shelter, love others

How do we as Christians miss the simple love of God so often?  Why do we continue to allow ourselves and those around us try to complicate God?

I know those are powerful statements, but they’ve been on my heart lately.

Love God

God loves us.

Love others the way God loves us. Unconditionally

 

I could quote scripture after scripture about loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies, turning your cheek, caring for the poor, widowed, and needy, and go on and on, but we all KNOW those.

So why is it so hard to put those into action on a day to day basis??

I’m not talking about “oh next week i’m going to do _____” or  “last summer i _____”  Faith is not a checkbox. You don’t get to “check off”  a “love others” box.  It doesn’t work that way.  Following Christ is a lifestyle, not a to-do list.   You don’t get to say “I did my Christian duty for day/month/year/lifetime”   It DOES NOT work that way.  Yet we often practice this through our actions, words, and teachings.  We do not focus on putting things into DAILY action, we give tangible once in a while, destination opportunities.   Going and serving on a mission trip or taking monthly trips to serve a specific group or weekly meetings with people who can’t come are GREAT things, but those things should be an overflow of our daily lives and an overflow of our hearts, not something we do to meet a criteria list.

Does anyone else see this happening?

I’m not saying it’s easy to love everyone, forgive others, or any of the other things God has called us to do, BUT we aren’t called to do these things on our own either.  God is with us through his Holy Spirit and we were given that gift to call upon when we are in need.  God wants to be in relationship with us.  He wants us to know Him.  God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle.  I’ve FIRMLY come to believe that over the past several years through my life experiences and watching those around me.  He will be with us if we simply call on Him.  Even if we don’t, He’s still there, right beside us.

My quote calendar today read as follows: “God walks with us, He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, even now, He is there – Gloria Gaither

Now, I don’t know who Gloria is, but she get it.  She’s clearly been there.

God is pretty simple and pretty straight forward…..if we let Him be.  So stop complicating things.  Stop trying to tell people they have to fit in certain boxes to be with God/come to church/be your friend/etc.   We are called to love as God loved, and if that means scooping up, then scoop up, but if that means sitting in silent strength, then sit.

I realize this post is pretty sporadic, but I hope you find something in it that speaks to you.  I really feel that when I’m going through something or wrestling with something, God speaks to me through my fingertips as I type, and I know I’ve heard Him in these moments.

This has been sparked by various life events, but they all (mostly) boil down to the fact that by complicating God, and things related to Him, we are DESTROYING the Church as He meant it to be.  By gossiping, twisting, complicating, and adding things on to God’s word, we are doing an EXTREME disservice to ourselves and those around us.

So just be.

Be who God called you to be.  Be where you are and rest in Him.  That’s all we can do, and if we listen, He will tell us the rest.  Rest in the shelter of those in your community, your faith community.  If you do not have a faith community, let’s chat about it.  I’ve learned lately that faith communities take on MANY more shapes than simply pews and stages.  they may be Google Hangouts, fireplace breakfasts, long walks, text messages, or any number of other places.  God is everywhere, not just the Church, so let’s chat about it.

For now, after your mind has been boggled by that post’s sporadicness, I leave you with a beautiful song by Jars of Clay

After All

Lately, I’ve really felt led to just share some of the great music that’s come out lately with such powerful lyrics.  Below is a new song from the David Crowder Band’s final album.  The lyrics don’t seem too special, but after you listen to the song it just overcomes me with the power, grace, mercy, and love of God.  I can’t help but feel it.  Take a listen for yourself.

I can’t comprehend your infinitely beautiful and perfect love
Oh I’ve dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars
But they’re never bright enough after all

You are Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

I will sing a song for you my God with everything I have in me
But it’s never loud enough after all

You are Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory, glory
My soul it overflows full of your glory, your glory
Oh blessed is he who reigns, full of your glory, your glory
My cup, it can’t contain all of your glory, your glory
Hosanna we are found after all you are

Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

I can’t comprehend
You’re infinitely beautiful

curveballs of life

life throws curveballs at you. alot.

nothing you cannot handle with the strength of God from the Holy Spirit. I remind myself of this daily because a lot of curveballs have come my way these past few months, weeks especially.  nothing i can really talk much about, but just pray that I would daily be encouraged by the strength and peace of the Lord. that He would renew me, that I would die to self and live solely for Him.  that others around me would do the same.  that those going through difficult times would be renewed in their strength and that miracles of healing would be performed. God does not give us more than we can handle, sometimes it’s just hard to understand why he gives some people so much to handle though. I trust Him, i know He has a plan and a purpose, but sometimes it just seems that things are undeserved. i guess that is the old “why do bad things happen to good people?” argument, and I don’t know. that’s the only answer I have.

just pray that work-wise, i’d remain focused these last 2 weeks and that distractions from home or work would not negatively impact my quality of work. that i would die to self daily. that i would rely on His strength for all and always carry my burdens to Him.

pray that personally I’d not keep my emotions bundled up inside, that i’d deal with them, that i get to talk them out. for strength, peace, and understanding. i can’t say much more, but just pray for strength for those closest to me as difficult times arise and continue.

thank you

pray always.

Oh life.

I intended to blog more this summer.

It has been without a doubt the best, hardest, most life changing, God filled summer. Unexpected things at every turn. Amazing things just around each corner. Challenges I never expected. Easy things I thought would be difficult. But through all of this…

God.

I’ve said this before, but it was drilled into our heads for a reason so I’ll remind you. The God who brought me to this summer, brought me through it.  So whatever you’re going through, the God who brought you to it, no matter how crappy it seems, is the same one who is there with you. No matter how lonely it gets. No matter how dark, scary, unknown. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Pray. Pray always.

If I have learned anything in 2010 that has been reaffirmed day after day, minute after minute this summer it is never cease praying. Several verses have been laid on my heart about this throughout 2010 but mostly the last few weeks.

Romans 8:26-28

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Phillipians 4:6-7

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

James 1:2-8

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

God has shown up miraculously this summer. There is zero way I could have made it through 6am-12am days with the energy and sanity I have without him. One cup of coffee on most days and those of you who know me know that’s unusual for me. Usually its 2-3 a day during school and this is 100x more exhausting than school. Playing silly games of cow math, green glass door, etc in the evenings. Taking kids out every day to touch lives by offering a smile and a fresh coat of paint. Teaching them why this paint is so important to this community. Then getting to know their stories as they get to know each other. Late talks with adult leaders about anything and everything.  Talking with community members and simply listening to the hearts of this community. The pain, the struggles, the sickness. The things these people have overcome. What it’s like to be a native america. What it’s like to live in minnesota winter. What its like to live without sonic or chick fil a. What it’s like to have everyone in your family die of cancer except your sisters who refuse to come to your cancer treatment. It’s been a beautiful collision of a summer. Faith, hope, love, the midwest, me, 70 kids a week from 4-6 different places. Beautiful. Oh, and coffee.  Sloppy joe Sunday, pizza Monday, taco Tuesday, cookout Wednesday, and pasta Thursday, sleep a bit, go to walmart, sleep some more, and repeat. Bunyan bag warm and fuzzy notes that would brighten even the darkest days.  This summer has been a million percent God and zero me. There is no way and I thank Him every day.

I know this blog hasn’t been much about details of the past month since I’ve blogged. That’s on its way.

If I could encourage you in any way, it is to pray never ceasing. Pray always. Pray whatever is on your heart in the way it is on your heart. He knows all. He knows what you’re thinking, so why try to force it to be poetic and proper? He is God, He created us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. If there is anyone we can be 100% honest with, it is Him. At all times. Prayer journal. Cry out. Talk as you drive down the road. Question, be 100% honest. Hold nothing back. It was always told to me and I would hold things back. I wonder why now, He knows already, and we are called to carry our concerns and burdens to Him.  To lay them at His feet. Do it. It’s simple.  He already knows but needs us to bring them to Him. He needs us to recognize our need for Him and our brokenness without him.  Cry out to your creator. Thank him for things around you. Thank him for health, strength, family, the prayer of friends, the tears of loneliness. Thank Him for all things at all times.

This is all for now.

More to come.


captivating

you are a woman

an image bearer of God.

the Crown of Creation

you were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved.

you are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiance, Jesus.

you are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power.

you are needed.

.

as a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender.

you speak to the world of God’s mercy, mystery, beauty, and his desire for intimate relationship.

you are inviting

you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God’s love

you labor with God to bring forth life–in creativity, in work, in others.

your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus, where you wait on him and wait for him.

the eyes of his heart are ever upon you

the King is captivated by your beauty

.

we need you

we need you to awaken to God more fully and to awaken to the desires of the heart that He placed within you so that you will come alive to Him and to the role that is yours to play

perhaps you are meant to be a concert musician or a teacher

perhaps you are menat to be an activist for ecology or the poor or the aged or the ill

you are certainly called to be a woman, wherever else He leads you.

that is crucial, dear heart

whatever your particular calling, you are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever he leads you

he will lead you first into himself, and then, with him, he will lead you into the world that he loves and needs you to love

this is all by His Invitation

.

I found this while finishing a book i’ve been reading today and wanted to encourage each of you.

want/need

life. its a funny thing. lately it seems like i’ve just been trying to figure it out, constantly having to remind myself that life is about the journey, not the destination.

i need to be silly and goofy and take stupid pictures. i need to travel and see the world. i need to stop having agendas and schedules for everything and just let life happen. i need to chase after my dreams (whenever i figure out what they are). i need to feel i make a difference in my job. i need to run after things in my life and collapse at the end of the days…knowing I did all i could to make a difference and glorify God through my works..not self glory. i need to be around youth. I need my Saturdays with no set plans. i need constant access to a journal and non-fine tip ink pen.  i need to constantly be challenged, moved, and guided by the Holy Spirit in my life. i need to see life as just as simple as it is and stop overcomplicating it all. i need to be more self-motivated and quit stressing myself out. i need to just breathe…i need community, i need surprise and adventure in my life and silly randomness.

I want to be 80 and know my life has been all that it could have been. I want to be 80 and still sarcastic, goofy, and fun in my relationship. i want no regrets. i want pictures from travels all around the world. i want to visit all 7 continents. i want to go on a cruise. I want to be more outdoorsy. i want to get a great camera to take great pictures of life. I want to visit the beach once a year and escape to mountains without cell service twice a year. life cannot be fully enjoyed without the calm of the ocean air and the view of the water at night or the stars and crickets of the mountain cold. I want to work as a guidance counselor. I want to spend my school years working in a school and escape on the weekends to youth retreats and the summers to mission trips. I want to be more spontaneous. I want to learn to dance. I want to sing karaoke at least once in my life.  I want to go to grad school out-of-state in ~2 years…. (yes that sounds like a plan….ignore the planness of it)

i make too many spreadsheets and plans of my life, for sure. it’s just my ocd natural habit and that will likely continue.  spreadsheets calm me down and while being ridiculously nerdy, make me feel at ease about life…. do they always work? no. does life always go as the spreadsheet says it should/may? of course not. is that fine? of course! life is an adventure to be lived and shared.

life right now is up in the air to say the least. I’m not sure where its going to land, that terrifies me on so many levels. and not the exciting terrifying. just the downright terrifying terrifyingness. all i know to do in these days is to pray and hope for what the Spirit leads me to do. just hope for the best and know that God will be there on the other side. it’s all i know to do anymore…

is it so bad to have needs/wants and to look at life accordingly? sometimes i wonder….

i know i’m a control freak and it takes me forever to try new things…sometimes its laughably pathetic.  i’ve been accused of using my major to control my life and the lives of others. i don’t think i do this, at least i desperately hope not… i’ve been told that in doing this, i am ‘raping personal relationships of all meaning’ and i desperately hope that’s not what i’m doing. desperately.  i desperately hope i don’t come off as seeking control rather than truth in life and relationships.  if i am, i don’t want to. i desperately hope that if i use my major to control things, that i dont turn people off from talking to me, and i hope that i don’t come off as unapproachable.

i desperately hope that my control issues are not actually causing me to question everything about the person i’ve worked so hard to become. i’ve been told that i’m doing that to an extent and i hope its not true. i don’t want to be a control freak. i dont want to question things out of lack of control. i don’t. this is not my life and i am not in control, it is His and He is in control . i want to rest in that, not see that as a lack of control. i want to see it as the greatest part about life and see it as the reason i should seek Him even more, not as either an easy way out or a crutch.

i don’t want to be accused of mentally retreating to a time in my life when life was more controllable and all the big stuff was far off in the future. is that what i’m doing? maybe a little but i don’t think completely. otherwise it would have subsided before it had been nearly 2 months…right?

a wise person once said this to me:

Throw control out the window, or you’ll miss the adventure of living your life, and I would hate that for you. Stop questioning, or you’ll never allow yourself to be shown any answers. Your questions are a grasp at control, which even if you continue to ask them, is a myth. We can’t control our future, you know that. It’s a recipe for unhappiness.

i want to throw control out the window. i have always pictured life as an adventure, but the best part about adventures is that they are uncontrolled. doesn’t questioning lead to answers, though? yes, but not if we refuse to listen…. some of my questions are grasps at control, especially those about life, but i believe a degree of questioning is necessary…the future IS uncontrollable which is typically regarded as the best and worst part about it. i want to begin to view it more as the best part of it…the best parts of our lives and usually some of the funniest or fondest memories are from when control was thrown out the window of life and life was fully experienced in every possible way.

i love life. i want to live it fully. period

yes…love.people.always.deeply

love people.
it’s really that simple.
yeah its hard to love those who hate you or who put you down or try to make you feel like crap, but thats what we are called to do.
retaliation never got anyone anywhere.

ever get that feeling when you do something nice for someone?
no, not the feeling you get if someone notices you.
the one you get silently when you just know that you helped them and it just feels right.

thats how life is supposed to be.
we’re not supposed to only do nice things when people ask for them.
we’re not supposed to only do things for those in the worst situations (although these are the people we sadly often ignore)
no we aren’t supposed to just throw money at things or do something just to say we did

we are called to radical lives of service.
to some this may mean traveling to africa and serving orphans while you’re still practically a child yourself such as this 19 year old girl: http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com
to some it may mean giving up a comfortable life to live with those less fortunate and live in the ultimate community trying desperately to better the lives of everyone you encounter like Shane Claiborne does… http://www.thesimpleway.org

but to others it may mean simply deciding to put others first in everything you do and to constantly be confiding in God and allowing him to guide your every step toward loving others.

for me, it has meant pouring myself into the lives of those around me to the best of my abilties (i have failed, and i hate it, but life’s a journey).
i love children.  i have a wonderful 7 year old little brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters (check it out, even if you’re in college, just meet with a child for an hour a week, its amazing the difference you can make in their lives and they can make in yours)
i love mission trips. i went to knoxville in high school to work in the projects and just love on those children.  i miss that trip. last summer i got to go to gulfport, ms and work on the areas still devastated by hurricane katrina. i plan to do this again, and go to galveston, tx.
i have never been on an international trip and i am somewhat terrified but i am going to guatemala this may to serve an orphanage for a week.
i try to tip well when i go out places.
i let people cross the crosswalk even if i’m in a hurry.
i listen to people when they need me.
i’m not trying to sound all ‘oh look at me’ i’m just trying to say that there are simple ways to live a radically different life steered by Christ.

i’m still learning how and i will continue to learn along the journey of life, yet i’ve tried to give up on making strict spreadsheet plans and just lean into God and pray and allow him to guide me.

at times this is terrifying because i like to be in control and i like to know what’s going to happen next but life is so much more fulfilling when i allow him to steer my path.  I’ve seen him work wonders in the lives of those around me and when I step back he has done the same in mine, I just have to put aside my type a personality and allow him to do so.

I have to step back and listen.
The hardest thing in the world for me

I have to simply blare my music super loud and hear him speak to me through the words of these songs.

I have to surround myself with people who are actively allowing God to do the same in their lives.

I have to take comfort in knowing that many of those people are not within close proximity to me yet they still have a deep impact on my life through the songs they get me to download (*kelsey*) or the life altering changes they make to move across the country to a place they’ve never been.

I have to look at my parents and see the changes that have been made in their lives as a result of my super strong little sister who desired to be active with Christ at a young age not simply go to church because her friends did.

I just have to look around at the puddles I get to stomp in and the grass I get to walk on and see the blessings God has placed in every facet of everything.

And I have to love people.
Actively pouring every part of me into them so that God can pour over from me to them. I cannot do this alone and I cannot do this on my own strength. I have to lean so hard into him that he just spills over.