Thirsty on a Tuesday Night

Tonight was “veg night.” Stone is sick, which never happens, and selfishly I loved sitting on the couch knowing we couldn’t go anywhere— even if we wanted to. Our home is quiet. Peaceful. A stark contrast to my soul where to-do lists have been whirling around.

After a few episodes of “Parks and Rec” (honestly, we tried to get into it and just couldn’t… I’m sorry, world), Stone went to bed and I started “shutting down” the apartment. I reached to turn off the last light and all of the sudden it got really still in our kitchen. Still enough for me to hear my own thoughts racing—and more than that, still enough for me to be aware of the thirst in my soul.

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

On Easter Sunday, our pastor talked about this ache we all have—a thirst that can’t be quenched.

We spend our entire lives trying to quench this infinite thirst with finite drinks. Like saltwater, the things we try to satisfy ourselves with only make us thirstier. We search for meaning, but we cannot find it in approval from others, more likes on social media,  or a promotion at work. We search for purpose, but we cannot find it while we’re caught in the net of vanity this world so eloquently casts. We search and do not find, we drink and still find ourselves empty.

Until we find the drink that is not finite.

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

You see, He is the thirst we cannot quench, the end of all our desires. Our hearts are “restless until they learn to rest in Thee” (St. Augustine), and we cannot know our purpose apart from His truth.

So, maybe you are at a good place in life and scrolled this far out of pure boredom. But maybe you have been searching for a drink that will satisfy your soul. I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know this: nothing and no-one but Jesus will cure you of this insatiable thirst. It is Him you are longing for, and He died a brutal death so that you could come to Him and drink of the well of salvation, be cleansed by His blood, and be eternally satisfied in His love for you.

Bottoms up. 🙂

Giving Thanks for Suffering

Have you ever looked back on a period of your life and thought, “How did I survive that?”

My family went through one of those seasons of life a few years ago. In my mind it was like being in the middle of an ocean caught in a strong storm. You hold on with all of your strength and hope for the best. Survival instincts kick in and you find yourself praying prayers you never thought you’d pray. God, please just let us all make it out of this alive.

And then, over time, the winds die down, your grip loosens, and you start to look around. Are we all still here?

We were in the eye of the storm when Stone and I got married three years ago. My parents split up after almost 25 years of marriage. It was messy, traumatic, and surreal. I love both of them dearly and they as well as other family members read this before I shared.

That storm took all that was familiar and many things we held dear.

It will never be like it was again. We will never be who we were again.

…While everything I just said is true and real and painful, the story doesn’t end there. Tears streamed down my face when I started writing down these thoughts because I was overwhelmed. Not by sorrow, but by God’s faithfulness­.

A few days ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom, dad, and my dad’s wife, Kristy. Together. In the same room. ***Only recommended for families with a great sense of humor

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Earlier I said It will never be like it was again. We will never be who we were again.

It will never be like it was because God has used suffering to soften the hard ground of our souls. He has allowed hellish winds to remove the scales from our eyes. We will never be who we were because our hearts have experienced the deepest of mercies–flowing from a risen Christ. No, we can’t go back. He has drawn us closer to Himself. And, over time, we’re finding that having Him is better than having answers or understanding, better than having it all together, and better than not having bad days anymore.

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And I know you may not see it now, in the thick of it, but you need to know this: His grip on you is tighter than your grip on the things and people you hold dear. His grip on you is stronger than these winds. His love will sustain you. His grace will empower you. His mercy will keep you. And here is the mystery: what looks like a storm on this side is actually the hands of a merciful Father–shaping you and forming you into the image of His only son, preparing you for eternity.

And by His grace, only by His grace, may you experience one of the greatest gifts as a result: a heart of thanks for the suffering you’ll be tempted to resent. 

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9

 

I Accidentally Fell in Love with Theology

“The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants.”

I read those words for the first time a few months ago. Found in the preface of A.W.  Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy—I was captured from the get-go.

If you would have told me two years ago I would be guzzling down Tozer and a three-inch-thick theology book at midnight on a Wednesday, I would have been really confused and maybe a little annoyed. I used to think theology, the study of God, was for people who traded in relationship with God for knowledge of Him. Puffed up, arrogant, argumentative… nah. I’ll keep it simple with, “Love God and love people.”

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The problem is the longer I live the more I understand that while loving God and loving people is simple, it’s not easy. Maybe because it’s kind of like… marriage.

We can all agree there are two essential ingredients to a lasting marriage: 1) keeping Christ at the center and 2) love. Lots of love. Simple, right?

Simple only if our definition of love and our view of Christ are accurate.

If those two things are off, it’s going to affect, well, everything. The truth is real love involves a willingness to forsake your ideas of what love should be and who you think your spouse is supposed to be, and if I never take the time to get to know Stone, his likes, dislikes, passions, and desires, our relationship will eventually suffer.

In the same way, it’s inevitable that our journey with God will eventually require us to trade our ideas about Him for the truth of who He says He is. And so I would say studying theology is, in part, a sort of laying down of the pieces in exchange for the whole… and this laying down has led me to a greater awe, wonder, and love for this Jesus who so mercifully transformed my life a few years ago. That, my friend, is the best part.

So, how does this relate to you, to me, practically?

I want to propose that while some difficulties we experience are the result of being human and therefore inherently flawed, some difficulties/cycles/unhealthy thought processes are the direct result of our inaccurate beliefs and ideas about God.

“What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer

Our beliefs about God matter. They’re worth the questions, digging, and wrestling because love is worth the questions, digging, and wrestling.

 I want to encourage you to submit your beliefs and yourself to something, Someone greater than yourself. Get in the Word, join a Bible study, or research different introductory books on theology if you feel like this struck home! My prayer is that for some of you, a light turns on, a flame is ignited, a hunger is born… for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May you be willing to forsake small ideas for the Truth Himself if He leads you on a similar journey.

Need thy Neighbor

I haven’t been sharing much. Mostly because I haven’t had much to share. My soul has been quiet… some days quietly content with the season we’re in and where God has brought us to, other days quietly in anguish as I scan headlines and wonder what our world, nation, and city will look like in 10 years.

Devastation seems to be occuring at a rapid rate, the media screams fear, and sometimes (most of the time) it’s paralyzing. So many nations, including ours, are in crisis and I’m supposed to sit back and plan for a normal life as I live my normal (normal meaning mildly-moderately dysfunctional yet drenched in God’s grace and mercy) life?

The truth is I’ve always carried a measure of the world’s brokenness in my soul, but how I carry it has changed. I used to think I had to do something radical to help… Move to a developing country, have a large platform, etc.

But oh how God has changed my call-to-action… Or rather, clarified it.

During a season when I felt empty and purposeless, God opened my eyes to a people group I had never seen before: our neighbors.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭

Because at a time when the world is seemingly falling apart, when people are more connected yet more lonely than ever, when we have every reason to be suspicious of every person we come in contact with… what if the best thing we can do is love our neighbors? Yes, our literal neighbors.

If I can wake up everyday and remember that everyone has pain and everyone wants love, I will be more aware of the people I pass in the hall, on the street, and at the grocery store.  And sometimes loving your neighbor is as simple as that: being aware. Seeing. Noticing. Looking someone right in the eyes and smiling instead of pulling out your phone and pretending to read a text.

They need you to see them… And you know what? You need them to see you.

A few hours after I started writing this blog, I was walking in from the parking garage juggling one million things (ladies, why do we do this?!). I passed a neighbor I’d never met and he quickly lent me a hand. My kneejerk reaction was, “Oh no! I’m fine!” but before I could spill out the words out, he was already helping.

You see, I need my neighbors just as much as they need me. I have just as much to learn from them as they do from me. It’s easy to love and be loved when our lives are only big enough for people who think like us, act like us, and look like us, but why live so small? …why love so small?

So, here’s your remedy for the days when you feel like the world is spinning out of control and you’re tempted to join the noise instead of cut through it with love: go take a walk and wave hello to a stranger. Help someone carry their groceries in. Don’t be afraid to walk next door and ask for butter when you run out. Throw a block party. And most of all, when you are tempted to choose fear instead of love, don’t… because only love can warm a world that’s growing cold.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

You’ll Find Him There

There was a time a few years ago when I put my Bible underneath my pillow and slept on it every night. In the midst of chaos, it was plea for His help, my declaration of trust. As childlike as it was, it was all I knew to do. My mind felt broken, and I knew His word and His presence were my only hope for stability.

I went to the lowest of lows, and I found Him there. I didn’t lose Him when and where I thought I would. Or rather, He didn’t lose me when I thought He would.

I’m reminding myself of this today because I’ve watched people I love go down into those low places. I have prayer requests that are too heavy to speak… they sink to the bottom of my heart and I carry them with me, and when I muster up the strength, I lift them up to Him.

What do I want to say to you if you’re in the midst of darkness, or heading into battle?

You’ll find Him there, you will. Some days it’ll seem like He’s gone, but He’s not. He’s in your midst, and someday you will see that more clearly than you do today.

Search His word and ask Him to reveal scriptures and promises to you for your situation. Cling to those scriptures. When it feels like you can’t make it a step further, mutter them out loud.

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

Waves of Grace

I resist change, and yet I crave it
I crave consistency, in an inconsistent kind of way

I am learning, or at least I want to learn
About rhythms of grace and depths of peace
Not found in balance or boxes
No, In Him I live and move and have my being


Change is inevitable
And consistency only takes us so far
Even when we have it
But He is constant

His presence my refuge
His will, His palm
The safest place I’ll ever be


Waves of grace wash over me
Steady is Your promise
That guides me in the seas

Ever Striving

Bitterness… have you ever tasted bitterness? I have and I can tell you this… It is the foulest thing. It’s so foul that it taints the prettiest views, moments, and people. It is poison just like they say.

Loss… have you ever felt it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the saddest thing. It’s so sad that it refuses the most joyful pleasures and drains full cups when there’s no reason to. It stings just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

Beauty… have you ever seen it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most healing thing. It’s so healing that it can flood places in your soul that say “DO NOT ENTER” and bring life to the deadest of senses. It is something to behold just like they say.

Hope… have you ever held it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most freeing thing. It’s so freeing that it can make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain when you’re standing in a valley. It can make you sing when there’s no reason to and, yes, it changes everything just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

Created in His image

Ever striving to be like Him.