Heart in the Clouds

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 29, 2010

Again, because it's Springtime I get a flood of object lessons. God likes to use nature to speak to me and I think that having visible reminders of things He's teaching me really helps me connect with Him even more.

One big thing he speaks to me about pretty much every year is "pruning." Maybe that's because I tend to need it a little more than some, I guess. Whether you're pruning a tree or you're pinching off the first flowers on a Petunia, it may not look pretty right away, but it's the best thing for the plant. Not only does the plant expand and re-route the nutrients to the areas of new growth, but the pruning gets rid of all the unnecessary, dead parts that hinder it from flourishing. Hmmm...

I wonder what will be pruned this time. I can say that whenever God calls me to follow him into a pruning season, it can be a little uncomfortable and usually comes before a change. I get used to my old branches and the way I have always done things, so knowing that he wants to change some things in me can make me a little uneasy because of my own unbelief. However, knowing that God is pruning in order to help me grow gives me a sense of peace. Growth always happens because God prunes at the right time.

Maybe there are some things that need to be pruned from your life. Maybe there are issues or toxic thoughts or fears that you need to get rid of. If God does the pruning, it's timely and swift and ALWAYS leads to growth in the end. I dare you to ask him to start pruning. Some people call those kinds of prayers "dangerous prayers". Those people, though, usually think that God is a hard taskmaster rather than a loving father. Asking God to prune you or even to teach you humility is not dangerous--it's a sign of trust. God has plans to prosper you and NOT to harm you. I, personally, would rather he get rid of all the dead things in my life than allow me to live with old growth and dried up fruit.


I'm grateful for...

The times when I finish what I start. I'm GREAT at starting things, but finishing is a whole other story. When I DO finish things, though, I get a sense of accomplishment and a little attitude boost. I need that sometimes.

Not wallowing. Self-pity has a really strong pull, but learning to control your wallowing is a huge deal. I haven't fully mastered the cutoff, and I likely never will, but I'm getting better at it because God is good at reminding me.

Getting over it. Stuff happens, you feel it and then you get over it and move on. I'm moving into the "getting over it" phase...or at least I hope I am. :)

The unmerited favor of God. Seriously, I have nothing in me that would qualify me to be good enough for God to call me his child...but he does anyway. That's because it's not about what I do, it's about who he is. I can't imagine my life without God in it and I'm so thankful that he will never leave me or forsake me. He will never forget me and reminding myself that he is right with me gives me peace.

My DKs and CM friends. You know who you are. You ladies have been such a blessing to me. You've taught me to get a thicker skin and to not take things personally, you've taught me that it's okay when people disagree with me (very strongly, at times), you've taught me to do my research, you've taught me what it means to care about a stranger, you've taught me that laughter is the best medicine...so many things. There have been times when I felt that you guys were there for me, emotionally, when I had no other person to turn to. I hope that I can meet you all in the same place someday. Boy, would that be a party!

Right now, as I'm thinking about my many blessings, I have tears in my eyes. I don't deserve any of them
and yet they've been given to me freely and without reservation. I'm learning so much about God and about myself and I hope that I continue to be a learner. I hope the same for you, too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 28, 2010

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

O how marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.

Have you ever had a God-initiated pep talk? I had one today. I was driving in the car with Brendan and I was talking to God (in my head) about how I've been feeling lately. I've been letting a lot of things control me--a lot of feelings and thoughts that can leave me emotionally incapacitated. I asked God why it is that I have all of these feelings and why they affect me in such dramatic ways. Suddenly, it was like my eyes were opened to a whole group of insecurities I didn't even know I had--things that obviously don't make real sense, but that were very real in my heart. When I realized I had these insecurities, I was able to say, "God, you take them. I know who I am in You. I know I have a place and I know I have a purpose." Sometimes I wonder what my place is in this world. I seem to meander a lot...maybe it's the years where you have young children that keep you in a bubble, I don't know.

But today I was able to say, "NO!" to my insecurities and to put them into His more-than-capable hands. I asked his forgiveness for letting my feelings about myself and about other people control me, and I asked his forgiveness for judgments I made against myself and against others. I'm a Responder (in the Life Languages), first and foremost, so I tend to want to defend people whom I think have been wronged. The problem with that is that I take control from God. I seem to forget sometimes that HE is the one who defends and vindicates.

So here I am. An unclean sinner, but one who is made clean by His blood. I need to hold my blessings with an open hand. I can't judge. I can't hold unforgiveness. I can't think of myself more highly (or less highly) than I ought to. I am wonderfully made and God says so. He has plans to prosper me and to give me hope and a future. I can be such a self-pitying little baby sometimes. Seriously. But in "Ruthless Trust", Brennan Manning talks about the fact that there's no real way to fight self-pity, but that it's necessary to set a time limit on it. So time's up.

Perspective is a good thing to get in a severe case of self-pity. It reminds us that it's not all about US. Today, a girl at M2M was talking about how her 21 year old sister has Stage 2 breast cancer and will have a double mastectomy. At 21 years old, I don't think I would have known what to do with something like that...from the scare I had last year, I don't know that I'd know NOW what to do with something like that. She said that she thinks her sister is handling it like a duck--calm above the water, but paddling like crazy under the water. But it gave me a little perspective and a smack upside the head. Sometimes I need one.

It's all about God. It's all about who he is and what he can do. It's all about learning to be like him...I know I fall short of that almost all of the time and I know I always will. That's because I'm not God and he is. I need to quit the navel-gazing and focus on what is important and on the bounty of blessings in my life. I am a joyful person, deep down inside. I have beautiful children. I have a great man who loves me and who loves God in the same way I do. I have positive things happening and I feel positive changes coming. I have good friends and a great family. How could I ask for more? I can't. I have everything I need and more.

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean." I am a sinner and I always will be. When I hold myself up next to God, I see how unclean I am. I see how dark I am on the inside. But I know that I'm loved and accepted in spite of that. If that doesn't make me grateful, nothing will. I have unmerited favor in my life and I can't take that for granted.

My hope is that you will remember that self-pity takes you backward, but real trust and true gratitude will take you forward. The more I've forced myself to focus on the blessings and positive things, the more I've BEEN blessed. It truly is a matter of perspective. If you can find 10 things to be thankful for each day...even FIVE things, for that matter...you will be a happier, emotionally healthier person. I guarantee it. We all have our moments (like my series of "moments" in the last few weeks), but we have the opportunity to better our lives just by shifting our focus a little. So make that choice to be grateful. It's so important.

All that said, I'm grateful for...

Dandelions. My kids think they're beautiful and always pick them for me. I wore one in my hair today. It's amazing how God can make something beautiful and bright come from a weed...hmmm...food for thought.

Sunshine and blue sky. Seeing them, even for part of the day, made me happier.

Sickness. I have a fever and I'm achy today. But I am able to remind myself that it will pass and I will get better. The best thing about sickness is remembering what it feels like to be well and knowing you'll be back there soon.

Friends. I have people in my life who really care about me and pray for me when I need it (and even when I think I don't), and I'm grateful for them.

My parents. They're good people who love Jesus and have devoted their lives to serving Him. They are a wonderful example. God has plans and surprises for them, and lots of amazing things to come.

Brainless TV shows. Yes, I'm thankful that I can rot my brain once in a while. When you're sick, a good, brainless TV show is awesome...as is a good book or a hot bath.

My bathtub. It sounds trivial, but it's my favorite escape in the house. A tub with jets rocks the free world. I'm serious. Sean put it in the upstairs bathroom for me (even though he uses it more than I do) and I love it.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 25, 2010

A square peg. An alien in a "Sarah suit". That's me.

It's an almost-daily feeling of not fitting in or of being a "stranger in a strange land"--not one of the "in crowd". I know I've talked about it before, probably many times. There have been seasons where I really wanted to feel like I fit in where I was. In the past, I struggled with the pain of being misunderstood or misjudged, especially by people whom I respected. I also still have times where I've realized that some of the deepest connections I have are with people who live on what feels like (or what actually IS) the other side of the world.

But I sometimes get the thought that maybe I feel this way for a reason. Maybe I'm not meant to "belong" all the time because God is teaching me that this isn't my home. All the attachments and things of this world can be great, but they can also take my focus off of the fact that I shouldn't get too comfortable here. The song "I Don't Belong Here" by Switchfoot kind of says it all for me. It's about trying so hard to fit in until you realize that you don't belong here. Earth, as it is now, isn't my final destination--that thought can take some of the pressure off. Life is just practice for eternity.

This is the way I can best describe how I feel: If you've ever seen the movie "Men in Black", you'll remember the part where the alien takes over Edgar's body because it needs a human disguise. His wife describes it as an alien in an "Edgar suit". THAT is exactly how I feel a lot of the time. I feel like an alien trying to fit into a human body, my "Sarah suit", and trying to awkwardly move about my life as a human. I just don't fit in sometimes.

I'm so grateful, though, for God. If it weren't for Him and for the sanity and peace that has come with learning my place in His heart, I think I would have gone off the deep end. In the end, it'll be about how you are with God that will count. It's not about your good deeds or how many friends you have or how much money you hoard. It's about who you are and who He is. Everything else in life comes from that one thought...it's all about Him.


I'm grateful for...

Learning to shut up. I know I've said it before, but I'll probably say it again a few million times. God knows what he's doing. Even if I'm "right" in a situation, there are times when it's just best to let God talk to another person. It happened again, and (once again) God told me to shut up and I did. Even thought it killed me to do it, I kept my mouth shut and waited. In the end, even though I would have been "right" in the situation, I wouldn't have been heard. God knew.

My "Sarah suit"...I am who I am. If you don't like me, that's okay. God likes me. I may be an alien in this human suit, but I know that I'm part of HIS beloved. He loves me with an everlasting love and he has put me here for a reason. I am trying not to lose sight of that.

Happy kids. My boys may have moments where they are hyper or emotional or tired or cranky, but they are happy kids. I'm blessed.

Springtime. The Earth is green again. The rain smells amazing...it's almost like you can feel things growing.
 I love Spring. Can ya tell?

Sleepless nights. Yeah, it's almost 4am and I am awake with heartburn and a lot on my mind. But I'm letting go of the things on my mind (and hopefully the heartburn, as well) and I'll be back to sleep soon.

Writing. If I go a while without letting things out, I notice that I get cranky. I'm not good at vocalizing my thoughts, so writing is how I do it. I shouldn't go any length of time without putting my gratitude into words and I plan to get better at it again.

Work. It's that time of year again! I'm stirring up my creative juices and my schedule is filling up. God knows when I reach the point where I need a creative outlet. Winter is usually slow for me in MANY ways. I love taking photos and I'm glad I get to do it once in a while. Every time I go somewhere on a photo job, I always pray that I (and my photos) will be a blessing to whomever has hired me.

I hope you know that it's okay to be an alien in a human suit...it's who you are, so it's likely that you'll come to that realization once in a while. This is only part of your journey. You don't know what lies around the bend, so do your best to enjoy your daily life. Live at peace, focus on God and you can't go wrong. Bad things may happen sometimes, but they will pass.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 19, 2010

I've been reading Donald Miller's new book called "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life". I've laughed a few times and cried MORE than a few times while I've been reading it. It's about how two guys approached Don to make a movie from his memoir, and the struggle he went through to make "a story" from his life. It's also about how he realizes what makes a good life story and how to make it memorable. I've found it to be challenging in more than a few areas. Lots of good quotes that I'm sure I'll take with me...and I'm sure I'm going to reread it as soon as I'm finished.

I love a good non-fiction that makes me think about why I'm here--why we're all here. With the way I've been feeling lately (that something is about to change), it has been timely. I've often wondered how to make my life into a good story. I'll never write it down, but I want it to be memorable. I want to be able to remember little moments even more than the "big" ones. I want to remember the way it feels when my kids kiss me with their sticky lollipop lips and even how they sound when they're screaming at each other. I want to remember the warmth of Sean's arms around me and the feeling of being small next to him. I want to remember the times when I forgot my fear and stepped out and just lived. I even want to remember moments when I've felt misunderstood and misjudged and alone because I know those are things Jesus felt--realizing that makes me feel that at least someone has been able to understand me.

Reading a book like this at what feels like a crossroads in my life is an emotional experience. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I feel like I'm all "rumbly" inside, like a thunderstorm is coming my way. I love thunderstorms. They make me feel small and help me remember that I'm not in control. That's probably why I've felt so "out of control" lately. I'm keeping my focus on God, though, and he's walking me through the obstacle course.

Tomorrow is Brendan's 4th birthday. I can't believe how time has flown. Before I know it, he'll be driving or telling me he's in love with a girl. I'm choosing to enjoy every minute of his childhood.

I'm grateful for Brendan's mischievious grin. When he has that little twinkle in his eye, watch out! He keeps me on my toes, but I need that.

I'm grateful for the change that Brendan has made in my life. People tell you that your 2nd child will be so much different from your 1st, but you really have no idea what they mean. When Brendan was born, I didn't know what hit me. He was lively, never sat still and had a deep belly laugh. He couldn't have been more different than Liam, but he has made me more patient, more loving and more able to laugh myself.

Brendan's passionate heart. He sees things in a "black and white" way, meaning it either is or it isn't, or you either mean what you say or you don't. When he's happy, he's REALLY happy and when he's sad, he's REALLY sad. Brendan has a depth of emotion and such a passion in him that I know that God is going to use. I can't wait to see him grow up and to see the man he becomes.

I remember April 19th, 2006. I was excited and anticipating the following day when I'd go to the hospital to be induced. My belly was huge and I felt like a blimp. I could feel his little limbs as he tried to stretch or roll over. I would watch as little arms and legs would suddenly protrude from the beach ball in my midsection. I wondered what he looked like and if he had my chin. My pregnancy with Brendan wasn't easy, but he was well worth the wait. That night, though, I remember crying while I talked to Liam about how his little life was going to change. He'd no longer be the baby, but he was now going to be a big brother. He had no qualms, though, and he was excited to meet the new baby.

Liam welcomed his baby brother with open arms, with no jealousy or fear of being loved any less. I will always remember the first time Liam held Brendan in his arms and he sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in his tiny, whispering voice. At the time, that song was Liam's lullaby choice almost every night (that, and "Georgia On My Mind") and I think at that moment he wanted to show his love for his little brother and to make him feel at home. It was a beautiful moment and it is one that will always be in my head.

My boys have been such a blessing to me and I tear up sometimes just thinking of all the amazing ways they have changed my life. God has used them to show me how to love unconditionally, how to be myself without shame or worry about what others think, and how to be childlike and to see the world around me with wide, wondering eyes. Even though I have moments where I want to fork myself in the eye if they scream at each other one more time, I know that God chose me to be their mama. I am blessed beyond measure by these two little boys and I can't imagine life without them.

Tomorrow, Brendan will be four years old, but he'll still be my baby. He'll be going to preschool this year. He'll be heading into a whole new world of learning and of learning to be part of a group. I'm looking forward to watching him grow and blossom in this new realm. I am asking God for the strength to keep up and to follow His parenting advice. I know that God has Brendan's little heart in his hands and loves him even more than I do, though that seems impossible. God has given me the gift of two amazing sons, and I only hope that I can be a blessing to them in the same way they are to me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 13, 2010

I'm seriously blessed. At times, I do take for granted the people, the circumstances, and the simple blessings I have in my life, but I realize at the end of myself and the end of all my hurrying and ridiculous busy-ness, that I am truly, positively and deeply blessed. Life is beautiful, even when it's not.

As I've said in previous posts, I feel like something is happening to me or is going to happen--not JUST for me, though. Definitely something good. When I think about God and about what he has planned for the days ahead, I get this little twinge of excitement in my heart, a physical pressure. That's the only way I have to explain it. I'm excited.

I've never really been one of those people yelling about revival coming, preaching at passersby or loudly interceding about things. I've always been more internal in my relationship with God. I've had moments where I've felt compelled to share something with a stranger or confront a co-worker with God's love, but those moments have only happened because I was compelled...can't explain it any other way.

Blogging about my gratitude has, in a way, forced me to be more vocal about the heights and depths of this friendship I have with him. It's prodded me into being more comfortable with transparency and open about my issues, which is not something a Pastor's Kid is not often apt to do. I know that some of you have sent me messages about how my sharing my ups and downs has helped you in some way, but honestly, it's helped me the most. If you never read another word, I'd still keep writing because writing what I feel has been spiritual and emotional therapy for me.

I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. God, in all of his kindness and generosity and pure love, has allowed me to learn my lessons. But he always picks me up and helps me dust myself off. He loves on me when I feel most unlovable. Learning can be a difficult process. A lot of it is trial and error--more error than anything, but that's beside the point. For instance, getting the concept of developing a filter between my brain and my mouth has been one of the toughest and longest-running lessons...but I'm learning. I'm catching on gradually.

I'm grateful that God has plans to prosper us, not to harm us.

I'm grateful that I'm not lost. I'm found, and nothing can separate me from His love.

I'm grateful that he picks up my parenting slack. In all the ways I've failed my children already in life, He is faithful to them. He keeps their little hearts safe in his hands.

I'm grateful that Springtime always brings hope. It's a spiritual/natural looking glass. You can get a sense of the spiritual through God's creation...seasons are a great example.

I'm grateful for laughter. It's such a good outlet for all kinds of emotions and it's a physical boost. God created laughter, you know. An example, Ellen Degeneres...sounds silly, but I'm grateful for her. You may not agree with all of her views, but the woman loves to laugh. She has a big heart and a love of laughter and joy and generosity. I remember learning one important thing in my Christian Doctrine class in college (yawn!) and that was the phrase, "All truth is God's truth." No matter what you believe, all truth is God's. God is truth. And there's something true about joy. I appreciate joyful people and I'm thankful that they're in the world. Funny people have a gift. I truly believe it.

Sidebar: You can learn something from EVERY person on the planet. Don't ever think that you're above someone else. I've learned some humbling things, things that have smacked me upside the head, from homeless people and drug addicts, and I've been fed some useless garbage from high-level preachers and "wise" people. God uses the foolish things of the world to confound people who think they're wise. Don't ever think that you're wise, no matter how many people may say that to you. Thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to is a HUGE downfall and it can lead us down some dark roads. I digress...

I'm grateful for moments where I feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Yes, I said it...but don't quote me on it because I'll likely deny it later on. I'm grateful for them because I know that God has little gifts of grace for me to apply to each frustrating thing...the problem lies in my own pride and my own decision to act and speak out of my personal darkeness, rather than out of the light of his love. He's teaching me by allowing me to get to the point of frustration, but then giving me the choice of which direction to go with it. I have to say, I often fail, but there are bright moments and glimmers of hope here and there where I actually choose to have grace.

My hope is that you choose grace today, for yourself and for others. Choose to cut yourself some slack. Choose to cut others some slack. Self-involvement is something the enemy uses to make us think we're really important, and whatever we're doing is of a higher purpose than what someone else may be doing. As soon as we focus on ourselves, we not only take our focus off of other people, but we also take our focus off of God. That's why grace is such a difficult thing to grasp. The only way we can grasp it is if our eyes are on God and on his love for each individual, the "one."

As I said last time, the untameable God loves you fiercely. I hope you know that and take it to heart.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thoughts and wonderings...

I am taking a "Sarah Time Out" today. I am alone this evening. I'm listening to soothing music and contemplating some things. If I ramble, which I likely will, feel free to stop reading...I'm just thinking while typing. I have mentioned before that I've been feeling like something is tugging at me. I've been testy with people I love. I've been hyper-sensitive about nothing. I'm happy deep inside. I'm content. I just feel like there's something coming...not sure what. I don't know why I'm so hyper-sensitive or snarky, but I tend to get this way when I'm confronted with change. As many of you who have read my blogs know, even if it's a good change, I get uncomfortable in the time leading up to whatever it is.

So I'm taking a bit of a time out this evening. I haven't written my gratitudes in a week. I've thought about doing it every day. I have so much for which I am incredibly thankful. The only way I can think to describe the feeling I'm having is that I feel all rumbly in my spirit...like a thunder storm is approaching. I LOVE thunder storms, so whatever it is isn't making me feel apprehensive. I just feel like I'm in that limbo state or the calm before the storm, where I can smell the rain coming, I can feel the wind blowing and I can hear the thunder in the distance, but I haven't seen any of the staggering effects of the storm as of yet.

The other night, I had a dream that I was a student on a school bus, but suddenly there was no driver, no other passengers, just me. I didn't know how to drive a bus, but I was sitting alone in this bus on the side of the road, so I decided to try driving because no one else was there to do it. Somehow, as soon as I sat in the driver's seat, it all came to me and I apparently knew immediately how to drive a school bus. I was making turns, shifting gears and rumbling down the road like a pro. I don't know what the dream meant for me, but I remember it vividly. It was the second school-related dream I had this week. The other I thought was about Liam, but something is making me think that it was for me, as well.

I find that when big changes are about to happen in my life, I get vivid dreams. Once, I dreamed that I was about to leave for a party (it seemed like Prom in the dream). The problem was that I didn't have the right shoes to wear. From what I recall of the dream, though, I didn't find the shoes until I just decided to get into the limo to go to the prom anyway. There was something about the act of just doing it that made the right shoes appear...I've had lots of dreams like this and, as I said, they happen most often right before big changes have happened in my life.

Another time, I dreamed I was unexpectedly placed in a contest of some sort. I was supposed to showcase a talent, but I couldn't think of anything to do and I was freaked out. But I heard the words, "Just worship." So I looked around, and saw a Christian band I knew setting up on another stage. I went to them and asked if they'd play a specific song for me as I sang, and they agreed. When the music started and I opened my mouth to sing, it was like a blanket of God's presence fell--people were weeping and I was floored by the heaviness of God's love. But it was only when I stepped out into the unknown or into the area in which I felt inexperienced or unsure that I was able to see the effects of my obedience to God.

Stepping out in faith--that's the one thing that all of these dreams I'm having have in common. Maybe God is calling me to a place where he's making me ready to listen to whatever he asks of me...maybe I'm not there yet and he's preparing me. I don't know.

I feel like something powerful is about to happen, though, and I don't think it's just for me. I think now is the time to make my life right. I don't mean "getting right with God" or whatever you'd call it, but I do mean that I think God is calling me to connect with my life as it is right now and make right whatever parts of it I can. Maybe I'm supposed to learn to control my tongue and all the other things that I often let have control over me. Maybe now is the time for me to engage myself with life, to really learn what it's like to savor it and taste it and immerse myself in it. I feel that whatever is about to happen will pass me by if I'm not at the place where I'm truly experiencing life rather than just blankly existing.

About 5 years ago, I had what I could call a "vision" during a conference I was attending (I shared it with my parents afterward). In the vision, I was standing beside the ocean and watching the water recede. Far out in the distance, miles away, I could see a giant wave developing (if you've seen the movie 2012, that's the kind of wave I'm talking about), but, as happens with tsunamis or tidal waves, the water near the shore was quickly being sucked out into the ocean. As the water receded, disgusting garbage, debris and sediment that had been hidden under the water was surfacing. It smelled terrible and I couldn't believe the amount of things had been just under the covering of the ocean, things I would never have seen otherwise. But I knew that when the big wave came, all the garbage and debris was going to be destroyed and washed away. I remember having a feeling of relief at the realization that the wave was going to wash all of that junk away. In the years that have followed that vision, I've watched as different debris and junk has surfaced in the Christian community--strange doctrines, ministers falling away from God, people beginning to focus on things other than Jesus. All of it is junk and I feel that whatever is coming is going to wipe all of that out. God is going to show that he's the one in control, not us. I'm all for that.

There's something untameable about God. We can try to put him in a box. We can try to make him fit into our weekly church services with our pretty-sounding worship. We can try to make him look like the neat little package we think he "should" look like in order to attract unbelievers. But God, in all of his beauty, has a side to him that may not appear too pretty to all of us "churched" people. He's wild. "He's not a tame lion", like Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia". He can't be domesticated by us. Sometimes the things he does can't be explained or packaged or made pretty. We have to stop trying to tame the untameable lion. I am realizing that I have to stop trying to tame him, too.

My hope for you is that you realize that God, in all of his untameable wildness, loves you fiercely. If you put your future in his hands and step out in faith whenever he calls you, you will not be disappointed. All he calls us to do is to be like children. Children are okay with wildness, in fact, it fascinates and excites them. I want to be fascinated with God and excited about what he's going to do. I'm starting to make myself ready for whatever change is going to happen, as best I can.

I'm thankful that he's speaking to me. I'm thankful that life is staggeringly beautiful and wonderful and that it's an adventure. Even during the times I've been in the doldrums, I've felt the promise and the occasional tug of hope and excitement because God has never left me to die. There are times, though, when he's let me dangle for a while (thinking that I'm in control) so that I would come to the place where I'd realize it was best just to let go of my false sense of control and fall right into his ready arms. Whatever it is that I am feeling is on the horizon, I know that God won't let me be overwhelmed and that he'll guide me to the safe haven. He'll do the same for you in whatever circumstances are on your horizon. He is faithful.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--April 2, 2010 (Good Friday)

I find it's so easy for me to connect with the meaning of Easter, even more so than Christmas. Something about realizing that Jesus MADE the choice to die for me is humbling and moving. While his birth is what started it all, his death and resurrection are what gave us life and hope and ended death. I am always grateful, and often quite emotional, on Good Friday and today was no exception.

I can connect with Mary Magdalene...not so much in the way of her life choices, obviously, but in the way that she and I were both forgiven and loved for who we are, regardless of whether we deserved it or not. Jesus looked past her sin and saw her heart, the way that he still does for me (and for each of us). The mercy poured out on me in my short 34 years of life has become more meaningful to me as each year passes. Even as a child, I understood and connected emotionally with the fact that God loved me and that he forgave me, but it wasn't until I became an adult that I really started to grasp the depth of what his sacrifice meant for ME as a person, not just for the spirit part of me.

While I walked this morning, I thanked Jesus for what he did. I sometimes forget to do that. I thank God for giving his son to die for me, but I sometimes overlook that it was Jesus' choice, as well. How loved we are! I mean, really. While we were yet sinners...amazing and so humbling. I'm still a sinner, but I know that I'm a forgiven sinner. Sinners who know that they are forgiven and loved learn to be forgiving and loving with others...I hope that I learn that more and more.

I feel like getting in touch with God and with my gratitude has tenderized my heart. Tenderizing is a rough thing sometimes...you get a little beat up. But in the middle of the times where I've felt the most beaten down, God has poured out love. When His love touches the beat up parts of your spirit, you can't help but be made new.

So today, I'm grateful for...

A beautiful day with my family. Sean was home and working on his to-do list. My kids played outside for most of the day. I had a long walk in the morning and relaxed as much as I could this afternoon. Tonight, we had a bonfire with the boys and sat around the fire talking. It was such a lovely day.

Jesus. Words fail me.

Music. Without it, my life would be missing a big piece. God created it and creation sings it and I connect to it. Sometimes a song has touched my heart in a way that no spoken word could. It's an amazing and powerful tool that God uses with me, and many times the music through which he touches me most doesn't even mention his name. I don't have to hear his name to feel his presence...it's incredible.

Encouragement. I sometimes feel that people forget about you once you have children. It's like they think that your life ends as soon as you pop out a kid and you become invisible. They can forget you exist and they think you never go anywhere or do anything or have other life aspirations. I feel like this once in a while, but God always speaks to me in moments like that. He encourages me in the fact that the choice I made to become a parent was incredibly important, and that the gifts he gave me through my children are gifts that no other person can replace. I am so blessed to have the friends I have, and I'm thankful that many of the people who surround me really "get" me.

Faith. It truly is a gift from God. I can't drum it up. I can't fake it. It is what it is. It's the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of the unseen. I know in my knower that God is who he says he is and does what he says he'll do. That's faith.

My hope for you is that you truly connect with God and the sacrifices that were made for your spiritual freedom. Something about knowing for real that you are loved and forgiven, and that there is someone who looks at you and sees beauty (even when you're feeling far from beautiful), is a life-changing thing. Gratitude has not only gotten me in touch with my feelings about God, but it's also gotten me in touch with his feelings for me. It's beautiful, and I hope you learn to develop that connection with him, as well. I'm still learning, but I am glad that God doesn't grade me the way I grade myself.

Hatching of a Heart