Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day for the Cynic, the Skeptic, and the Over-Spiritualized

It's been in my newsfeed, my inbox, on the lips of friends...

..this talk of Valentine's day as an over-commercialized Hallmark Holiday.  It's presence on the calendar causes some of us pain and feelings of isolation, and that makes it easy for us to proclaim it foolish. Perhaps it's fun loving has been so neglected by those close to you, that you find it easier to strictly ignore than to risk feeling that hurt? 

There's also been talk of Valentines Day being useful only if it's held in the context of it's origin {know St. Valentine?} or relegated to evangelistic purposes {ie slathered in "love" Bible verses. } This gives some of us a sense of "being spiritual" while assuaging the false guilt we picked up with our flowers and chocolates. 

Both perspectives hold truth! 
I get it because I've spent time in both camps over the years...{sometimes in the same year:) }

But what if we are asking the wrong questions? 

-what could be in this for me since I'm single? 
-how can we remain above such fuss and make sure people know it? 
-how can I make this about me pleasing God? 

What if we are asking our questions of the wrong people? 

-what does the world tell me I should want from this day?
-what do I want to lazily avoid or ignore about how my spouse would enjoy this day? 
-what do other Christians tell me I should do? How can I please them? 

What if we asked different questions: 

-how does God want to love me in this celebration? 
-what can I do to love others well with this day? 

Check it out; "what kind of love the Father has lavished us with, that we should be called His daughters and sons?!"  1 John 3:2 

"Beloved {loved by God}, let us love each other, because love is from God..."  1 John 4:7

What if it's not only okay, but honoring to God, for us to wrap ourselves up in the fun frilly pinks and reds of this tradition; entering into the joys of celebrated love? 

What if the single person treated themselves to something yummy and beautiful, planned a fancy dinner out with a buddy, or gathered favorite kiddos around to bake cookies? 
What if you did this simply because you are well-loved and can celebrate it? 

What if the married couple who considers themselves above or too busy for "this unnecessary business" planned a romantic date night together; giving themselves the freedom to invest in childcare, the expensive eatery, the hotel room? 
What if they chose to surprise each other with the chocolates, the flowers, the love notes just because it's so fun {and rewarding} to do so? 

What if our children felt us entering into their fun by helping them prepare the unique and cool valentines for  classmates? 
What if we chose to let them give the best candy treat? What if we sat with them and read together all of the sweet messages they received? What if we surprised them with balloons and fluffy big-eyed beanies waiting outside their doors? 
What if we planned a family date to simply enjoy the fact that we are a family knit by love; 
doing these things because it solidifies and affirms to them the joys they've received in being chosen and loved all the way. 

What if we walked in the freedom God has given us to have all of this fun loving even if there isn't a Bible verse written on every card, or a ritualistic listing off of St. Valentines good deeds? 
{who is the dude anyway?} 

What if we planned, and kept secrets, and wrote out mush, and baked, and poured bubbly all in the big dance of free abandon to His great love? 

What if it didn't stop there! 
What if all of the free dancing in the things of love brought about such an overwhelming rush of joy and strong praise, that we found ourselves awash with greater happiness and fuller worship than we imagined possible? 

What if this is what brings Him glory?! 
What if this is what delights His heart over us?! 
What if...

Zephaniah 3:14-20 *Paraphrased* MSG

 So sing, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the rafters, Israel!
Daughter Jerusalem,
    be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
    and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

Jerusalem will be told:
    “Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
    don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.
 “The accumulated sorrows of your exile
    will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
    You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
    who’ve made your life miserable.
I’ll heal the maimed;
    I’ll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
    they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
    I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
    all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
    all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
        God’s Promise.

❤️Happy Valentines Day ❤️

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Hidden Green

I spent some time today pondering this view with my Bible open ... 

What held my attention wasn't the brilliant blue sky or the pure white of the fields. *lovely*

 It wasn't even the picturesque's stone church and steeple on our horizon… *adore*

It was the tangled mess of brittle brown twigs only a few feet from the glass panes I was gazing through....

After looking at them for a long time, I found myself swinging open the window 

{risky business considering this is Wisconsin in February!}

I wanted to feel the stark coldness of their brown dormancy on my face.

To think that those desperately cold and dry branches hold right now the very ingredients of new life?!! 

Though all indication given by their appearance and the setting of their placement in Winter's frigid grasp indicate otherwise, they are in fact very much alive and teeming with hidden green! 

Attached as they are to the trunk; grounded in healthy soil, they can't help but come alive with tiny buds, 

then there will be unfurling green leaves. 

All of this when the time is right! 

A small sparrow, only slightly larger than my thumb, lands on a branch to rest. The cold winds ruffle his feathers from behind a bit as his head bounces around like a little rubber ball. 

He is waiting too.  

Setting himself now on a bare brown branch, but he will be ready when the green unfurls and the tree's fullness provides places of warmth and protection. 

He flitters off... The timing is not yet right, 

But it will be. 

There is a season for sitting on what seems to be bare and brown and lifeless.

This is the middle of the story. 

We are "middlers" after all; a people living between what Jesus has done and His kingdom's full appearing.

Between the place of diagnosis and final healing. Between the place of longings birth and it's fulfillment.

Between the place of hearing a call and receiving its promise.

Between the place of severe loss and full comfort.

Between the place of a growing passion and a realized mission.

In big and small ways, our journeys on this planet reflect this over and over…  

The wait of a middle. 

So gently am I led to rest myself here on the bare brown of waiting. 

I sit here today in these branches of waiting with all of my hope and this longing and the growing passion for this Kingdom call... 

I am reminded of the real thing... 

I am resting on the hidden green, inside, all wrapped up in the roots of His perfect knowledge and power. 

It will come. 

The timing is not yet right, but it will be. 

We will have Spring again. 

This is how He works: 

"for still the vision awaits it's appointed time; 

it hastens to the end – it will not lie. 

If it seems slow, wait for it;

 it will surely come; it will not delay.

… The righteous shall live by his faith." 

Habakkuk 2