Tag Archive | Christianity

All the Runners Run

Boy that is profound, isn’t it? All the runners run. Duh. That’s why they’re runners.

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I’ve long been a runner. Not always physically, but I’m a runner nonetheless. All of my life I kept running. Running from the boogey man, from pain, from fears, from people, from love, from Jesus.

Almost ten years ago I also started running physically. What great bringing together of the inside and outside of my life. Run away on the inside, run away on the outside.

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I recently spent a glorious week in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri. We used to always joke that Missouri was really spelling M-I-S-E-R-Y. This week was anything but misery.  I was attending a rather intensive retreat and Jesus exploded all over this woman.

By all over, I really mean All. Over. Completely.

My prayer going into the retreat was that Jesus would ruin me for life as normal. That I would  have zero desire to ever back to what my life had been like. He completely undid me!

I will never, ever forget my time there. I will never forget what He told me there. I will never forget the pictures He gave me.

I am ruined. Forever ruined by Him and for Him.

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If you were to zoom in on my necklace in the picture above you would find the pendant is a stick figure of a runner. Very much indicative of my life to date. I wore it with happiness.

Happiness but not joy.

I had been home for a just a couple of days at the most when I was putting the necklace back on one morning when I heard Jesus speak to my soul.

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

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I held it in my hands, looking at it. And again I heard Him speak,

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

My soul reacted with joyful abandonment. And I threw the necklace in the trash. I have been completely set free from my running from everything.

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Everything.

I still run. It just looks different now. Instead of running from, I run to. I run to Him. I run to life. I run to love. I run to joy. I run to friendships. I run and when I run I feel His pleasure.

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The Truth about Me.

But God demonstrates His own love toward Virginia, in that while she was yet a sinner, Christ died for Virginia. Much more than having now been justified by His blood, Virginia shall be save from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:8-9)

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Therefore, having been justified by faith, Virginia has peace with God through her Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also she has obtained her introduction by faith into this grace in which Virginia stands, and she exults in hope of the glory of God and not only this, but Virginia also exults in her tribulations. Knowing that tribulations brings about perseverance and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope. And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within Virginia’s heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to her. For while Virginia was still helpless – at the right time Christ died for ungodly Virginia. (Romans 5:1-6)

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When I fully realize that all of everything I do is because of His grace toward me – I fully realize I have nothing to prove and therefore I have nothing to defend. (Romans 6:1-3)

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Therefore Virginia has been buried with Jesus through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father so she too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

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Jesus died in the flesh, so I could live in the Spirit. (Romans 6:8-9)

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Lord, here I am –  a weak, frail, fleshly girl – I present to You my body as one alive from the dead. I present my members to You as instruments of Your righteousness. I place myself under Your grace –  because sin shall not be my master. (Romans 6:12-14)

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But THANKS be to God that though Virginia was a slave of sin, she became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which she was committed, and having been freed from sin, Virginia became a slave of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)

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Slave of Sin = Dead to Righteousness.
Slave of Righteousness = Dead to sin.
Alive to sin and the law = Dead to Righteousness and God
Alive to Righteousness and God = Dead to sin and the law.

I was made to die to the law through the body of Christ that I might marry (be joined to) Christ – every time I serve sin I am committing adultery. (Romans 7)

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There is therefore now no condemnation for Virginia who is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

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But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in Virginia, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to her mortal body through His Spirit who indwells her. (Romans 8:11)

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For Virginia has not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again…
BUT Virginia has received a spirit of adoption as a daughter by which she can cry out, Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15)

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Suffer – then Glory.
Suffering brings glorification. (Romans 8:17)

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Predestined.
Called.
Justified.
Glorified. (Romans 8:30)

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What then shall I say to these things? If God is for Virginia, who is against her? (Romans 8:31)

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When I am in tribulation, distress, being persecuted, in a famine, and naked, peril or seeing a sword (instrument of death), I think I have been separated from the love of Christ but that isn’t the TRUTH! I overwhelmingly conquer through Jesus who loves me through them. (Romans 8:37-39)

(all verse from the New American Standard Bible)

Love Suffers

Love. It’s what we all want. What we all need. It is what we crave.

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But what does Love mean? What does it mean to live loved? Is that even possible? Is it possible to live loved all the time, even when we feel loved less than?

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I’ve mentioned a teary time or two that I’m reading Ann Voskamp‘s book, The Broken Way. I’m currently in a love-hate relationship with it. And with Ann. I mean nothing bad about Ann at all. Don’t misunderstand. But it’s like she lives in my town, or at least in my head and is pointing out all the places I need to change to grow.

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It was through her book I started putting a red cross on my wrist. As a reminder to me every day to live cruciform. To live in the shape of a cross every day. To remember the best gift is to love others. To remind myself to Be The Gift…to Give It Fully Today.

When I choose to focus on someone else who is just as needy as I am, to focus on them and meeting their needs, trusting the Meeter of my needs to meet my very great needs. When I do this then the healing of my broken and shattered places begins.

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When my healing begins, my cup is no longer empty.

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It’s a little oxymoronic I think to have a blog about my FULL cup when it seems my cup lives empty.

But that is how I am to live. I am to live empty, poured out, given out in love to the One who loves me.

“‘Love will always make you suffer. Love only asks, ‘who am I willing to suffer for?'”

Those words leaped of the page of Ann’s book last night.  I underline it in green, and read it over a few times. Trying to grasp the meaning. Rejecting the statement as impossibly untrue. Love doesn’t make you suffer. Love erases suffering.

Then I read further.

“Love, before it is anything, to be love at all, it is first patient. …patience is nothing but a willingness to suffer. Patience and the word passion, they both come from the exact same root word, patior, to suffer. …Passion embraces suffering because there’s no other way to embrace love. Love isn’t about feeling good about others; love is ultimately being willing to suffer FOR others.” (from Ann’s book, The Broken Way, page 137. emphasis mine.

And I was stopped dead in my reading tracks.

Love is being willing to suffer for others…because Jesus (LOVE) was willing to suffer for me.

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When the words you read make you jot down your thoughts on the other side of the page and then you take a moment to read them. The realization of my own black-hearted self-centeredness washed over me like a waterfall.

I can not say I love anyone if I am not willing to suffer for them. I can not.

I’m rather reserved with my “I love Yous” I am. They don’t come easy for me.

This doesn’t come easy for me either. Every time I have said it thus far in my life has more than likely been a lie. A complete fabrication. A lie I’ve said to make myself feel good and to make you feel good.

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The man I promised myself to in marriage. If I am not willing to suffer for him, I am not willing to love him.

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Those children that I gave birth to, if I’m not willing to suffer for them. I do not love them.

Those precious souls I’ve been blessed to have befriend this broken pile of flesh, if I’m not willing to suffer for them, I’m not willing to love them.

As painful as all of that was to realize, I knew in the very deepest part of my soul, if I am not willing to suffer for Jesus, I am not willing to love Him.

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If I am not willing to take up my cross and follow Him in the path of His suffering, joining in His suffering for me, then I am not willing to love Him.

And if I am not willing to love Him, I am not willing or able to love anyone else.

So my prayer for myself and you this Christmas season is simply to be willing to be willing to love Him as He loves us. To be willing to suffer for Him because that is the path to wholeness, life and love.

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Broken Praise

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My soul exalts the Lord, 
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior

Can I do that? Can I really do that when the pain is great and goes so deep?

Can I choose to exalt my God when He seems so far away?

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For He has regard for the humble state of His bond slave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

What will I choose to focus on? This? Or the pain that is crushing? The ache in my heart that won’t go away, the feelings that are oh so real, or my God who is even more real?

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For the Mighty One has done Great things for me;
And Holy is His Name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation

Can I remember the great things He has done for me?  I know He has. Even now when pain is clouding my vision I know He has done GREAT things for me. I know because I remember, fondly and long for the GREAT again.

It seems light years away.  I know it was last week, but it seems like a forever ago to me.

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Since deciding the best way to help my hurting soul was to Be The Gift to someone else, I have failed so miserably. I decided to Go MAD Monday, to Go and Make A Difference in someone and for someone.

Right now I don’t even think I know how to do that anymore.

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Change your focus.

Focus on Living Cruciform.

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I don’t know how to do that when life hurts and falls apart. When I’m holding on by one fraying, thin thread. When it takes all my concentration to put one foot in front of the other and keep marching.

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Choose joy.

I need to remember that I have a choice. Every second. Every day.

Even when the tears run silent rivers down my cheeks, even when my body is racked with heaving, shaking sobs, I can choose.

Even when it feels I have no choice. Even when I feel stuck. Even when I feel He is silent. Even when I feel abandoned and alone. Even when my prayers are stuck in my throat. Even when my prayers are sobs.

Even then.

I can choose.

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He has filled the hungry with GOOD Things
…He has given help to Israel His servant in remembrance of His mercy

Something To Be Thankful For

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“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you.”(Ezekiel 28:15)

We were created blameless –perfect. Our default was righteousness.

But sin changed that. Sin brought shame, condemnation,  separation,  death and unrighteousness.

But Grace changes that! Grace brings healing, salvation, restoration,  covering, togetherness,  freedom and righteousness restored.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Musings on the State of Affairs

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Lately I’ve really been musing on several different topics as my mind tends to flit here and there. You never know what will come out of my mouth because I never know what will pop into my head.

I’ve been pondering the most this idea of Crazy Love. No, not the book by Frances Chan which is (and has been) sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, but the whole idea of loving like crazy. Loving when I feel just so give out, so empty. Loving big when I feel so needy inside.

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It’s definitely living counter-culture. Even in the church. We just don’t live like that. We think we have to know what it feels like be loved, we have to always be full of love before we can pour any out.

“You can’t give what you don’t have” is only true of the tangible. I really believe Jesus not only calls us to live life, live love loud and out-loud He expects us to do it. Loving people isn’t an option.

Claiming we don’t have the ability or capability to love others isn’t an option either, at least not for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  We have to live love because Love lives IN us!

Think about that for a pair of moments.

Love. Lives. Inside. Of. Me.

Love Lives. Inside. Of. You.

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You see, if you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit you are indwelt by Love. Because we are told in 1 John God IS Love. (1 John 4:8)

That’s different than being told “God loves”.

So even when we feel all-give out, and haven’t a clue what it feels like to be loved at all, or how to love, or too needy of love from someone else, we CAN love others. Always. All the time. Whether we feel able to or not. We can. And we have to.

So since I’ve been pondering this, I’ve decided to bring back Go MAD Mondays.

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Go MAD Mondays….when we consciously look for ways to love loud and out-loud on another. It could be someone you know, it could be a complete stranger. It could be paying for the car behind you in line, or the carS behind you in line. It could be walking into a grocery store and finding someone with a full grocery cart and paying for the whole thing. It could be slipping your debit card into the slot at the gas pump for someone else before they get the chance. Or letting someone go ahead of you in line. Or it could be smiling at someone.

Or shock! It could be responding in patience and love when you’re in a hurry and stressed. Responding in kindness when someone else makes a mistake and inconveniences you.

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Isn’t that the way to really live thanksgiving? To really live Love? To pour Him out to a world that is so desperate to know they are loved, that someone sees them.

We will find the more love we pour out the more love we feel, the more we feel loved.

 “…for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you”
Psalm 116:7b (nasb)

 

Of Bread and Wine

thankfulmugLately I’ve been pondering communion. The Eucharist. The time in our worship when we sit in somber solemnness and take the Bread and the Wine.

Then after we sing a hymn (or not) we just get up, vacate the sanctuary and go about our lives as if nothing of any import had just happened. As if our lunch plans superseded anything that Jesus did for us that day on the cross.

As if the roast we have at home in the oven was more pressing than the sacrifice that saved our souls from the fiery pits.

Maybe it’s only those who have recently been singed by a fiery pit who really understand the Eucharist. The giving of thanks. The importance of what we just did.

I think all too often communion is just another thing we do as if by rote memory. “Oh, yes, it’s the first Sunday. We have communion. Crap dang it! We just had that last month (or last week) and now the service will go long. And I’m starving. I wonder if my chicken will burn in the oven because now we have to have communion. Or maybe someone will invite us over/out for lunch? I wonder who it will be.”

We’ve already forgotten the Jesus we claim to love, we’ve forgotten His sacrifice, we’ve forgotten the Bread and the Wine and we haven’t even partaken of it yet.

“Do THIS in Remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19)

What is the THIS we are supposed to do?

Maybe our version of communion, the Eucharist, isn’t it. I know for sure our attitude towards the Eucharist is definitely not it.

Maybe it isn’t communion Jesus is after. Maybe what He is really saying is simply, “Remember Me” In all of our every day activity. “As you eat and drink, be remembering Me. As you walk in the way, as you sit to relax, as you work, as you play, just remember Me. Include Me in your day. Think about Me. Make Me a living, vital part of your every day mundane.

Remember Me.

In the days that are mundane for you, when you just do the very same thing you’ve done before for a thousand yesterdays stretching into a million tomorrows.

Remember Me.

When it is so mind-numbingly boring you just want to scream.

Remember Me.

When the days are exciting and special,

Remember Me.

Remember My love for you. Remember My brokenness for you.

Remember Me.

Maybe, just maybe what we are to remember is not the bread and wine, but the Person who IS the Bread and Wine.

Maybe it’s just like Christmas, we forget the Christ-child in our rush to open packages. In our communion we forget the One we’re supposed to commune with. We forget the reason for our Eucharist in our rush to get it done and over with.

We should remember Him, because He never forgets us!

Oh Bread of Life, help me to Remember You. Let me not forget You or Your sacrifice. Help me to savor each moment of life with You. Help me choose to Remember You at all times. Don’t let me forget the Giver when I’m partaking of the Eucharist. Let me give thanks to You and For You.