Wednesday, November 29, 2017

on the contentious woman...

"...a constant dripping on a day of steady rain and 
contentious woman are alike...
- Proverbs 27:15
During the past week, I've been reading a Proverb a day (because wisdom please!); I've noticed the idea of The Contentious Woman. She is mentioned roughly five times in Proverbs (Proverbs 21:9;19; Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 27:15) depending upon translation. The Contentious Woman given to argument or strife; she is quarrelsome, characterized by controversy and provoking. There is an absence of peace and faith; truly, she is the opposite of the woman characterized in Proverbs 31 who has no fear for the future, who laughs, who builds up, who brings life to those around her. I feel like the Lord has been really opening my eyes to this contrast of character; He brings to mind recent conversations where I've asked unnecessary questions, tried to provoke thought, to control, change and gain clarity... places where I've been seeking answers from man, not from God.
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"...contention roams in my heart when there is fear and insecurity, 
a lack of peace and trust in God to be who He says He will be..."
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So, what makes a woman contentious? What makes a woman argue and provoke and be a "constant dripping", or in other versions, a "leaky faucet"? I don't know about every woman, but I know that contention roams in my heart when there is fear and insecurity, a lack of peace and trust in God to be who He says He will be. I don't think that I am a consciously contentious woman, but I definitely see myself becoming one. I have contentious tendencies. When I am operating out of fear for the future, out of the insecurity that the Enemy plants in my heart, then I am prone to quarrel and strife, to provocation and urgency. The only Person who is built to carry our contentious spirits is the Lord; we can come before His throne with any sadness, any question, any heartache, any grievance and upset. For me, becoming contentious is not something I strive for, it is something that I become when I am not rooting myself in truth, grace, and love.  
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"...if I am filling myself with the truth of the Living Water, 
there is no need to become a "leaky faucet"..."
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I do NOT want to be characterized and motivated by fear and insecurity, but rather out of peace and security. A woman who is at rest in her identity in Christ is not contentious, THAT is the kind of woman I desperately desire to be. If I am filling myself with the truth of the Living Water, there is no need to become a "leaky faucet", to be seeking affirmation and answers from places that simply just cannot provide such things. There is beauty in His control; when He is in control, that means that I don't have to be! And where there is that kind of freedom, contention has no place. 

Am I a woman who is prone to peace or prone to provocation? 
Am I constantly seeking affirmation, constantly asking questions, 
or resting in the security and knowledge of Christ?

(PS: I think this applies to men as well, just saying.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

on snakes and good gifts...

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven given what is good to those who ask Him!"
- Matthew 7: 7-11
When I think of gifts, I do NOT think of stones and snakes. I think of Christmas and birthdays and hand written notes and surprise coffees on my desk (which are always and forever welcomed). It comforts me to know that even in our sinful humanity, we know how to practice the art of gift-giving; we know what would bless our friends and family. I am comforted in the idea that as much as my earthly community seeks to give, the Father desires to give abundantly MORE. 

Matthew 7 is quickly becoming one of my favorite portions of Scripture. It is a portion that reminds us to trust in His character and not in our circumstances. When we come to our Father as children, asking for the desires of our hearts, the deep and heavy things, God does not desire to trick us. He is not scheming and plotting against us, figuring out clever ways to confuse us or hurt us. He does not ignore or forsake or forget, He does not withhold any good thing, He does not give us stones or snakes. He will hear His children and give to them according to His kindness and His will, and when He doesn't give us our specific desires, He gives us Himself, the greatest gift of all. He does not give us stones, because He is the one who rolled the stone away. He does not give us snakes, because He trampled The Snake with His heel. His desire has always been to gift Himself to us, through joy and trial. 
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"He does not give us stones, because He is the one who rolled the stone away. He does not give us snakes, because He trampled The Snake with His heel..."
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We all have times where we pray for a good thing and think we have received a snake. Trust me, I have SO been in that place! We think that He is withholding from us, when in reality, He is blessing us with the gift of His sovereignty and protection. When I look at the past, how God has been so faithful to give, protect, and save, why would I ever think He would toss me a stone or a snake? Our God is good and He extends goodness to us always. We have to remember who He is when those snake-like lies slither into our hearts. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and the most good and only perfect gift, Jesus Christ, was sent to us out of the kindness and compassion of the Father. What more could we ever truly ask for? May we trust God as the Almighty Stone Roller and not a stone giver. 

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow..."
- James 1:17

Where are you tempted to see snakes and stones in your life?
What are the good gifts you are trusting God for today?

Friday, August 4, 2017

on what I want the younger (and older) girls to know...

I want you to know that you are both beautiful. You and the girl you are comparing yourself to; you are both worthy and lovely and absolutely amazing in very specifically different ways. 

I want you to know that it is okay to think boys are cute and fun, because they are cute and fun, but they aren't meant to consume your whole life. You are a whole person, whether you are in or out of a relationship. 

I want you to know that the list of things you want in a future husband changes, and praise the Lord for that because the most important things are not that he loves dogs, plays football, has brown hair, and listens to country music. 

I want you to know that a Jesus centered life is better than a Pinterest worthy life.

I want you to know the power of Jesus, the true power of who He is and what He does with our lives. He died for your sins and three days later rose from the grave, conquering death and claiming victory for humanity. He can redeem, restore, provide, prepare, lavish grace, love, and truth. He can take everything you have done and turn it into something beautiful, even the ugliest of things. 

I want you to know the power of dancing and singing and laughing.

I want you to know that God is big enough for your emotions. You are allowed to be mad, sad, excited, frustrated, confused, messy, and wild. 

I want you to know that you should eat the fries, buy the dress, say the nice thing, smile at the boy, read the book, go to the beach, buy yourself flowers, take a trip.

I want you to know that life is too short to be uncomfortable in your own skin.

I want you to know how important it is to find a mentor, for someone to show you how to live for Jesus in the middle of the mundane. Invite someone into your life to keep you accountable, to be a shoulder to cry on, a person to laugh with, a sister to encourage you in truth, and someone to come over on a Friday night with pizza and ice cream and a chick flick (preferably written by Nicholas Sparks, amen?).

I want you to know that the way you treat people matters. 

I want you to know that life is full of really good things. But there is a difference between good things and godly things, learn to discern the difference. 

I want you to know that we were never meant to "have it all" and "do it all".

I want you to know that there are worse things than gaining weight, a bad haircut, not having a boyfriend or a husband or kids, not having enough "likes" on Instagram, or not being invited to the party. It is far worse to be unkind, ungrateful, ungodly. 

I want you to know the value in having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. Give yourself some grace. 

I want you to know that life is hard, but God is good. Seriously. He is the treasure.

I want you to know that the church is powerful and is the most beautiful source of encouragement and community.

I want you to know that you are loved. SO FREAKING LOVED. Just because you aren't loved by the people you want or in the ways you want, doesn't mean you aren't. 

I want you to know that I am cheering for you, don't give up, you've got this.

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