Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Soul-Hungry{{a post about feasting learned}}

It's been a bit since I've sat and tapped away at these keys.
Abba and I have an agreement about this blogging thing. 
If He wishes me to type, to share, He causes the words to flow from my heart out of the places beneath my fingernails into pixilated characters on this screen.  
When that flow is not present, I know a freedom to enjoy the rhythms of my soul flowing by pen onto journal pages, known to His companionship, 
voiced in the ears of close ones....

One cannot always string out their soul into words, and yet, the glory is so big, so precious, so pivital that I have not had interest to type of anything less.

Even as I sit here this morning, in a place of new edges, fresh winds, and piled-up joy, I feel sad with the limits of my communication. 
How does one position the very stirrings of Glory into the stuff of vocabulary? 
Does it not seem that only ever is one small facet of this brilliant diamond made visible to the mind's awareness, though the soul knows intimately the radiance of the entire gem in limitless facets?
Is this not the very stuff of Majesty bright, for if a soul could adequately express it's meeting points with glory, there would be an end, a finish, like a story brought to it's closing chapter after which only the imagination can stretch further.  
Not so with Abba's revealing beauty bright.
Limitless, boundless, reaching, always stretching further and deeper, and fuller than can be known... not in imagination, but in truth, 
for as far as the imagination can stretch, deep reality of His glory is found with the cognition of yet more.

This post comes from a question.
One that has been ringing with increasing volume and clarity until the very beat of my physical heart seems to pound this out.
"Are you soul-hungry?"

Does your heart yearn so hard that your head can hurt with longing?

Do you hunger to hunger more;
for so very much more of Him?
For more of knowing His presence, tasting His goodness, hearing His voice?

Do you long to be free of your cumbersome worries, fears, and wonderings after small and useless things where unrest can take hold so very quickly?

Do you want to be entwined into the fabric of Trinitarian fellowship so tightly that the strands of your soul are unreachable by any other pull?

Do you move in a mercy which only intensifies your longing; 
the type of longing which creates space in your soul for more of His glory?

Do you receive His touch of life moving along your cracked places; 
love's fire soldering new soul ground on which to pile-up the stuff of holy?

Does He take you to the edges of your hunger and build out more of Himself into the grid of your knowing that you might hunger your way still further into His presence?

Because here is this truth:
"He turns the desert into pools of water,
the parched land into springs of water,
And there He allows the hungry to dwell {abide}."*

This dwelling hungry. Abiding in longing....
To simultaneously yearn for and gorge on abundance; 
desperate and filled; satisfied into a hungering-on.
This is where the soul grows. 

If we do not know a deep craving for more of His glory, it is not because we have fed upon Him and are filled.
It is because we have pulled ourselves up to the wrong table and stuffed full with the sawdust crumbs of an empty food. 

Because here is this real thing:
The soul was made to hunger after God.
"He satisfies the longing soul, 
and the hungry soul He fills with good things."*

The soul which hungers hard knows a full-filling not that it may no longer hunger, 
but that it may feed itself richly again and again on the Bread of Life.

This is real fullness; this insatiable craving for more is given to find it's filling in God's limitless plans to satisfy, because the hunger of a soul filled up on glory is not an empty gnawing pain, but rather a compulsive and fierce forging into deeper and deeper places of knowing His very heart. 

And so today the words of His working have flowed beyond interactive prayer, journal pages, and the listening of close ones... 
It breeds worship to tap out these limited words about a limitless fullness. 
I am so very hungry while abundantly filled.
In this I know only deeper satisfaction awaits...
and the feast continues on. 

*scripture referenced from Psalm 107

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Journey-Grace {{a celebration post}}

Oh beautiful cold November day when 46 years ago my journey-grace was born.
In a day when daddies waited anxiously alone while the mommies were dazed with drug and pain,
he came big and healthy into the same cold sterile hospital where, sweetly enough,
I would draw my first breaths 14 years later.
He came brown haired, with eyes the color of brightly ripening wheat fields.
I wish I could have known him every moment of his living!
I pour over pictures and memorize his mother's stories {even the ones he claims aren't true-especially those;)} 

In a way I do know every moment of his living in the deep places of the soul-knowing that we share.

Oh how I desperately and excitedly love the man he's always been and the man he is always ever-becoming. 

I know that his eyes, then bright, now hold veritable galaxies of stars,
and his hair always the color of rich chocolate, now reflects brighter with the sheen of wisdom; the stuff of living in big grace and full love.

God grabbed his heart for Spirit-life somewhere during his college days and Christ became his passion.
When that passion gave him to find me ten years later, I was broken and confused in a thousand ways I didn't even know. 
He gathered me to himself in gentle days of dating, engagement and then this unalterable covenant love.
He does this still.

Our living made-one has been an unbroken journey of ever-deepening passion and purpose made only brighter when days of ache have come. 

This man, my only one; 
my everything amazing, my Favorite!
He was given life; one which he generously pours out. 
Today, I mark in a special way the gift which absorbs me every day. 
Steven Lee living out Jesus-love over me! 
This man; my journey-grace! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Straddling Grace-Places and Loving It {{serving up a guest post}}

She is fiercely loyal, sweetly quirky, and full of life. 
With strawberry blonde hair framing her ivory complexion, 
the woman can rock royal blue like nobody's business. 
I met her in a circle of women gathered around the Word...
Mark to be exact.
I still remember the first time we knelt in the same prayer group, 
and I know very few people with her passion for radical gospel living! 
She loves, leads, and learns transparently. 
I am wonderfully different through knowing her....

One recent Sunday morning found me sitting knee to knee with her following worship services talking of a post I had recently published on the topic of dying to striving. 
We discussed our journeys to a place of pervasive heart-rest in Abba's unalterable approval over us.
She holds the same mercy, but from a different platform than do I.
She has learned a release from voices of our culture (sometimes from down the pew), the pride of her own deceptive heart, and the enemy's vicious slander by walking head-high in the confidence of, not doing, but being the woman Abba is making her to be. 
She unashamedly grabs joy in her career path; pursuing growth and success in her skill sets not juxtaposed but aligned with loving and sacrificially serving her family.
I asked her to string out her heart into words so that I could share it with you here.

Excited today to host my dear 
Katie Kimmel as she serves up her grace stewarded for us in this place...

Here I sit with this incredibly unusual occasion of “free” time at school. 
We just got back from an equally unusual field trip because I work at an awesome 
(and now a days, also, unusual) school where a few times a year we get to take the kids somewhere and not write a report about it or even fill out a worksheet as we walk 
(another post for another time…she half smiles).  
I have a list of possibilities to conquer for here or for home, 
but typing this to you (and me) has been tugging at my heart for far too long.

I sit at my desk with about 40 minutes in between here and there. 
Between Work and Home.  
Between Students and Family.
Between Paycheck and Bills. 
Between Grace and Grace. 
Maybe you're sitting in this place, too? 
If so, I am excited to chat with you here as we straddle these grace-places. 
If you happen to be reading this with both feet on one side or the other of this tight rope, 
I’m SO GRATEFUL you're willing to hear my imperfect heart, and I truly pray there will be something for you to take away from it 
(and even if you don’t my teacher brain screams “Good for you for taking time to READ!”)

This “in between” has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember. 
My mom was an “in betweener” my grandma an “in betweener” in fact very few woman in my life were not. All working outside AND inside the home. We all have various reasons for doing so. All having various positions.  And, yet, all bound by some common threads….the in between and the guilt of it. I’m wondering if you are also a member of our ever growing “members only” group? If so, our membership requirements will ring true 
(and your head will begin to involuntarily nod) as you read the following list:

*You have had to choose between using a personal day to be room mom or the field trip.
* You are scared to death the next kid will get sick because taking another day off is going to require some serious maneuvering, but leaving them home without your arms is seemingly impossible.
*You have been approached by one or more people in conversation with the question of “how do you do it?”
* That last conversation normally at some point leads to the comment of “Staying home with our kids has always been VERY important to us, but GOOD FOR YOU!” as you hold back screams and tears you exit to, yet again, question your mothering abilities.

And then comes the real stuff. 

As if these first few telltale signs didn't cut enough, you have been met by something that has punctured straight to the core
I speak these next words from my heart to yours, dear in betweener
and in doing so I mean absolutely no malice to those who have caused this pain, but I KNOW these ladies love too deeply for us not to humbly admit that their “concern” has done far different than spur us on. 
You know where I am going with this… the kind sister or friend who has caught you after service, sent an email, given a pointed call not to ask you why your heart has you here, 
but instead to tell you how you are not following “God’s intended path.”

Well. There. You. Have. It.

Now, not are you only guilty of letting down your family, 
God is also disappointed. Awesome. 
And they must be right…right? 
I mean…she has been a Christian woman longer than you….
she is more spiritually mature…
she has chosen the “right” path in their own wife/motherhood walk. 

Your solidly prayed over reasons must be your heart leading you astray once more. Therefore, you are left with no choice, but to respond in one or more of the following ways (first insert head and shoulder droop)
“Financially I need to contribute,”…
“Well, now that they are in school at least part of the time, I feel like I can start to work a bit”… and my personal favorite …
“This is what my husband has asked of me.”

I have said them all. 
Sometimes I’d choose one over the other,and sometimes I’d roll  ‘em all into one nice package deal so that I sounded like a deranged doll that you wound up and let loose. 
I felt like I should come with a tag….
wind me up and I’ll say over 5 different excuses just to make you stop.” 

Each time I walked away feeling more than guilty; I felt shamed
Would it change my situation? No. 
Would it make me avoid deep, meaningful, relationships with those wome
(and any others that I would even THINK may feel the same way)
You better believe it. 

To this day, some of the hurtful things stated “out of love” ring in my head when shame gets the best of me. 
–Side note: Telling another sister that you hope her and her family are left miserable due to her working, so that, her husband may change his mind about his decision…yeah…go ahead and leave certain things out of your “because I love and care for you” speech. 
Those things can’t be erased even after forgiven. 
By God’s sheer grace they may not continue to cause a divide and a relationship may be restored, but I PROMISE you they will hit time and time again.-

Here’s the deal my fellow warrior of the inbetween
Maybe one or more of those responses are true. 
Maybe financially you and your husband have decided your work is necessary. 
Maybe your husband has decided for one reason or another that you working is needed and even though it isn’t your ideal you submit… knowing that God’s plan is better than your own (even when you don’t agree with what He’s laying on that man of your’s heart). 

And maybe NONE of these are the real reason you have chosethis role as one who goes between.
Maybe, just maybe,…dramatic pause…you want to.

Maybe you have prayed long and hard. 
Maybe you feel called by a spiritual gift to share God’s grace in a way that doesn’t look exactly like that woman staring back at you. 
Maybe you WERE designed to be the wife to that man, the mother to those kids, AND the colleague to those colleagues. 
Maybe you were designed to BE the Light in an office, a classroom, behind a checkout counter, on factory line AND kindle that flame at home. 
And in coming to this decision, maybe your knees are raw and you've logged so many hours in the Throne Room you’re, pretty sure there is a permanent seat with your name engraved on it.

Guess what, dear friend, 
lean waaaayyyy in for this… further….further still… ok here ya go…..
Yep, and not just a chair, there is a room and it’s waiting just for you. 
Yep, YOU. Mother…wife….employee. 
The one who has a foot on both sides. Yes, you. 
The streets to your room are paved with gold and You.Will.Rest
Are you making the right decision? I don’t know. 
Am I making the right decision? I don’t know. 
I know that after all my prayer, my slumber parties talking with Jesus until way after lights out, this is what feels the best for my soul. 
And you know what? I’m going to own it. 
This decision, whatever the reason is 
(I’m excited to share mine with you over some coffee or maybe this place again soon),

I’m going to own it. 
I’m going to do it with gusto. 
I’m going to enjoy it. 
I’m going to do it as if the glory of God depends on it. 
And not the least of my reasons for doing so is because of you.
You the one who walks this same path. 

When approached with the shame that comes from within or is staring back at me across a church isle I vow to be brave. I do it so that you too may be brave. Warriors battling together, lifting each other up, spurring each other on, iron sharpening iron…arms linked and heads held high as together we claim God’s grace and mercy as our own and boldly proclaim THE TRUTH… that whatever the reasoning behind the choice to be both Mom and employee we are confident in this… 

that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (*including a paycheck for services rendered and the choice to accept it), will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Will there be days we question the decision as we run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to be it all and do it all just so we feel a bit less guilty? 
You better believe it. (more on how I maneuver VERY imperfectly through that in a later post ;)  

There are days when I literally feel like breathing takes too much time; those days, I’m walking a tight rope. Teetering back and forth waiting for one slip of the foot to cause my inevitable fall into that pit of shame I was never meant to call my home.
Listen here, sister in between, your feet weren't meant to wobble.

You were called to stand FIRM in the faith. So go ahead plant your feet. Dig your heels in on the promises of God…with one on the side of wife and motherhood and the other on the side of your earthly master. Knowing full well that if you are IN Christ you have one foot on the side of here and the other the side of eternal glory. And He goes before, behind, beside. Because His grace promises to meet us…Right. Where. We. Are. At.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sabbath Soul Words {{11•9•14}}

May we be soul-drunk and heart-bloated on this one thing! 
May it consume the deepest parts of who we are until we taste only the bliss of His always-present, pre-approving, and unbroken companionship. 
Let every other thing fall away.... 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

As His Child Re: The Critic {a {serving up an abounding soul} post}

Because we all have them...

In our neighborhoods, workplaces, church pews, and maybe even inside our own homes.

Critics, making themselves such in their expectation, disappointment, disapproval, and questioning....
Whether voiced or implied; channeled directly or with not-so-subtle subtlety, it comes. 

We all have critics.
We have all been critics. 

Dreamt up in the deep recesses of God's infinite creating glory, 
we were intended for knowing and being known....
for needing and being perfectly met....
for beauty received and displayed through us like refracting mirrors under Infinite Light.
We were made for glory bright and lasting.

But broken and shattered by the sin inside, we took our design to reflect away from the light, and lining the shattered mirrors of our souls up toward each other, we desperately sought to reflect ourselves into and through others.
Rugged only meeting sharp, empty only meeting dark, and fractals fell jagged and dead.

This inward bent dies hard. Though purchased and sealed, our souls often return to what feels familiar...the rough, shattered places of seeking approval through the reflection of oneself in the esteem of another. 
Even if given, it holds no true glory light, and a soul will starve in the gray. 
It is in the gray that a critic is born, this starving reflection-less place can't help but pour out cold and ugly in a way that seeks to suck in all who will give it their gaze. 
Critic breeding critic, and souls hungering on for the reflection of glory they so desperately need. 

As His child.... Child of Living Hope, Everlasting Light, and Eternal Glory.... 

Who do I want to be to those whose voices call the gray of disapproval over me?
How do I chase light's freedom hard even as the former familiar calls?
How do I, rather than joining a critic, courageously 
radiate Glory's reflecting invitation back? 

1 Peter 3 tells me that there is a blessing to unwrap in a critic blessed. 
Though voices call to relent, or retreat or react, 
the soul bathed in True Light knows but one response.  
Those who soul-rest in The Light become the blessing, as reflecting through our mended-strong mirrored edges, The Very Light Himself, leans though us into our critic's splintered gray places. 

Verse 8-9 dazzle this reflection into our minds:

Unity of Mind ~ undivided; free of desire for the critic's esteem. Pre-approved by Christ!
Sympathy ~ able to see, feel, and respect the heart of a critic's real need.
Brotherly {or sisterly} Love~ Desire for their best at cost to personal comfort.
Tender Heart ~ Soft in word, action, and filled with hope.
Humble Minded ~ teachable, a student of others, and aware of personal fallibility.

This is the lean of Grace's light into a critic's gray.
All of my edges once roughly jagged from self's inward bent, now pulled tight and sealed by The Spirit's full approval...  
My fearless soul; a mirror awash with unhindered glory like a million twinkling stars falling from a million golden suns, beckoning, calling, comforting, declaring real Light's hope! 

We all have 'em.... critics.
We all have the ability to be one.

So Dear Reader of this place, 
May we sit at rest awash in the only Light able to fill the panes of our souls with glory. 
May we be so full in our facing of True Light that only His beams of blessing reflect.
May we unwrap the blessing of a critic loved well.

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, 
a tender heart, and a humble mind. 

Do not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, 
but on the contrary, bless...
For to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 
1 Peter 3:8-9

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Month Grace-Links {{november}}

What better way to wish you a happy new month 
than to share with you some sweet little treasures of internet grace I've gathered... 

Feel free to bookmark this page, read through in one sitting, 

or revisit periodically for another slice of encouragement.... 
Copy what you like and share with another. Pass the joy on. Happy Reading!

Check it out...

This because we are all waiting on something in some way, 
and there are some big graces to be received in the stretch between! 

A book I am looking forward to reading this month! You might like it too. 
{click on the image for more info}

Make a different kind of list; one that helps you remember; 
one that dreams up worship. 

Because this montage makes such a powerful point, 
and really has churned up some deep pondering in my heart...
In Christ, the freedom that we have from vocational religiosity to simply BE in Christ,
 and yet how very easily we drift back toward an "on the job" presenting of ourselves far different than who we really are on our knees behind closed doors. 
Isn't the incredible favor and delight I am finding in Abba all about less contrast and more sameness between my appearance and reality! ?? So good for my soul! 

Some really sweet truth here, and Jennifer's book 
{Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval - and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes}  is one to have on your wish list! Fantasticly authentic message proclaimed from a powerful platform! 

If you haven't already, check out this sweet giveaway and all of the beautiful products featured... {think Christmas shopping for loved ones}
you can enter the giveaway until Tuesday!!!

Whether you're assigned the green beans, the sweet potatoes, or the pecan pie....
there's a clean-eating recipe for that! 
Bless your loved ones with tasty AND healthy love! 

Everyone - especially our God - loves a good wedding story stitched out in beauty and sweet relationship mingled around highest celebration.  Maybe you have your own such story, or will one future day, but how fun to think of interweaving your favorite common graces into the big day.
It's a good thing for my daddy's wallet that I was not aware of

this amazing literature-themed wedding idea  when Steven and I married.
Now if you'll excuse me- 
must run start brainwashing my daughter!!! 

Are you thinking about teacher gifts yet? Thanksgiving and Christmas give us fun opportunities to demonstrate Christ's humble generosity to them, and honestly? 
How cool are these rubber stamps?? 

It'll be here at the end of this month....
Does Thanksgiving present possibility for difficulty or pain in your extended family interactions? In some way, it can for all of us. 

Well, there you have it, Dear Reading friend of this place... 

Some links to places of varied grace for your eyes, mind, and heart. 

Perhaps you have a grace-link to share...some small slice of the internet 
that God has used to  pour grace into your life.... 
Please feel free to share it with us in this place! 
Happy November -

Sabbath Soul Words {{November2}}

As the Kingdom people gather here, 
Souls housed in bone and flesh. 
As their voices lift in worship song to receive the Word's rich feeding fresh... 

Do they know a taste of glory strong, 
Their echo in line with heavens throng?
May they know this huge grace thing, 
This bringing accepted, redeemed, welcomed glory-offering to The KING.