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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not About Me

Change and I, we don't always get along. 

I've never liked change. 
well, that's not entirely true. 
It's not that I don't always like it, but there's just something in me that takes a long time to adjust to it. 

We're not easy companions.

There's something about change that repels routine... and routine and I are best friends. We work well together and along with schedule, the three of us are a strong trio. And change jumps in and throws the whole gang off and I've got to work to find routine and schedule again because they've run away and scattered. 

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
bear with me, hear me out (I'm saying that more to myself because right now, that last sentence, a part of me thinks I've gone crazy).

Life is change. That's it. Good, bad, it's changing. And there are so many good things! So, so many good gifts from the good Giver of a Father we have.

It's the unpredictability of change that throws me off. And, if I'm being honest, it's really because control isn't in my court. I don't get to call the shots, God does, and that aggravates what I've got in mind. oh selfish sinfulness.

I like the way things are, I am grateful! So I close those hands, get comfortable, settle in, snuggle up close to routine, and then just live. I don't do spontaneous, give me a plan, tell me where we're going, when we're going, and I promise I'll stick to it. I like to know what to expect. ha! #lifedontworkthatway

Even when change is good! It's not always smooth. It's chaos. Life as chaos? ahhh. mind goes crazy.

These past few months have been riddled with change. Big, big things. Big, GOOD, GOOD things. Amazing things! But they came and then they didn't and then I heard wait and then God said no and then God shut some doors and then I had to let myself off the hook and then I had to throw hands in the air.

which I think is the point. that's got to be the point.

What do you do when life is chaos? well life IS chaos, so what do you do with life?
me, I've got to turn to Jesus.
and that's it.

I've got to admit that life is, most certainly, not about me.

whew. that's both terrifying and refreshing at the same time. 

It's every day, every day, every single day. Turn to Him every day. You can't store up prayers or surrender or faith and say 'oh hey God, remember that one time I trusted Jesus? That was great!' or 'that one time I read Your Word? That one time I prayed? It was so cool to talk to you then!'

It's active and alive and constant and renewing. It's grace! Thank God for it.

Because our minds gravitate toward self centeredness. From the Fall, from that garden, we are born sinners and we are born selfish. It's innate. We need Jesus to save us, give us life, shower us with grace, live for us, die for us, make us new, and use us for His glory. We can't accomplish anything without Jesus - hear me when I say that - because we are given all things new because of Jesus.

It's a beautiful new life.

When you (and when I say you, I mean me) acknowledge that there is another picture and that picture is not me (it's a kingdom picture), it's actually freedom. The best kind of freedom. It's not about me, so any parameters or timing or expectations or limitations I've put on anything can be let go and set free and I can live abundantly because my comfort is not the object or the goal. Dying to self is actually life.

I'm still every day waking up and dying and remembering my freedom and speaking truth to myself. I read an amazing article on Gospel Centered Discipleship the other day about waking up daily and talking back to the lies you hear (read it yourself). SPEAK back to them! Let the truth of Jesus be your thoughts. And then I listened to a recommended Tim Keller sermon where he said put on your armor against the schemes of the devil. And the good news, the best news? The Gospel IS the armor! Say to the devil, 'go to my Christ.'

We can't do it on our own. And we don't have to! That's saving grace. literally. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A New Home

I moved!
Here's the story. 

God sometimes says wait and I'm looking back over this time and saying 'well, wait for what?' And what's getting clearer and clearer is that the point of waiting most often isn't for something good, something tangible to receive, but to be made more in the reflection of His Son Jesus Christ. 

wait .. AND.. be made more like Him. 

There's an apartment that I adore. I adore it and it's mine. It's small and it's perfect and it's convenient and it's close to community - and for a while, it was empty. There was a plan, there's always a plan, and then sometimes time doesn't quite work in your favor. A family emergency happens and plans are put on hold and then you've got to weigh what's important.

Is it important to move stuff and put things away and organize .. stuff?
Is it important to be at home and to be with family and to be in their company?

Then a trip to the other side of the world, to a place where I checked no emails and ignored social media and talked to no one except my team and Rwandans. It was more time away from making my space my home. But that time was a gift, most of all. Most of all, it was a gift. 

Even in the busyness of my return, the delay became a gift. And I came back with a renewed perspective (to be renewed every day) that there is no such thing as time lost, that it's all time to wake up every day and be made more in the image of Him. I'm proud of the wait. 

Sometimes God says wait and I believe that the wait has to be the most fruitful part. It does not mean that God is wrong or that He's late or that He forgot. It means that He's in control and I'm not and thank God for that and it means that there's much to learn. There's Jesus to imitate. E.M. Bounds writes, "faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored. It takes God at His Word and lets Him take what time he chooses in fulfilling his purposes."

He reigns despite our choices and He reigns despite what we do and He reigns despite what happens. He's good no matter what.

There's so much to learn and so much sanctification and so much grace and all these things are firing at me and in all these things, I feel like I'm being made new. And my silly little human mind softly mutters, "but do I really need all this work?" 

haha. and the answer is YES. always, yes. 

And now. It's being made into a home! Frames are being hung, pictures are on the fridge, clothes are put away, Amy Green is painting my furniture new. And now that the time is here, I don't know what to do with it! I'm almost afraid to celebrate because I've let time determine when, why, and what to be thankful for. But I don't want to be mistaken when I choose what to celebrate .. because the celebration is not a new home or the stuff I choose to fill it. The celebration is Jesus and the work He continues to do in me. The grace He has for me, it's incredible. 

My new home is a gift. It's a gift no matter how long it took or how long it will take. It's a gift because God has given me good things and He continuously gives to me and says to me to abandon my plans and lean hard into Him and to experience the true freedom that comes in trusting Him.

And He's right, you know. He's always right.

Come see my new home! You are always welcome. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rwanda and The Magician's Elephant

I read a lot of children's stories on those long flights back and forth from Rwanda. 

One of them was 'The Magician's Elephant' by Katie DiCamillo. It's the story of an elephant who suddenly falls through the roof of an opera house in a small town and the aftermath of the reactions and connections of the people. It's a story of love and mystery, hope and imagination. 

It's become one of my favorite books. 

The policemen in the story begin to wonder and ask, "what do we do with the elephant?" They sit around and go back and forth and run in circles. Should we punish the elephant? give it a home? make it disappear?

But there's one, described as a poet, who asks a different kind of question. 
He asks what if? could it be? why not?
where did the elephant come from? 
what does she mean to the town?
what if she had come bearing a message of great importance?
what if everything was to be irrevocably, undeniably changed by the elephant's arrival?

He says, we must ask ourselves as often as we dare. How will the world change if we do not question it?

I just got back from a ten day mission trip to the heart of Rwanda. My team of 11 amazing women visited the IWE school and taught a conference for the teachers and the middle and high school age girls. On how these girls are made in the image of God, how to handle conflict, who they are as women, how to love their bodies. We read Scripture and prayed together. so much joy.

And we questioned it. 

What if.. women from America taught girls on the other side of the world that they are loved by God?
What if.. we shared our lives and shared our hope? 
Why not.. step outside our comfort zones and end up running head first into the love of Christ?
Why not.. discover that compassionately loving His people is at the very heart of His will?
Could it be.. that the message of the gospel of forgiveness is infinitely greater in the face of genocide?
Could it be.. that we would learn more than we gave?
Could it be.. that being free can be found most true in this land that has seen and lost much?

I can look out over at where this journey started (a rocky process), where it took me (sharing the Gospel with 300+ Rwandan girls), and where it is now (processing the joy of the Lord) and believe that there's no place that my feet have stepped and are stepping that the Lord has not gone before. He's hemming me in as I go. 

Let the processing, the asking, and the choosing to respond to the grace of God begin.