Friday, October 21, 2016

on guards and walls...

Hi, my name is Kristi, and I am a Feeler.
It's hard living life as a Feeler. Being a Feeler means I filter life through my heart, not my head. Being a Feeler means I bear my burdens and the burdens of others in a very serious way. Being a Feeler means I am quick to trust and quick to love; it means discernment and gut instinct over fact and formula. I tend to love people and things when love doesn't make logical sense. My heart carries a lot within it, and by a lot I mean A FREAKING LOT. I like this about myself, I truly do, but sometimes, having a big heart means you need to install big boundaries. Because when you wear your heart on your sleeve, when you love everyone and everything with all you have, you are exposed to a serious amount of pain, rejection, and false hope.

"...sometimes, having a big heart means you need to install big boundaries..."

Recently, I can feel myself beginning to install walls around my heart; big, hefty, Home Depot-type walls. The walls are being laid brick by brick, sort of haphazardly and unintentionally. There is no rhyme or reason, there is just construction. Where once there was liberty to hope, there is the beginnings of a hedge. 

The Bible speaks of the heart as both a wellspring and as wicked. In Proverbs 4:23 we are warned to guard our hearts and in Jeremiah 17:9 we are told that we aren't to trust it. A wellspring bent towards wickedness, that's our heart. Wellsprings and wickedness and walls... What do we do with all of that? (Seriously, asking for a friend myself.)

In an effort to try and understand my own heart and my own hopes, I am resting in a place that says guards are healthy and needed. Guards are healthy, walls are not. Guards are meant to keep something safe while walls are meant to close off. A guard allows my heart to be protected, a wall confines my heart to be hidden. In my plight to keep myself safe, sometimes I end up closing myself off completely, and that is not a tendency that I want to cultivate. 

We all want to be safe. We all want to be protected from pain, from embarrassment, from shame, from false hope. Friends, there is nothing worse than a false hope, of this I am absolutely sure. And this is why I want the walls... I want the walls because earthly love does fail. Earthly love disappoints and expects too much, it has too much potential for pain.  But, in the fear of false hope, we cannot lose all hope. While I was listening to the words of Ellie Holcombs "Love Never Fails", my prayer echos her words: "Oh Lord, help me to live like love never fails..."

" the fear of false hope, we cannot lose all hope..."

I want to live like love never fails, because real love is unfailing. I want to live like love never fails, because love itself offers as a wall of protection. I want to live like love never fails, because I don't want to live like love fails. When we live like love never fails, we love without fear and without expectation and without walls. 

His hope is secure and His love is unfailing, I am praying my heart finds solace and comfort in that place, and that I allow His secure hope and unfailing love to act as guards, protecting me and softening me from the walls I continue to build.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, it would be in honor of the "Gilmore Girls" and their 16th Anniversary! I am the biggest fan of this show and I am currently mid-binge in anticipation for the revival in November! (Also, I am a little bitter that the closest "Luke's" to me is about an hour away. Not fair, Stars Hollow, not fair.)

If we were on a coffee date, and we were close to a Trader Joe's, we might walk over and buy some little pumpkins. And hey, let's toss in a package of pumpkin pancake mix and a bunch of flowers while we are at it because Fall. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you to start reading "Uninvited" by Lysa TerKeurst. Honestly, this book is deeply needed, in my life and the lives of so many women. I highlighted an ENTIRE page in this book. Buy it, you will not regret it!

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have been making magnolia wreaths and it is strangely easy and extremely therapeutic.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about the undesired "no's" of life. Sometimes, an unwanted "no" allows you to see that you actually needed a "no". 

If we were on a coffee date, I would talk about my hair. I am choosing to grow it out, but, it is now in that crazy phase where I can't do the normal things to it. It is getting harder to curl and harder to manage. And, although you most likely do not care about my hair, I just have to talk about it, you know?

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you about the things that are life-giving and restful for you. How do you fill up your empty tank?

If we were on a coffee date, what would you want to chat about?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

the standard of sweetness...

"So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, 
and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, 
to a land flowing with milk and honey..." 
- Exodus 3:8

The Old Testament is NOT the place most Christians gravitate toward. We don't really think it's beautiful; it's hard to read, there are a lot of battles and laws and lineage and Jesus hasn't physically shown up yet. The Old Testament is not full of warm, fuzzy feelings. It is not going to give you a big, theological hug. 

In college, I had a professor who instilled within me a love for the Old Testament; for the history, the wrath, the goodness, the story. This is the greatest lesson and gift that I was given as a theology student. He allowed me to see that the Old Testament is absolutely needed and beautiful; because without the wrath, there is no need for love, and without the love, there would be no wrath. We miss that, us Christians, and we miss it hard. This summer I have journeyed through the pages of the Old Testament with a brilliant group of women. Their love for God and His Word completely encourage me. We just finished Genesis not too long ago. We wrestled with the text, asked questions, and began to hide the stories in our hearts. 

We are currently finishing Exodus, the culmination of slavery and freedom. All throughout Exodus, we see the brokenness of slavery and the beauty of the promise of freedom. These pages are meaty and hearty and full of symbolism and story. We do not just read about the chains, but feel the heaviness of the bondage, the deep anticipation and longing to be set free.

The thing that I have been clinging to is the sweetness of the Lord; Yahweh, this great and powerful and wrathful God also establishes Himself as the standard of sweetness. We see this as He provides the way to the land of flowing milk and honey, as He turns the bitter water to sweet water, as He writes the story of redemption in the midst of the wilderness. Honey, thick and gooey and sticky and sweet, a pure reflection of tangible grace.

"...this great and powerful and wrathful God 
also establishes Himself as the standard of sweetness…"

The land of flowing milk and honey is referenced four times throughout Exodus. Yahweh reminds them that there hope is coming, that although now they experience the dry and weary land, they will experience a land in the future that is abundant in all good things. Manna is sent from Heaven and, we are told in Exodus 16:5, that it tastes much like the sweetness of honey. Another taste of what is ahead of us; our sweet God is faithful to remind us of what is coming, that we should measure our experiences from the standard of His provision.

And I don't know about you, but I really need to lean in to that space. I need to be washed by the sweetness, to let God drench me with the thick and gooey truth of His goodness. I want my heart to trade in its bitter places for the sweetness of His constant provision and faithfulness. He leads us from our bondage into His blessing, from slavery into sweetness. And you know, sometimes we can't feel it or taste it or see it, but it is coming. The brokenness and bitterness and bondage now will allow us to taste and see that the Lord is sweeter than we could have ever imaged. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, there would be tasty drinks and chocolate chip cookies crumbs all over the table. We would about how it is already August and lament over how fast everything goes.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about the balance of health and identity in Christ. I think that this is a hard line to walk, whether you are male or female. 

If we were on a coffee date, there would be lots of talk about my high school people (but what's new?).

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about how I am an MAID OF HONOR. I mean, this is going to be so much fun. Am I going to freak out over everything being absolutely perfect? Yes. But, I am going to kill this MOH business because I have Pinterest, coffee, Jesus, and friends. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am slightly obsessed with James Taylor McCoy from "The Bachelorette". He has completely stolen my little heart (or at least, the part that can be stolen for a reality TV star!) and I may or may not have a face-swapped photo with him on my phone. 

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about Alton Sterling, Philandro Castille, and the police officers. We would talk about how our hearts can be big enough to pray for them all because these losses are all important, completely devastating, and deeply felt. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that this week I needed to be told that my desire for marriage is not trivial or stupid, but that it is actually placed in my heart by a God who sees. We would talk about how there is no formula for anything. We would talk about how men and women are fundamentally different, but God makes it work, somehow. 

If we were on a coffee date, you would tell me what you are reading, what God is teaching you, how you are trusting Him right now. We would probably exchange crazy stories about a sneaky Jesus who always answers prayers in ways that we don't expect.

If we were on a coffee date, you might ask me about my family and I would tell you my story and how sometimes I feel like Lot's Wife, tempted to look back at things that I think I need, love, am obligated to. We would also talk about Rachel and Leah and Dinah and pretty much all the women of the Old Testament.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about how busy these next five months are going to be, August in particular. 

If we were on a coffee date, what would you tell me about your world right now?

Monday, July 18, 2016

on prayer and feeling forgotten...

Ten minutes.
I sat there for ten minutes, waiting for God to speak. 
It took me ten whole minutes to ask myself what the heck am I doing?

For years, I have been praying the same prayers.  I pray the same prayers because I have not been given an answer, but mostly because I feel the need to remind Him of me. Most of my prayer time is spent trying to remind a God who never forgets. I pray the same things and have the same conversations with Him because I feel like He hasn't heard me. 

Most of my prayer time is spent trying to remind a God who never forgets...

So I sat there. I prayed. I cried a little bit. I punched my pillows. I opened my Bible. I shut it. I journaled. I poured myself out. And then I sat there some more. I told Him that I was listening, that I was ready for the answer. I sat in the quiet warmth of my blankets, watching the sun through my window panels, and waited. And after ten minutes, I heard nothing. I heard nothing, I felt nothing. Nothing. And then, I realized, maybe I don't know how to do this. Maybe I don't know how to listen for God. 

But, what does it look like to listen to God? Does it look like sitting in your bed for ten minutes? Or spending a three day retreat up in the mountains? Or having a sudden realization in the middle of your work day? In that moment, I was listening, really listening, and He gave me nothing. No response. Which then makes me feel like He never even heard my heart in the first place. And friends, I expect the "no" always. My heart is familiar with His "no". My heart is familiar with His "yes", of course, but the "no" is much more obvious to my soul. I haven't received that yet. I haven't received the "no". And this whole thing, these ten minutes, led me to the bigger question… When exactly does He speak? When exactly will He answer? Has He forgotten me?

This week I began a small discipleship group with a handful of women at my church. We are all different, so we approach God differently. Monday night, I told them this, that I was feeling unheard, unseen, forgotten, that I have been praying the same general prayer for ten years, and same specific prayer for two years. It was scary to admit, even to some of my close, kindred people, that I felt these things. But, like true sisters, they reminded me that God is a God who sees, who hears, who knows, who remembersI was reminded that He sings over His children, that He is constantly aware, that He is working all things for His good, that He knows and sees and remembers His children.

God is always tending to our lives...

Wherever you are, and wherever I am, today and every day, we can rest assured that despite our ramblings and our mess, God hasn't forgotten us. And this is faith, trusting that God hears and sees and is present and active. His vantage point is greater, and I have to trust that. God is always tending to our lives, always listening, always aware. He hasn't forgotten your 2AM prayers, the ones about wanting a baby or a husband or a job or a healing to take place; He is there when we are on our knees, when we are at end of ourselves, when we are hurting and weary and completely at a loss when it comes to all the things. He hasn't forgotten, that is just not who He is. He is a God of presence and of the present, amen?