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?

Wednesday Inspiration 12.10.14

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Tonight I had my company holiday party. People brought their small children, wives, etc and it felt more like family than work. I’m truly endlessly joyfully grateful for this job. So many times I felt discouraged and depressed at my last job. I felt beaten down and often felt like my very worth was in question. I was torn down verbally each and every day. I felt abused literally at work. It was pure torture. Words cannot express this. I felt like I was truly at my wits end. Like I couldn’t endure smother day. I needed out. And weeks and months and years would pass. And you know what?, this job is proof that God is faithful. He brings the best. He knows what is ultimately for our good and the very greatest has yet to come. I find myself smiling as I write this. Smiling as I lay in bed getting ready to fall asleep. Trust me when I say that God is faithful. I’ve seen the darkness and I’m finally experiencing the light. You’re not even ready for the Ephesians 3:20 miracle that He’s sending your way. Praise God!

Photo Credit:
http://tumblr.hannahrosebeasley.com

Monday Inspiration 12.1.14

I think sometimes it can be difficult to wait. Granted I am so in love with my job and God and am grateful for all of that but other times you can focus on what other people are being gifted with and wonder when it will be your turn. I had this feeling the other day regarding my singleness. I haven’t decided if this particular situation is worth blogging about but long story short I was made aware of someone’s unwarranted motives and advances. I don’t consider myself naive but I definitely didn’t see this situation coming and it left me feeling, honestly, gross. And disappointed. Like, why is it always the strange ones? Why is it never someone who has pure motives and a good heart instead of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” types?

I like this photo because it reminds us all that we have been gifted through Christ. God has gifted us with salvation, God has gifted us with our lives and talents, God has gifted us with our dreams, and unfortunately we want to be children on Christmas morning ripping open package after package and seeing everything at once and that’s not really how God’s timing works.

Colossians 2:6-7 MSG:

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Psalm 42: 11 MSG:

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

Photo Credit: Found on teacherspayteachers.com

Tongue-Tied

Any time I have a weird dream that I think might have a deeper meaning now I write it down. I always found dreams interesting but I haven’t begun really looking into them biblically until I started this blog. Here is another exercise I’m doing today, live, as I type this to try to understand what God could be saying to me.

On 9/30/14 at 8:56 am on the bus to work I wrote this note in my phone after waking up from a dream earlier that day:

-My uvula was tied up and I couldn’t swallow, trying to swallow made me gag

-I had one watch hidden in each bra cup (weird), a watch in my front pant’s pocket, and one on my left wrist. I had a sense during the dream that I was hiding them so no one would be able to take them from me

-Each watch was worth $150 so that would mean I had $600 total

Now none of these things together made any sense but the fact that there were a lot of details made me feel like this was an important dream.

KEY FACTS:

The number 150 and/or the number 600

I had four watches

My uvula was bound

I remember how gross the feeling of my uvula was tied up in my dream. For those of you who don’t know what a uvula is, it’s that fleshy pouch that hangs in the back of your throat. Now imagine it’s bound up. Somehow is has gotten tied up inside of your throat. That’s pretty vile. Once I recovered from that memory I tried to find out what an uvula actually does. Sadly there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet on this body part. Some believe that it covers our nasal passage so our food/swallowing goes down our throat the right way. Some believe it assists in creating speech. I couldn’t find conclusive information on this overall, but it seems to be a part of the human body for a reason.

I tried to find some numerical definitions for 150 or 600. I didn’t have much luck with 150 (I only noticed one reference to the 150 years in the Ark during the flood) and so I turned my attention to 600 and I basically found out that Noah lived to be 600 years old and that the number 600 comes up a lot in war i.e. Goliath’s spear head weighed 600 shekels of iron, etc. Both numbers didn’t really help lead me to an explanation of why the number 150 was in my mind in the dream.

Lastly I tried to find some information about watches. Literally I know watches indicate the passing of time. Why did I have four watches though? I was wearing one on my left wrist. One was in my pocket, and two were quite literally down my shirt. How odd! Through researching online I came across a verse in Matthew 14 (verse 25) when Jesus walks on water. In some versions (KJV, ESV, NASB) it says literally “in the fourth watch of the night” to indicate  what time of the night Jesus appeared on the water.

“Jesus comes to His disciples in the fourth watch of the night. He comes when it is darkest. He comes after they have struggled for nine or ten hours. He comes to them not at the beginning of their struggle, but He comes to them at the end of their struggle. – Source: http://frjamescoles.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/why-does-jesus-sometimes-wait-until-the-4th-watch-of-the-night-9th-sunday-of-matthew/

The only thing I could really come up with is that I have passed a lot of time. I have waited for many things to come to pass in life and the fact remains that in the “fourth watch” Jesus appears. He will always come triumphantly when you think time has run out. Sometimes in our effort to stop time or hold on to time, we hold on to things that aren’t valuable. But even though at this time, I might be unable to fully speak, grasp, swallow what is happening–I can be confident that Jesus is still on time.

What do you think about my dream? Are there Biblical symbols I could have interpreted better? Do you have any insights?

Wednesday Inspiration 8.27.14

Going into today I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, but after reading an article in Time this morning I feel like I know what I want to do. For those of you who don’t know, I watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad/Bachelor In Paradise. I don’t remember when I started but the first season I remember seeing was Trista’s. Judge me please. I judge myself too but it’s become too much of a guilty pleasure that I can’t stop. Haha. Seriously the amount of pleasure I get from watching this stuff is unnatural. Second only to the hilarious tweets people write about it. Anyway. Apparently they announced the new Bachelor, Chris, on Good Morning America this morning and I don’t think anyone was surprised despite the delay in announcing it at the close of Andi’s season. He was too nice, family-oriented, and dare I say…too normal not to be chosen. What I didn’t know was that Arie–a contestant from Emily’s season hoped to be picked. Now I know this might not mean anything to most of you guys–especially if you have never watched these shows but Arie is beautiful. He’s a beautiful man. He has a beautiful smile and beautiful eyes and I feel like he’s the kind of guy that if you tried to talk to in person–you might black out. That’s all you need to know to track with me on this.

So then I stumble across this article on Time and Arie is talking about reading the Bible. WHAT? That was exactly my reaction. In the midst of season after season of people making out with strangers they just met in the ocean tide and on boats and ugly-crying during elimination, in this moment the Heavens parted, because Arie is here, single, and talking about the Bible. 

So picture me feverishly reading this article now until I reach this part:

It was an old Bible that looked like it had been in his family for years. I could tell someone had read that thing, because the pages were worn and certain passages were underlined, and he held it like a prized possession. He wrote in the front, saying he was giving the book to my mechanic and me.

“Take it so you don’t forget what you learned this weekend.”

“Are you sure you want me to have it?” I asked, touched by his selfless act.

He did.

That book came along with me as I traveled from that point on. In fact, the Bible sat next to me in the front seat of Betsy (yes we named our race hauler). It began to change me as I read it at night before going to sleep, though sometimes I felt I needed help understanding. Regardless, I knew there was powerful stuff in there. The Bible comforted me as I traveled from place to place… sometimes it was hard to keep track of where I was or where I was going.                                                                                       – http://time.com/3071743/arie-the-bachelor/

Wow. Here’s this guy who I don’t know outside of this often-ridiculous empire of a show and he’s throwing down some real talk now. The human part of me is like YES! now it’s officially okay that I was terribly attracted to him even though he was on a reality show, but the Christian part of me is also like OMG! I wish I could give him a Message bible or something. Right? Literally the only passage from Psalms he quotes is from the King James Bible. For most people it is literally the hardest language to read and comprehend. So on one hand I’m super impressed that he’s reading this thing day in and day out, but I also want to shout out that there are other versions! Sorry King James.

I’m writing all of this to say that reading this article was so encouraging. It’s hard to always take the show seriously even though there has been success stories and some couples are married and still together. I mainly watch it for entertainment value, and to sympathize with the normal ones that find their way onto the show, but deep down I think the show itself is unapologetically human. We all want to find love. We all want to be chosen. We all worry that we’re not enough or that we did something wrong and now we’re doomed to be alone. But this time, it also brings up faith, and how ultimately it’s good to want romance. God created us to want love and to show love, but ultimately above everything He wants our love for himself. As corny as it sounds, I’m going to go there, but Jesus was and is the ultimate Bachelor because He wants us to accept His gestures, His pursuits of us, His affection–His “rose”. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

 

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

          Romans 8:37 (MSG)

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

          Isaiah 43  (MSG)

          When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
    I’ll round up all your scattered children,
    pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
    ‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
    my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
    every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
    yes, personally formed and made each one.’”

8-13 Get the blind and deaf out here and ready—
    the blind (though there’s nothing wrong with their eyes)
    and the deaf (though there’s nothing wrong with their ears).
Then get the other nations out here and ready.
    Let’s see what they have to say about this,
    how they account for what’s happened.
Let them present their expert witnesses
    and make their case;
    let them try to convince us what they say is true.
“But you are my witnesses.” God’s Decree.
    “You’re my handpicked servant
So that you’ll come to know and trust me,
    understand both that I am and who I am.
Previous to me there was no such thing as a god,
    nor will there be after me.
I, yes I, am God.
    I’m the only Savior there is.
I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed
    long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene.
And you know it, you’re my witnesses,
    you’re the evidence.” God’s Decree.
“Yes, I am God.
    I’ve always been God
    and I always will be God.
No one can take anything from me.
    I make; who can unmake it?”

           Colossians 1:15-20 (MSG)

           Christ Holds It All Together

15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

18-20 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

          Ephesians 1:11-14 (MSG)

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

I could say so much more but that’s just a teaser. I’m just blown away by God right now. Blown away that what started as me watching a silly show, turned into this guy’s journey to find God, an article, and now a publicized curiosity for Him to embark on His own spiritual journey. If anything I’m pumped for Arie. So pumped! As naive as it might sound I want to pray right now that He continues to be open to all the things God wants to show and tell Him. I want him to know that God pursues him. Arie might be a professional car racer, but He is surpassed by the Hound of Heaven. God is so crazy for him, for all of us, that no matter how far we run, or drive away, He is already there. He beats us to our destination every time. He holds all the records for speed. Not because of anything we’ve done but it’s His very nature – which is love – He wants to have a relationship with us. I just love the idea of people going on this show, looking for love, and finding the greatest Love of all. It’s just blowing my mind today. God is faithful. God is amazing. 

Psalm 23 T(MSG)

A David Psalm

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com 

Tuesday Inspiration 8.26.14

I had a hard day yesterday. I’m doing very well at my new job but there are certain tasks I am just not naturally gifted at. For example–part of my job entails using a program to make an interactive ad. The basics I have down but then there are ones that come across to me like puzzles or worse—like math. Haha. My brain just isn’t logical like that. And yet I keep being asked to work on them. I’ve been reminded during this time that I am not patient. I am not good with persistence when I don’t see success at the end. Ouch. 

If anything that makes me feel kind of guilty. Am I really that shallow that unless I’m good at something I don’t want to do it? I don’t think that’s just a me thing–I think that’s pretty human. Why would you really want to struggle and feel incapable of something? Right? It doesn’t feel good. It makes you feel stupid. And yet I am certain God wants me here. And yesterday I found myself pushed way beyond my comfort zone. Granted it was escalated because a couple of co-workers laughed at my struggling and I felt kind of defensive and ashamed, but I don’t want to be that way. If God has me here, if God brought me here, then God and only God will equip me. 

Some reminders for when I am weary:

Hebrews 13:21 (MSG)

18-21 Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we’re doing or why, but it’s hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God. Pray that we may be together soon.

May God, who puts all things together,
    makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
    the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
    up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you
    with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure,
    by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
    Oh, yes, yes, yes.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (MSG)

11-12 Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

So today Father I need Your wisdom. You created all things and You have understanding of all things. Please expand my mind to understand the tasks at work that I am having trouble understanding. I often find myself struggling and it is easy to feel inferior and stupid when I cannot grasp it all. I know that You are with me always. I know that You hear me always. I ask for your wisdom and peace and that you will “make me fit for what You have called me to be” in this place. Amen.

Photo Credit: Society6.com

Wednesday Inspiration 8.20.14

“Holy Spirit, you have been working within me as I first put my faith in Christ, but I confess that there have been places where I have resisted your work. There are corners of my heart where I have been prideful and selfish. I surrender these to You. I trust You, that your will for my life is greater than my own. Restore me, heal me, create anew what has died. I desperately wish to see the fruit of the Spirit in my life and leadership. Do what needs to be done in order that You may produce healthy abundance in me. Amen.” – Catalyst: Devotional

I post this photo and devotional prayer today as a challenge. I know there are many many hopes and dreams that I have let go of while Jesus takes me on the journey I find myself on now. Although there are still moments where I lose hope, ultimately I remember to put it back in God’s hands–something that has fortunately become easier with time.

This photo quote challenges me to make sure that if areas of my life haven’t changed that I must remember to have this attitude and if areas have changed I need to be careful not to ever get comfortable–something that is funny to me because I can’t remember the last time I felt comfortable. But I don’t think that will always be the case. Life is a series of ups and downs.

Takeaways from the photo:

Never sail too close to the shore and never dream too little.

Never be more in love with Earthly life than Eternal life.

Dare more boldly and venture on wilder seas.

The Catalyst quote feels like an odd prayer at the moment because I don’t really feel like there is anything I am holding on to. I’ve let go of the “dream” job I thought I would be doing for a career that I didn’t choose. I’ve let go of my “pride” by doing tasks that don’t always get noticed or make sense to be doing in the first place. I’ve let go over the years of “people” I wanted to still be friends with but who weren’t adding value to my life I’ve let go of “relationships” or interest in people that I wanted to explore a relationship with, and on and on. I don’t say this like “look at my sacrificial living!”..I say this because we all are in a continual process of lightening our load. And sometimes you don’t even realize how much you’ve left behind or continue to leave behind. Things that I enjoyed, even good things like watching shows on tv, or reading for pleasure, or monthly shopping, etc used to be things that I comforted myself with. Nothing was ever out of control but I’ve noticed that I do those things less and less. Now I go first to God–which is good, but sometimes also scary. It’s like hiking up a mountain with a huge survival pack, but realizing in order to get to the top you need to get rid of nearly everything you’re holding on to. You prepared for all sorts of situations i.e. thirst, hunger, illness, whatever and now you are left with yourself. Sometimes I even find myself seeing parts of my life that are 50% alive and 50% dead like…50% I’m still this sickening romantic and 50% I’m concerned I won’t ever find someone and have to be careful not to delve into panic over it. 

I think this is part of the journey in truly following God. You are laying things down and God brings you His blessings. He comes with the provisions–you don’t need to bring your own. And so I pray that though I may be “losing sight of land I will find the stars” because He is the one that created it all.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Monday Inspiration 8.18.14

 

It’s hard as a woman to not be lead by your emotions. Maybe that’s unfair to say–I’m sure men struggle as well. But I’m not a man so I can’t speak from experience. Ha. I think it’s human to get wrapped up in your emotions and what you feel is best or just simply what you want. I’m actually struggling with that right now. Sometimes when you want something that for whatever reason you can’t have, you worry that you’re missing out. But God is a Father of opportunity and we need to remember that there is not a shortage. If we can’t get one thing we want–it’s not like He can’t provide another of equal or greater value. With that being said I think there are two good reminders to take away.

1. If we are lead by your emotions, as we all typically are at one point or another, we need to make sure we are feeling out of a positive place, meaning one of value and assurance of our position with God so we are not acting out of desperation or a desire to fill some void.

“We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. The verse does not tell us how to love ourselves, it assumes we already love ourselves and tells us to love others the same way.” – Good Morning Girls  Devotional

 

I think the above quote is important because it reminds us first and foremost to love ourselves. The Bible assumes we have that together in order to properly love others. We are to overflow in love and give out of abundance but if we are experiencing a drought and cannot love ourselves–we need to work on that first. 

2. If we are lead by your emotions, we need to make sure we are listening to God’s words and feelings for us and not our own, or anyone else’s. The Father sees us more clearly and more lovingly than anyone else.

 

“The Father sees you, He wants for you far more than what you can conceive. Don’t miss out on His whispers because you have filled your head and heart with your own words. It is never too late to ask God to begin to clear away the distractions and to focus your heart on knowing His will. It’s in these moments where your ability to help others do the same will develop. After all, you can’t lead people to a place you’ve never been. It’s a simple prayer, but it will change the way you live and the way you lead, forever. Father, today I trade everything for you. My wants, my desires, and the things I’m pursuing. As long as they are desires born of this world, I know they will pale in comparison to your plans for me. Please renew my mind so I can know your will. I desire a life full of You, a life full of knowing You. Father, some of the things I have been yearning after for years have sunk roots deep in my heart. If there is anything that needs removing, I pray you begin that process by filling those spaces with your spirit and align my mind with your will. Clear away all of the distractions so that Your vision for me life with be clear to me. May I begin to hear from Your voice so that my actions and decisions reflect a God who is intimately involed in the details of my life.  Amen.”  – Cataylst Devotional 

Friday Inspiration 8.8.14

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I love this quote because for me it’s rings very true. To get personal I still get creeped out when it comes to the Holy Spirit because no one really talks much about it. More often than not I seem to see the “weird” manifestations of the supposed “spirit” and sometimes you can’t always tell if it’s authentic or not. People barking like dogs for example is not really something I buy into. I don’t think it is in God’s character to make us behave like that. It just makes me uncomfortable to see on say You Tube. I don’t get the point.

I might have told this story before but I specifically remember being a child–maybe between 5-7 years old and my aunt and uncle coming to visit. I vividly remember them wanting me to speak in tongues. I didn’t know what that meant but I remember being on the couch and wondering where my mom was. Now, I believe that it is possible at any age to speak in tongues, but as a young girl I was more than likely mentally responding to this like “uhm you want me to say what now?” as opposed to “awesome that sounds easy”. It just sounded silly to me. Like a baby language. Or like pig latin. Weird babbling. I also remember being frustrated because I didn’t want to fake it and I knew to some degree even as a child that I was disappointing them because I wasn’t learning this language. I wasn’t doing what they wanted me to do. I didn’t know how.

Fast forward to today and they are still skeptical of my salvation because I haven’t been able to speak in tongues. It comes with some strange almost guilt sometimes because you wonder why you can’t and why it’s that big of a deal.

I think if I’m honest a part of me still wonders–why can’t I do this? Right? But then there’s the stubborn part of me that knows in 1 Corinthians 12 that there are many gifts—and not all of them are speaking in tongues—there’s variety.

I think if you mix all of that together it can be hard to really grasp the Holy Spirit. Like you can understand God the Father, you know that Jesus is your gateway to the Father and Heaven, and that since Jesus isn’t back yet–He left us with the Spirit. But other than that for most of my Christian life no one really mentioned Him.

I remember in my Hillsong 40 Day Revival Devotional it said:

Sometimes we forget that the Holy Spirit is the source of our power and find ourselves in a place where our well-intentioned diligence has become striving….empowered by the Holy Spirit the work of Jesus was carried on by ordinary men and women.

 

It’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit can empower us to do all sorts of things outside of our own human limitations and we don’t have to strive. God is by nature–generous. I don’t have to worry what He will and won’t give me. He knows what I need. And he’s not in a rush.

I think it would be cool one day to speak in tongues to elevate my prayer life but in the meantime while I’m still quasi-creeped out by that, God is a gentleman. The Holy Spirit isn’t a tsunami waiting to tear into me. It’s like a dam. It’s barricaded for now, but it can wait to be unleashed. The most important thing is our relationship with God. Not our relationships with His gifts, or what we can or can’t do.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Thursday Inspiration 8.7.14

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I was surfing Pinterest this morning–because of course I’m mildly addicted–and this was the first thing that caught my eye on the homepage. It hit me square in the chest actually.”God prepares leaders in a slow-cooker”. WHAT? Am I a leader? Is that why life for so long has felt like walking through muck and quicksand to get ahead? I don’t wear my struggle with pride–like LOOK AT ME and ALL I CAN HANDLE!! I’ve actually drifted through many different feelings ranging from confusion to bitterness to acceptance. It’s important to remember that during this process God is still in the kitchen.

I decided to Google slow-cookers even thought I know generally how they work and this is what I found:

-slow cookers help to make meat more “tender and improve in texture and flavor”

-no matter how tough the meat, “when cooked for long periods of time at low temperatures” it will become tenderized

-the goal is to “break down into a rich gelatin”

-http://www.scienceofcooking.com/meat/slow_cooking1.htm

In other words, I’m not a chef but it seems like this process is simply used to make something tough more tasty and tender. And gelatin can be used in all sorts of things according to Wikipedia like “food, pharmaceuticals, photographycosmetic manufacturingmarshmallows, gelatin dessert, and some ice cream, dip and yogurt“. So the byproduct of this process is used for many more things.

Enough food science…let’s apply this to what we were talking about earlier. If life is a clow-cooker, then I am the tough meat in need of tenderizing. My Earthly flesh is in need of tenderizing. And through this process I will become more palatable in God’s eyes. I will become more like Him. I will improve and my life will be an sweet aroma to Him.

“Perhaps… Jesus could smell “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” a life “poured out like a drink offering” (Ephesians 5:2; 2 Timothy 4:6 NIV).”

-http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/your-sacrifice-is-a-fragrant-offering-to-god#.U-OWQvldXRg

And during the process there is not bitterness or anything bad-tasting that comes out. Instead a “rich gelatin” is extracted..in this case the God-taste of my life is poured out and can then and only then be used for many more things.

So during this time I encourage my own soul, and yours to endure those “seemingly unfruitful seasons” knowing full well that we are being put in the slow-cooker for a purpose. If we were put in the “microwave” of life we wouldn’t be rich in flavor. We would be bland. Why would you settle for that when there is a better way to be?

 

 

Photo Credit: Found on pinstamatic.com