Friday, December 19, 2014

allowing Him to radically exceed...

We all have that list. For some, it’s kept as a mental catalogue, for others it’s a bucket list of sorts, or even a trendy “24 by 25” type of thing. For many, it’s held in the deep crevices of our heart, the place where very few are invited.

We fill these lists with risk-taking, once in a lifetime experiences, and grand expectations for our lives. We are meant to be dreamers, to go after big things, to discover desires within ourselves that only our Creator knows.

This past Sunday, I sat at church listening to one of my most favorite pastors. We went through the story of Mary and Joseph, from the very shocking realization of a miracle child up to the long, grueling travelling. We all know the story, we all know the three-point sermon that can be made… but this weekend, we talked about God’s will and plan; that most often, God’s plan is drastically different than our plan. That was when I heard this… “God always seems to fall short of our own expectations, but never ceases to radically exceed them…”

Insert jaw-dropped, blue-faced emoji here. I sat there and looked around, wondering if anyone else was just hit by the bus that just slammed into our sanctuary…

“God always seems to fall short of our own expectations, but never ceases to radically exceed them…”

Conviction set in HARD. I instantly thought of my expectations for my life, that list that I keep, the one that has all the risks and desires, that one that is kept within the deep places of my heart and is shared with a small community of people. God, even this past week, does seem to have fallen short of my expectations. There are some things where I sit there so frustrated and disappointed, wondering why some of my greatest desires and expectations haven’t been met, after all, I don’t ask very much, RIGHT? It is very easy to ask why, but never easy to understand the answer.

As if a whole sermon wasn’t enough, this morning I sat at a coffee shop a town over, messy hair and a messy, no make-up face, and read my morning devotion, which coincidentally enough, was all about submission and obedience. Not within marriage, but within our relationship with God…

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake…”
- 1 Peter 2: 13

So then, my beloved, just as you have always 
obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 
much more in my absence, work out your salvation 
with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at 
work in you, both to will and to work 
for His good pleasure…”
- Philippians 2: 12-13

Submission, yielding ourselves to God, is the highest calling of obedience; this is how we work out our salvation with fear and trembling… There is a fear that my expectations for my life won’t come to fruition, I am sure that many will be left in the dust, but I do know truth, that somehow, through my obedience, He will radically exceed any desire or expectation my heart creates.

I listed every thing and area of my life that I need to present in submission to God… that was not easy. It was not easy to expose my pride and sin before the throne. My list of expectations revealed not just the desires of my heart, but the distrust of my heart. Would I really not choose to trust God to grant me these things, or something better?

"My list of expectations revealed not just the 
desires of my heart, but the distrust of my heart."

Friends, what does submission in your life look like today? Is it trusting God to provide funds for you to move overseas? To continue praying for your family members who do not yet know Christ? To submit to a new authority figure placed above you? To trust God to fill your desire for a family? Do you trust Him to radically exceed the desires of your heart?

Let us cling to truth even in the midst of disappointment, that He is working all things for His good, and will radically exceed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

a coffee date (in red cups!)...

If we were on a coffee date, I would order something in a red cup, most likely a peppermint mocha, at 130, because I am not a fan of hot drinks, actually.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am all about this “Blank Space” epidemic. It’s my new jam, and I don’t care who sees me car dance. Also, Hilary and Kate are my new obsession and they just happen to be doing a free show at a local, hip coffee shop in December. SIGN ME UP.

If we were on a coffee date, I would gush about how much I love being a substitute teacher at our local Christian junior high and high school! It’s the best, but I don’t think I will ever get used to being called “Miss Howell”.

If we were on a coffee date, I would talk to you all about my Christmas crafts. America is in full-blown Christmas mode, and I just can’t fight it anymore. I may have bought myself a mini tree. And put my Christmas table d├ęcor out. And began listening to Christmas playlists. And WHO AM I RIGHT NOW? Seriously, Christmas belongs in December… (Right?)

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you about your holidays and Friendsgivings and Christmas plans. Sometimes, friends and family can be crazy at this point of the year, and it’s good to talk about it, all of it, the good, bad, and ugly. Those crazy uncles and weird traditions, lets talk about all that.

If we were on a coffee date, I would remind you that God sees you. He sees you, wherever you are, whatever valley you are in, He sees you.

What is your go-to red cup drink? Something with peppermint? The new latte from Starbucks? (Sidenote: for the love, there are like 12 different nuts in that thing, I am slightly intimidated and don’t feel like I want to order that business.)

*These posts are inspired by this lady. She's a new favorite.*