Monday, June 25, 2012

DIFFERENT SCALES


This is a 17-pound newborn baby, y'all.  


Have. Mercy.


When this little one (and I use that term loosely) was born, they had to find a totally different scale, because she was so much bigger than any other child they had weighed on a standard newborn scale.  

I look at this picture--the stark contrast between the tiny 7-pound child and the ginormous 17-pound child--and I think of the words of Romans 8:18:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.  


Not worth comparing.

Unable to be weighed on the same scales.

Incomparable.  

Our present sufferings on one scale, and the glory that will be revealed in us, on a totally different scale.

I NEED this to be true.

It's not saying our present sufferings are not flippin' beating the crap out of us.  Because just maybe they are.  The things that are breaking our hearts, raking us over the coals, and making us scream out to God are not small in and of themselves.

And yet these things that leave our souls writhing cannot be weighed on the same scale as God's glory that will be revealed in us. 

Beautiful hope.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE WEEKLY SIX - June 20

Six Lessons Learned This Week:

1. God is wonderfully loving and crazy-good to say NO sometimes.  And it makes His every YES all the sweeter.

2. You tend to bum hard when you realize that the groceries you forgot to remove from the trunk of your car two days ago included fresh fish and a jug of milk.  


3. Forgetting about said groceries in your trunk for a solid two days is a pretty good indication that the stress is catching up with you.


4. God allowed things to get pretty bleak-looking for the Israelites before He busted out with, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh" (Exodus 6:1).  And at exactly the right time.


5. You feel compelled to correct your son when he tells you his VBS teacher's name is "Flasher."  That's Fletcher, sweet child.  Fletcher


6. I am here, living, and breathing, not for my own comforts, but to be used.  I am alive to do the work of God.  I am not due a life of ease or rest, though God is gracious to give it when He does. My life should shout, "I am here for You.  Not for me. For YOU."

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HOW DID IT HAPPEN FOR YOU?

My sweet friend Denise (Victory Road) just blogged about her really amazing story of redemption, and asked how her readers came to know Christ.  


So, I'm curious...How did you?


I'll be honest, my story is nothing special.  In fact, I am blown away by the sheer unspectacularity (is that a word??) of my conversion story.  Brace yourselves for the non-gory details:


I was a first grader and went to Sunday School with my dad's then-fiance (now wife).  The Sunday School teacher said,


"One day our neighbor's house got broken into while they were out of town, and I prayed and asked God to help me know what to do.  (Long pause.)   Okay!  So who wants to give their life to Jesus?"


My hand shot into the air.  And I prayed my unimpressive, ineloquent 6-year old prayer to the God who heard it.  


That's all, folks.  Doesn't get more interesting than that.

And yet it stuck.  And the Jesus to whom I called out in that shockingly un-shiny moment 29 years ago is the same one I worship today.  

And now I'm married to a God-loving man, raising up a family to know and love God.

I'm growing in the grace and knowledge of my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ (though I have so very far to go).

I'm putting on a Word-and-Worship Experience event (more to come soon on GodBreathed, coming to the Atlanta area in October). It's coming together in the most ridiculously beautiful way--I can't wait to see the rest of it unfold!

I've always kind of been bummed out at the thought of my "crappy" conversion story.  And yet it stuck!  It took!  And there's fruit today and a beautiful eternal relationship with God because of that so-called "crappy" conversion.

Glory to God...
 Celebrating his Christian Birthday. A favorite tradition in our family
where we celebrate the date of professing faith in Jesus Christ.  =)
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DRESS FOR THE PART

 This is my "AFTER" photo.


Unfortunately, I'm still very much in the "BEFORE" phase, and I know ain't nobody wanna see that photo, so I borrowed this one! 


But I have a secret weapon in getting in shape:


Every day I'm able, I wear workout clothes.  The tank top and yoga pants remind me of who I am:  A girl on her way to getting in better shape.  And just that one simple thing reminds me to be a bit more active, less sedentary.  I'm more mindful of what I eat throughout the day, simply because of what I'm wearing.  I'm dressed for the part.  And it's working--I'm actually even down a few pounds!


I feel like I'm in another "BEFORE" phase, but longing to be an "AFTER."  I want to be a picture of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  And Colossians 3:12 says to clothes ourselves with these very things--to dress the part, so to speak.


But I think we're called to dress the part before we've really got all those things in perfect order.  Perhaps we're to get up every morning and put these things on, even if we feel stuck in a "BEFORE" phase with a long, long way to go. Because when we clothe ourselves with those things, they remind us of who we are: The sons and daughters of God who want these things to be the mark of our lives.

COMPASSION. Checking apathy at the door.  No more refusing to be unmoved when others are hurting or doing without.  It means setting aside judgment and simply loving on people in need--emotional need, relational need, financial need.  

KINDNESS. You don't GET to be rude to the checkout clerk or the sound guy, your friends, or even your spouse, with whom you're the most "real."  It means being considerate -- considering others just as you consider your own needs. I love the saying "A person who is not nice to the waitress is not really a nice person" because I think there's actually a lot of truth in this. Kindness is kindness across the board.


HUMILITY. Someone else gets to go first, have the spotlight, even be right.  It definitely means apologizing when we've been out of line.  And not simply regretting it, but making it right with an "I'm sorry."


GENTLENESS. When something needs to be dealt with, responded to, or reacted to, there is nothing for us but to do so in gentleness.  Our approach has got to be drenched in grace and understanding. 


PATIENCE.  It means that whole Hurry*Hurry*Hurry thing has GOT to stop.  A demanding attitude--whether toward our spouses, children, or even God--should have no place with us.  Understanding must be the mark of our lives, knowing that others have to exhibit patience with us, too.

To be honest, I don't really care if I never look just like that picture above as long as I'm healthy and in good shape.  But it matters a whole heck of a lot to me about living out this picture in Colossians 3:12--even though I have a long way to go.


So which of these jumped out as your weak spot?  Mine is patience, specifically in regards to being patient with my children. I don't always show the grace they need me to show them.  But oh, how badly I want to grow in patience with my son and my daughter whom God has entrusted to me.

If we want the Colossians 3:12 "AFTER" picture, we need to dress for the part--but it'll be totally worth it.


Because it looks a whole lot like Christ. 
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

CEILING FAN PRINCIPLE

Yesterday I slowly awoke, and glanced up at this ceiling fan in our bedroom. 


A part of it was constantly moving, of course--constantly changing.


And the other part of it was fixed.

The moving blades are our circumstances.  They shift, they change.  They're constantly different than they were before.  

And the base is our God.  

Fixed.  

Unmoving.  

Unchanging...

...and STILL VISIBLE through our uncertain circumstances.  


Hallelujah to our unchanging God.

Higher than the mountains that I face,
stronger than the power of the grave,
Constant in the trials and the change.
"One Thing Remains"


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Monday, June 11, 2012

I DON'T KNOW BETTER

Hume Lake Winter Camp.  10th grade.  Big hair matted down under snow hats.  Pegged jeans a-plenty.

My best friend Kelly and I were in the front row for church camp when the worship leader led us through a familiar song--but in an unfamiliar way.  He sang our church group favorite "Ain't Nobody" in a slightly different rhythm than our youth group band usually did.

Kelly and I looked at each other with wrinkled noses and said, "He's singing it all wrong!"  And then, being the super awesome (and mature!) 15-year olds we were, we began to sing the song the way we were used to singing it.  Loudly.  And only a few feet in front of the worship leader.  

Later, we mentioned to our youth pastor how the worship leader had totally messed up the song. 

"Well, that's interesting, seeing as how he WROTE that song," he replied.

(Cringe.)

How obnoxious we were to try and correct the one who actually wrote the song.  Who did we think we were?

And on a far greater scale, why do I think I need to correct God when I think He's getting it wrong?  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but there are times I think for a split second that I know better, and that God would be wise to operate from my perspective. 


But, good heavens, I do NOT know better.  I do not!! If left to my own ways, I would have things royally botched up in a heartbeat.


When I try to sing God's own song back to Him in any other way than the way He wrote it, I'm putting myself on the throne.  I'm saying I'm wiser than the only wise God, more knowing than the omniscient One.  What bold and brazen arrogance.

We have to trust God alone.  Not our hearts, which lead us astray and deceive us.  We have to trust the LORD.  The One who wrote a glory-drenched story of love and redemption.  The One who wrote our lives into existence.  The One who wrote you and me on His hands.


We get to be in on the song He penned.  We get to sing along.  But let us not be so arrogant as to think we know how to sing it better than the One who wrote it.


As for God, His way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
Psalm 18:30

God is God and I am not,
I can only see a part of the picture He's painting
God is God and I am man,
so I'll never understand it all,
for only God is God.
God is God, Steven Curtis Chapman

*  For another post on trying to intervene on God's behalf, check out Messing Up the Blessing.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

ALL MY FOUNTAINS


* All My Fountains from Passion 2011.  I can't hear this song without imagining the worship that awaits us in Heaven. 

Among MY gods there is none like You, O LORD (Psalm 86:8).  Yes, I've had gods.  


The home I thought I wanted?  It has lost half its value.


That super cute outfit I had to have?  It takes up residence at the Goodwill now, along with a bunch of other stuff we thought we couldn't do without (but eventually couldn't even sell for two bucks at a yard sale). 

The applause of man that I've sought, and even had?  I've found it to be devastatingly brief, leaving a cavernous want for more.  

My wonderful husband whom I was sure would fill up every empty spot in my soul?  He hasn't been able to.  But he wasn't even meant to, and no other person even could.


Even my children have held a spot on the pedestal of my heart.  But even these precious ones have come up short, disobeyed, and shattered any "My-child-would-never" notions I may have even dared to think.  

But even when I enjoy the home we share, and even when Justin holds me up and loves me as Christ loved the church, and even when my children comply, come through and create the most beautiful expressions of love...

it STILL all pales in light of God's crazy love and goodness.

Every demonstration of love and grace from Justin, every heartwarming moment with my babies, every joyous moment in the fellowship of others, every moment of happiness I derive from something temporal -- every one of these things is small.

Not in and of themselves, but in light of the LORD.

HE does not leave me wanting.

HE does not change.

HE alone is the source of everything that fills me. 

Sustains me.

Heals me.  


HE is the only one.


Beautiful Jesus, all my fountains are in YOU  (Psalm 87:7).

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

WHAT YOU HOPE YOUR SEATMATE ISN'T READING ON THE FLIGHT


On my flight out to California last week, I was sandwiched between two interesting seatmates:

On my right, there was the dread-locked fellow who was out like a light until he suddenly lurched awake out of a dead sleep, smacking me with his flailing arm.  Other than that, he seemed lovely. 


Oddly enough, I felt less uncomfortable sitting next to him than my other seatmate. 


Because on my left was a college-age girl who, although at no point in the flight did she smack me, was reading "Fifty Shades of Grey."  


Hm.

I'll be honest--I was more than a little uncomfortable sitting next to someone who was chapter-by-chapter devouring what has been called "Mommy Porn," and was probably sexually aroused throughout a good portion of the five-hour flight.  I know I'd be seriously uncomfortable sitting next to a man reading a Playboy, but you know what?  A lady reading "Fifty Shades" right next to me kind of seemed like the same thing!

Granted, I haven't read the book.  I get that.  I just think that, as either men OR women, we need to be very careful of anything that stirs up any desire in us that cannot be fulfilled within marriage. Within the safety of God's parameters, we're not kept from anything as much as we're kept FOR something.  Something so much greater...

Thoughts?  


* For a noteworthy word on the matter, check out Ashley's post:  Why I'm NOT Reading Fifty Shades of Grey over at Embracing Beauty.
 

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THE POST YOU MIGHT NOT READ

Psalm 40 was my food last year.  I found myself having to let those words bathe my mind and heart--often.  But not until today did I break them down and look at them in their original language. 


It get that it would be easy to click away to "elsewhere" because there's no story, no anecdote today--but please don't miss this.  Don't skip this post because it's "just Scripture" (Yeah, I've done that, too). Just know there might be something here for you.


1. I waited patiently for the LORD;
I looked for, waited on Jehovah,
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He turned to me and considered, was attentive to my crying.
2. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
He brought me up, caused me to ascend up from
the horrible, tumultuous pit,
out of the mud and mire;
from the miry mud and clay;
He set my feet on a rock
He made me able to endure 
and confirmed His strong hold on my feet,
and gave me a firm place to stand.
and established my steps and goings.  
3. He put a new song in my mouth,
He has bestowed, added, assigned to me 
fresh, new things,
a hymn of praise to our God.
songs of praise to Elohim.
Many will see and fear 
An exceeding number will consider, discern, 
and have reverence
and put their trust in the LORD.
and be bold, sure, confident and secure 
in Jehovah.
Awesome God, I praise You for being attentive to my desperation and tears, and for pulling me up out of the most horrible, hellish pit. I love You for having a strong hold on my feet and establishing my goings.  Thank You for giving me fresh praise--new things for which to praise You.  Let people see Your redemption and put their hope in You.
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Friday, June 8, 2012

I *WAS* THE TALL KID

 I was the tallest kid in my class in 6th grade.


But who cares.  Because I'm only 5'2" now.  And now that I'm mid-30-ish, I don't anticipate any more growth spurts in my future. 

Sure, I may have grown first.  And initially it probably looked like I'd be towering over everybody.  

But how things looked in the beginning was not how they turned out. The shorter kids eventually caught up with me--and then kept right on going!  These days I find that, in most circles, I'm the shortest one.


We can't figure out how tall someone will eventually stand based on what we see in the beginning.  That means something to me today!

It means that the worthless things that appear to have more momentum than the thing of value I'm working on may not eventually stand quite as tall as this now-short thing of God I'm nurturing. 

Keep showing up.  Keep honoring the LORD.  Keep living love.  

And you might just end up the tallest one.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HIDE THE SPARE CHANGE JAR!!!

If Mark Zuckerberg ever comes to my house, you know what I'm going to do?

Hide all my money.

"Stash the kids' piggy banks!" I'll say.  "We don't want him trying to bogey all our nickels and dimes!"

Of course I'm kidding.  And why?

Because Mark Zuckerburg (Founder of Facebook/Gazillionaire) does not need my money.  No need to try and keep it from him.

The same could be said of God.  He does not NEED our stuff, our time, our money, our anything.  

"I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,  for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills...The world is mine and all that is in it" (Psalm 50:9-10, 12).  


Why do we withhold anything--ANYTHING--from the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills?  We get this death-grip on our homes, our cars, our checking accounts as though God might come after them.  We even do it with people, forgetting that we are not owners of our relationships, but stewards.  


God sometimes does remove things from our lives--But not out of His need.  He is always motivated by His love for us and the desire to display His splendor.  Our God is constantly compelled by His longing for His glory and our good.

The next time you find yourself with a too-tight grip on something, thinking you're managing to keep something from the God who reigns over it all yet needs none of it, just picture yourself hiding the spare change jar before Mark Zuckerberg comes over for dinner.  


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Monday, June 4, 2012

WHAT LOVE DOES

Not even 3 weeks ago, I took out my highlighter and marked these words in the foreword of a new book I was reading:


Wow.  And little did I know just how true I would soon find these words would be.

A week ago I got word that a loved one was going through a gut-wrenching situation.  Once everything came together for a flight to be booked, I had 20 minutes to pack and I was across the country that very night.  


Did I need a book to tell me I needed to be there in such a critical time?  Nope.  But I have realized this week that as much as I think love and feel love and pray love...

 I have been kind of crappy at DOING LOVE. 


I have the best of intentions, but intentions never change anyone's life.  I meant to send that letter, I meant to drop off a meal, I meant to make that phone call, I meant to visit.  But so often I forget, and someone misses out on the ministry of what I was meant to do.  


Too often I love and pray from afar.  But Jesus came near, and sometimes nearness is what is required to demonstrate love.  You can't hold someone from afar.  You can't look someone in the eye and boldly speak truth over them without some proximity.  


This week it's been a constant barrage of the truth that LOVE DOES. This is what I saw love look like this week:


~Love cared for the children by himself so his wife could go do something that mattered.


~Love offered to watch their friends' children so he could wrap up his school year while she was across the country.


~Love dropped off pizza, chicken, spaghetti, muffins, etc.


~Love texted prayers of love lifted up on behalf of someone they had never met.  


~Love booked a flight for someone else.


~Love gave up the convenience of their car for the week for the benefit of someone else.


~Love prepared a bed for someone to lay her head and spoke constant words of encouragement over her to fill her up so that she could serve another.  


Love DID stuff.  Because love DOES stuff!  


I want to look at things this way going forward, and I'll ask you to join me in it.  What would it look like for you to DO love this week?  


It's a new week around here.  Now that I'm home, love looks like holding down the fort while my husband ministers to people in the Dominican Republic.  Love looks like sending two birthday packages off.  It looks like making phone calls and checking in on things in California.  And it looks a whole lot like loving on my children.  And it looks like more stuff I'm waiting for God to reveal, although I'll need his strength to follow through and DO it when He does.  

Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.  
JOHN 15:13  

* Love Does by Bob Goff.  One of my new favorites!

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HOW SOME OF YOU ENDED UP HERE

It's been a bear of a week, so I hope you'll permit me a "fluff post."  I love reading posts about the seriously random things people typed in to end up at a website, so here's my own. 

MY TOP SEVEN FAVORITE SEARCH TERMS THAT SOMEONE ENTERED TO END UP HERE AT "COLLIDE":

 7. "How to haircut passion"
Ah, passion.  A hairy beast, indeed.


6. "No casserole, divorce"
Wow.  Talk about an ultimatum.  "Make me some Chicken Divan or I'm walking!"


5. (Something in Russian).
I almost actually pasted the phrase here--but seeing as how my Russian is sketchy at best, it'd be just my luck to inadvertently paste something seriously naughty onto my blog.  


4. "Hoarding granola bars"
Understandable.  I mean, who hasn't thought the words "Nature Valley bars, I wish I knew how to quit you"?


3. "Dog collides with runner"
This made me laugh because this actually happened to me--but I know I didn't blog about it!  A few years ago, my Black Labrador Sadie was fast asleep in the room as I told a friend who was over how I think I look like Forrest Gump when I run.  My friend asked for a demonstration, so I backed up to the door, and took off running.  Sadie, sensing sudden excitement in the room, woke from her deep sleep and charged across the room, stopping right in front of me.  I couldn't stop in time and ended up plowing into Sadie, then sailing right over the top of her!


2. "Happy worker apples
I've got nothing, folks.


AND THE MOST INTERESTING PHRASE THAT LANDED SOMEONE AT THIS BLOG:


1. "no! no exceptions! i want this job, i need it, i can do it. everywhere i've been today there's always been something wrong, too young, too old, too short, too tall. whatever the exception is, i can fix it. i can be older, i can be taller, i can be anything!"
Eye of the tiger, my friend.  Good luck with making yourself shorter and younger. 

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How on earth did these phrases land people here?!?  No matter.  At least these made me smile. :)

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