Wednesday, February 22

the art of integration

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i'm fraying at the edge. 

you ever feel like your entire life is colluding against you, fighting to keep you from the More of God? 

even my own children can feel like an obstacle. maybe i should include them more in my spiritual life but it feels counterproductive because i'm certain that at first they will disrupt and distract which will cause me great distress. both about the condition of their own souls and more selfishly, because their foolishness is keeping me from entering in. their noises and not taking it seriously, too much for my untrained flesh.

but they must learn.

and so must i.

but maybe i should've raised them better - to value and cherish the things of God. they've been to church but that's not enough. our home culture, has it been steeped in God? how much of heaven have they met here? how much of the supernatural realm has been made common to them - the prophetic, angelic activity, signs + wonders, healings, miracles, dreams! why should they not know these things?

I assure you: 
The one who believes in Me 
will also do the works that I do. 
And he will do even greater works than these...
John 14:12

i have neglected so much in my own spirit that naturally through my fallow years i failed to pour richly into them.

i had no overflow. my own wineskin, shrunken. dry.

and now here i am wanting so much more for myself, so hungry, wanting more and more and more of God and every responsibility pulls on me - feels like something standing in my way.

i know mothers who do this well - manage both their own hearts and the hearts of their family. these things shouldn't be exclusive of each other but it is a skill i am still trying to develop. how is this done? i want for my kids to love and serve God... and more still! that they ENCOUNTER him regularly. i want them brought up in the culture of heaven. i want to introduce them to God and to help them learn to walk in his FULLNESS. 

i want them to learn to cultivate their own gardens well. 

i want to leave a spiritual legacy because i truly believe nothing i can do will matter more.

... and also, i want to have the time to learn and develop the same things in myself.

ever wish you could step out of your life? cross over into another dimension where all you do is BE with God? i do. my heart loooooongs to sit on the steps of my soul with him - and there are ways for me to do that - in the quiet, in the secret place, in the times that i sacrifice sleep to have a moment with him.

the struggle is that i want to STAY there, and transitioning - leaving that space, re-entry into my life - is so jarring.

so i'm trying to learn the art of integration.

[in-ti-grey-shuh n]
behavior, as of an individual, 
that is in harmony with the environment.

it can be hard to start a new family practice, can't it. it can feel clunkyawkward. but as i'm writing i'm thinking, maybe in the same way that i schedule my own time with God, i need to incorporate into our days a time that we set aside to all gather together, to worship and listen to teachings, to sit and soak in God together.

i suppose i've talked myself into the next step, haven't i. when i sat to write, i just felt fretful. troubled. but it seems a direction has presented itself and i feel good about that. i guess i just needed to talk it out. 

Your ears will hear a word behind you,
 "This is the way, walk in it," 
whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

we're all growing from faith to faith to faith -- i know that leaving where i was and moving on toward where i'm going is going to be new. i'm going to a land he will show me, and while i can look back and see where i might've done better, i am not discouraged. i know that my Redeemer lives. 



Tuesday, February 14

my revival

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as each year wraps up, i turn in and ask God for a word. 
a theme for the upcoming year, 
something he is breathing on, 
a work that he wants to do, 
a space he is he guiding me into. 

i can be a little slow about seeing it at first, usually feeling like i'm getting NOTHING, when what's more true is that i'm just not picking up on the crumb trail and seeing where it's leading. a word will surface and i'll not see it. it'll come up again (and again) in conversations, in something i read, in a message i hear and finally i'll see it.

 *gasp! eyes all aglow* THAT'S MY WORD!


i'm a quick study. 

this year, my word holds so much weight for me because it takes me back to a heart space i forsook long ago. as i was still seeking and looking and praying, twice i came across this thing that beth moore said. 


i only had to read it once to know that she was talking about me.


“You will watch a generation of Christians – 
OF CHRISTIANS
 set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. 
And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. 
This will be perhaps the cleverest of the devil’s schemes in your generation. 
Sacrificing TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. 
And you will rise or fall 
based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. 
Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both
 TRUTH & LOVE?”

the tension of both indeed. 


i had lost my courage, lost my way - no longer knowing how to do both - maybe not knowing how to do either.

but this requires some backstory, so let's back it up to almost the 1900s.


october 1, 2000

i got saved. invited to a church service by the cutest little 5yo. (whom no one could refuse) who happened to be my new boyfriend's niece, i said yes and agreed to go but simply because i was trying not to look bad in front of the church people. i was just trying to mind my manners, y'all. i'd been to church before. many, many (so many) times - wasn't really looking forward to it, but i was willing to bite the bullet for appearances. you probably already know how this goes. i sat in church that night and i cried and cried and cried, and at the end of the service i saw myself walking to the front of that house and i said yes to God. i had no idea what i was saying yes to but it felt so right.

so much for being impressive, i thought, i'm a mess.

but God changed me. and I. LOVED. IT. 

i didn't know how much i wanted that.

my relationship with God, my pursuit of God, meant everything to me then. i thought it'd be that way forever.


i had no idea a day was coming when i would miss the way that it mattered. 

may 4, 2002
i married that boy.

as soon as we said I DO we were up against hell. i am not exaggerating and i am so thankful to God for what he did before we were married to confirm that we were meant to be together because so many times, 
so 
many 
times...

we had such a hard time merging. 

it's really difficult for me to even tell this story because it's hard to find the language to explain exactly what happened. 


i just know that as young believers danny and i made a lot of mistakes. we wanted so much to please God, to honor and glorify him; we were all about holiness and no compromise which sounds great except that in our immaturity we said and did harmful things - to each other, to other people in our life... stupid things that i wished i could take back... we were awkward, off in our theology in some places and in our delivery in almost all placesthose years left me with crippling embarrassment. the pain of falling short...
is there a sting worse than humiliation? 

one day i felt like i could really SEE myself, how i'd messed up, and it sidelined me. for years. looking at that day now, i can see where i really wasn't seeing the whole Truth - yes it was true that i was off, and yes i needed correction - but wrapped in the Truth was my own voice and junk and bruised ego... i added to what was True and i drank down a lie. a lie that whispered to me, captured me, led me off as its slave.


it wasn't only what i saw in me, but what i was so painfully aware that other people saw too - the way they had experienced me. it hurt my pride. this has been the hardest thing to recover from.

i didn't bring it before the Lord to help me. i was too embarrassed really to face it head on. i wanted it to just go away. i wanted to change direction. i didn't want to go back to the place and deal with that thing - let's just move on and try to forget that ever happened, shall we?

i became immobilized with fear though.

fear whispered
what if in your deep, deep longing to return to really pursuing God,
what if you miss it again...
you thought you were doing right then, and you were wrong.
 so, so wrong. 
what if all you ever do is make more messes.
you are not good at this.

+ + + + + + + +


Peter denied Jesus and became the head of the church.

Judas denied Jesus and hung himself on a tree.


they both denied him - but Peter did something i didn't. he swallowed his pride and he leaned in, he decided he would be founded in intimacy, in Jesus' voice alone. he did not let the place where he missed it destroy him or decide who he was. Judas did though. 

i understand. i know what that pride tastes like.  

the fear that i would be that person again... i didn't even trust God to keep my feet from slipping...

so one day, 
i quietly broke up with God. 
i mean, i didn't lose his number and give back his sweatshirt - and i continued going over to his house, but i stopped engaging.

maybe you've been there.


i stopped wanting more - 
stomach too stuffed with fear, i lost my appetite. 


i was frozen 

and i was angry.
at myself.
at my husband.
at God himself for letting me make such a fool of myself.
that i had made such a mess of things. i felt like i'd missed the mark (and i had. of course, i had) - so i vowed to be different. 

i believed what i was missing was 
love (because i had been critical)
compassion (because i had been legalistic, unbending, judgmental) 
understanding. mercy. (because in my desire to live holy, i got it twisted, and instead began to co-operate with a different spirit.)
and i was going to be THAT instead - because then i would be more like Jesus.


// enter beth moore quote chapter of my life//

ten years. for ten years i've lived in and from that place and i did it all in my own strength. of course i did. i stopped consulting what the Word of God said about things. i did life more "organically". ha. gradually, over the last year, i started to awaken to the sense that i didn't recognize myself. i was not the person i wanted to be. i certainly wasn't more like Jesus. i didn't know who i was or who i was supposed to be because who i was before felt all wrong. i was in unchartered territory.

i didn't know which way to go.

thinking about it and waking up in that place left me feeling so lost. rattled. bewildered.

those early years taught me not to trust myself to tell the truth in a way that is both right and good. 

there is so much work that God is still doing in my heart to liberate me.

my desire is to be gracious, yes, but also to speak firmly and not be afraid to tell the truth.


i know that this is True: there is something in me right now that can change the course of things - it doesn't matter what's covering it up. the seed of something amazing is already in my life - i'm not a victim. i'm not a worrier. i'm an overcomer. i am not my worst day. 

day, decade, whatever.

so last year's word was renew

romans 12:1 
renew your mind, renew your world... by the washing of the water of the Word. 

God had begun a work in me - well, not really begun, because he never quit, but we were picking up the thread i had dropped.

life has intimidated me. my own actions have humbled me, humiliated me even, and what grew to matter more to me than loving Jesus above everything else was regret, fear, and dread.


but God is faithful.


everywhere i look i read words that pierce me, words that aren't just information but hope + life + breath
________________________________________________

Suddenly I began to see eagles emerging from everywhere. I saw them arise from the waters where they thought they would drown. I saw them arise from the wilderness where they had thought they had been lost in the darkness. I saw them emerge from the dark storm clouds and ride upon the high winds. I saw them come soaring from the fire that they thought for sure would consume them. Instead of being bound in these places, they began to soar out of them. the fire and the darkness no longer held them, the only fire i beheld was the fire in their eyes.

"Do not let past circumstances hold you bound, for they were never meant to hold you, but to FREE you. Yes, the discomfort you experience is always - I say ALWAYS - meant to drive you upward to My glory in greater measure. Flee the discomfort as you rise to the sound of my voice, directing you, wooing you, and calling you up... 
dana jarvis
_______________________________________________

  i could finally see where i fell off. i thought reading the Word and pressing in hadn't kept me from making a fool of myself (and of God too, i thought), so i decided i could do better at representing God if i just focused instead on loving people. 

and doesn't that sound noble? 

it did to me. 

"forget all of that other stuff - all that matters is that we love. you're a mercy. be merciful."

i felt i'd abused, misused the things of God... but as i heard recently - and it sliced me - neglect is no better than misuse or abuse. 


//they sacrificed the truth for love's sake

but what is love without truth?

i became a city without walls.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit
 is like a city that is broken down, 
and without walls. 
Proverbs 25:28

my fear of deception was greater than my trust in the guidance of the Spirit of God - and so i became subject to that and was again deceived - because we are subject to what we fear, are we not?


walking away from the Word was never going to be the answer because how then do i experience and walk in the fullness of God? how then could i possibly represent the heart of God? if all Jesus ever did and said was what he saw his Father doing and saying - how was i ever going to be able to follow him in that? GOD IS LOVE - but i think i can love people without God?

so this year, 2017, God is calling me back to the secret place



if you know me 
based on who i was a year ago, 
you don't know me at all...


allow me to reintroduce myself.


this is my revival.

the Lord has begun tugging on me to remove things that have been permissible but are not beneficial, so yes, i'm changing. the Kingdom of God is being preached and i'm pressing into it.

so maybe i'll be quieter. maybe i'm less available. i don't really know... i'm still learning what all of this looks like and how it might change my everyday life. all i know is i want to love Jesus. above all things. like i never have before. i want deeper depths, greater nearness. i want my life to be imprinted with the Presence of God. i want to smell like heaven. 

...and because i want that i will lean in hard, and i trust the Spirit of the living God with the rest.
and thus, here is the call to the secret place.

Monday, June 10

the sunday six: stuff i'm lovin'

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one of my favorite things is a consumer review, especially from someone i actually know.  i know i'm not alone in that, so that is the service i'm freely offering to you today.  

next time you have to pay. 

(no you don't.)

 i am giving you my personal reviews on various and sundry items, which is all basically two thumbs up because that's what the sunday six is all about anyway.  a whole list of a bunch o' crap that i love. all for the price of: nothing. no one is paying me to say nice stuff or even sending me samples.  

ingrates, that's what they are.

anyway, let's get this thing under way!

//1
urban decay shadow primer
a long while back i'd tried this product and thought "meh". i didn't understand the cult following.  true to form, i was using it incorrectly.  now, NOW, i see. i once was blind... blahblah. go get this.  i live in south louisiana where the humidity is infinity times infinity til death. when i wear this, my eyeshadow lasts all day through BRUTAL heat and humidity.  my lungs almost fail me, but my shadow fails me not.  oh, and the "trick"? let the stuff dry completely before applying eye shadow.  that's all. kinda like with nail polish.  
  
things ain't nobody got time for:
1. that.

(no but seriously, let it dry.)

i'm still on the hunt for a really great face primer though, if anyone has any recommendations.  i've tried a few but haven't quite struck oil.  

//2
garnier nutrisse anti-puff eye roller
this one is not so much a miracle product as #1 but i am a fan.  when i arise in the morning (as close to 9 as possible) to greet my cup of coffee with dragon breath, my eyes are puffy and dark.  this product does nothing for the dark circles. (that junk takes concealer.)  however, this does help de-puff the peepers. it does what it says it does, so i like that.

//3
greek gods yogurt
this tastes like it really was made by yogurt gods.  zeus and aphrodite i bet.  it is fabulous. not at all acrid.  not at all tart.  smooth and creamy.  that's all you get.  
well smooth and creamy, and a big ol' craving for some more. that's what you get.

//4
wedge pillow
for all you baby mamas out there, this is a back SAVER when your (my) belly starts to round out and cause you (me) problems with your (my) beloved sleep.  there comes a point in every pregnancy where my belly conspires with my spine to ruin me in the night.  this pillow is my blessed savior in the form of a stuffed, lavender cheese wedge. it is my bestie until delivery.  me and this wedge, we tight.  

//5
buxom sculpted lash mascara
i particularly like this one, with the weirdly shaped wand. i sometimes struggle with doing things properly in the cosmetics world (see #1) but this comes with a tiny instruction manual.  read it and you'll know just exactly how to use that wand and have long, luscious lashes.  my only gripe is that the tube dried up faster than i'd like, but i'm still going to buy it again because it has out-performed every other brand i've tried.  it's nice and thick and it really does lengthen my lashes.  i'm a big fan.  

//6
progress
isn't progress such a lovely thing?
we're making way for baby, rearranging our very lives to make a place for him, and it feels good.  we're simplifying, subtracting "stuff" we've accumulated over the years and already i'm breathing easier and the white paint is not even on the walls yet (but that's coming!).  
my style has been folksy and "cluttered" and i have loved it for a long, long time (while danny has tolerated it). he's always let me do whatever i want in the house. he (is a smart man so he) does not interfere with decorating, and thank Heaven because God knows i couldn't tolerate THAT.  
if not for him though, all of the things that look so good in my mind that i'd like to do now might never see the light of day, and undoubtedly everything hung on the walls would be so much more crooked without him.  (y'all should see the holes behind the shelves i've hung over the years.)  what i'm saying is: my man can wield tools and the progress we're making is mostly to his credit. and progress? it's my new favorite thing.

+ + + + +

do you have anything that you just LOVE? (especially in terms of products that the rest of us could love right along with you?)
share share share, so we can all join the cult!  

and happy (day after) sunday to yous!


Thursday, June 6

a boy baby

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well it turns out this baby is indeed a boy baby.


wait, let me back up.

the morning after i wrote my last post, i woke up completely blindsided by my own feelings of disappointment. deep disappointment.  i cried. i cried not because i reallllly wanted a girl, but because i felt frustrated and confused, and i cried because i felt so sad.  i've never had a gender preference.  i guess leading off with a boy and then a girl erased any pressure that might arise from "needing" to have one or the other.

but you know how you can feel so certain about something, so sure that your assessment is right?

have you ever been there?

it can leave you feeling shipwrecked.

totally lost in your own mind.

where what you think you know about a situation (so cocksure) can cast doubt and make you question what moments before you knew to be true about God?

nothing could move me from my position that i knew that this baby would be a girl.  we've since had another ultrasound and this is definitely, most assuredly with evidence to prove it, a baby boy.  a month passed between the last two sonograms, and i needed that month.  i needed the time to make peace with the possibility that i was wrong.  i needed time to learn to love the idea of it being a boy, and to lick my wounds over being wrong.  do you know how many people i told that it was a girl and i just knew it? my pride was hurt.  my ego was limping. i needed that month to get over myself.

it's so funny because "theologically" i don't think God is the kind of person that tricks people, that He would take any pleasure in doing that and then watching me wrestle with the disappointment.  but sometimes what you walk through reveals what you really believe, and i guess it means there are shadowy corners of my heart that think, "well, maybe... maybe He would do that."  i have much to learn of the nature of God.  still.  i have much to correct to right my thoughts.  and situations like this are perfect proving ground.

i'm still not entirely sure what all of that meant but it is clear that i jumped to conclusions about what i knew God was doing and saying, and i know that Hell would like for me to believe that i do not, in fact, hear from God, that i do not, in fact, know His voice.  but i reject that. i'll have none of that. i will not allow Hell to (again) use my own lapse in judgment to paralyze me, preserving me here in this place, causing me to put roots down here... immobilizing me from moving forward, from growing out of this place.

i have purposed this year to get to know better who God is and who He is for me.  i will not allow Hell to take that from me because of my own false reading of a situation.  i am open to being wrong about that and then asking God in curiosity, "then what did all of that mean? what did i miss? i know You meant something by it.  what was it?"

and if i go into it and get wrong ideas again i know that He is gracious and kind enough to correct me until i can see the truth of what He meant by it all.

a small seed of doubt has killed my faith before. a small seed of doubt can do that.  but a small seed of faith can move this mountain, so i can embrace what it is that God is actually doing in this moment. i choose Him over my wrong idea of Him.  and i choose to embrace this sweet boy because of who he is. i will not reject him over my own wrong thinking. he deserves Love and he shall have it.

p.s.: eden is holding up just fine. i think she's adjusting, too. her only requirement is that i have another baby. i'm not opposed.