrace the unexpected and live with a sense of adventure. We are meant to be, ….designed to be….driven by The Wind.

When The Wind finally drew me home, I understood that things had to happen the way they did. It took me getting out of the way so that God could answer that prayer. And it came as no shock at all to find that in God’s perfect timing, The Wind had blown in the rain….an unprecedented and torrential downpour of God’s faithfulness.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

**The song “The Voyage” appears on Amanda Cook’s new album ‘Brave New World’

https://youtu.be/Jd3vuxpMKUM

***These paintings hang together in my home and were painted by my precious Grandmother-in-law, Doris McDowell. She was the epitome of strength and grace. After she passed into eternity, we found several paintings tucked away in a back closet and were amazed to find that they were her works. I treasure my every memory of her as well as these paintings. I especially love the middle one because she left it unfinished….like me, like you, like faith, like our journeys, and like love.

Hung together, they tell the story of grace.