Wednesday, July 26, 2017

on sunfish and scary places...

Confession: deep water scares me.

I specifically remember jumping off the side of a boat out at Folsom Lake when I was in high school and swimming frantically back to the boat for fear of what was in the water with me. And I didn't jump back in again. I stayed on the boat, where I thought I was safe and known. Fear does that, it scares us out of the good things. 

This week a large species of sunfish was found off the coast of Portugal. And listen, before you think I am some fish connoisseur, let me assure you I'm not, I just like to keep up with current events, especially ones that are fun and completely unrelated to The White House. Divers discovered this massive sunfish; you can watch the video hereIt's amazing to think about how there are fish we have never seen down in those deep waters; big fish and small fish, glow-in-the-dark fish and black fish, ugly fish and beautiful fish. Just because we can't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there. 

I can't help but think about how my heart kind of feels like that deep, dark water sometimes. There are places where I am willing to go and places where I am scared of diving in for fear of what might be there. Proverbs 20:5 says that "a purpose in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out..." This verse has been an anthem of prayer over the past few weeks. A man of understanding is willing to dive into the depths of his own heart, to seek wisdom and self-awareness, to see what might be living down in the deep. I want that for myself.

       "A man of understanding is willing to dive into the depths of his own heart..."

Now more than ever, I'm experiencing the vastness of my own heart. The waters are deep and the waves are tumultuous, and at times, completely overwhelming. There are feelings and thoughts and prayers that are completely new territory, and I feel like a diver discovering new fish; some are scary, some are beautiful, some are ugly. But the deeper I dive and the darker it becomes, the more opportunity I have to reach those places with light and truth. There are deep places of hope, insecurity, desire, grief, and brokenness. That's a lot to discover, a lot of tension to live in.

Some days, I am tempted to stay in the shallow areas and I am sure you are too, where we can see clearly, where we don't have to do any hard work, where we can wade around in clear, crystal, seemingly perfect moments. Shallow water allows us to see with ease, but there is something beautiful about the depths; they can be scary and at times hurt like hell, but the beauty of discovering God in those places... it's worth itWe discover Jesus as the Sustainer, the Comforter, the Great Planner and Protector, as the Great Foundation, the Grace-Giver, and the Quick-to-Compassion God. We discover that we're extremely complex, full of feelings and experiences and tensions. We discover that God is God, we are human, and that's how it should be. We discover that it's okay to feel simultaneously, to grieve and to celebrate.

May we not be too scared to miss out on the scary-good things at the bottom of our hearts. I don't want fear to be the boss of me and scare me out of the the heart work, out of the good places, like it did that day on the lake. I want to dive deep and discover both the ugly and the beautiful, so that Jesus may have His way within me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

a coffee date...

(coffee + cream in Ireland!)
If we were on a coffee date, I would order my new favorite: a triple espresso over ice with two agave sweeteners and a splash of cream. I would also pay for your coffee because God has been telling me to be more generous to the people in my life.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am currently obsessed with watermelon, summer candles, pool floaties, and Tabata cycling.

If we were on a coffee date, we would wish for cooler weather because this whole 108 degrees thing is a NIGHTMARE.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I just booked a trip to Portland in November and I already have a Pinterest board of all my plans.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about God's love, about how He protects us and pursues us and fights for us and gives us way more grace than we could ever deserve. We would talk about how His love draws up lines in our lives taut by hope. We would talk about grace and how the hardest person to give it to is ourselves.

If we were on a coffee date, we would also talk about sin and how much we hate it. It comes to seek, kill, and destroy, and we must seek, kill, and destroy it.

If we were on a coffee date, there would be talk about relationships and emotions.

If we were on a coffee date, we might talk about Eugene Peterson and his recent statements about same-sex marriage. Here is my favorite article on the subject. (Update: Eugene Peterson retracted his statement here. This is what biblical humility looks like!)

If we were on a coffee date, I would share with you all my photos and stories from Portugal and my four hours in Ireland. ALSO IRELAND. WHAT.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you my two newest guilty pleasures: "Riverdale" on Netflix and the song "Unforgettable" by French Montana. 

If we were on a coffee date, what would be your newest guilty pleasures?

Friday, July 7, 2017

on the lines of hope...

Ever since we were kids, we were taught to "color inside the lines".

This never bugged me. I loved lines. I still love lines. In a weird way, they give me freedom, they tell me where I can go, they tell me where I am safe. Throughout the past month, the theme of these lines has been popping up. Lines and lines and lines...

"The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; you support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places, indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me..." 
- Psalm 16: 5-6 (NASB)

"The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as
they are to your future in Heaven, kept taught by hope..." 
- Colossians 1:5 (MSG)

The lines have fallen in pleasant places because they are tied and taut by hope; they are beautiful and not reckless. God is not a reckless Sovereign, He knows what He is doing and He knows what we need. Sometimes, it's hard to see the lines as good; maybe the lines fell and you ended a relationship or friendship, or cancer snuck in, or you lost a job, or you are going through the treacherous "post-grad" period, or death happened. But even in our discomfort, we are safe. The lines are painful and confusing and grey, but we know the God who put them there and His intent is not to harm us or confuse us, it is to draw us closer to Him, to use the boundary lines to bind us to Him. The lines are placed as an act of love and grace; sin must be kept out, holiness must be kept in. We continue to hope in the God of our circumstances, not in our circumstances. 

"...the lines are painful and confusing and grey, but we know the God 
who put them there and His intent is not to harm us or confuse us..."

As I think about my life, where the lines have fallen, I am grateful that the Lord loves us enough to step in. He protects us from the good to reserve us for the godly. Friends, this is a truth that I have been needing to preach to myself daily. I want to be a woman who embraces the seasons and the lines that are provided for me, not resisting them or doubting them. I want a heart that rests within the boundaries, a heart that dwells in peace inside the lines, having no desire to jump outside of them. I want to color inside the spaces that the Lord has placed before me, filling them with vibrant color and beauty. I want to trust that His boundaries for me are greater than the boundaries I have for myself, that His ways are truly higher than mine.

"...a heart that dwells in peace inside the lines 
has no desire to jump outside of them..."

I don't know where you are today, what boundaries you're living in or trying to resist, but today, rest knowing that God is aware of your heart and needs, He is fighting for you, protecting you, pursuing you. Lean into the lines that He has placed for your life, because in that, you will find Him and He will meet you there, He will meet us there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

the capacity for love (and donuts)...

It has taken me a long time to stand where I am standing, in this place where I am "okay" with Valentines Day. More so, I even kind of like it love it. I am not rolling my eyes at the many social media postings of dating/engaged/married friends, lamenting over the date-less night I have ahead of me, or even joining in on the "Singleness Awareness Day" bandwagon. No no, this year is a little bit different.

Valentines Day has always been a little somber for me, a reminder of the lack of love in my life. This year, by God's grace, I see it as a celebration of all the love I have received and been honored to give to friends and family. Call it wisdom, call it age, call it whatever you want, but God has slowly and tenderly been reminding me how much I am loved and how much I am able to love people. And the craziest thing? It has not been through a romantic relationship! I have never felt more loved than by my community, by the men and women in my life who love me in the smallest, most non-romantic ways. When I stop focusing on how I think I should be loved, I am given the eyes to see the ways that I am already being loved.

"...when I stop focusing on how I think I should be loved, I am 
given the eyes to see the ways that I am already being loved..."

To celebrate love ONLY in the context of a romantic relationship is missing the whole point of what love truly is; love is an extension of Christ, the One who gave His life in replacement of ours, and to only reserve it for a romantic relationship? Well, that's cheating and cheapening the love of our Savior. To only reserve love for a romantic relationship, to essentially one person, is to cheat and cheapen the work of the Cross. We must allow God to expand and redefine our definition of love so that it includes our friends, our families, and our special someones. Love is complimented in human love, but completed in Christ's love.

" is complimented in human love, but completed in Christ's love...."

We have the capacity to love only because we have been loved by Christ; He shows us how and who to love (which, by the way, is unconditional and all inclusive). Whether I am single or married, divorced or widowed, I want to love people. I want to bring them donuts and pray with them and hold them while they cry; I want to love them the way that Christ loves them, which was extravagant and exhausting and self-sacrificing. Being single should not hinder me from loving, but rather give me the freedom to love and be loved by others.

Lord, enlarge our hearts past holidays and circumstances and statuses.
Lord, grant us the capacity to love unconditionally and inclusively.
Lord, enable us to love others without expecting anything in return.
Lord, help us to receive love when others give it to us.
Lord, remind us that love is not a feeling, but a choice.
Lord, expand our capacity to love and be loved by Your people.

So today, love your people, buy the donuts, and be encouraged, 
because Christ has given you the capacity. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, we would probably take a spontaneous trip to the snow, have a huge breakfast with pancakes and bacon and eggs and take coffee to go to keep our hands warm.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about my new dress I bought from Forever 21 (thank you, Christmas gift cards!) and how I am basically living in it. It's comfy and cute and I am obsessed. I may just go back and buy every single color.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you about how I am going to Texas in February and Portugal in May and I am beside myself that God lets me do the things I do.

If we were on a coffee date, there would be a very very high likelihood of me playing "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran and car-dancing the heck out of it.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have discovered that a clean kitchen is part of my love language. Also, why are cleaning products SO expensive!?

If we were on a coffee date, I would challenge us to buy ourselves flowers this week because I think we need more flowers in our lives.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about what God has been teaching us lately. For me, that means trading in my fleshly fears for the fear of the Lord, asking God for wisdom, and maintaining a humble heart. 

If we were on a coffee date, what song would you want to car-dance to?