Two-Fold Mature Spirit Partnership

I wanted to write a brief piece mentioning walking with God in everyday life that is two-fold in living life that springs from the spirit of God.

The first part is hearing.  I don’t always hear a phrase or words or a song from God unless I’m being intentionally reflective or asking God a direct question in my mind and thoughts.  I do often notice inspired thoughts as I am just going through life open to direction.  This can come as a reminder to do something I have completed forgotten, or it can be an inspired way to encourage someone or do an act of service or it can be a solution that previously you couldn’t see or something that requires your attention.  I notice these thoughts when they come into my head are not my own and they often feel more like an invitation for partnership that has life and glory on the other side of it rather than a command or requirement.  These are the types of communication I believe Jesus referred to when he says I do what I see my father doing.  These can come as pictures in your head or ideas in your imagination but they truly are powerful and divinely inspired even if they don’t feel revolutionary or earth shattering.  Obedience always results in lasting fruit.  And sometimes this just looks like your character choices in maintaining or pursuing connection in relationships.

This is the first step of hearing and living a life flowing from the river of God.  The second part is where the wisdom of maturity comes in.  Just because you’ve received inspiration doesn’t mean to run and execute it immediately.  Often there is freedom to when you are inspired to respond at leisure or right away in peace.  But there can also be a shelf period when hearing from God.  I recognize this in other believers I respect and admire.  They receive a thought but then carry it within them until God orchestrates circumstances and timing for its release or execution.  For instance, you may feel inspired to say something to a certain individual that would be encouraging to them but perhaps don’t feel peace about writing it through an email or calling them on the phone.  Perhaps the Lord has you run into them by chance two days later and God brings that word of encouragement you had for them to mind and you share it in that moment.  This often is the best way to pursue obedience.  God really often does not need our initiative when taking care of kingdom business, often he just is looking for our response in the midst of his continuous divine orchestration.

One caution in this is when things have sat so long on the shelf or get pushed to the back they fall off and never happen.  Keep in mind the world doesn’t end when this happened.  There is no condemnation in walking in the spirit with the Lord.  Everything, including our learning and failure, carries value.  But perhaps there is an act or a word or a communication or a thought or a creative idea that the Lord has invited you into once that maybe is still ripe with glory available for you to bring to earth from the heaven in your mind.  The waiting on God to create the opening is a part of the maturing process of hearing from God and walking hand in hand with him.  Friends influence each other and what a privilege share life with a living, intimate, kind, forgiving God.

One way you may have to listen beyond your understanding is in regards to your own self worth.  God will tell you a million times that you are worthy, lovely, righteous, worth his love, and full of nobility but somehow we continually need to be reminded to believe it!  Often we are our own worst critique and rarely cut ourselves some slack.  Jesus continually reminds me of his undeserved favor, and his kindness and affection is something you need to be open to hearing, and not only that, but believing it!

Blessings on your adventures is hearing and walking with Jesus!

“What are you doing?”

As my husband and I are embarking on this journey of faith regarding these two upcoming missions trips, I realize there has been a gap of time since I used to write and share more frequently.  Since coming back to the states from Jordan, I have stepped back from social media.  It has been wonderfully and entirely refreshing.  Not a moment of my day is spent focusing on what my life appears like or trying to capture it for show, or randomly seeing people that God led me to in past season of life but now are now longer in relationship with me anymore.  A relationship based solely on shared photos does not impart to me relationship.  I live in a reality where the people who know what’s going in my life are people I’m in relationship with.  And I like it that way.

Unfortunately, that does cause a bit of distance despite the constant availability of archaic phone calls.   I even find any attempt to communicate an internal reality via text is a road that ends only in reducing something to facts and can leave me frustrated.  You have the dichotomy of being so close to connection with another human being yet you feel still so far from being valued or seen, this being said by a person who feels love through quality time.

Even in my workplace a looping email exchange that takes days to get clarity on intent could be solved in a 30 second two-way phone conversation.  But alas people are fine with being impersonal, so I try to communicate love as much as possible in systems of speed and distance.  I find myself dreamily longing for the generation of passing time by sitting on the front porch but I also know this was largely due to the inconvenience of a home without temperature control and lack of available entertainment.

All of that to say, I love the ability to communicate and share this way on the internet.  Words have power and ideas change the world.  I can release anything, anytime of day, to be accessible by almost anyone in any country.  And here I am writing to you.

Joel and I moved out to Redding, CA on the invitation of property management.  Within a few short months, Joel found ourselves sitting in front of families that were telling us the same experience we had listened to hundreds of times in the Middle East.  “I thought I was just leaving for a few days.  I only have the clothes on my back.  I have lost everything.”  The Carr Fire ripped through Redding taking over 1,000 homes with it in the span of days.  People lost their lives and hundreds of people since have been navigating the ocean of grief and loss, attempting to persevere in resiliency.

We got hired to distribute financial aid to these families.  We did it as thoroughly and orderly as we were able.  What is new for me personally is still being part of a communities long-term recovery process a year and half later.  Still I sit in meetings talking about peoples need for fences, cars, homes, garages, medical care, basic sanitation, counseling, healing, and justice.  Every week since it happened I sit in meetings with other people–good people–who keep caring about others.  When they are tired, overworked, under-appreciated, critiqued, and challenged…still they care.  I have found myself running alongside some of the most relentless good people I have ever met.  These are the people on which communities are built and sustained.

My husband each day has a slightly different role but is running in this same army of restoring hope here in Redding.  Each day, one tree at time, he is a part of a crew of gentlemen of heaven that are clearing people’s properties of the skeletons of the day of their devastation.  Each day he walks families one step closer to regaining normal, regaining home, through removing the black, burnt trees that cast shadows but provide no shade and promise no future of fruit or life.  He is a part of a transformative band of men that every day wake up to serve someone else’s journey of healing.

Each day through their work, these forestry crews say, “You are worth it.  You are worth our service.  Your future is worth the investment of our time here.  But let us give it to you as a gift.  Let us serve you without any expectation of getting something from you.  Just receive this kindness.  You are worth it.”

We both are doing lots of other things.  I am helping to grow a department and doing weekly and monthly things that cause the cogs of the wheels in Bethel Church to continue to churn as the ship of their vision moves through the sea of culture and time.  I am just one tiny, unnoticeable part, easily replaceable, yet unreplicable.  And so here I find myself, working alongside people with their own mighty callings, and displaying Christ around me.  I watch people, learn, grow, forgive, lead, and follow, all as our hearts lead us from day to day, offering our work up as some sort of surrender to a plan God alone sees.

This all was vague and ambiguous but it precisely articulates the feeling of our present reality.  Unsurprisingly, my husband is still fun.  Everyday he makes me laugh.  Everyday he continues to grow and renew himself and leads us both back to the basics of goodness and charity and security in God’s everlasting, ever-loving kindness.  Where else would I want to spend my days?  Definitely not wasted in the valleys of worry, shame, doubt, regret.

God still sets mystery before us in the things we see dimly but do not know fully.  We know we are invited on these trips abroad but we don’t know to what end or what purposes he will weave through them.  We are excited to see him around every corner, both here and in the nations.  On our El Salvador trip alone, I think there are only four other Americans.  All the rest are beautiful sons and daughters of God from different nations.  What a privilege to be by their side as God displays his faithfulness and his goodness to them and they grow in both trust and faith of this tangible presence.

After I said all that rant in the beginning about the impersonalness of relationships based only on photo sharing.  Here are few photos to share LOL.  Blessings

 

 

Dusting off the Stories of what God has Done

God is always the same and what he did once he would do again.  God is not a respecter of persons and what he would do for one he would do for any.  These two statement encourage the hope and possibility of what God did once for someone else, he would do for me.  In saying that, something he did twenty years ago for me, he can do for you now.  So I’m walking down the memory lane of life as it is always the front page of who God still is today.  Take anything as hope of what can do for you.

  1.  I trusted God with my love life and he brought me the most amazing husband any woman could ever dream of.  As I’m writing this he is charging my cell phone for me and asking if I have water because he was going to refill it for me as I’m sitting in bed on a Saturday typing this about him.
  2.  I’ve never made over $10,000 a year in my entire adult life yet God has financed sending me to 23 different countries over the course of my life. For whatever reason, the way my heart is wired is that I feel most romanced by God when he sends me to travel somewhere. I know I couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to do anything without him sending me.
  3.   I’ve screwed up, meaning I’ve failed at something he’s asked me to do, and yet he’s never fired me, punished me, abandoned me or quit being kind to me.  Because of this I really realized the grace of God is truly a gift.  It is not earned.
  4.   God redeemed the ending of my family when we were younger.  My parents separated and both happily remarried.  My siblings are all risking love in some measure in their life.  This sometimes requires the greatest courage.  I am proud for the measure they continue to risk being known and loved despite how we’ve seen it can possibly end up.
  5.   God has given me peace.  In different seasons of life due to different things I have different measures of peace but in all of life I have a strong underlying trust in God that always imparts to me a steadfastness that I feel all the time.  Like I’m being held, or embraced, or hugged and I feel safe and sturdy.  I love God for imparting this feeling to me on an ongoing basis.
  6.   I realized through frequency to get over myself, my understanding, my ways, control, anything I would hold on to for fear or security.  From plans to stuff, he really does take care of everything and often, when I let him, way better than I could ever put things together.  Like I really am blind and dumb compared to all he sees and knows.  It is wisdom to trust him, let him lead, and put everything in his hands.
  7.   Unity, relationships, connection, obedience, service, humility, love, faith, truth, these things really are the majors in life and everything else is truly unimportant and meaningless in comparison.
  8.   I really feel like my death is in God’s hands as much as my birth was. I didn’t control my birth, God did.  In the same way, I don’t think anything is random and he knows all of the days of my life and will work out the plans and dreams he has for sending me here in the first place.
  9.   I don’t fear death in any way.  Almost daily I feel the fragility of this realm of life and time.  It is such a thin veil and my true self is timeless and in an always state.  I do not want to miss what he wants to show me and teach me and also truly enjoy the day with him as this is me loving to be alive with him.  This is living.
  10.   I feel humbled by God’s goodness and love.  I definitely don’t deserve any of it, but he shows me that I’m worthy because he says I am.  Who am I to disagree?!   😉
  11.   I thought I was going to go into tangible stories about specifics God had done for me–
  12.   Oh-my father’s transplant was an answer to prayer-he met my husband and is still alive!
  13.   And also my grandfather’s life was spared in a time where he was being killed by being given the wrong medication in the hospital but the error was found out and he became himself again to pass in peace at a later time.
  14.   Also I was filled with the holy spirit, a tangible experience in my body that overcame me that I still feel today and a way I interact with God directly spirit to spirit rather than just mind to mind, early morning alone in a gymnasium in a Lutheran church!
  15.   I received God’s forgiveness and being made right with God through what Jesus Christ suffered on my behalf on the cross, making a way for me to stand blameless and confident before God because he has made me his family and his friend.
  16.   I thought I was going to write more specific stories like the ones above, but it appears God is an active living miracle in my life.  I am so grateful to have the ability to see and breathe and feel and taste and express myself and sit in peace and have freedom.  I am so thankful to share life with my husband and spend the passing of time in his company.

These are a few thoughts that come to mind when thinking about what God has done for me in my life.  May it be an encouragement and blessing to you.  Oh yeah – don’t waste your time overly concerning yourself with what other people think of you.  It is not your responsibility nor does it matter beyond your upright heart before the father.  Acceptance or praise of man is not the bread that that gives life but rather the word of God.  Blessings!

Joshua the Unlikely Ruler

Are you familiar with the feeling of doing something you’d rather not do?  Are you familiar with the feeling of having to fulfill an obligation no one could pay you enough to fulfill?  Have you felt like the victim of your own barrage of thoughts that are zapping your energy?  These are tiny of glimpses of slavery and are foreign to your true self.  You, in essence, are created to live without any other king but you and your God as the best of friends basking in the glorious responsibility of true freedom.

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There’s a man named Joshua in the bible, torah, and koran who is Moses’ right hand man while the whole clan of Israelites have just been divinely freed from slavery in Egypt for 430 years.  We are introduced to Joshua in the desert after their release and we see him believe God when few others did, in the tent of meeting with Moses.  We are introduced to him as a free man, but Joshua too, grew up as a slave.  Just like every other short-sighted, fear-based Israelite who couldn’t believe in God’s goodness beyond their own past experiences, Joshua grew up a slave.  However this man, unlike Moses and almost all Israelites, did cross over in to the promised land.  Joshua was able lead others that had only tasted freedom into God’s promises, despite having grown up in a culture of slavery.

We often eliminate ourselves for so many things.  We look back at our lives and say, “But I’ve done this, or this happened to me, or I endured this,” and we have these road blocks in our minds to believing our own happiness, our own strength, our own victory.  We tolerate slavery in little ways, we endure being emotionally or mentally kept into places we want to leave, but why?  Joshua is a man that had every excuse like everyone around him had to stay in his slave mentality.  All of his peers.  Comparison.  Justification.  Do you see how we’ve been treated?  Do you see what we’ve been through?  But he carried no excuses in his soul to not believing God was everything he imagined he could be and more.  You see God never joins in slavery with us.  Even as Christ in flesh, Jesus was not a slave to anything.  God never tolerated being pushed around.  It’s not who you are even if its where you’ve come from.

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Your experience with slavery does not disqualify you from leading yourself and others into God’s promises.  It does not disqualify you from achieving the impossible.  It does not negate your unearned inheritance.

Joshua, the slave who acted like a king.  The man who had slavery as the norm in his culture of origin.  But he spent time with the never-slave God.  The free God who spoke, interacted, and existed without being forced to be or do anything but who lives as love and calls us to the glorious freedom of the same.  Your origins are free of all slavery.

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Moses!  Of course Moses was chosen to lead the exodus, he grew up in the kings house, he experienced the kings freedom, he saw the world from the perspective of ruling since birth.  But the one who led the people into the land of inheritance, Joshua, was the one born a slave who believed God enough that he became a king in his inner man.  By that I am inspired.

Maybe Joshua was given the command of being courageous because he doubted.  Maybe was given the command of being strong because he was familiar with feeling weak.  “Be in my likeness,” God was inviting Joshua, “You don’t have to stay in the likeness you’ve come from or see being displayed around you.  Listen to me, I’ve invited you, come and lead in what it feels it feels like to be free.”