focus: to concentrate

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Life’s been crazy; I’m sure you understand.

God’s moving. Don’t doubt that. Look up even for just a second. Look away from the planners, the projects, the papers, the tests, and all the other stressors. Look up and realize that there is more going on and that God is moving and while grades are good, souls are much more important. He is moving. Be encouraged by that.

While the Lord is working, it’s important that we stay focused. I am a runner and when I focus on my run: my breathing, the steps I’m taking, where my arms are, my time is faster. I am more efficient. I think that we forget that as believers, we need to remain focused on our race. We need to watch our footsteps and see where our feet are taking us. Are we running to win the prize?

We need to make time to read our Bibles, to journal and pray, to meet with others. We need to stop wasting our talents by hiding them in the dirt and use them, even if we fail the first time and the second time. We need to pour ourselves out for the Lord.

We need to stop binge-watching Netflix and start moving.

If there is no strength left in your veins, then maybe this is a season of grace for you. Maybe you need to be reminded that the Lord is your place of rest. Rest is much more than kicking your feet up for a few hours. Sabbath for awhile and the Lord will remind you-if you ask Him- that He is your place of strength. He will remind you that He is comfort, strength, joy, and perseverance altogether.

While we are in a place of weakness and despondency, we must remember that when Jesus healed the lame man he said, “stand up, take up your mat, and walk” (John 5:8). So often I forget to stand up when I am in a hard place, when I feel paralyzed. I forget that I am capable of walking and so I hide in sleepy dreams or behind a computer screen.

I start to believe the lie that the Lord doesn’t see me.

And yet He sees me even with my doubts, but faith steps don’t get enough credit. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We take steps of faith because while we may or may not see the sunshine right now, the Lord is preparing a way for the light to come through the clouds. Maybe we don’t feel the sunshine yet, but we have to trust that someday we will feel its warmth on our skin. So we step out of the front door, having confidence that the Lord will carry us through the day. We take faith steps.

Jesus is on this journey with us. One of my best friends has been ruminating on the idea that Jesus walks with us and how a walk can look different in various contexts. Sometimes walks are filled with laughter and intriguing conversations. Yet sometimes someone gets hurt and must limp for awhile; the walk then becomes painful, each step excruciating. A friend supporting a friend for a few yards or possibly for miles can be difficult. Sometimes walks turn into a run which may turn into a sprint. Yet no matter what Jesus wants to join in on our walk, on our journey. But will we let him?

Will we invite him in? Or will we say “but Lord this is too much for you?” As if we know the limit of His love.

Are you putting limits on the Lord’s love, power, grace, and mercy today? Watch your steps and notice where your feet are taking you today. If you don’t like it, change your course and your destination will change too.

 

Not an orphan

I’ve been living like an orphan or so I realized when my pastor spoke on the subject. I’ve been hiding metaphorical scraps of food in my pockets in fear of starvation, in fear that tomorrow will finally be the day when my father forgets me. I’m acting like the orphanage is still the place where I find rest in the form of sleep every night, but it has been so long since I called the orphanage my home and still here I am pretending that it is. 

I’ve been overwhelmed lately. I mean genuinely in over-my-head overwhelmed. I believed the lie that I was too much and that therefore I was not worthy of sharing my story or my scars. I’ve been overwhelmed by past scars that I didn’t trust the Lord to heal. I know it’s rough, but I know too that I’m not the only one who sings that sad anthem song as I fall asleep. The song that goes something like “I am not worthy. I am not pretty. I am not brave. God cares but I shouldn’t drag him down with this. I know this looks like a pity party but it’s not. This is the truth. I am not enough. I never will be. So leave me alone in my misery.”

Oh but my dear. That’s the point. We are not enough. We are not worth it. And yet- O what a beautiful yet!- God chose us, his sons and his daughters. Like orphans he paid fees and waited for children who may not choose him everyday or respect him or even trust him. Still he chose us- you and me.

Romans 8:15
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!'”

May we not forget that we are apart of the family. We have no need to fear our tomorrow’s for God will be there and He will watch out for us.

 

Goodbye? For now.

I should’ve posted this a long time ago, but I didn’t. I apologize. Here it is:

If you’re like me, a soon to be college freshman, then you understand that the dreaded goodbyes are coming (if they haven’t already come). There are always a few people that you are ready to wave a farewell to, but I’m not talking about them.

I’m talking about the friend that sat with you in the Sonic parking lot when you were falling apart, and their presence itself was healing. The mere fact that they would listen while you talked nonsensically about fear and sadness and how you couldn’t shake the two, showed you that they cared about you. It proved to you that someone thought you were worth it.

Goodbyes are rather poetic. I hate saying that because I’m a firm Goodbye Hater. I even formed a club. I hate the starkness and the pain of it. I hate the way sometimes you get an invitation and sometimes you don’t. I hate it.

But the word. The word is poetic. It feels like an oxymoron. There’s good in saying goodbye? It seems like some form of a cruel joke. Sometimes I’d rather say “see ya later,” but sometimes somehow that feels dishonest because it is a goodbye for now.

There were so many moments that I thought I would have to say goodbye to because I was leaving but what I’d forgotten was that God gives us so many things to hold onto. But I thought that leaving meant saying goodbye to the making of memories with your besties. I thought goodbye meant that our childhoods disappeared and our terrible junior high years were replaced with high quality editing, but I was wrong. For childhoods and awkward photos like us grow too. They are a part of us. We don’t grow out of them necessarily but they are our sounding boards, our jumping off point. They teach us. They build us. Our childhoods give us a foundation for the rest of our lives, a pattern by which we can understand life.

As kids, I remember rifling through the other’s purse contents just to see what her purse held, back when purses were a right of passage, a level of maturity. I remember shoving her off the bed and laughing till we cried and I remember hour long conversations on the telephone and our parents asking us to get off. I remember gossip and fashion runways and dreams and stories and tears. I remember our hearts breaking and aching. Lots of conversations about cute boys, and as we grew the conversation turned into marriage and babies and what we want people to say about us when we’re gone.

I remember countless conversations of Jesus and how he should shine through our lives. The discussion of right and wrong. Jam sessions. So many jam sessions and music trades and rooftop conversations. Coffee shops where we talked about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. There were fights too, but God gave us grace and we made it through.

And now we’ve said a “see you later” and we’re going out to our futures, living our lives. We made our paths cross as kids and we’ll continue to do so.

I guess this one is for my best friend, who I’ve always been afraid of losing. This isn’t goodbye. This is just a different form of hello. We’re saying hello to new things and we will always be cheering each other on. Love is bigger than distance. Don’t believe the lies that tell you otherwise. Love never ends.