Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It's funny the things your brain finally connects and grasps and makes sense of when you have nothing to do but lay there listlessly watching countless episodes of The Office or think.
Around bedtime one night I was hobbling into the kitchen to rinse out my soup bowl and suddenly something made sense.
We use water for a lot of stuff: drinking, helping plants grow, washing things, etc.
Have you ever thought about water's ability to make things soften?
When you leave a bowl with remnants of food in it and it gets all crusty, what do you do? Fill it with water so you can rinse it out and wash it.
For some reason I'd never really thought about this aspect of water. Even things that we consider "hard"- wood, leather, ginormous books, etc- are softened when waterlogged.

Do you see the spiritual aspect coming here?
Jesus calls himself the Living Water.
John 4 puts it like this: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.... Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Basically, Jesus is telling this woman that He is God's gift to mankind, that He is able to eternally satisfy our needs for spiritual (and physical) water. 

Can we shorten this to Jesus = water? Maybe that's being a little too free with summarizing the Bible, so sue me.

If Jesus is the spiritual water for us, then it means He has the ability- no, his CHARACTER is to soften that which is hardened. stuck. crusty. 

There are so many times in the Old Testament where God resolves to harden his heart against a person or a people, after their continual disobedience or rebellion. The beautiful part comes when He decides (as He did MANY times) to have mercy and soften his heart toward them once again.
We see him doing this for other people in the Bible as well- one of my favorite instances of which is Ezekiel 36. He's speaking to His Children, the Israelites, and He says: 

"It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. 

And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

I think that's pretty straightforward. His people have not held up the mightiness and holiness of their God, which is not OK, and he's saying THESE PEOPLE WILL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD. and this is how:

I will forgive, cleanse, renew, and soften.

I think it's powerful and there's something to be said by the fact that God himself insists that the way people will know and fear Him (even when His own children often don't) is through His forgiveness and ability to soften that which has been hardened by sin.

My heart often gets hardened. By disappointment, by independence, by pride, by expectations. 

I get stuck, my heart gets crusty, and a lot of times I find myself enjoying my ability to sit and revel in my stuck-ness. It's easy there. It's comfortable. No scraping or changing or new things I must learn to handle.
God, somehow, knows the exactly perfect time to say, "Ok, enough is enough. I'm tired of My Name being profaned and other people not knowing that I am the Lord because of your lifestyle.
The time has come for you to be vindicated.
The time has come for you to be cleaned.
The time has come for you to sit in my presence and get soggy and waterlogged and gushy again.

Because if you don't, and you don't change, and you don't start praising my name among the nations again, then one thing that water cannot soften- the ROCKS- will be softened to be able to praise my name.
If you don't, THE ROCKS will cry out. If you aren't, THE ROCKS will be un-hardened. My power is that great, and My name is that worthy."

Let His water-ness soften and change and vindicate you. Let him gushify your crust and unstick you.
Then praise and glorify His name among the nations. Someone has to.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Dad...

I always struggle knowing what to say to my parents on days such as this. It seems like no matter how hard I try to convey what my heart treasures about them, I can't quite capture it with words. Today, I was driving back to Clinton from church and 'When Daddy Says I'm Beautiful' by Annie Moses Band shuffled on. I couldn't help but think of some my favorite memories with my Dad...
I remember the MANY nights he would come in from work, probably exhausted, when we lived in Rainbow City, and I would ruuuun to him and wrap myself around his leg. As a five-year-old, I thought it was hilariously fun to let him try to walk through the house with me latched on.
I remember how I thought it was so silly that Mommy was "teacher" and Daddy was "principal".... until I got in trouble and Daddy reinforced the punishment when he got home from work. Then I regretted thinking he didn't actually have a 'job' in the 'school'.
I remember the many arguments he and mom have had (bear with me for a moment, I promise this is a good thing). When I was a kid, it scared me because it seemed like when two people were crying and screaming at each other, that no good could come of it. I was always afraid they would get divorced or something because they argued... Now that I'm older, I'm so grateful to have seen what a working, growing, beautiful marriage looks like. There are fights, and they're not pretty, and they're not easy. But that doesn't mean giving up is an option.
Dad taught me what a husband should be and what a good father is and what a godly man looks like- He never hurt my mom or any of us kids, purposefully or accidentally. We all hurt each others' feelings occasionally, sure... but he handled his anger, and loved us anyway, and trusted the Lord to give him endurance when life was hard and we weren't supportive.
I remember the many Dad & Daughter banquets he took me to through the years, and how every time I felt like a princess. He would tell me how beautiful I was, and I never really believed him. He still tells me how beautiful I am, and I still don't really believe him, but at least I believe he means it.
I remember when he took me and Lauren to our first theatre production when I was 8- Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. I was so enthralled by the sophistication and wonder of it all that I don't even remember the play much at all.
I remember all the times he's asked me to open up to him and share my heart with him, and I've flat-out turned him down and not let him be a friend and confidant.
I remember him teaching me to drive, and how frustrated I got with him so many times, because I of course thought I knew what I was doing. He would always make me say "I could stop, I could stop, I could stop..." approaching a traffic light, then say "I'M COMMITTED." as I got to a point where I would have to drive through it no matter what.
I remember when I was just a preschooler and Daddy had cancer- Hairy Cell Leukemia- and we were constantly praying for him and practically bathing in Purell. I was just a kid then and didn't know what was going on, but now I can picture my dad, the father of four young kids, sitting in a hospital room getting chemotherapy and being so determined to outlive this thing, to fight and endure and live a long, happy life with us. Which he is doing.
I remember him teaching me to fish, helping me ride my first two-wheeled bike, teaching me Physics, holding me as I cried but refused to tell him my heartaches, teaching me to mow the grass with the riding mower, helping me learn to scramble eggs, leading me to Christ, and loving me the way I needed and wanted to be loved.
I can never thank you enough, Dad, for all of this. For teaching me to seek Christ by doing so yourself, for always being willing and able to fix anything wrong with my car, for always being ready to give advice and pour out wisdom, for being supportive, loving, and the most chivalrous and respectable man I know. I'm thankful for all of it.
For the easy and hard times with you, for the good and bad, for the memories I love and even the things I regret. I'm unbelievably blessed to have a father like you. Proverbs 4 is a chapter full of instruction from a father, and it always reminds me of you, because I'm pretty sure everything inside it I've heard come out of your mouth. You are valiant, determined, hard-working, loving, wise, and ultimately such a great picture of Christ to me and all those you encounter.
I LOVE YOU, DADDY! Even though I pick on you and tease you and mock your "Dad" questions... I'm so glad that you let me, and you ask tough questions, and you keep loving and being and doing. You're the best and you're kind of my hero.

"When Daddy says I'm beautiful, he smiles with his eyes, and a happiness that I can't describe fills me up inside. Confidence of love is content within my soul..."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

thoughts of Him that well up in my heart:

I'm really good at overthinking, which you probably already know.
This means that there are continually about 4 or 5 intersecting thoughts in my head, it seems. It's usually a lot of lists and trailing thoughts leading to related topics and such.
Today, I can't help but think of a list of all the reasons that I just love my Jesus, so here it goes:

I love his smiling eyes. I've never seen them, but I feel them a lot, and they're probably the happiest eyes I know.

I love his silliness. Sometimes I can hear Him in my heart just giggling at me (I use "giggling" here not to detract from his manliness, but because I truly believe He can giggle, because I can, and I was made like Him) when I do silly things or have whimsical moments. I think when I run through the rain splashing in puddles, or jump off ledges pretending to flap my wings and fly, that he giggles at me and shakes his head a little and says, "I just love her."

I love his strength. It doesn't run out. It is tender enough to create a child, and powerful enough to devastate entire countries. It is patient enough to work in me slowly, and perfect enough to work best in my weakness.

I love how easygoing he is. There is no such thing as awkward conversations with us. I can tell him anything, rest in Him, sing to Him, yell at him, and just sit there with him and talk without want of conversation topics, for my words come from the overflow of my heart, and He knows my heart so well, and loves me despite its mess.

I love how compassionate and loving he is. His love for the world, for sinners, and for His children is humbling and captivating and breathtaking. It serves as a constant reminder and conviction for me to love others more fully than I think myself capable, more humbly than I find myself able, and more selflessly than is comfortable for me.

I love how consuming he is. When he shows up, everything that is touched by his presence is changed. It's truly intoxicating to be near him, because of his fervor and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. We literally could not live if we were to experience Him fully, because his nature is to consume everything that comes near him, so we live life experiencing snippets of his goodness and glory. It's awe-inspiring.

I love his reprimands. They are often painful, yes, but I know that he is good to those who trust him and whose hearts are His. His hands not only injure and wound, but they also bind up and heal. His ability to break things, and rebuild that which is better and eternal is marvelous.

I love his magnificence. His beauty, excellence, and extravagance are unending, and, opposite from the things of this world, only become stronger and more detailed with time and closeness.

I love his relevance. Not only has he experienced what human life is truly like, but he has also experienced what spiritual life is truly like. He understands 100% of everything I see, hear, do, feel, need, want, etc. He has been in existence forever. He is moving and teaching and being faithful today. He will be all of that, forever. How much more relevant and relatable does it get?

I love his grasp. I love that he holds fast to me when I try to wrest my hand from his grip. I love that his hands are small enough to hold mine and big enough to hold the world. I love that he gave us hands, like his, so that we would know what it means to be held.

I love how unfathomable he is. It's nothing short of phenomenal that He chooses to use weaklings like me on a daily basis to do His awesome deeds. It doesn't make sense. It is odd, illogical, nonsensical, and terrifying. But the fact that it just IS that, and He just DOES and IS everything gives me the peace to rest in the fact that I can't understand it or explain it. If my 'god' were big enough for me to explain, comprehend, or "get", I don't think he would be a god worth serving or a god strong enough to save.

I love his whispers. I've always been a fan of the gentle, intimate nature of whispers and the fact that God is the author of whispers is probably one of my favorite facts about him. The fact that His whispers are meant to be shouted from rooftops (Matt. 10:27, Luke 12:3) is even better. I love how so much of the things he says come about as small intimations and are uttered by a still, small voice.

I love that he accepts my "love". I still don't know how to love fully. I still don't understand or comprehend unconditional love. I still love conditionally, and often times give less than I have.
I love that in spite of my selfishness and inability to fully love, he continues to teach me love by being love to me. He continues to accept the little bits of myself that I have left to give him, and fills me so full of his love that it slowly adds on to my own ability to love him and others.

These are pieces of what He's been doing in my heart. These are miniscule, humanly-expressed versions of the true Him that I've been experiencing. and I love it, and the deep wells of Him it's producing in me.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Whatever He's doing...

The main problem I have with summer is that there's too much time. Granted, it's very welcome for the first 5-8 days after school gets out and I can sleep as much as I want.
Then, I realize how infrequently I'm seeking Christ and loving others and doing profitable things. Most summers, I spend my time working, reading, and watching LOTS of Netflix and Hulu. It's quite embarrassing.
I'm one of those odd people who works best under pressure and needs to have a lot to do in order to be motivated in the least bit. Summer doesn't exactly foster a great atmosphere for me getting stuff done, in that case. I was/am hoping this summer would be different from the last two, since I was at home and working at X-Cel for those, and this one I will be spending in Clinton. I've got summer school to keep me a little bit more motivated, but let's be real: these two non-music classes I'm taking are ridiculously easy. So really the only "hard" part of summer school is the piano & voice lessons part, which only requires patience and much practice. Bearable.
I'm still working at the gym, though it's only one day a week, and will be spending every Sunday in Vicksburg as I work with a church preschool department. This basically means my Sundays and Mondays are extremely busy, and the others days are freckled with beckoning of homework, practice time, people to invest in, and general life-ey things.
That's way too much free time.
I've tried to spend it wisely so far, and I'll give myself a C+ on that work. I have spent a lot of time with friends, talking about life and Jesus and crazy things He's doing- which I treasure and don't regret a microsecond of. I've been reading more, of which I am also glad. But A LOT of time has been spent on facebook, twitter, instagram, netflix, hulu, pinterest, etc. Little time has been spent practicing and studying and doing what I'm staying in town for (SUMMER SCHOOL.)
All of this free time is spent not only sleeping too much and being a couch potato, but most of my waking hours involve over-thinking everything.
My voice teacher told me to practice more so she must be disappointed in me and hate me and think I'm an awful person.
My piano teacher made me play this piece with hands separately, he probably thinks I'm awful at piano and wonders why I'm a music major and just hasn't said anything to me.
A friend said she didn't want to hang out today, I bet she thinks I'm being annoying.
And so on. It mostly just gets worse from there.

I'm telling you, I'm possibly the worst over-thinker in the world.

Sometimes, though, it produces good things.
The other day I was at work and no one showed up for the class, so I had about 20 minutes before I needed to be back. My coworkers invited me to go grab something to drink with them, and I politely and awkwardly declined and headed to the local nature center. I walked out a path to the butterfly garden and sat on a sunny bench and just listened to the world around me, for once. The dragonflies buzzed about hurriedly and set a nice little percussion-ey background for the songs of the birds and whispers of the trees and rustling of the grass. It was all quite poetic a scene, and brought an insanely pensive mood to my heart. So, I sat there and pondered.
How little I know my coworkers. How awkward I feel around them. How awkward I feel around my teachers. How little I know them. How little I know my classmates. How little I know my friends...
And suddenly it's like the thoughts had grown into full-bodied people, and were now inches away from my face saying "You spend your time so selfishly that you invest very little in others and therefore know nothing about them."
It hurt my heart to realize this, and I can only assume that must have been God, because I wasn't hurt that they hadn't taken time to be my friend and share their heart with me, but I was hurt because I suddenly realized all the time I'd spent with them was just pure selfishness. I had done it because I wanted to feel good or look good to them or tell them something "important". It was never because I wanted to know their heart or learn to love them humbly and truthfully.

It hurt my heart to see the hours I could've spent comforting and serving and encouraging had been wasted.

So, since that over-analyzation Tuesday, I've been thinking and praying about ways I can be more intentional and invested in those around me- whether I call them "friend" yet or not. They are all worthy of love and fellowship and friendship and deserve more than the apathetic listening-to-answer time I give them.
I've already had genuine FRIEND time with three people since then, and have made plans with four more for over the next four days. I'm discovering I like life a lot better when it isn't focused on me. It's so much more enjoyable and bearable when I'm not constantly worrying about MY looks or MY words or what people think about ME. This is not to say it's easy. It's humbling, and huge blow to my pride, and has required some apologies already. But already I am freer and more content with life (I guess Jesus knew what He was talking about when he instructed me to throw off my burdens and take up his yoke. It really is light. {Matt. 11:28-30})
I like the chaos that His will is comprised of. It truly is something unlike earthly chaos, because there's a peace within it. Sure, it's scary not knowing what He's doing with my life. But I know who He is and the great ways He works, and THAT I look foward to.

"It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...

To Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out"

welcome to midnight.

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