February 4, 2014 Leave a comment
February 4, 2014 2 Comments
That moment when you feel like you have finally reached the end of your rope and you can do nothing more than long for God to step into your story and turn everything right-side up again…that is today, right now.
To observe me, you would think nothing is wrong. I’m sipping my café au lait in Whole Foods, eating my avocado with salt and pepper, nibbling on a very oniony cranberry quinoa salad and typing away. No tears are escaping my eyes at the moment. My tummy is happy. I’m warm and toasty and watching the snow out the window. I’m in Colorado for goodness sake! A few months ago I truly believed that by now I would have had to say goodbye forever to this beautiful place I call home. It seemed I was going to have to give up so much more than I ever wanted. I was preparing for what I considered to be the worst, and in a beautiful blink of the eye, God swooped in and granted the desire of my heart…the opportunity to go back to Boulder County and remain in my home, Colorado. He actually chose not to take EVERYTHING away. I reveled in this joy and aww. Heck, I still can’t believe it!
There is nothing to complain about. Nothing. A long hard road traveled has landed in resolution. A tremendous amount of healing has taken place. We now have a beautiful place to call home. It feels just right. Kevin has a job with a paycheck again. His giftings are being used. My kids have a home again and an opportunity for new friends and experiences. It’s peaceful and beautiful and more than I deserve.
This next chapter is nothing like I would have chosen or imagined. But that is the beauty of walking with God. His imagination is much different from our own, and often much better. He knows what I need and in the middle of it he is also mindful of what I want…then it seems he miraculously works to weave the two together as I wait….poof, he gifts his plan and goodness in the fourth quarter just when I’m about to go down in defeat. It’s almost more than any one person can handle – those things he hands us. They are often quite overwhelming in very good way in the end. But they are stunning all the same.
Today I am stunned. Life has been a roller coaster of mostly downs for almost 3 years now. After a while it seems you just get used to losing your stomach in the dips. Downhill at 50mph becomes tragically normal…never fun, but normal. And when the ride slows down and steady ground is felt again, it’s hard to know what to do with the break in momentum. It’s hard to breathe normally. It’s hard to balance yourself again. And in a strange, strange way there is almost a longing for another ride. Yet, nothing in me wants to feel that sickness again.
I’ve just forgotten how to live “well” instead of constantly sick at my stomach.
What do you do when the biggest issue you have to tackle and deal with in your day is what you are cooking for dinner? What do you do when worries aren’t waking you up any more in the middle of the night? Most of all, what do you do when “right side up” still feels “upside down?” I think I have forgotten how to really LIVE life.
I think I’m ungrateful.
I think I’m so wrong not to be finally satisfied.
I think I’m wrong to long for more.
I think I’ve forgotten how to live when life is “normal.”
I think I’m still mad at God for leaving more unanswered questions and unrealized hopes and dreams.
I’m still upside down even though it seems on the outside that God has righted me.
And no advice from anyone seems to benefit. It’s yet another thing where only God can set me steady again…..
July 14, 2013 Leave a comment
How do you continue to seek God’s face when every time you take a look, the first glimpse resembles more of a giant flashing “NO” billboard in the sky than the beautiful radiance you’re hoping for? How do you constantly remember all of his “yes” over your life when there are so many blaring “no’s?”
That is the tension I feel like I’m living in. It’s the tension that just gets deeper instead of lighter. And what does the Lord keep saying? Seek me. Remember me. Know me. Press into me. Turn your heart’s affection and your mind’s attention to me.
And what’s my reaction?……whatever that sound is when a baby puts her tongue between her lips and blows raspberries….yep, that one. That’s how I feel.
I’m so tired of all the “no’s!
Often people will say, “maybe they aren’t “no’s. Maybe they are simply “not now’s”. And maybe so. But I have to tell ya, I’m sick of those, too! It really doesn’t make it better.
Thinking back to something I learned from Dr. Karyn Purvis about attachment and how it works in humans, I’m reminded that for a baby to become fully attached to mom she has to be given thousands of “yes’s” before that first “no.” Yes, I will feed you. Yes, I will diaper you. Yes, I will hold you…..yes, yes, yes….. And when a baby then starts to walk towards the light socket at age 2 and hears mom scream “no!,” she doesn’t automatically believe mom hates her and is going to hurt her. She can accept it, knowing it is coming from a loving parent who is watching out for her best interest…who is protecting her.
God has given me more yes’s over my life than I could ever account.
Yes, I will love you. Yes, I will save you. Yes, I will give you the husband your pray for. Yes, I will bless you with daughters. Yes, I will provide for you over and over again. Yes, I hear you. Yes, you can do that. Yes, I will use you. Yes, I will give you a home. Yes, you can go there. Yes, yes, yes………
It’s a good thing he did. He and I are officially permanently attached.
No, I will not give you a dream. No, I will not make a way for you to adopt the sweet girl I introduced you to in Vietnam what feels like so long ago to you. No, I will not give you a home. No, I won’t help you to see the sense of it all. No, I won’t tell you where the money is going to come from. No, I won’t ease the struggle. No, I won’t make it easier. No, no, no….
What I read in Jesus Calling immediately after writing this today….
Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance light-footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of Life.
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
—Psalm 16:11 nkjv
June 19, 2013 Leave a comment
I’ve been back from Vietnam for a little over a week now. I have never ever felt so jet lagged. It’s good for blogging, though. There are no other distractions at 2am.
So I suppose you’re just dying to know what I discovered on this God spoken and ordained trip across the world. You just can’t wait to hear what miraculous encounters I had and how greatly God moved and of the thousands who got saved and the orphans who were rescued. Am I right?
Well, you’re gonna love this. . .
I truly had a phenominal trip in so many ways that I do intend to share. But one of the number one things I learned on this journey – and I do mean this in the nicest way possible to all of you who are going to try to make me feel better about myself after you hear it.
Here’s one biggie I learned. . .I’m so stupid!!!!!
Yep, that’s one worth traveling to the other side of the world to learn, don’t ya think?
And here’s the other side of it…. You probably are, too. . .I’m just sayin.
God desires to give good gifts to his kids. We desperately want those gifts and wish we could believe he might give them. But as soon as the gift even hints of coming in a package that we don’t like the looks of or can’t understand, we all of a sudden get grumpy and pouty and assume we have been duped and that God doesn’t care. At least I do. And it’s hard for me to consider that the nonsensical words of God into my life could be absolutely essential to my life and are full of goodness that I should follow.
Here’s what I’m getting at…Last July I started hearing God tell me to go to Vietnam. It made no sense to me. I couldn’t wrap my head around those being true words or that being a worthwhile gift to grab hold of. So I chose to ignore. I pushed the gift of his words and the eventual gift of his provision to help me carry out following him aside. . . .and that verse about laying down in torment. . .that’s essentially what I chose instead this last year of my life.
Now let me say it again. . . Stupid!!!!
Because you want to know what completely unexpected thing I learned almost the moment I got off the plane in Hanoi? God actually knew what he was doing when he allowed the job to fall through. Hanoi is NOT home for our family…Not today, most likely never…though I won’t ever write it off if God ever chooses to call. Pieces of my heart litter the streets and countryside of my beautiful heart home of Vietnam. I have family there that will forever be deep in my heart. But it is not where we are meant to stay. Today it is not where our family is supposed to flourish. There are many reasons why.
This is not what I was looking to learn when I finally said, “yes,” to God’s voice in leading me there this time. But I fully believe this is exactly what he was trying to let me know almost a year ago now when he first told me to go. He was desperately trying to spare me the heartache of the last year. I know he was. And I was too stubborn to accept what he was saying so clearly. I didn’t know it was such a sweet gift.
I get it that everyone has their own journey with God and moves at paces that often take time. I’m good with that and want my journey to move at God’s speed. No doubt God has still used this last year for good in many ways. But I am still floored over the realization that he was so clearly trying to resolve this issue so long ago and I chose not to listen. Reconciliation could have come much sooner.
Relieved by the freedom I now feel…would have loved to have felt it sooner. Planning not to be that stupid again 😉
. . . So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. Isaiah 55:8-11
June 18, 2013 Leave a comment
I am supremely stubborn. Ask Kevin.
The truth can be staring me in the face and I won’t admit defeat until I’m literally going down in flames and the situation is a hundred times worse than it ever would have been if I’d just simply admitted my fault two hours prior. Now I have 72 other faults to admit that I since acquired and a headache.
I’m stubborn with God like that, too. Something in me must not believe that he wants to give good gifts to his kids. Somehow it’s tons easier for me to accept something difficult he is allowing to be placed in front of me and roll with it than it is to accept anything that might resemble a good gift. And my stubbornness towards listening and obeying and accepting gets in the way.
Maybe it’s because I think following God is about suffering.
Maybe I don’t feel worthy of getting a good gift from him because I know just how much I have failed.
Maybe it’s like in my previous post and I’m afraid I’m hearing him wrong. That was actually something I wanted. . .surely he couldn’t be freeing me and sending me to do that. Again, what if I’m hearing him wrong? (Read yesterday’s post if you haven’t already)
Recently my stubbornness to follow God came into full light.
A year ago Easter I found myself on the beach of Puerto Rico with my family. Our world at the time seemed to be crashing around us. We were full of hurt and disillusionment and anger about Cool River ending and that was the point where our family healing started. We knew that our reality was about to look very different and we had to seek God to find out what was next. Fast forward….
Months went by and we were still upside down, not knowing what to do and trying to hold life together when a potential job crossed our path. It’s such a super long story why we even entertained the idea of moving our family to Hanoi, Vietnam, for a job there. But what it boils down to is that we were seeking God for anything he wanted and we were serious when we said we would follow whatever he wanted. And we LOVE Vietnam and our friends there and already felt invested in that place. We had no other word from God. . .so we moved through those doors.
To put yourself in a place where you can imagine being okay with moving your family to a third world country is hard and intentional work. To simply consider it, I had to fully embrace the idea.
I had to see our lives happening there. I had to envision my kids living and moving daily in that place. And surprisingly, over a few months of talks, I actually came to desire to make the move there.
And then the job fell through.
I know you probably can’t understand, but I realize now that I was devastated. I mean, in my mind and in my heart we were already there. . .on a great God ordained adventure. And all of a sudden it was snatched away. . .Again. All we were praying for was for God to use us again. . .give us a “call.” And though I did my best to handle the fact that Vietnam wasn’t our next new call, and hold onto the truth that God would have made it happen if it was meant to be, I was very, very sad. Fast forward some more. . .
We had to now make some logistical decisions about life. We sold our house and kept crying out to God. He seemed quite silent. We longed for a “call” again. Still we found ourselves just making logical decisions because we didn’t hear anything else. But there was one more thing that I heard…”Go to Vietnam.”
You can imagine how stupid that sounded to me. We had no money to spare. The timing made no sense. I had no real purpose for going…no job to do. God had already closed the door on moving there. Who would I go with? I basically told myself I was hearing things and making up silliness in my head (remember my blog from yesterday?”). I very stubbornly chose to ignore the possibility that I could have actually heard God tell me to go.
More healing and more logical decisions and a year later our family finds ourselves living in Littleton, Colorado, for some strange reason. God has been overly gracious and ridiculously patient. He is Provider and Healer. I have basically lived the last year as a closet basketcase trying to cope with being upside down and determined not to stop pursuing God in the middle of such nonsense.
Kevin and I have worn out shoes pacing the mall together as we have talked about every facet of life and tried to figure out the keys to God’s ultimate plans for us. Then about 3 months ago, after realizing the state of mourning I have been in over the job in Vietnam not working out, I started hearing that dang voice again telling me to go to Vietnam. Finally I knew it was time to listen. Still not understanding, I said “yes.” And wouldn’t you know it, it all miraculously fell into place.
In no time I had a traveling partner (Micki McCormick), a ticket and Visa in hand, a tax refund to pay for it all, friends ready to accept us and love us once we arrived in Hanoi….and no idea still why I was going……
I’ll tell you what I discovered tomorrow…..
TO BE CONTINUED
June 17, 2013 3 Comments
I do not understand God’s ways.
The Message (MSG)
8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
Have you ever heard God tell you something? I mean really heard it, and your confidence in what he was saying was utterly unmistakable? It’s not often, is it? If you’re like me, most often you hear something, consider it might be God and then spend the next hours either convincing yourself it was just all in your crazy mind or how God would never tell you to do “that” because it simply doesn’t make sense. But then you think about it some more. Most often the opportunity has far since passed to obey. And you think “dang it, I should have done that!” Anybody, anybody? Surely I’m not the only one.
Here’s something I’ve been reinvestigating lately.
Remember back in the day when accepting Jesus, following Jesus, “asking him into your heart” was so new? “They” told us that when we decide to follow Jesus he comes into our heart…which is so NOT Biblical. It’s much more accurate to believe that he literally indwells us, from that day to forever. Infinity, as my kids say. He literally moves in, takes up residence and never leaves. You know, that Holy Spirit guy so many Christians are afraid to talk about too much because he might make us all Pentacostal and cause us to dance or yell or something? That’s actually who moves in. We signed on the dotted line saying we wanted that miracle to overtake us. And then 2.7 seconds later, we forgot. Or maybe we never really understood in the first place.
I’m thinking I never REALLY understood.
Because if I did understand, I would have somehow set out to comprehend the fact that the Amy who once was, was no more. The eyes she saw with, the ears she listened with, the mouth she spoke with, the brain she thought with, we’re no longer alive. All of a sudden, it was no longer Amy, but God. God seeing, God hearing and responding, God speaking and God inside my brain. But somehow I missed it and I somehow thought I had some amount of Amy power to move through life with and that the Spirit was just a perk for when I got stumped and couldn’t figure things out on my own.
Are you freaking out? Just stick with me.
Yes, yes, free will still stands. My sin nature can kick God to the curb practically at any moment. That’s the weirdness of it to me and always will be. But as a Christ follower who has freely invited the Holy Spirit to the party and asked him to stay, let me address the earlier question. Have you ever thought your heard God tell you something and then second and two-hundred thirty- two times guess it, only out of fear of being wrong, ultimately say “no?”
After almost 30 years of being a Christian, here’s something I’m really just learning for the first time. . .
The Holy Spirit lives inside me. . .all of me. And if he does then it’s not my brain, it’s his. And if I am genuinely acknowledging his presence and seeking to follow, and then think God is possibly telling me something to do or say or act upon. . .it’s God. Thats it. It’s gotta be God. He’s not out to screw me over or make me look like an idiot. That’s not in his character at all. Stop questioning it!!!!! Do it!
I do not understand God’s ways. He does not work the way I work or the way I think he should work. But he has his reasons, and they are higher than mine. Isaiah 55:8-11
April 2, 2013 Leave a comment
Have you ever really thought about how completely subjective each on of these two are? A sensible action or one that is completely nonsense seems to depend basically 100% on someone’s personal point of view…their past – how they were brought up – what was modeled to them as a kid – who a person’s influences are – what a person’s culture says, demands or applauds – what someone likes or feels comfortable with or simply dislikes all together – what’s “best” for their future. These things seem to determine if someone is being/doing what is sensible or non sensible. Wouldn’t you agree?
And what I am coming to realize is that all of those things are pretty terrible barometers.
Almost all of us are are taught to be sensible. It’s the “American Dream” way of life. Sensible often comes in the package of a good education including bachelor and masters degrees, getting a good paying job with health insurance coverage and a healthy 401K, marrying a good man or woman, going to church, having 2 kids – a boy and a girl, working hard for the paycheck, sacrificing little, owning a home for it’s investment equity, buying a Toyota because everyone knows it holds the most value :-), retiring at 65 or sooner and then sitting on the beach sipping a fruity drink until your days are done. Don’t be too risky. Plan wisely. Make sure you exercise at least 4 days a week and eat an apple a day – no gluten or egg yolks, please. And don’t forget to give your 10% to stay on God’s good side.
Seriously, am I the only one who feels like this is the life I’m expected to live? Is this what’s supposed to make sense?
When I step out of my little “American Dream” bubble, I look at this and I have to admit that lots of days recently all of these above “sensibilities” almost look like utter NONsense.
When I look to line my life up with the Truth that I claim over myself and my family – JESUS – I just can’t seem to picture him patting me on the back at the end of my days of living the above “sensibility” and saying, “Good job, Amy. You were very wise and prudent. I’m so proud of you.” Instead, I have the feeling Jesus wouldn’t be the least bit impressed. In fact, could it be possible that he might even say something along the lines of this?
The Message (MSG)
21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
Now let me back up a tiny bit and say that I do not believe that all I pointed out as “sensible” above is bad. We have been given a brilliant brain, capable of making good and wise decisions and most definitely it is more wise to get an education, for example, than living this life dumb and stalled out because you can’t get a job and you have to live in your parent’s basement for the rest of your life.
Where I think the conflict happens is when you find yourself striving so hard to make life work within the perfect little guidelines that you have always believed to be sensible that you have the complete and utter inability to allow for NONsense.
Jesus was often quite nonsensical, don’t you think?
He asked people to follow him without giving them a job description or telling them where they were going.
He hung out with the bad guys and gals. He ate with tax collectors and let the prostitute close.
He rode a donkey instead of a stallion.
He didn’t have a place to lay his head.
He endured the worst persecution when he had the ability to call down a legion of angels to make the madness cease.
He actually thought a few fish and a couple loaves of bread could feed thousands.
He taught that the meek were going to inherit the earth.
He let a dude who was only hours away from selling him out and bringing an end to his life partake of his “body and blood.”
What is sensible to me often equals what is comfortable to me. It’s what I know. It’s what I can wrap my head around. I can grab hold of my sensible. It all plays out good in my head.
NONsense is wild. . .rogue. . . risky. . .uncomfortable. . .untamed. . .full of question marks. . .dependent upon faith. . .Biblical??????
Is there anyone out there like me who secretly gets tired of the ongoing struggle towards making sense all the time? I wonder what would happen if we all started asking, ‘what is the most nonsensical thing I could imagine God asking me to do?’. . . and then in prayer and obedience actually do it? Whoa! That there might just blow the doors off of the “American Dream.”
But, I wonder if it might equal the LIFE we all feel like we’re all missing out on??
I wonder why God alone isn’t more often our sensibility barometer?