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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wholeness in Loss

Grief is a fascinating thing to me. 

How people handle grief. It meets people in different ways, takes a unique form, shows its ugly beautiful face in ways you don't expect. Some people run headlong into it, talk to it, face it like old friends and then some, some people battle it inside. Wrestle with the thoughts, nail them down, need a getaway. 

People are so different. So beautifully, wonderfully different. 

Death invites itself in and sits down at your table. And you're saddened by its presence, but you're overjoyed by what it means. It means another welcome into the Throne Room, another dance in a new resurrected body. But for the people left behind, it means they've got to dig. They've got to dig and they've got to believe and they've got to be vulnerable and face why they disconnected in the first place. 

Death. Well, it can be a crazy, beautiful thing.
Not can be. It is a crazy, beautiful thing.

You never know what words mean until you find yourself in a position when they're all you need. The power of the Living Word of God. The words of people. The prayers, the peace of God. 
You never know what presence means until you look around and see people around you and you wonder how you ever felt alone. The everlasting presence of God. The showing up of people. The faithfulness of friends. 

The texts. The asking of what you can do.
The emails from my life group parents. 
The outpouring from our Little League family. 
New Charlotte staff. You can't possibly know how much your presence meant to me. Touched my heart.

It's love.
The way we respond, the way you've responded, it matters far more than you know. Grief can twist and distort and if we're not intentional, it can lead us off the path of where it should lead - to wholeness, restoration, and light. Thankfully, gratefully, gracefully, we have people who point us and lead us and remind us of the beautiful story and the beautiful love of Jesus. 

My heart is full. My cup runs over. Isn't that weird to say in a time such as this? Glory be to the hope, peace, grace of Christ. To the provider, the One who has gone before.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Joel and Julia have adopted a son. He's nine and it's new and there's tension. In how to parent him, in how to bring him into the family, how to love him as their own. They tell him about baseball and the boy isn't good and he swings and misses and he yells and screams and lashes out at his failure.

Minutes measured in TV time later, Joel goes into the boy's room and sits down to talk to him. And he looks him in the eye and he says.

I was incredibly proud of you. You went out and you tried something you've never done before. with kids you've never met. That's brave. That's so incredibly brave. Are you scared? I would have been. 

The freedom to acknowledge the scary, to encourage the brave, and to say me too. oh, me too. 

I think about my friend Werewolf Jesus' post on courage and bravery and how we can pass courage to each other. She writes

"I’ve shared how it’s been difficult to start writing again. Difficult to face my monsters and be brave, put on my armor and fight. It seems whenever I’m ready to lay down and give up, someone sends a message or writes a letter or gives me a little pep talk that encourages me.

I mean it literally fills me with courage.
And I wonder if that’s the key. 

Is this why kids are so brave? Because we tell them all of the time that are capable of winning their battles? That they are worthy of the fight? Because it’s so easy to tell a kid he is smart but somehow so difficult to tell your coworker that they are patient. If we see a little girl on a bus, it’s so easy to say “well don’t you look pretty!” but when is the last time we told our aunt she looks pretty or told the cashier at rite aid that she has a nice smile?

What if you’re an adult, facing your adult-sized monsters and you just don’t feel brave? I understand that our courage should come from Christ, that perfect love casts out fear, that He that is within us is greater than that which is in the world. I know that. And I know we all know that. But perhaps there is a function of the Body here that we’re overlooking. How different, how much braver, how much more proactive would we all be if we took the time to extend courage to each other?

If you have something nice to say, SAY IT.
Make someone brave. Extend courage.  
Let’s be nicer to each other. Let’s win some battles.

Every day is a battle and we've got to be brave. We've got to remember what we daily forget, we've got to put on our armor, speak the Word of God, and we've got to stand firm. We've got to keep going because we're all in sanctifying process together. And if you can't see where you're going or if the Lord is leading you somewhere you didn't envision, eyes can't see and pain can grip. 

But then. what I've learned, is that after that moment of surrender, FREEDOM. 

Be brave because..
God is GOOD.
Joy is in abundant life with Jesus. 
All who are weary can come to Jesus for rest.  
Because we need people to remind us, to sit with us, and to point us to that Cross. 

Relief is in the release of everything into the hands of God. Isn't it all safer in His hands anyway? (ann voskamp)

Look back at the hardest times, the times when you trusted, the most blind, the times when you were the bravest, and can't you say those were the best? The most abundant ones, the ones with the most fruit? by the pure grace of God. 

Every time we choose, we're made more like Jesus. 

We can be brave because we hope in Christ Jesus. 
and isn't that better than living in fear?
Through the unknown and the scary and the change and the way that doesn't feel lit, we are led by a God who loves us fiercely and compassionately, who promises in Psalm 73 to guide us and receive us to glory, and who sent His Son to die to absorb all the brokenness and the fear. We're set free, aren't we?

Give yourself permission to be brave.
Live courageously.
And spread the word.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Best Thing I've Read

What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.

Have you ever traveled to a mountainous part of the world when it is cloudy and rainy? You look out your windows and you can see almost nothing but the ground. Then the rain stops and the clouds part and you catch your breath because there, towering right over you, is this magnificent peak. But a couple of hours later the clouds roll in and it has vanished, and you don't see it again for a good while. That is what it is like to get to know a Christian. You have an old self and a new self. The old self is crippled with anxieties, the need to prove yourself, bad habits you can't break, and many besetting sins and en-trenched character flaws. The new self is still you, but you liberated from all your sins and flaws. This new self is always a work in progress, and sometimes the clouds of the old self make it almost completely invisible. But sometimes the clouds really part, and you see the wisdom, courage, and love of which you are capable. It is a glimpse of where you are going. 

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here's what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, "I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be a part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, 'I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!" Each spouse would see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse then should give him - or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.

Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Two weeks from tomorrow, I head to Rwanda!

There's a lot of mixed emotions and a lot of thoughts and there's a lot to wade through. 
But what this post is for (because all of that processing will come later) is to ask for help.

I need your help. 
Financially. To reach my goals.
And prayer. I really, really need that too.

I'm still seeking to reach my goals financially for this trip :: would you consider supporting me? This trip is huge and it's a gift and it's a beautiful opportunity that I know will be a game changer and I can't get there alone. I'd love for you to partner with me and be a part of this kingdom work. This is a really, really special group of women that I'm going with and we're going to teach a seminar to some incredibly special middle and high schoolers. Read more about my trip here - http://singingmysongwithgrace.blogspot.com/2012/08/this-girl-is-going-to-rwanda.html

What I'm learning? whew, what am I not learning.
Trust the Lord. Trust Him. That's it and that's been huge. huge. If I believe that the Lord is good and I believe in His Word, then I've got to follow where He leads. Especially when it's hard. 

Here's the link if you'd like to donate online - thank you! Our whole team thanks you. Read some of our team's blog posts too and be blown away by the faith of this team.

And prayer. 
For my mind, for our hearts, for this team, for the Rwandans we meet. That any words of ours that are not from the Lord will fall to the ground. That we will be used mightily for the work of the Spirit. That we will prepare well in the next two weeks and for us to engage on the ground and to be the light of Christ. That we will speak the Word of God and believe that the Lord is good. In all things.

And for safety and health and logistics. Thanks for lifting this trip up!

Rwanda, we're ready for ya. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Last week, I completely forgot. completely.
I couldn't remember all the things I had learned, all the set free and stand firm. All the confidence and boldness. All the hope! Has that ever happened to anyone else? My mind felt so foggy.

Stand firm! hold fast! be strong! 
But last week, my mind said no.
It said no. I don't want to. 

The other part of me said BUT WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING. come on! keep moving! GET UP. KEEP GOING. choose, choose, choose.
And my mind sternly said no, laid down, and refused to get up.
I'm screaming at it BUT WE HAVE TO KEEP MOVING. LOOK AT HOW FAR WE'VE COME. We have come so far! so far. all the hope! The Lord has led us so far!

But then in the fog, I got sucked in and I got tired and I just laid down with it. My mind just felt so foggy. 
Can anyone feel me on that!?

My disobedient nature saying no, I like control. Trust feels like a wait and it feels so unknown and I don't like the unknown. Can I be honest for a minute and say it just flat out wears me out? The every day, every day, every day. The choice of every day. every.single.day.

Maybe that is right where I need to be. 
Maybe that is right where the Lord meets me. Maybe this honesty, this 'I can't and don't want to do this anymore,' maybe that's right where His grace chases me to step in. This desperation, this end, maybe that's just what the Lord desires to work with. 

Sometimes this walk is a crawl and our faith is about the process and Jesus is in the journey. Sometimes we aren't even moving anywhere and maybe that's the point. Just sitting with Jesus. in the presence of.

This desperation.
It's where the Lord calls deep to deep. 

But then. what I am learning.
Yesterday. I got back from Catalyst, a church leadership conference in Atlanta. And where my weary little mind went in, a peaceful little soul came out. And that kind of learning and listening and processing is never overwhelming to me. It's just the kind of thing I thrive on - the reorganization of my mind on what is good and true. A little reminder of the peace of God.

Listening to brilliant minds. What a gift. 

Andy Stanley said, you have no idea what hangs in the balance with your response. Your response, oh it will be your story. To opportunity, to adversity, to calling, to Jesus. oh, it will be your beautiful story. It matters how you respond. That is what you are going to look back on.

And then Matt Chandler said don't you get that He delights in you? In your process, in your pain and suffering, God does not show up late to repair. He is the surgeon who makes the incision. We are sons and daughters of the King and THAT is the vitality of our ministry. 

And over and over, Jesus enters into the mess. To take us where we need to go. 

Each of these could be their own blog post! {and maybe they will}
And I'm trying to think of my biggest takeaway. And it all was. It all was freedom and reminders and remembrances and joy. It was conversations that released burdens. It was talking about and hearing things that mattered. I needed that renewal big time. 

Refreshing. It was refreshing.
because the Lord is good. 

It's always in process and it always needs to be reminded. But my mind feels ready to jump back up in a fresh start and rebuke satan who tries to steal my joy. We've got to be brave, by God's grace, every day. Standing firm HAS to happen ever day. It has to. Believing the Word of God and hearing the voice of God happens every day. Not oh remember that one time when I believed you, God? remember that one time I was set free? that was cool. remember that one time I trusted you?

It's as frequent as breathing in and out.

Because even when you're tired, remembering will refresh you. 
When you're tired, the Word of God will compel you.
Especially when you're tired and spent, Jesus loves you.   

{in process. oh there's more to come}