Thursday, January 29, 2009

One More Thing...

I came across this as I was hanging with my high school girls small group last night and just thought I would share, since it seemed like yet another word from the Lord in the midst of my recent thoughts. And then, I am seriosuly done posting about this...for now.

Basically, Matthew 10 is Jesus sending his disciples out and warning them that it ain't gonna be easy. Here is what stood out to me.

Matthew 10:1-28 (parpaphrse) Go out and tell people about me. It's gonna be hard. Real hard. People won't like it. They may try to kill you. It's gonna be hard. It costs a lot to be my disciple. I'm not gonna lie, it's gonna be hard.

Matthew 10:29-31 (not paraphrased) "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Matthew 10:32-42 (paraphrase) But, I'm serious, this is gonna be hard. You will likely suffer. I am asking you walk into this with your eyes open. It will be hard and...oh yeah...did I mention it's gonna be hard.

You gotta love his honesty and then, in the middle of it all, his reminder that he knows us intimately, that he is sovereign, and that he is totally smitten over us. That's enough for me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

On a Lighter Note

This is my absolute favorite sound. And it's further proof that Bella's favorite kind of humor is slapstick. Luckily, Hope is happy to oblige.

P.S. Please ignore the piles of laundry. I don't know where those came from. My laundry is always immediately sorted and put away. :)

Consider it all Joy

This year, as I welcomed the new year, I felt a foreboding. That’s really the only way to put it. In the midst of it, I craved peace. I’m not sure that it necessarily means something hard is going to happen. I mean, we had a rough year that seemed to get progressively harder and I know that some of my feeling is probably a “what’s next” kind of reaction. But I also know that, more than anything, for me, it was a call to trust. A proverbial line drawn in the sand. It was a decisive “Choose You This Day” kind of moment. A testing of my faith. How many other ways can I say it? With all my heart, I desire to cling tightly to the only One who can bring contentment in plenty or in want.

As I talked with Loren about all of this, he finished our conversation by praying, “Lord, may we suffer well.” I immediate reaction was, “No, Lord, spare us.” I don’t want to suffer well. I don’t really want to suffer at all. And truthfully, I have always preferred to believe, somewhere deep down where I didn’t have to examine it all that often, that I could somehow avoid suffering or, at the very least, lessen the degree to which I have to suffer by being wise and pursuing the Lord. That’s what scripture says, right?…oh wait… “share in the fellowship of His sufferings” …what?!?

I don’t want to suffer. I really don’t. But I do want God’s will be to fulfilled in my life, and I am coming to believe more and more that suffering is often a part of the prescription. Whether we suffer our own devastating losses, or suffer as we watch those we love who are suffering, or suffer as we attempt to “put to death those things of the flesh,” there is suffering to be had.

So, here is where I have been challenged and changed this year. I no longer believe that anyone is exempt from suffering. And truthfully, this fact, by itself, leaves me huddled in a corner, in the darkness, in a heap of fear. But I know there’s more to this abundant life than that. And, ultimately I believe in the sovereignty and the goodness of God. This fact brings to life the scriptures that say he is the Lifter of my head, the Light that dispels the darkness, the Peace that passes all my worldly understanding.

And so I have come to know deep contentment and perfect rest in the midst of all the hard things I am learning. I also know that it seems to only take an instant for my contentment and rest to be transformed into fear again. It requires a constant renewing of the mind(*lightbulb* …maybe that is what that scripture means). It helps that, in recent days, God has been faithful to bring to mind over and over Psalm 51:12 which says, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Indeed. He has reminded me that, even in the midst of whatever he calls us to, the fruit of his spirit in me is not just peace and kindness and gentleness, but giddy, smiley, bursting at the seems JOY. That sounds really good to me. But it’s still a little scary. I’m not gonna lie.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Year in Review

It has now taken me almost a full two weeks to write this post. I think it is because an attempt to sum up 2008 in order to welcome 2009 has proved to be a bit more difficult than it sounds.

2008 was a bit of bipolar year for us. On the one hand, we began at the Young Life All-Staff Conference…always amazing, and then headed to California and Disneyland with the girls...a precious, forever kind of memory. We welcomed a sweet new nephew in May, had a summer assignment back in California that was great, kicked off a great year in ministry, and celebrated the holidays with a lot of laughter and family. It was a great year.

On the other hand, 2008 brought some of the hardest times, too. It brought heartache that was painful to watch and even more painful to enter into, suffering that continues to leave endless questions, and a steady supply of challenges that I know are meant to equip us for some future good, but just feel like one more thing sometimes.

So, it’s not exactly an easy thing to wrap our year up with any kind of general feeling about it. It was really good, and really hard…and the hard part was also really good. Am I speaking anyone’s language out there?

My description, thus far, might lead you to believe that I’m melancholy about the year. But that isn’t true at all. Actually, my sense, when I look back on the year, is that it was full of a kind of richness that I’m not sure I’ve ever known before. There was a deepening of some sort…a deepening of faith, a deepening of convictions, a deepening of friendships, a deepened sense of purpose, and the list could go on.

That kind of year can be hard because it challenges you and it changes you. And I just realized that the word “change” is in the middle of the word “challenge.” And with that very profound discovery, I’ll leave you. More to come later, though, on just how I’ve been challenged/changed…stay tuned (all 4 of you!)