Prayer

I’m not going to be talking about prayer in groups or at meetings.  Just you and invisible other party.  Welcome to the land of our imaginations.  This wonderful, mysterious, curious place within our minds that absolutely no one else can see.  Sometimes words are the form of communication that is seen or heard in our minds.  There are endless other ways we communicate internally, feelings, physical sensations, pictures, colors, actual scene sequences, actual memories, our skewed memories viewed through feelings, songs, sounds, melodies, listening, waiting, just being, imaginary future conversations or interactions, premonitions, out of body experiences, dreams, waking thoughts, and a plethora I’m sure I have no idea about or haven’t mentioned here.

prayer

All of the above listed experiences communicate something about ourselves and God, back and forth with one another, God experiencing everything our internal spirit experiences, with us.  Immanuel, God with us, not just here on earth, but inside our very selves.  Our spirit is one with God’s spirit.  Everything encompassed in this communion I would consider as “prayer,” others use the terms like meditation or spirituality.

God’s kingdom is gloriously unseen.  It’s not at a place that has GPS coordinates.  This is wonderful, because instead, it is everywhere.  No matter what dirty hole in the earth a person finds themselves in, there God is fully alive within them.  No matter about the people around us or circumstances, there, in all his fullness, is God’s beautiful self abiding in our hearts.  Sometimes we have a harder time remembering this or experiencing it when we get distracted with ourselves, our performance, our strivings, our failures, and we believe lies about ourselves or the God that lives inside of us.  But this never the less, makes all of the above no less true.  The fullness of God lives within you.  How awesome is that!

The first step in prayer is getting past our own religious performance involved with our interaction with God.  God’s kingdom I imagine is a lot more like a children’s outdoor jungle gym than a church service.  Modesty and restraint are not necessarily going to help us here.  I would say the beginning of prayer is basically being completely and 100% honest with this God that lives inside us and this also involves 100% honest with ourselves.  This concept sounds easier than it seems.  Our minds are filled with justifications and self-perceptions that sometimes aren’t true.  But no mind, moving forward.

Honesty with ourselves and God is just the foundation of relationship.  Prayer is simply relationship.  This does not exclude asking things and communicating needs, but involves so much more.  God watches movies with you, rides bikes with you, cooks dinner with you, rides in the car with you.  God lives with us!  I enjoy expressing my feelings and verbalizing my questions and frustrations with God.  When I intentionally chose to share life with him is often when I also get to enjoy his participation in mine.  God will communicate love to however you are open to receiving it.  He will tell you he loves you and he is with you daily.

SPIRITUALITY

Maybe you are more a picture person, or a word person, or feeling person, but when you engage with God in your imagination it may be unseen but it is possibly more real than any relationship you have living in these tents of flesh called bodies.  Engage with God and have fun with him.  He wants to set you free of your fears but he also wants to make you laugh.  He is a gentleman and will not force you to engage with him, but he is looking forward to every moment you do.  Love is the great mystery of our inner world with God, his kingdom of beauty and strength inside of us.  He loves to respond to all that you offer himself of you.

 

Trust/Rest

I’ve been around the idea of trust for sometime, but I didn’t really begin to think about rest until listening to a series on it maybe seven years ago.  I never realized how powerful rest is.  When we strive and fear and fret, its not only so exhausting, its just simply a less fun way to be alive.  I think it helped me to answer the question, what does trust look like?  It can and often, looks like rest

Our imagination can cause our heart to tighten up and our breath to shorten when we imagine some undesired outcome.  Sometimes this process of fear is actually worse than even what we’re fearing!  Most times, these imaginings never come to fruition and they are nothing more than a haunting illusion.  But the goal of fear in our lives is to cause us to become our own Gods.  This is never in our job description.

The only thing that interrupts this is a living relationship with the one who is God.  When we know he is good and we know he is in our future situations and events as much as he’s in our immediate moment, we will rest in the face of illusions of possible frustrations or disappointments.  I think one of the ways God displays his greatness is actually in the personal details of our lives.  He’s really good at.

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In the kingdom of God, a living relationship with a good father, brother, and friend (just a few of the dimensions of our relationship with God) keeps our heart at rest.  Because we experience his love for us, we believe it, we remember it, and we trust rather than react like someone who is alone and needs to fix/control things when there could be an event or situation outside of our expectations.

In God’s kingdom, peace doesn’t have to be forsaken.  If there is a thought or conversation that threatens it, when you recognize that feeling, it is okay to let go of control, to change or fix something.  It is okay not to figure everything out or why something went wrong.  It is okay not having everything figured out for things to come.  It’s okay.  You’re going to be okay.  You are living loved.  And there is someone very capable with you sharing in your experience who is not worried, not fretting, not far away, and who understands and loves you very much.

Trust/Rest is just one more wonderful attribute of God’s wonderful invisible kingdom.  I have forgotten this in certain situations and events in my life.  I can feel his tangible love even now.  And just recently I have been able to completely let go of things in the past I don’t understand, aren’t fixed, and can’t change.  I can trust/rest God completely with the past as much as we can with illusions of our future.  He really is good and moves on our behalf.  It is a beautiful journey of courage that only love creates: surrender.

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My husband’s AT trail update

 

For those of you not on facebook or not linked to my account:

A congratulations to my husband Joel who is not done with the Appalachian Trail, but just scaled Mt Washington in New Hampshire on his 120th day on the trail! He is on the hardest part of the trail past the 1,850 mile marker with less than 350 miles left to go and many mountains in between.

He’s got some awesome photos coming in you can check out on his Instagram account whether you Instagram or not by clicking on his photo links to the right. Don’t forget to scroll to the right or left because he puts up multiple photos at once. Happy viewing! So proud of you honey!

 

My First Art Class

2017-07-16 20.54.58Today I participated in my first group art session.  I remember seeing pictures of others participating in these classes while living abroad the last few years and wanting to try it for myself!  The painting for today happened to be my absolute favorite type of art: impressionism.  I myself have never before attempted this style, or really any style 😉 , but I so thoroughly enjoyed painting through another’s eyes.  It was absolutely delightful.

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Kindness


Kindness is one of the most powerful tools in God’s kingdom.  It has the ability to pierce even the darkest places with bright light and cross any cultural or language barrier.  It is the tangible manifestation of love.  If any other expression of love is given to you, but this is one thing is withheld, do you believe it?

My only regrets in life are when some inner judgement of another or an offense by them has caused me to justifiably (so I thought) withhold kindness from someone or some group of people.  And continually I am humbled and shown God’s love for those very people and again my heart humbles itself to agree with heaven towards them.

Random acts of kindness towards strangers are beautiful and powerful, but what about also choosing to be kind even when we are being yelled at by someone we love, or have been misjudged by friends, or are being shunned by those closest to our hearts?  What if we never forsook kindness in our marriages?  Or our parenting?


Kindness is the only thing that matters.  This is what lingers with people, this is what hearts recognize from eternity when they experience it.  Sometimes kind people are also not given a lot of recognition.  For instance, cold and aloof people appear can appear more powerful or popular.  Sometimes kind people don’t demand or command attention.  But these people, the kind ones, are the wealthiest people on the planet.  They posses a self-love that is genuine and therefore have an undiminished supply of love to share, whether others appreciate it or not, or whether it is reciprocated or not.

True kindness is never earned.  Kindness is only kindness when it is unconditional.  It especially shines the brightest when the recipient of it is underserving.  These moments are our greatest opportunities in life to shine.  You possess something that changes lives.  You possess something humans were made to experience daily and that heaven never forsakes.

Never let kindness leave you…   proverbs 3:3

Some of the most encouraging instances in my life were when I was hard on myself and someone, despite myself being unpleasant, was relentlessly kind to me causing me to dare to believe again that I was worthy of the love they were showing me.  True kindness, I believe, is one of the most attractive features of any human being.  It exudes inner peace, confidence, and grace, whose impact is often beyond description.

Choose to be kind today.  Any arguments of reason in our minds placing ourselves in a position of withholding kindness from someone are false and we are compromising our own inner dignity and strength when we do this.  Choose kindness while you still can, you will not regret it.  It is the very nature of the king of this kingdom. This is the very expression of himself. Jesus, the Kind One. Where you find kindness, there you have found him.

Joy

He keeps turning my eye here.  I try to focus on other things in this world or his kingdom and he keeps pointing me to this thing called happiness, this thing called Joy.  Perhaps the wide road is the one of worry, fear, anxiety and frustration and the narrow road of heaven we’re actually invited to traverse upon could just be the road of trust, peace, contentment, love, rest and joy.

Joy somehow sparkles with glory and a supernatural existence; it is a gift of heaven without limit and often overlooked.  Joy has a lowly state.  It is often seen as ignorance or immaturity.  Serious, urgent things are looked upon with esteem and great importance.  But Joy is not news.  It is not urgent.  It does not fight for power.  Joy is meek and unassuming.  It is persistent and unexpected, playful and a welcomed guest.

There are things we must chose to not give attention to in order to participate in Joy.  We must look away from the fears of our own condition and any worries ahead.  We must turn away from decisions gone awry behind us.  Joy requires us, or allures us rather to be entirely present once again.  We must let go of performance in it’s company.  It is participation with someone wholly other than ourselves.  A different source from which this magical river flows; Jesus’ side.

It is God’s expressed desire for our Joy to be full, not finding lack in our experience of this wonderful gift of heaven.  But the realist would ask, what is Joy’s purpose?  How is it productive or long lasting?  Joy is a fruit to be enjoyed, not to be made into a gadget for a machine to use.  It’s expression is as purposeful as the beauty of a flower.  It is meant to be enjoyed.

The treasure map to finding joy is clearly shown in scripture.  Psalm 16 says the fullness of Joy is found in God’s presence.  Everlasting pleasure is found at his right hand.  Not on this earth or in a thing or an activity or a person, but in God’s company.  His nearness, his friendship.  Where can you find his will for your emotions?  In the goodness, safety, commitment and gladness of himself!

So many things can happen in life that deter our hearts from this child-like track.  Perceived failures, tragic losses, disappointed expectations, and hurtful betrayal are just to name a few.  The eternal part of joy is that we don’t derive it from what we see around us, what people are saying, or doing.  We derive it from his presence within us.  It is truly powerful and absolutely unassailable.  Nothing has truly threatened or will ever be able to take away this gift of Joy that has been given to us through Christ Jesus.   He has overcome everything that claims to have overcome his presence in your walk with him in this life.  His Joy is yours.  His Joy is mine.  And it endures.

Character
Covenant
Creativity
Family
Freedom
Gift Giver
Love
Praise
Self-love

love has won