Running With the Wolves

“My spirit talks, I know my soul believes”

I was exploring Soundcloud yesterday and one of the songs that came up was AURORA – Running With the Wolves. I was talking to some girls from church last week at dinner and explaining that I notice Christian things in the world. It’s hard to explain but all around me, things people say, music, advertisements, etc all remind me of God. It’s like, people might not know that they are saying God things or having God thoughts, but when you are a Christian your radar is on and it’s loud and clear. Anyway, this song was pretty and I noticed the one line “My spirit talks, I know my soul believes”.

I think this is something most if not all Christians can relate to.

What I mean is, when you are saved, your Spirit, the Holy Spirit, talks to you.

In the Bible it says the following about the Holy Spirit:

John 3 NIV:

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Romans 8 NLT:
16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.
Matthew 10 NIV:
do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 
20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
In other words, this is a regular song, but the lyrics speak deeper spiritual truths whether AURORA realizes it or not. We were all created with the breath of God, we sometimes speak His truths without realizing it, and in the world you can often recognize God’s word in non-Christian places. I find it really fascinating!
The second part of that line says “I know my soul believes”. I think there are two cool aspects to this. The lyric infers that the singer knows that she has a soul and that her soul has the ability to believe.
In looking up souls in the Bible I found two scriptures I believe apply:
Isaiah 42 ESV:

5  Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people on it

and spirit to those who walk in it.

Ecclesiastes 12 ESV

7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

I picked these out because if God created our souls/spirits then it makes sense that our souls believe in God. God cannot contradict Himself, so if He created something it wouldn’t argue with Him. Granted we as humans have free will–our flesh has free will, our brains have free will, but I still think that our souls know the Truth of God because it came from God. However, we can choose to rot our souls.

Habakkuk 2 MSG says:

You’ve undermined your foundations,
    rotted out your own soul.

While some might say, it’s just a song. Or you’re applying Christian thought to something that’s not Christian…I choose to believe the Truth as revealed in the Bible through disciples and Jesus Himself. If, we were all created by God, by His very breath, then why is it so illogical to believe that even if people are not followers of Christ or believers in God, that they would still have the ability to talk about or feel Heavenly truths, and have Spiritual pangs in their hearts without meaning to.

We all take after our parents. It could be good habits and bad habits. If we are all in fact, children of God, the one true God, it also follows logic that we would even in our day to day humanity reflect our Creator.

I challenge you to look for the fingerprints of God in the day to day–a lyric, a picture, someone’s comment, something in nature, and invention, whatever it may be—and trust me when I say–God is somewhere in it.

“I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”

There’s a story I heard of a man who fell in a hole and could not find his way out. A doctor came to see him, wrote a prescription, tossed it in the hole and moved on. A preacher came to see him, wrote a prayer, tossed it in the hole, and moved on. A friend came to see him and jumped in the hole. The guy says “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck.” The friend says, “I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.” Author Unknown

I was reading through some of the captions and comments on “Humans of New York”, one of my favorite things on Facebook. One photo was about a woman who had struggled with depression and one of the comments was this quote.

I’ve been depressed. I think sadly, sometimes, that’s part of life. Something didn’t go the way you expected. Whether this is a death, a diagnosis, a betrayal, a job loss, or endless other situations it can be easy like the man in the quote to “fall in a hole”.

Society tries to tell you what will fix you. Therapy, medication, religion, and friends are just some of the things hinted at in this quote. Ultimately you will find that all of these things fall short because Jesus is the only one who can climb into that hole with you and say “I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”

Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He endured all so there is nothing that He doesn’t know the way out of.

Be of good cheer today knowing there is no depth He cannot reach to pull you out.

Found in the shadow | United in the light

“We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”

[Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32735289]

Someone shared this video on Facebook today and it blew me away. Two women, each with a skill, each with a weakness, working together to finish a product. I was already captured by the video and then out of nowhere, this beautiful quote: “We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”.

I’m in awe.

For me this feels like the Christian journey, my Christian journey, and yours. Sometimes you find yourself in shadows. You find out who you are in the darkness. You find out who Christ is in the darkness. You can identify others who are lost in the darkness. And it is God’s hope that we as His people are united in the light, and that us personally one-on-one God are united with Him in the light.

I’m writing to you as I normally would. No preparation, just inspired in the moment, no drafts, no edits, no filters. I want to write a tangent now, just to see what God might want to reveal to me and you. Free form. So here it goes:

God you are good. You are faithful. There are times where we become lost in our own darkness or there are times where the darkness around us becomes too heavy. We become deceived in the darkness because we forget that we have access to your light. You are the light of the world and you have illuminated us all with your Holy Spirit. God I am grateful that you found me in the shadow. We have found each other in the shadow. I am covered in the shadow of your wings. I need never fear the darkness or the shadow because you are always with me. You never leave me or forsake me. You are my God. Though there are seasons where we fall victim to the darkness help us to remember that we have been united in the light of your love and grace. One day when we come into glory with the Father you will banish darkness. Jesus endured the pain of the Father turning His face away. Jesus became covered by the darkness so that darkness would never be known to us. You gave us Your light. We are united with the Father because of Jesus who found us in the shadow so that forever we will be united in the light.  

Amen.

New shell

A few weeks ago I had an image that was perfect.

I was sitting on the bus, as I usually do as a commuter, and I remembered being a child. I remembered being down the shore at the beach, and getting hermit crabs. I remember they smelled pretty weird, I remember getting cages for them, I remember the wet sponge we would put in their cage, and I remembered the shell. I remembered the shell because when you have hermit crabs you realize that sometimes they run around naked. I’m serious. They take off their old shell and they look for a new shell. And it was in that moment, that I realized in this season of life, however long it might end up being, I am running around naked looking for my new shell.

What I mean is, there are times in life, where you realize your “shell” isn’t big enough for you anymore. You have grown too large to fit this “old shell”. And sometimes you feel exposed. It might sound ridiculous but I identify this as being a naked, streaking, hermit crab. Running around sometimes, looking for the next place. Now this could be a new job, a new relationship, or this could simply be running nakedly around but not having any idea where you are going. You know you don’t fit where you are, you have an idea of what God might have for you in the future, but it isn’t ready for you yet. You have grown uncomfortable in what no longer fits, but your new shell is not ready. RIGHT? I can’t be the only one streaking around here.

The best possible thing I did when writing this just in this exact moment was look up Hermit crabs on Wikipedia. Get ready for this!:

As hermit crabs grow, they require larger shells. Since suitable intact gastropod shells are sometimes a limited resource, vigorous competition often occurs among hermit crabs for shells. The availability of empty shells at any given place depends on the relative abundance of gastropods and hermit crabs, matched for size. An equally important issue is the population of organisms that prey upon gastropods and leave the shells intact.[6] Hermit crabs kept together may fight or kill a competitor to gain access to the shell they favour. However, if the crabs vary significantly in size, the occurrence of fights over empty shells will decrease or remain nonexistent.[7] Hermit crabs with too-small shells cannot grow as fast as those with well-fitting shells, and are more likely to be eaten if they cannot retract completely into the shell.[8]

As the hermit crab grows in size, it must find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second-hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone.[9] Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, have been observed forming a vacancy chain to exchange shells.[10] When an individual crab finds a new empty shell it will leave its own shell and inspect the vacant shell for size. If the shell is found to be too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the vacant shell for anything up to 8 hours. As new crabs arrive they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, holding onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size.[11] Hermit crabs often “gang up” on one of their species with what they perceive to be a better shell, and pry its shell away from it before competing for it until one takes it over.[12]

I’m sorry but I could just about FALL OVER dead after reading this! Hermit crabs sound a lot like you and me. And I think God is hilarious for showing this to me. Don’t you?

If you need me to beat you over the head with what I’m talking about here you go:

– “Since suitable intact gastropod shells are sometimes a limited resource, vigorous competition often occurs among hermit crabs for shells.”

Aka sometimes there aren’t very many shells compared to hermit crabs who need them. Okay?????? So this explains why sometimes we are all a little insane. We, at various times, are cramped in our current space. We’re ready to jump. God you want us to move across country? Great I packed yesterday. God you want me to break up with that person? Great I’ll do it, where’s the next one? God I’ve been faithful to my unsaved spouse for 30 years and you want me to stay? Great when are they finally coming to church? God you want me to be a preacher? Great, when can I start? The list goes on guys. But to be real, it can feel like there’s a lot more cramped people than new places to run to. C’mon now. That’s good! That’s the truth right there. There are many want-to-be writers, there are many singles wanting to be married, there are many aspiring musicians, there are many single-mothers who just want their boyfriends/husbands to finally give in and go to church. The list is endless. And yet, you can often look around in your life, and feel like there isn’t any room for you. The “shells”, so to speak, have been occupied. You can feel like you got your revelation too late, because like the childhood game of musical chairs, all the seats are taken, and you are still naked! Or the vultures of life could have destroyed the shell you thought you were going to get. This could be a fiancé who broke off the wedding, this could be a job offer that fell through, this could be someone who stole your husband/wife and your marriage through adultery. I don’t know. But regardless you can feel like you are exposed, and shell-less. But let me remind you and my own often naked heart that God didn’t make you to live in competition. He provided more than enough “shells” for all of us. So if someone else is getting married, or someone less qualified got your job, or someone is the worship leader but you’ve been humbly serving for years, just know there are plenty of shells to go around. We don’t have to fight for our space.

– “Hermit crabs with too-small shells cannot grow as fast as those with well-fitting shells, and are more likely to be eaten if they cannot retract completely into the shell.”

AMEN. Again. AMEN. Okay everyone. So we are all on this journey. We all have different timelines. And yes..it totally..excuse my French..sucks sometimes. As a single woman it sometimes pains my heart and womb to see people getting married or having babies. I don’t feel anywhere near that some days. But rather than dwell on what other people are living, what their “shell” is. I need to dwell where I am. Where God has me. I can’t force myself to grow any faster, just like they can’t force themselves to be unfit for their “shell”. Their shell fits right now, and mine doesn’t. I can’t make a new shell appear out of no where. Everything has it’s time, am I right? Rather than let the vultures of life i.e. jealousy, comparison, fear, etc. eat us alive we need to trust that in the season where we are too big for our old life, old dreams, whatever. That we are covered by God. We might not have our own covering, but He is forever covering us, His children. It’s scary to think that we’re half in, half out of a place that no longer fits us, and exposed in some way. But in this time where things don’t quite fit, we need to remember that we are still covered by Him.

– “When an individual crab finds a new empty shell it will leave its own shell and inspect the vacant shell for size. If the shell is found to be too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the vacant shell for anything up to 8 hours. As new crabs arrive they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, holding onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size.”

I think this is so cute. I love this whole idea because I think it shows the power of being “naked” together. I think this is why the “church” as a body of believers exists. We are all exposed at different times and in different seasons. There are older people, who have lived in their “shells” for years, and younger people who are constantly growing. We need to stop camping out as Christians in our old shells just because it’s comfortable. Let that sink in for a minute. Stop reading. Okay ready? We need to stop staying in our old shells. This might mean, opening your home to a family who can’t afford their apartment anymore. This might mean, inviting that person you don’t really like to hang out with your friend group. This might mean elevating someone in your volunteer group to a higher position, even your own, because they might be better than you at it. Shocking right? I love this image of silly little hermit crabs, naked, in a line from big to small, waiting for people in their group to find a bigger shell, to have some more space, to live more comfortably, to have an opportunity because everyone left what they used to have behind. We can’t grow if there are no vacancies, people! Make some space.

– “Hermit crabs often “gang up” on one of their species with what they perceive to be a better shell”

Just stop, God. Just stop. Hello ladies. Does any of this speak to you??? I can’t even begin to tell you how this punched me right in the gut. I’ve often felt in girl groups to be on the outs. What I mean is, I’m not the one asked to be in pictures, I’m not the one invited to everything, I know what it’s like to feel unwanted even in a group of Christian girls. We all have. I can only speak as a woman, but there are times we can be both the victim of this and the perpetrator. You can judge a girl by her “shell” if she’s prettier than you, or more successful than you, or the guy you like at church likes her instead of you. I’ve seen this way too much with girls/women. You do not have to gang up on someone for having a better shell than you. Whether physical or situational (job, house, husband, kids, etc) as a mature Christian woman you should not be someone who gangs up on another woman. It’s not us versus them, it’s not you versus me, it’s He and it’s we (as a sisterhood). And that’s it. I want a new shell, you might want the same shell, but it doesn’t mean we need to cat fight for it. God is more than able to supply all of our needs and He’s not up there taking bets on which one of us will win the fight. Capiche?

All of this to say that. 1. I hope one of these resonated with you. 2. We are all exposed in some way. We are all nakedly running around waiting for God to answer some prayer. We can choose to be covered by Him, or be running for cover in “shells” that are not the right fit. I pray that we begin to be comfortable standing under His wings, totally naked, knowing that He is always working on our behalf and He will not keep pouring Himself out into old wineskins, old shells, when He made us for more. He made us new.

The best is yet to come. Our best from Him, not your friend’s best. Or your co-worker’s best. Or that person you envy on social media’s best. God has His individual and unique best for you. And the best is yet to come. Will you wait?

Awake

I’ve been really struggling to find the energy to post lately. I have plenty to say, don’t get me wrong, but between allergies and work I’m spent. Today after an amazing service and a timely message I feel empowered. I took a nap, prayed for a friend in need, and I’m hoping with your prayers that I can pump out a few posts tonight, not just for my blog’s sake but because I want the things I share to encourage and support you, my blog family. Continue if you are already to pray for me and this page and that no allergy or exhaustion will keep me from sharing the words that are on my heart and are inspired to draw you closer to God and His unfailing love.

In the time we live in, it is so important to be awake. Not just physically but alert to what you need to do or say.

Much love.

You’re Blessed

I have so much to catch you all up on. I’m so excited to share some things I got out of conference! After work last night I was ready to dive in but it became a situation at home and there wasn’t time. Apparently my parents had gotten into a fight, and he had gone out for several hours. Now for context where I live, with my parents, there is a large parking lot, shared by our apartment, another apartment, and two businesses. One of the businesses uses our parking lot for their fire pit, seating area, and has loud drinking parties on the weekends or really, whenever they can, which God bless them, is more often an annoyance than anything else. But for the most part, I can have my headphones on, or tv on, or whatever and before you know it, it’s over. Or I’m so tired from work that I fall asleep and the rowdy noise doesn’t affect me.

However last night, I was ready for bed. I didn’t care in the moment that I didn’t post my blog, I didn’t care that my parents had gotten into a fight (even though my mom gave me all the details), I was just emotionally and physically spent and ready to go to bed early.

I heard my dad’s car pull in, and before you know it, he was joining in with the laughter, and chanting, and whatever else was happening outside. And honestly, in that moment, it bothered me.

For those of you who are new to my blog and some of my personal life, my dad growing up was a flagrant alcoholic and drug addict. It was not peaches and cream. I spent some time of my life sleeping in other people’s houses when my parents were separated, I saw my dad drunk and rowdy, I witnessed my dad escorted out by cops, the whole deal. Luckily he is done with drugs, but on occasion he still drinks. Not always to excess but it’s not exactly something he’s given up when he has a few glasses of wine every day. You get me?

Anyway, the one business downstairs loves the drama of my household. They know our dirt, they will spy on what we’re doing i.e. tell my dad “did you know they brought a piece of furniture in yesterday”, “did you see they had shopping bags with them?”, and basically things like that where they live to get a rise out of people. Where they hope it’ll rock the boat between my parents. I chalk it up at this point to just being a Christian. Like my dad, they pretty much think it’s hilarious that we believe in Jesus and have been going to church our entire lives.

So back to last night.

My dad comes home and joins right in. I don’t know what they were saying or doing but when you’re in your late 20s and you hear your own father sounding like he’s an immature teen boy, it’s not exciting. In that moment I felt embarrassed not entirely for him, but selfishly for myself. Like, “wonderful, that’s my dad”, “wonderful that’s my dad making fun of me with our neighbors”, etc.

As I’m getting older, I think God has gifted me with partial deafness. I’m dead serious. There are times where my dad is cursing, or saying something horrible, and I literally can tune him out. I hear nothing. And I think after hearing and seeing awful things, God finally was like, “yeah, no, my daughter doesn’t need to hear that anymore”.

But from the tone of it and the chanting, even though I was in my safety net of divine deafness, I still felt some degree of nakedness and shame. Like not only was this happening, but it was outside my bedroom, and I was aware of it. I think Satan loves this. If something terrible is going to happen to a Christian, he is more than happy to give you VIP seats to the event.

I am reminded this morning of this verse in Matthew (MSG):

Matthew 5 

You’re Blessed

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I don’t know about you but sometimes reading that…can go one or two ways. Sometimes believe it or not it’s a comfort to know there’s not something wrong with you. People go through the same things and it’s not specific to you. But also there is the other way of, “God, this doesn’t sound like a blessing”. In the world we live in people write #blessed if they get to go on an international vacation, they #blessed if their husband surprised them with a Tiffany bracelet on their anniversary, people don’t #blessed when their dad is hanging out with drunks in your parking lot and making fun of you. Right? Haha. It’s a strange world sometimes isn’t it?

I didn’t write this to say, woe is me. I always aim to be as transparent as possible. I’ve found that in being open, you can speak into people’s darkness. I’m sure someone reading this has a similar parent, or both parents, or has mocked someone for being a Christian, or feels like they aren’t blessed because nothing is going right in their lives. But I’m realizing the less things are going right in your life, the better you are probably doing. Satan isn’t going to torment someone who isn’t fighting the fight, he’s going after those of us who are in it for the long haul.

Even though it feels disappointing, and defeating at times, I feel calm after posting this knowing that in some small way I am honoring my Father in Heaven. I was His before I was my dad’s. I was His before I was my mom’s. Be of good cheer today knowing that in your battle “all of Heaven cheers” as you honor God. You might not see me but I’m running that race alongside you.