November 21, 2013

Burn Bright

I'm not feeling very well this morning… a raging headache and that sluggish flu-like feeling are competing mercilessly to take me out and spoil my day and keep me from doing all the things I want and need to do.  But there's more...  There's more that's attempting to take me out and hold me down and keep me sluggish and small.  This post is my response, a battle cry of sorts, to the more.

If we lingered over coffee this morning and honestly shared our hearts, I would tell you how mine was once deeply broken, betrayed, abandoned, and voted out.  I would share with you how that came to be… a long and tragic and truly unbelievable story from my life.  But once I shared the pain and loss and heartache I've known, I would tell you with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eyes another story from my life, a stunningly redemptive story… the story of what God did for me in the midst of such great tragedy.

I would tell you how he came for my heart and drew a sword on my behalf and fought against the many forces of evil that have desperately tried to destroy me and hold me down and keep me small.  I would tell you how he set me free from toxic people and relationships, and how he took the false and hurtful and horrible words spoken of me and crushed them with the truth… the truth of who I am and who he's made me to be.  And I would tell you how he held me up when I could stand no longer and how he carefully pieced together my broken heart when I was certain it was irrevocably shattered.  I would tell you how my life has been beautifully transformed and forever changed by a God who has loved me more fiercely and faithfully than I have ever known.

And with tears spilling down my cheeks, I'd share with you how he said to me, "You were made to shine. You were made for life. And even though you've lost your way, turn and you will hear me say… You were made for more, so much more, child of everlasting light, made to blaze away the night. So, burn bright...  Burn bright."


And then I'd tell you the beautiful truth that those words are meant for you, too.  No matter how your story has played out, or what its chapters have held.  No matter the pain and loss and heartache you've known, or the choices you've made, or the current mess of your life. You, too, were made to shine.  You were made for life. And even if you've lost your way, you can turn and hear Jesus say… "You were made for more, so much more, child of everlasting light, made to blaze away the night. So, burn bright… Burn bright."

And then I imagine, we'd cry tears of joy as we'd marvel together at the fabulous, life-saving and life-giving love of Jesus. We'd wonder at his incredible mercy, his favor and kindness, and his unyielding power on our behalf. And with full and grateful hearts, we'd run with abandon to his safe, comforting arms where we'd find strength and joy and hope over-flowing. And in response, we couldn't help but to rise up from the ashes and make something beautiful from all the broken pieces.

You were made to shine.

You were made for life.

So, burn bright…

Burn bright.


This post was inspired by the beautiful song, "Burn Bright," by Natalie Grant.  Listen here


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Marianne Williamson


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November 20, 2013

On Tight Jeans and Truth

Yesterday afternoon I made a quick run to the grocery store to pick up a prescription for my girl and grab a few groceries.  As I was making my way through the aisles, trying to remember what was on the list I'd left at home, I became very aware of how uncomfortable my jeans were.

I found myself tugging at the legs, adjusting the waist, and pulling them down a bit while I filled my cart with all the things we needed and some we didn't need as well.  (Maybe you know how this goes… you go to the store for three items but leave with thirty.)  In my mind, as I tugged and adjusted and pulled and shopped, I tried to figure out why my jeans were so tight...  "Have I gained weight?  Have I been eating too many cookies?  Too much bread?  Too much salt?  Am I bloated?  Have I not been working out enough?  Why are my jeans so tight?"

I felt as if I weighed five hundred pounds and as I stayed with that feeling, I began to feel down and frustrated and started thinking of how I should cut back a little, eat less, work out more, lose a few pounds, and so forth.  And the more I thought about those things, the more depressed and disillusioned I became.

But then… it hit me.  I remembered.  I had just washed these jeans and instead of hanging them to dry like I normally do, I put them in the dryer to shrink because they had actually gotten too big for me.  They weren't too small.  They were too big.  The truth was not that I had been eating too much or had gained weight or needed to work out more, the truth was simply that my jeans had shrunk.


So, in light of that truth, I made myself physically stop in the snack and chip aisle and look down at what felt like my five hundred pound body.  In spite of what I felt or thought, I knew I needed to see and believe what was true.  And what I saw was the healthy body of a forty-three year old woman who once gave birth to two children, not necessarily skinny, but relatively slim and most definitely NOT five hundred pounds.

Without even realizing it, how easy it is for us to be swept up and carried away by all of our many thoughts and feelings.  Yet, most of the time, our thoughts and feelings can't be trusted because they come and go and fluctuate depending on our moods and experiences.  Not to mention that every day we're bombarded by the voices of the world, our flesh, and the enemy.  It's a slippery and dangerous slope when we embrace every thought and feeling we have as truth.  I wonder just how much freedom and life we'd experience if we learned to discern what was true and turn from what was false.  How would our days play out differently if we brought our many thoughts and feelings before God and asked him to show us the truth?  And what joy and peace and rest would we know if we aligned ourselves with that truth, his truth?

Philippians 4:8 says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about."  

As I walk with God, I'm learning there's great value to the practice of checking in with my thoughts throughout my day and to paying close attention to what I'm thinking and feeling and believing.  As I pray for wisdom and discernment, if I find that my thoughts and feelings don't fall in line with what's true, what God says is true, or they don't bring life, then I reject them.  I release them and give them over to Jesus and carry on.  Though it's a practice I'm continually growing in, it's saving me much stress and heartache and wasted time and energy.  It helps me live free and stay free.  Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32) and I so deeply want truth and the freedom it brings.


"I know that you want truth to be in my heart.
    You teach me wisdom deep down inside me."
~Psalm 51:6


"I think; therefore I am."
~Rene Descartes


"Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth."
~Colossians 3:2


"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
~2 Corinthians 10:5


"The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."
~Romans 8:6



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November 10, 2013

Weekend Words: Relief and Rest




Really?  Could this really and possibly be true?  That God doesn't want a single thing from me, he just simply wants me?  Because if that's true and I believe it deep, deep down in the core of who I am, then the thousands of things I carry and juggle and try to understand in this life, the things I try to work out in this life, just lifted from my shoulders and fell away.  Or, better yet, they fell at his feet, because that's where I ran, right to the very feet of God to drop the heavy bags that weigh down my heart and life.

Knowing I am wanted and pursued and loved beyond imagination by the God of the Universe doesn't push me away, it draws me near… very, very near.  When I know that God is not looking for me to do better, be better, live better, work better, love better, forgive better... and on and on and on the list goes… but he simply wants me, just as I am, then how could I not race to his feet, drop my heavy load, fall into his arms, and let his warm, comforting, safe embrace engulf me?  Why would I stay away and continue to carry a weight he never intended me to carry, a weight he wants to bear and even came to bear?

That's the mystery and beauty of the gospel… that God isn't waiting for us to get our act together before he can love us, save us, use us and enjoy us.  He wants us now.  Just as we are.  And he loves us now, just as we are.  Not as we should be, could be, or will be.  Just as we are.

So go.

Run there now.

Straight to his feet.

Drop your heavy burden, fall into his arms, and find the rest you so desperately need.

He loves you and doesn't want a thing from you, he just wants you.

Just as you are.

It's all true, my friends… so unbelievably and wonderfully and life-savingly true.


“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
~ Jeremiah 31:3


"Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love; he will conquer you to bless you, just as he said. For the Lord is faithful to his promises. 
Blessed are all those who wait for him to help them."
~ Isaiah 30:18


"Oh, I’m running to Your arms 
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign."
~ lyrics to "Forever Reign" by Hillsong LIVE: watch below











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November 8, 2013

Thankful

It's the beginning of November, the month where we slow down and say thanks, maybe in ways we haven't throughout the year.  We pause and look around at all we've been blessed with and we see and remember and we're grateful. 

I was putting gas in my car one day this week and looked up to notice the beautiful sky above me.  It was blue as the sea with cool little cotton ball clouds scattered all about it.  I grabbed my phone, took a picture, wrote a caption, and quickly posted it to Instagram and as I jumped back in my car and drove away, I thought to myself how much I love what I do.  This creating-and-writing-and-sharing-and-connecting-and-offering-my-life-and-heart thing I do.

My life's work and the work I prize more than anything is being a wife to my husband and a mother to my two children.  That is what I do each and every day and that is where my heart lies most tenderly and deeply… with my three very precious people.  But these things that God keeps calling me to, these things he's continually working out in my life… creating, writing, sharing, connecting and offering, they are capturing my heart as well and I am falling in love.

Photo credits to my sweet girl who took these lovely photos on our apple-picking adventure.

I've kind of always known that God made me to live my life out loud, to share my heart, and live openly. And I've known for some time that he gave me writer-teacher-leader-lover gifts, but I haven't ever quite settled into them like I have until over the past year or so.  I truly love what I'm doing, love the work God is giving me, and I especially love all he's crafting in me in the process.  He's stretching my circle and stretching me and growing it all bit by bit and it feels really good, natural, right, and true.

And so, for all of this, I am thankful.  Truly thankful.  Thankful for this place God has given me to share my heart and offer what I've come to know and love and experience of him.  And I'm thankful for you, my readers and friends and followers, for honoring me with the time you take to read, to listen, and to follow along on my journey.  I'm thankful for your encouragement, for the ways you cheer me on, and for how you share from your own life and heart through your comments.


I'm deeply enjoying this season and I'm thankful for the dear hearts I've grown to know and love in the midst of it.  And most of all, I'm so very thankful for Jesus, for his kindness, his incredible love, and the endless ways he's blessing me and showing me his favor.

In closing, I share with you some words from the prologue to, "The Red Tent," by Anita Diamant.  They capture some of the essence of my heart in this time and place...

"I am so grateful that you have come. I will pour out everything inside me so that you may leave this table satisfied and fortified. Blessings on your eyes. Blessings on your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over." 

If we haven't yet connected on Instagram, you can find me by my username: lifefullandfree.  I love taking photos and documenting our journey, both the highlights and the random events of our days.  You're welcome to follow along.  And, as always, if you'd like to subscribe to my blog and receive my posts via email, you can sign up to the right of my page, just follow the steps.

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."
~ Emile Zola

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
~ Steve Jobs

"Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
 ~ Howard Thurman


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