Summer Reflection:2017

There have been a lot of changes for me this year.  I posted a collage of pictures from the summer with the title: “What a great summer!” My friend/old roommate commented, “Was it really a great summer?!” 😳 She reminded me that we moved out of our old home this summer and we submitted to the move, both resigned 😑 .  “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” I said, but went on to explain that I was only thinking about the highlights.
Contentment is a difficult thing to practice and I have had my bouts with it.  God has put me through certain spiritual obstacle courses to develop me in this area but it seems like my humanity continues to oppose that particular fruit of the Spirit.  It takes some real effort to focus on the positive when the negative is still present.  I think even though social media can be abused/misused it does allow for us to celebrate the positives and the highlights of life.  I can honestly say that even though I find this season very difficult with its changes (and with its lack of change), God has given me many desires of my heart.  


And even when I have thwarted his gifts and misused his presents He replaced them with more gifts.  More presents.  The love He demonstrates is a love I do not understand.  I simply can’t fathom His mercy and grace and love but I have glimpsed it so much in this season that I feel I’m gaining some knowledge.

This weekend I’ll get to promote the books He gave me.  Writings that show how He used very difficult times and made purpose out of them.  I’ll also get to visit with some dear sisters who I have been on this journey with for 15 years now.  I’ll have more opportunities to experience His love and goodness in the form of community and social events.  These are things I have desired but did not know that He would so frequently lavish them upon me.


Even in the midst of heartbreak, pain, and suffering, there is His hand.  Leading me and guiding me and ordering steps that have been difficult to take.  My own testimony shows His faithfulness and how when we are weak, truly He is strong.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

SHALOM

 

 

 

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The Path


My old roommate and I took a bike ride in Peninsula last week.  For the uninformed Peninsula is about 20 minutes south of Cleveland.  I had never visited there prior to and it was cool to do a little road trip in the middle of the week.  We intended on renting bikes and catching the train back but the next stop for the train proved to be further than anticipated and we didn’t make it in time.  Instead of cutting our ride short we opted to go the distance and ended up biking over 10 miles!  Not too shabby for a couple of folks who hadn’t biked in years! 😊😏 As soon as my feet hit the pedals the serenity of nature engulfed me and I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  I know my friend felt the same and we peddled forward with grace and peace.

At one point we stopped for directions and were told that if we kept along the path the next train stop would be about 7 miles out.  We kept that goal in mind but as I shared earlier, we didn’t make it.  Still, I watched as we passed sign after sign, paying attention to the names of the paths.  There were so many!  It was clear to me that we needed to stay on our path in order to get to where we were going.  It was also clear God was giving me a picture of this spiritual race.

There are so many paths in this life.  There are so many arrows pointing this way and that way.  Some look appealing and inviting but not all will get you to where you need to be.

In this instance we stuck with our path and we made it back safely.  Sometimes sticking to the same path can get boring, especially when you are called to go the distance.  It can feel like you are missing out.  You can even get weary.  But every time I get off the path I end up in pain.  I end up functioning as a lesser version of myself and experiencing a shame I know my Father never desired for me.

One thing I’m grateful for is His grace to get back on the right path and to have a friend (or several) to ride it out with.

Thank You Lord for bringing me Lianna and so many who stick closer to me than a brother.  Your grace is sufficient and I am not deserving.


SHALOM

Getting Aqcuainted With Grace

One would think grace would be something to be received and understood at the onset of Christianity.  If only it were a class you took at the beginning of your enrollment on the path of truth.  I would have surely signed up, checked off my checklist and aimed for the A that decorated my academic career (prior to college that is). But there was no class and after 15 years on this journey, I’m led to believe, grace is ever unfolding. 

As a recovering perfectionist (recovering because I am at least aware which is the first step to truly recovering) I have spent most of my journey trying and doing and accomplishing.  If I don’t do it who will? But what I’m learning is that God will.

God still will. Somehow, someway, even when I fall short and miss the mark and send the text when I shouldn’t, His promises still stand.

He still stands.

I went running this summer and I paced myself up a steep hill.  It was hot that day. Too hot for a run but I was determined. Funny thing was that when I got to the hill the sun was no longer my enemy and shade became my friend. Shade kissed me with each step forward and offered a relief to my burning skin as my thigh muscles flexed and thrived. It was in that moment that I had a picture of grace.  Grace does not remove the obstacle you are called to overcome, instead it offers the ability to overcome it. It travels with you during the hard parts of life and manifests in a breeze or a cool shade on a hot summer day.


A friend sent me a message from Graham Cooke and I think he had a great revelation on grace. “Grace reminds you of who you are”, he said. That is the training I have received and continue to receive: identity. 

Who am I? 

Who are you?

Often our behavior reflects our perception of identity. I asked God recently, “Why does this (insert your this) have to be a big deal?” I have asked this question numerous times but this was the first time I had received an answer. “Because you are a big deal”, He said.

We are a big deal. Whether we want to be or not. We are because we are made in His image and He is a pretty big deal.

SHALOM

Shedding Perfection

rain

I remember years ago a brother in Christ gave me a prophetic word, “You are a perfectionist”.  I nodded in agreement and smiled.  I thought it was a compliment.  Its only now years later that I’m starting to learn how deceptive perfectionism is.  As my friends and I navigate life with its high highs and low lows, our mid 30s are teaching us that no one gets through this journey unscathed.

We add notches of undesirable experiences to our belts.  We realize the black and white of our 20s and early 30s has now morphed into shades of gray.  And all the while God battles on our behalf…

I find it interesting in this season of quiet that He is most vocal when things are in an upheaval.  I struggle with resentment about that.  I struggle with resentment about a lot of things.

I ask Him questions like, “Where is the restoration?”  I know that the question cannot be answered unless it is asked.  I know He will answer in His own way.  In His own time.

Time has always been difficult for me.  I have always been prompt yet surrounded by many who are not.  I watch the clock and the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into hours.  I watch and watch and there is no movement.  I know He tests me with time because of my own impatience.  Even this knowledge does not seem to make me any more patient.

I sat across from my counselor and she asked, “Do you know why God makes the journey difficult?”  I sat looking back at her blankly.  I really had no clue.  She responded, “So that you remember that you need Him.”  A light bulb went on in my head.

I need Him.

Oh yea, that’s right.  I keep forgetting that.  I have this vision of what my life should be like, of what I want to do and accomplish and deep inside I feel that if given the chance I can just make it happen.  But then I fall short.  My insecurities and my issues and my fears surface, and I make a mess of things.  I am faced once again with my own imperfections.

But slowly, I am giving up that feat.  I am letting go of this idea of what being a Christian is supposed to mean, and what being single is supposed to mean, and what being me is supposed to mean.

There is a freedom in laying down a standard that was self imposed and never really accurate anyway.

There is a freedom I am discovering in my mid 30s.

 

SHALOM

The Trade (Poem)

Can I trust you with my mess?

The bruised brokenness of smelly sweat?

The scarred woundedness that oozes green gross disgusting stuff?

The pores on my skin open with it and no matter how many bandages I try to cover them with, there just never seem to be enough

Enough

I’ve had–enough

I’ve come–to the end

And hang on this rope by a thread

I loosely dangle over a pool of grace

But I am afraid

If I fully let go You’ll flee from me

The blood and gook and ooze will be too much for You

My lust

My shame

My feelings of inadequacy caused me to hide in the comfort of another

Lose my sanity for a while

Even all the while–You were there

My blood

My sweat

My tears

You traded them for peace

You nailed them to a cross and they oozed out of Your feet

Your hands

Your sides

You became my mess

A bloody mess

On a cross not fit for a King

And now I am a Queen

Beauty is more than skin deep

And still you made this brown skin beautiful

And still you clothed me in royal clothes

Still You attracted me to an attraction that was more than just physical

Intimacy is more than just physical

And now I know, because it never sustained me

And now I know, only You can sustain me

Me and my mess

You are my mess

And I am your Queen

One Day At A Time

Lately I’ve been thinking about Abraham.  I’ve been told I need to have the faith of Abraham.  A few years ago I studied the scriptures and received great revelation on how God was working in my life.  He was moving in a similar manner in the way He had moved with Abraham.

For so much of this journey I counted it an honor to be chosen.  I felt elated at the thought that I could capture the Father’s eye and then His heart.  That thought still touches me.

But reality is it is a journey, and journeys were never created to be completed overnight.  Instead they stretch out in the distance…

journey_image

I am stretched out in the distance.  I am stretched and stretched and stretched and my belly feels flattened and emptied out.  I find myself going in circles around similar obstacles in times past and I’m shocked that the same obstacles that are in my present were also present in my past.

A woman in my fellowship was interceding for me.  She was interceding and warring when I had given up.  I had given in.  And I was so touched to know the Father was thinking of me, even when I had turned my back on Him.  When I had turned my back on myself.

Today I am trying to get back to myself.  I know the other path leads to destruction and that is my primary motivator.  It took 25 years for Abraham to receive the promise.  And how did he make that 25 year stint?  One day at a time.

Weekend☺️

SHALOM