Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Need Hope

Just sitting here thinking. May I just take the liberty to say that life has surprised me entirely? If you would have told eighteen year old me what the next fourteen years would hold - my mouth would have hung open. There have been such sweet blessings but, if honesty is the name of the game, it has been far more intense than I could have ever dreamed.

Sometimes Zion and I look at each other and still marvel that we've made it through some of what we've walked. The resistance we've experienced multiple times literally takes your breath away. At some point, it will be right and good to express more of the details of our story. But for now, know that I'm not exaggerating when I say that some of the battles we've been allowed to fight have lasted years and threatened to wear us down to the point of giving up. Only by the grace of God do we stand today.

Tonight, I'm thinking of those of us in the middle of the valley. The one who has stood for a long time and trusted...and is weary. The one who feels that no one truly know the extent of all you have laid down in order to keep trusting. The one who has fought valiantly at times and then gone through seasons of quietness as you've waited for strength to keep fighting.

Sometimes the most illusive thing to me in those moments has been hope. Faith somehow seems easier - because faith is a decision I make to see what is not there. Hope though. Man, hope can seem like a dim light in the distance when you've been through a journey of length. If you feel like the disappointments have piled up a bit - hope can even seem foolish.

In those times, I make a point to specifically ask the Lord to stir up hope within me. There are points when it simply can't come from you anymore because you're so worn down. I'm asking Him to do that for you tonight. Lord, breathe hope.


Let's ponder these words:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

Some of us have heard these words over and over again. But - tonight - let's put on fresh ears. A different version of this verse says 'but they who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.' What if these words were true? You know, when I am in the midst of the battle, my eyes tend to start looking all over the place for signs of God moving on my behalf. Almost a frantic search. But almost always, I find that my eyes have to revert back. Back to Him.

Did you notice that the words say 'they who wait for the Lord...' Not she who waits for the job to come through. Not she who waits for the man of dreams to appear. Not she who waits for the breakthrough....but she who waits for the Lord. Man - that's a shift. Sometimes it seems impossible to muster up hope that something specific will happen. But these words prompt me to narrow my gaze onto the One who is trustworthy. Despite all that comes, He is trustworthy.

He DOES NOT grow faint. He DOES NOT grow weary. He simply doesn't. But he understands you. He truly yearns to show compassion to you. When all else seems to be failing around you - come back to a very simple waiting on the Lord. He will show Himself and before you know it - even the smallest glimmer of hope will rekindle itself and that strength will come up in you.

I am convinced that those who journey long and hard through the valley have a special place of tenderness in His heart. He sees you and cherishes your sacrifice of trust more than you could know.

I'm feeling you tonight. If I am then I know that He is. Hope is coming my friend...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

If I'm Being Honest....

...I feel like I'm in high school again. In high school, my senior year second semester of Repertory Theatre was spent entirely on improv. I hated it. I mean, really and truly, every single day made me sweat. Improv acting is brought to life when actors are willing to jump into a scene maybe with some small idea but not truly knowing what they're going to do in the scene. They're just willing to go with the flow and see what happens! Well - believe me when I say that wasn't my strong suit lol! Sure, I would occasionally jump into a scene. But - only when I knew exactly where I was going to take the scene. Frankly when it happened it was great....I just kind of missed the adventure of improv and the wildness of not having a plan but making it up as you went.

Why do I feel sweaty again like that entire second semester of senior year? Let me just tell you. I'm trying something new. It's uncharted and right now - it feels way way way weird. I'm committing to blogging once a week. No biggie right? It's basically just a little more than I've been doing overall. You'd think I'd been told that I needed to start training for a marathon, I'm so sweaty over this!? It's like my improv teacher is sitting there watching me and all of the sudden he says 'Hey Booth. You're going to get into every single scene and I don't give one flip if you have any clue as to what you're going to do when you get there. Yeah - I see you sweating. Don't care. Get in there.'

BUT I AM SWEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please tell me you can relate. Please tell me that you've been there. Been at that point where some issue has come to the surface that you know you MUST take action on. You know the time is now for obedience but taking that step stirs up every doubt and weirdo thought imaginable.

Now, let me say. I don't think that my blog is more than it is. It's not a big deal but it's not about how big of a deal it is. It's like when God asks you to do something and it makes you nervous - you'd be nervous if even two people were watching you take that step.

Here's my deal: I usually blog when something hits me. When something feels juicy. When I feel goooood about it. You know? I like to go with the flow, yo. And that's been good! Nothing wrong with that. I just think that I'm supposed to practice a little more and get into a more regular flow of writing. Who knows where that will go - God usually just gives me clarity about the very next step I am supposed to take. Well, that's all fine and good and blogging once a week sounds like an obvious or natural choice. But I tell you what - there is just something about making a commitment to have something worthwhile to say one time a week that is making me shake in my boots. It inevitably means that until I get into that great routine of working out this flow - I'm going to have to do it when I'm not feeling it. You know?

In fact, it's precisely like working out! Take it from a non-worker-outer for most of her life - when you start working out and it's not your norm - it is ugly. It hurts, it's awkward, you may actually fall off of that machine for real, and how you feel the next day is even worse as your body screams at you. But the only way to get into the flow of using those muscles is to push through and keep coming back to it.

So, know that my muscles are screaming at me right now. In fact, I wrote this post this week. It felt so weird and particularly un-juicy that I couldn't post it directly to Facebook or whatever. I don't think that it's a truly bad post - it just lacked the feeling behind it.

But, you know what, I have decided to do it no matter how it feels. I have decided to be faithful to routine until the feelings of flow return. And I just wonder if you can relate. I'm pretty certain that you can.

There's probably something you know you're supposed to do. Maybe it's a big deal or maybe it's a small deal but it really doesn't matter. I think any one of us would prefer to have those really nice feelings accompany what we're doing. But sometimes the right thing is to move forward in obedience even when we are sweaty. Even when it feels awkward and clunky. Care to join me in awkward obedience? Hey - at least we'll know that we were brave enough to jump into the scene.

I want to be a yes-woman. Not a yes-after-I-can-clearly-see-where-this-is-going-woman.

Hope you're doing well. I'm doing well aside from the sweating. :)

Much love!

Confessions of a Picture Person

Happy Friday, Reader!

Today I'm pondering a shift that has been slowly taking place in me and it has to do with the c-word. Control sister! It's been occurring to me more and more that I'm a picture person. Are you a picture person? If you've read my recent posts (like this one, or this one), you've heard me talk about being a picture person.

It's not so much being an actual picture person - as in pictures covering my walls - but a picture person in that I picture everything in my mind. Things that will happen five minutes from now or things that may happen five years from now - this little brain can seamlessly slip into picture world. Sometimes I realize in an instant that I've spent the past five minutes picturing something in the future. Hello, Earth to me! Or maybe it's not even an event that I picture. Maybe it's the reaction on someone's face when I say something. Or maybe it's an argument that I cook up in my mind based solely on how I picture a conversation going (before it even happens, mind you.) Weird stuff - take my word for it!

Truth be told, I believe that dreaming is a big part of hope and faith in God! So, not all picturing/dreaming should be cause for concern. But I have REPEATEDLY ran smack into a fatty fat wall when the reality that the Lord has for me unfolds in a different way than the picture I lovingly held in my mind and heart. Did you know that I have recently become intimately acquainted with temper tantrums? Oh yes! When a certain two year old I know, hits the right scenario and doesn't get his way...well let's just say I've seen some very real expression of revolt come from that darling little one. But if I'm honest, I can totally relate to his displays lol! When my real picture doesn't line up with the picture I've had in my heart - that tantrum occurs can occur in me too.

Ahhhh my pictures. Maybe you can relate to some of my pictures:

I picture how a Saturday will go

I picture how a friend will feel or respond when I do something in the "I'm-a-great-friend-zone" (so embarrassing to admit this)

I picture what my husband will say when he realizes how productive I've been (this rarely sets me up for success)

I picture Christmases in the future with a house-full of big kids in matching pajamas (we'll see)

I picture celebrating our tenth anniversary in Europe

I picture our next baby and his/her birthday (now I ask you, how could I possibly know his birthday)

I picture the look in his eyes after I've gotten dressed up for a date

I picture you reading this blog

I picture me becoming some sort of other-earthly-machine-of-a-worker-outer (after the next baby of course)

I picture my hair on my next great hair day

I picture how I'll respond next time we get into that disagreement

Oh honey, I'm just getting started! My list of pictures could go on and on and on and on. They range from momentary to far in the future and from teeny tiny to big and mighty.

But you know what, I'm just about ready to give up. That may sound dark but bear with me because I think it's actually a thing of beauty.

It's not to say that my pictures are bad! I honestly don't look at the above list and see too many issues there - I like my pictures! And frankly I'm not certain that turning off the entire part of your heart that sees the future - even if it's five minutes from now - is a good thing. Dreaming breeds hope and hope IS good!

Did you know that I'm freshly 32? Yes, well I've come to the conclusion that tantrums don't look very cute on a 32 year old! And I'm just kind of ready to give up control of my pictures. Because at the root of many of my pictures is what I perceive as my own control of my happiness. And that can lead to me doing some fairly funky things to protect my pictures. Yes? Yes. Funky indeed.

What if I gave up? What if I gave up some of the pictures and instead invested my energy in asking myself a few questions:

"Do I trust God?"
"Do I trust God?"
"Do I trust God?"

Because if I do trust Him, that enables me to let go of my grasp on my pictures a little bit. Perhaps I can just be okay if I don't get that affirmative feedback after a hugely productive day. Perhaps that tenth anniversary will be celebrated in a way that I have never even thought of. Perhaps my feelings about myself need not come from how a friend responds to me but instead how the Lord responds to me. You see where this is going.

When my pictures become the definition of happiness, security, and success, they leave little room for the creativity and control of my Father - Who has been nothing but faithful to me. He's been nothing but faithful my friend!

The truth is that I love dreaming and I think God is in it. I'm just learning to separate dreaming from creating my own controlled environment in which MY happiness is the only player that matters. Whew, help me Jesus!

So, my reader friend, I hope you have such a good weekend. A weekend full of unexpected and unpictured and unanticipated fun...just as a little reminder that life can be so sweet when we let go.

Happy weekend!

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Word for Someone Tonight....

Well this is a different post for me. Let me say first - I may be all wrong in what I am about to share. I consider myself to be a child of God like any other Believer. He speaks to me and leads me as He desires to do with any of His children. But that's it: I'm a human. So hey - don't take this as a 'thus says the Lord.' Just let whatever is supposed to come of this come.

The past few days - I have had this thing rolling around in my spirit. If that's not a typical experience for you - it's just like a thought that keeps recurring in your mind but it is somehow connected to your heart and spirit as well. When I talk about spiritual topics, I like to try to de-mystify things as much as possible. As Christians, sometimes we can't even hear how weird we sound because the language is so commonplace to us.

But - here is what I have been feeling God say: 'My Name is Faithful and True. I am Faithful and True.' Again and again and again. It has felt very personally directed to where some of my thoughts have been over the past few days. But then tonight, I was taking a walk and the thought became so loud that it all of the sudden occurred to me that perhaps someone else needs this tonight. I halted the walk half-way through and headed straight to my computer. Why not just test it out and see?

Let's dive in.

Faithful and True. Those words are not unique to us. We use the word faith a lot. We talk about faithfulness. Truth and true are everywhere in our cultural landscape of language. They are words and names that could go in one ear and out the other without a hesitation. But picture this with me, Jesus is not just an idea. He isn't a philosophy and He isn't just a place we go on Sundays - He's a man and He's real. He wants to look both you and me right in the eyes and say "I AM Faithful and True." Does that make your heart skip a beat??? It does mine.

Faithful and True really came out of nowhere for me. I knew it was a name for God used in the Bible and I had a hunch where it was but couldn't have told you anything else to be honest. Best just to start digging in cases like that! Here's where it is:

Revelation 19:11 "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war."

Heavy. The part of me that likes to filter things - wants to say so many things right now that would soften that verse up. But tonight, that's not the right choice.

Here's what comes to me:

This God, the God that I have said yes to, is not predictable. He is not formulaic. He is not bound by my human rules, logic and patterns that I so desperately try to apply to him. Things happen in my life and in your life that frankly don't add up in the moment. There's no way around it - sometimes life hurts more than words can express. Sometimes disappointments blur our vision to the point that it's hard to even see straight. But, hear this. Your God IS Faithful. Your God IS True.

In fact, when ALL is said and done, when it all comes down and both losses and victories have added up - there will be a God standing tall for you. Tonight, He passionately cares that you know this fact about His character: He is Faithful and True. I'll type it again: He is Faithful and True. When I say He passionately cares, the sense that I got was almost that He was to the point of frustration and anger over it. Not at you sweet one - but at the enemy who so tenaciously chips away at the truth throughout the fabric of our everyday lives. At the one who continually whispers that you aren't enough, that your efforts will never add up to a breakthrough, that your future is sad, that you have to keep working yourself into a frenzy so as not to lose it all in one moment, the list goes on. I think your Father who loves you more than you could ever grasp - cares immensely tonight that you hear Him clearly say to you "I am Faithful and True child. I AM. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will hold you with my right hand. I LOVE you and that love drives me to a much fiercer brand of love than you can imagine."

Did you catch the last part of verse 11? "...and in righteousness he judges and makes war." This One is no softy. He is not passive. He is not uninterested. No - He is extremely interested. Judgement and war are not comfortable topics, are they? But picture the context of this verse - after the greatest of battles, the most horrendous of challenges, the longest journey (and these words are putting it lightly) - here comes our God - called Faithful and True - on a white horse. Picture that as a movie scene. Move over Lord of the Ring. He may be strong and willing to wage war on the behalf of righteousness - but the personal name He wants you to hear is that He is Faithful and True.

Who knows if I'm right on or more than a little too bold tonight. But what I can say is that my heart is racing and with all that is in me - this feels important.

I'm not even sure how to wrap this up so I'll just say this: No matter what - KNOW that you are seen. His character may have come into question based on life experiences you've had but let your brain and your emotions off the hook of figuring everything out. Tonight, picture yourself leaning on someone who is faithful beyond a doubt and true to his word. He is strong and yet He loves you with a tenderness that compels Him to catch your tears.

Sleep in peace tonight, my friend.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bedazzled Behinds and Hitting the Wall

First my friend, I just need to bring a report to our little tree house meeting. Ha! I have no idea where that came from but all of the sudden as I sat down to write I pictured myself as a little girl in a secret club meeting in a tree house. Fun!

But on a more serious note, I've been to a far off land and I bring news of this land and its inhabitants. The Tulsa State Fair. Many of you have been to the fair but for some reason - this year it seemed extra special to me. As a side note - Tulsa is not a state. Sooo...the name Tulsa State Fair leads one to wonder a bit :). In this far off land I traversed yesterday, I experienced SO MANY occasions of the most beautiful site: bedazzled behinds galore. Mind you, when Mom and I go to the fair we have three objectives: animals, buildings and food. No rides. Nope - straight to the livestock buildings we go. Sister - we hit it at cow time! The buildings were full of seriously beautiful cows. Did you know a cow could be such? It can. We saw cows getting blow dried, having their coats meticulously brushed, having their hooves cleaned to near sparkling, and having their rear ends lovingly cleaned as it did its business on the way to the show ring. Cows are fancy!

And speaking of fancy...I saw so many fancy cowgirls that my heart skipped a beat. My oh my - fancy is the only word for it. They may be wearing gorgeous boots with mud caked on the heel proving their capacity to get in there and work with the best of 'em, but so many of these women wore sparkles it wasn't even funny. Sparkly belts, sparkly tops with long hair flowing down their back, sparkly hats and best of all - sparkly bedazzled behinds. Beautiful beautiful behinds. I tell you what, by the time I left, I was nearly convinced that I had to get a pair of sparkly behind jeans before the week was over.

Please observe a bedazzled behind:

This was the brand sold in all of the pop up boutique shops at the fair.

I came so close to picking up a pair before coming home. So close.

I loved these people! It was like Super Bowl time for them and they came to play. Part of me wanted to daydream that I was a part of their world - taking care of my family's big-business-animals, kicking up dust as I walked through the day, wearing my bedazzled behind in all its glory and drinking a big coke to top it all off. No diet for a fancy cowgirl - only the real deal.

I love the fair. Isn't it funny how one day can be a high and the next one whew - a doozy?

Zion is out of town right now and I have done really well with it until today. Hello wall - as I banged my head up against it time after time. He's been gone almost a week and things have gone so smoothly until today. Do you ever have one of those days where it's not just that you've hit the wall - it's that the wall seems to be chasing you down and finding you even when you're trying to escape it? Yes indeed. My day today.

Man alive the crazy wants to come out when we hit the wall doesn't it? I think I sent one text to Zion to the tune of 'OH MY GOSH IF THIS THING BREAKS ONE MORE TIME....PLEASE FIX THIS" Ugly. I 'raised my voice' then turned to crying with my mom. Fairly ugly. I went to Super Wal-Mart out of desperation today because homeboy and I had to get out of this house before something nasty happened. Super Wal-Mart and I don't have a great relationship so it's really saying something that that was my getaway of choice! LOL. It's actually just this particular SWM - kind of oppressive and depressing.

But you know what? It's almost 10pm and I feel like most of the crazy that needed to get out - got out. :) It's not that I love how today went - but on the other hand - I don't feel like wasting the energy over regretting it either. Thankfully, tomorrow is fresh and Jesus will be there right when I wake up with plenty of grace for tomorrow. Leaning in to Him is really the best option! I could have done a little more leaning today but tomorrow - it's on. Me, Him and grace have a date. I'm planning on it.

I hope you're doing well! I love blogging because it feels like I'm talking to a friend. The only thing better would be if I could get your blog back right after I post mine! So to all of my friends - please start a blog. I love reading about your lives. The stuff you call boring is DElightful to a nosy person such as myself! LOL.

My weekend is going to be a crazy full one - but my decision is already made. I'll be leaning into Him. His strength will come out when I'm weak if I just keep leaning. It's going to be a good one.

Love ya!