Tuesday, December 11, 2007
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
This verse is a reference to the prophecy in Isaiah... and i'm stunned that i haven't thought deeply about this before. The text doesn't really give Mary and Joseph's reaction to the statement "God is with us," but I'm wondering about how incredible that had to be. After generations of being promised a Messiah to save them, they are now being told that one is coming, and this one is God. All of their hopes are realized... how beautiful! This is the very thing they have been waiting for... for years and years and years! This is what their culture has been waiting for.... and all in one statement.... all in one definition of a name... they are told that God would finally be personally with them. He had not abandoned them... He would be with them. Was it hope that this evoked? Fear? A newfound hope? Excitement? And add to the fact that God would be personally with them that He would come through a common girl through an impossible conception.
Rejoice, community, for God is with us.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel,And ransom captive Israel,That mourns in lonely exile hereUntil the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,Who orderest all things mightily;To us the path of knowledge show,And teach us in her ways to go.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, freeThine own from Satan’s tyranny;From depths of hell Thy people save,And give them victory over the grave.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheerOur spirits by Thine advent here;Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,And open wide our heavenly home;Make safe the way that leads on high,And close the path to misery.
O come, O come, great Lord of might,Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s heightIn ancient times once gave the lawIn cloud and majesty and awe.
O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,An ensign of Thy people be;Before Thee rulers silent fall;All peoples on Thy mercy call.
O come, Desire of nations, bindIn one the hearts of all mankind;Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Friday, December 07, 2007
may all your wondering days be ever. they are, indeed, serious. need i say more about how i spent my morning?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This semester has provided me with a lot of things to process through. It hasn't been my most difficult academically, but emotionally, there's been a lot to deal with. But in a good way. Some things from my past have re-surfaced, and God is showing me new ways of processing these things. It is amazing to me the people that God has brought into my life to help me see myself a little more objectively.... from good friends to professors to a community. There's been a lot of pruning that i'm in the midst of, and i feel like i am seeing the deep love of God in the midst of it all. In the middle of this, I had a professor suggest to me that I am afraid of my own sadness of some areas of my past, but that allowing myself to mourn the areas I need to mourn may actually provide healing from past wounds. I think he might be on to something.
In Doctrine we've been talking a lot about being under the power of the blood of Christ... that this is the power to save us. Those of us who profess faith in Christ, and in His life, death and resurrection no longer have to feel shame. I have been so reminded this week of this power... that I am empowered to leave all those areas where I feel shame, as the power in my life is no longer hiding behind sin, but in the wings of the Father, under the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Shame does a lot of terrible things to us, and this is most certainly not where God desires for His children to live.
This is the first year i've put up a Christmas tree in my house, and i'm so excited about it! I think that part of it is that this is the first time that i've felt like this is my house. We decorated the other night, and i like our little (and i do mean little) tree. It was fun to be festive. you can see pictures of the silliness on my facebook page.
Speaking of Christmas, this has been a good semester in terms of really, truly thinking about the power and the beauty of the incarnation. That's why i both love and hate this season. I love it because it's such an incredible reminder of God's power and God's love for His people. I hate it because of all the ways that the Christ message gets messed up in our culture. I pray that I am not a vehicle for messing it up.....may we live into the beauty that is the message of the hope of Christ coming into this world.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Help me to understand how You are active in my life-help me to recognize Your love for me..help me to never pass it up or ignore the power of Your love and sacrifice! and today, i also thank you for...your death on the cross-for a Church family-for friends who are near-for my own family-for the ability to read and think-for the power of encouragement-for provision-for constructive criticism-for allowing me to learn-for games-for laughter-for prayer-for children-for the beauty of fall colors-for so many who care for me-for the journey you've given me-for growth-for tears-for hugs-for Your Word-for the ability to talk and think-for sleep-for feelings-for love-for passion-for warm blankets-for silence-for music-for sunshine-for mountains-for words-for warm sweatshirts-for community-for being able to join with You in communion-for the power and beauty of the incarnation-for Your ultimate sacrifice-for taking on the powers of death and hell so that i might have life-for medicine-for epiphanies-for soup-for warm socks-for being able to snuggle in a warm blanket-for the beauty of joining with other souls-for chocolate-for candles-for baseball.
Thank You for life. Thank You for You. You are life.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Arise, My Soul, Arise
1. Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice, in my behalf appears; Before the throne my Surety stands, Before the throne my Surety stands, My name is written on His hands.
Chorus: Arise (arise), arise (arise), ariseArise, my soul, arise. Arise (arise), arise (arise), arise Arise, my soul, arise. Shake off your guilty fears and rise
2. He ever lives above, for me to intercede; His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead; His blood atoned for every race, His blood atoned for every race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
3. Five bleeding wounds He bears;received on Calvary;They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"
4. The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;He cannot turn away the presence of His Son; The Spirit answers to the blood,The Spirit answers to the bloodAnd tells me I am born of God.
5. My God is reconciled;His pardoning voice I hear; He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear With confidence I now draw nigh, With confidence I now draw nigh, And "Father, Abba, Father," cry.
Friday, November 02, 2007
i tried really hard to discipline him and explain that that was not a word that was ok to use, but i was laughing too hard to be effective. then i tell his father (aaron, and my friend and pastor) what has just happened. he doubles over in laughter and says, "i just don't know where they get this stuff!"
i just look at him and say, "are you seriously asking this question? i know exactly where they get this." and then i just look at him.
from the mouths of babes.
Monday, October 29, 2007
and what's important to remember is that La Roca is far from your typical youth group. Some of our kids have been kicked out of their schools. Most of them rarely hear affirmation at home. What most people probably see in these kids is the rough edges (and trust me, those rough edges are there)... but this is a group of kids that is chock full of quirkiness, love, opinions and leadership. it's our job to steer them. i love getting to have a small part in this journey.
we had this time of affirmation for all of us on saturday night, and it was incredible thing. and i can remember thinking, "ALL of these kids have so much to offer." and then sunday morning, we all sat crowded together in one row... and i loved it. i loved not having enough space, with my arm around michelle... nudging her to wake up every few minutes. I loved how proud I was of Chance and Michelle for sharing with the church about the retreat. I loved feeling like my heart would burst for this crazy group of middle school and high school students.
And i love that this is not typical youth ministry. I love that it's not a group of suburban kids who have grown up in church. I love the realness and rawness... because that makes seeing the good in these kids that much sweeter. Even though they've got so many battles to fight, they are slowly learning that they have a church family who loves them, and a God who fights for them.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I'm still driving down I-75, into Atlanta. I spend time with Erin.... one who has seen both deep pain and deep joy in my life. But even as I'm in Atlanta, I'm reminded of this painful season of my life. And again, I'm reminded of how God has changed and transformed me. and i'm thankful.
And i'm reminded that God is continuously changing me, transforming me, loving me, trading the bad for the good. It's so refreshing to be able to concretely see how God is making me confident in who He has created me to be.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
- the addition of an original nintendo game system to our house (thanks chelsea!)
- knowing that i get to go on a road trip this weekend to see a good friend
- the convenience of having a washer and dryer in my own house
- good conversations with friends i love while drinking yumminess!
- getting to pray with others
- getting to go on walks around my neighborhood, and having extra time this week to do that
- the joy of no longer having to read a book by Bill Hybels
- being able to finally wear long-sleeved t-shirts and hoodies
Friday, October 12, 2007
and then, this morning, Ann's granddaughter knocks on our door at 7. she missed her bus and wanted to know if i could take her to school. that was a cool moment, for so many reasons....life together... it's a cool deal.
in other happenings, i am not really looking forward to this week.... only because of lots of schoolwork! a big midterm due on wednesday, but i'm plugging through because at the end of the week i'm headed to atlanta to see one of my favorite people in the world-my old roommate erin. so i'm pretty pumped about that. i'm really excited about a weekend away with a good friend. it's been an up and down week, but one filled with so many examples of God's faithfulness... encouragement just when i've needed it most.... reminders of how God has created me and called me.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
at the same time, i've been reading Mary Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia. She talks about what happens to most girls in pre-adolescence... about how most girls find that they can't truly be themselves and be accepted. They find that they must choose one or the other. This makes me so, so sad. It makes me sad because i relate. It makes me sad because i look around at so many of the beautiful girls and women in my life and I know this has taken place in their hearts. And it makes me wonder what the church's role is in all this... as a community of faith, what is it that we can do to let girls know that we deeply accept their true selves? How do we communicate that God made their true selves and accepts them?
It makes me realize that THIS is the task of community. To let each other know that we do not merely accept a figment of one's persona, but that we accept the true versions of ourselves, because that is what God does for us.
In the beginning of Pipher's book she says something to the effect of, "It takes a village to raise a child. Most girls don't have a village." I don't want to just be angry and sad about this statement-I want to work to change this, because this is NOT how God wants His people to live.
There is a much better way waiting to be found.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
i'm taking a class about forgiveness and counseling this semester-i think it'll be really good. and i also think that it will intersect with many areas of my life that i didn't really expect. on the first day of class, toddy tells us that we won't talk about self-forgiveness, because she doesn't see self-forgiveness mentioned in scripture, since that is a western ideal. this, of course, has gotten me thinking about a lot. and then i start reading.... about how forgiveness really should be a communal practice, but we've privatized it in the west. and if we really think about it, forgivenss is about the "restoration of communion." it's not about making me feel better about how i've hurt someone, but about restoring me to both God and community. there's something to chew on there, for sure. i think forgiveness is one of those words we throw around a lot, but i wonder if we really understand what it means? if we really know what is encapsulated in forgiving someone else? if we understand what it means that God forgives us? is it just a lofty, soft word...or is there power behind it?
we're going on a community retreat this saturday... i think it will be good. and tomorrow i'm cooking breakfast for ian and elizabeth so that we can talk about some crazy community ideas we have. i'm pretty pumped.
have you ever had a really great hug? i'm a hugger.... and i love to give and receive big, bear hugs. last night after church i saw my friend becky, who lives down the street from me. she got really excited when she saw me, and gave me one of those big, long-lasting, embracing hugs. it made me happy. there's something about a good hug... i think because you are both giving and receiving love all in the same moment. it's really kind of a beautiful thing. and it was just so affirming to see how much becky wanted to love on me... it's nice to have those moments some days.... right up there with little joe running down the church hallway yelling, "maggie! maggie!" with a huge smile on his face. i needed that (of course, as soon as he saw me, he says, "hey bad nanny!"...but i'll take what i can get).
so... i may not get any schoolwork done this semester, and perhaps i'll fail out of my third year of seminary.... but at least i'll be loved along the way.....
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
i love how God has worked all of this out. i love the roommates He has provided. I love being near so many cool people. i love the relationships i see unfolding. i love the fact that we had about 10 people over last night to play games. i love that i'm sitting in kim's house doing laundry right now. i love that it only takes me about 3 minutes to get to church. i love that some of the church kids are already coming over to bug me and see if i'm home. i love the relationships that are coming about because i'm in the neighborhood. i love this community i'm in... that i feel more loved and a "part" of something than i've felt in a while. i love that i'm among people who really want to love on me and encourage me. i love that God is showing me ways i can serve this community.
and another cool moment this week: there's this family that many other individuals have been pouring into for a while, and this family recently moved really close to where i'm living. i've spent a bit of time with the mom and kids, but not tons, but I really feel like God is doing something here. and i'm realizing, too, what a blessing this mom is to me. they are in need in a number of ways, but this woman has also blessed me by just loving me and showing me hospitality. the other night it's raining and thundering and apparently their power went out a couple of times. so she calls me to ask if we're ok, if our power had gone out, to check on us. how awesome is that?
Friday, August 24, 2007
speaking of community, last night we had our first dinner for those hoping to 'do' community in the '05. i thought it went well... we had some yummy steaks and good conversation. it was great to look around and feel like i was part of a family here. i'm excited about what is going to take place. i'm also really excited because today was my last day of work at the daycare center.... onto babysitting in the '05! hopefully i won't regret this decision later......
Monday, August 20, 2007
- ready-made progresso soup. i swear by these things. they are yummy, and i can eat them after not being able to eat for several hours. really, i'd be ok not eating right now, but i'm sort of weak, so i know i need to!
- people who are willing to bring me things-i called both beth and bekah and they brought me gatorade, saltines, and applesauce. these things are like a liferaft when your stomach just won't cooperate.
- getting a chance to rest. i know that being sick is not a great reason to rest, but apparently i needed something to get me to chill out. on that note, i've had time today to have some good catch-up conversations.
- breath mints and hot tea. did you know that breath mints help with nausea? it's true. i am never without them. and i don't drink hot tea a lot, but when you are woken at 5:30 in the morning by a violent tummy... i don't know of anything more comforting.
a couple other random notes: i move in less than a week! yay! i'm so pumped to be in my new place.
i saw the movie Jesus Camp on saturday night with peter, jackie, tawndee and jason. i will definitely be commenting on this viewing, because the level of disturbance it caused in my brain warrants an entry. but i'm still processing.
Friday, August 17, 2007
monday: go to work until 5. must finally go get something resembling groceries. go to lee and beth's to look at old things they don't want anymore. they have an ice cream maker that we can have, and that's pretty sweet.
tuesday: i plan on staying home to get packing done. however, meg calls to invite me to pray with their house, and seeing as how i've been wanting to pray with them for about a month (and because i seem to be completely unable to say no), i forefeit packing for the evening to go to lexington to pray. i'm glad i went. afterwards, i help rebecca get her car, then drive her car back. then i hang out for a few minutes with meg an jess, mostly because i don't want to go home.
wednesday: i work for 2 hours. then i go to a meeting about church planting where i have no idea what we're talking about, so i end up asking ridiculous questions, but am glad i'm there. then i go to church to pray. back to wilmore to work. back to lexington after work to hang out with the youth. later that night, i read an email from aaron about his thoughts on community. never ask me my thoughts on community if you don't want to hear a lot. so i write peter and aaron a book about all my thoughts, and now we have all these crazy ideas about doing community in the oh-5. crazy. between church planting and figuring out how to do life together and realizing that i need to move and start a new semester soon.... whoa! craziness. in the midst of this, i call chelsea to tell her she can live with us. and she seems very cool! i'm excited about this house of girls. it's gonna rock.
thursday: again, i think, "i'll have tonight to pack." i should just never plan anything. aaron calls me at 10 or so in the morning to ask if i can be at a meeting that night to talk about all our crazy plans for creating community. and i think, "i really need to be there." so i go. only, of course, after convincing him to change the meeting's location to coffee times. all is right with the world when coffee times is involved. i spend the rest of the day fighting off overhwhelming, swirling thoughts. again, glad i went to this meeting. i left feeling encouraged and excited about what we are trying to do. on the way home i realize i haven't seen my friend kathy in a really long time due mostly to moving and church stuff (and i still have a movie of hers), so i go visit her. she fed me watermelon, and then ginger came over. it was good. i then go home and try to be productive... i start working on a letter to some community members, and realize that my brain is a crazy place.
friday: work until 1. my sweet boss comes in and tells me i can leave early if i want, and i wanted. came home, took a nap, made phone calls, packed some stuff, called my mom. dinner later on 12th street.
tomorrow: i HAVE to pack my house. everything. must. get. done. please, someone call me to make sure i am doing this, because it's not done right now (and all before 4:30, because i'm going to the church picnic at 5!), and this place is not ready to go yet! =)
craziness. but in the best sense of that word.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I have been sad today, and i don't really know why. i tried to push myself into feeling ok all day, only to finalize with crying as i left the la roca community garden. and i feel silly. i'm sure there are multiple reasons for my heavy heart. but it's amazing what a visit from a friend can do at 11:00 at night. samantha webb rocks, plain and simple.
Random note #2:
we may have found a 3rd roommate (and maybe even a fourth!), and i'm so excited! if this works out, the little blue house on Highland Park will be the place to be.
Random note #3:
Having to wait 2 weeks to move is going to be a very difficult task! i definitely want to be living on Highland Park Drive right now. But patience is a virtue, i'm told, as is packing my belongings and cleaning my current house....i also realize that "finishing well" is as important as taking a first step of faith. i think it's definitely a lot harder. excitement can be troublesome sometimes.
Random note #4:
i had a crazy busy weekend. dinner with some fun folks on 12th street, measuring my new bedroom door (only to find that my beloved desk will not fit...sad!), pestering aaron, lunch with the jackster, shopping with a neighbor, church today, lunch with jackie and peter and kim, helping at the garden. whew! but it was good. it was nice to feel a part of my new soon-to-be home!
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
This garden was started a few months ago, and i always thought it seemed like a cool idea. However, I'm a slacker. I hadn't even seen the garden until last week when i went to help pick some beans. For the past two Sunday nights, i've had the honor of getting to help pick beans, tomatoes, peppers, and okra. And it's been such a great experience to get sweaty, get my hands dirty, and to fellowship with other church members while working on this crazy little garden. And I've met people for the first time that i've gone to church with for almost two years now.
This has all caused me to think about the significance of this simple (yet very profound) project. Fellowship is being built as we work alongside each other. New life is being produced. Healthy food is being provided. These, to me, seem like intrinsically Biblical values, and it's exciting to see them getting played out every week. Of course, these are just a few of the positive things happening as a result of this garden... i know that there are so many more.
More than anything else, I realized last night how grateful I am that I go to a church that is investing its resources in things like planting gardens instead of spending money on a building. Getting our hands dirty together instead starting a new program. Working alongside our neighbors instead of pushing them aside. Our perceptions of 'church' have the tendency to get very skewed, and i'm realizing that this is what it's about. producing life-particularly where there was once death. La Roca is certainly far from perfect, but i love that i am part of a body of believers seeking out creative ways of embracing and loving people.
And i get the feeling that God is in the midst of doing some big, big things.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"The younger son's return takes place in the very moment that he reclaims his sonship, even though he has lost all the dignity that belongs to it. In fact, it was the loss of everything that brought him to the bottom line of his identity. He hit the bedrock of his sonship. In retrospect, it seems that the prodigal had to lose everything to come into touch with the ground of his being. When he found himself desiring to be treated as one of the pigs, he realized that he was not a pig but a human being, a son of his father. This realization became the basis for his choice to live instead of to die. Once he had come again in touch with the truth of his sonship, he could hear-although faintly-the voice calling him the Beloved and feel-although distantly-the touch of blessing."
In diving deep into the story of the prodigal son, Henri Nouwen talks about the younger son's return and his willingness to be treated as one of the pigs, if only that could bring him into his father's presence. However, the father would never allow this.... he celebrates, he lavishes, he welcomes the son home with open, loving, strong embrace. Why? because the son is his child. It makes me think of all the times and of all the ways that I only allow myself to be treated as good as something less than a daughter of God. But that is indeed who i am-a daughter of God! I'm reminded that forgiveness is ALWAYS there to be received, but we must be willing to receive it. God longs to celebrate with us, hold us, party with us, remind us of our worth. But something has happened. We tend to say that this forgiveness certainly can't be true, and so we imprison ourselves in holding onto shame and guilt, thinking we're only as good as the pigs. God's not the one imprisoning us-He is freeing us.
It's been good this week to remember this-that God has good planned for His children. I think i've lived most of life believing that for something to be right, it has to be hard. And sometimes that might be true... but God also has joy in mind for His church! God longs for us to lavish in His presence, to enjoy the fellowship of all of His children. God has good planned, and yesterday was a great reminder of that. I can choose to live as less than a child of God, or I can choose to rise from sin and accept forgiveness and walk with God, and remember that before anything else...I am a child of God.
God is providing for me right now in so many clear and amazing ways. It is so easy to think, "no. i don't deserve this. this can't be right." and i don't deserve it, yet i am so loved in spite of that! And so-i am living in gratitude for: a new house (by the way, one with a PORCH!!), a roommate, a great community around me, people who encourage me, a church that is far from perfect but is certainly trying, God's grace and provision, ministry opportunities.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
the real reason for my insomnia. life is changing before my very eyes, and it's causing many unsettling thoughts. i am moving in a month. i realize this shouldn't seem like that big of a deal, but it's big inside my head (and yes, i tend to overreact, but surely that is no suprise to anyone who knows me!). there are several reasons this is big. i am no stranger to moving to new abodes... this will be my fourth place since i've moved to kentucky, which was not even two years ago. however, this move is of significance for a few reasons. one, it's the first time i have had to find a place, sign a lease, make decisions, ask wise questions. i realize this is ridiculous since i'm 29, but i've just always had the good fortune to move in with others. learning how to be an adult stinks sometimes.
another reason this is slightly overwhelming me. i'm not just living somewhere to live. i'm moving to this particular locale in order to attempt to engage with the neighborhood and with folks from the church who already live there, some of whom i have a great deal of respect for. and i realize that this scares me. what if i disappoint them? i know that they love me now, but will they still love me when they see the real me? sometimes i feel like the real me is not that great... let's face it... i can be lazy, seflish, and i pick who i want to love. i realized tonight my fears of really allowing others to see the not-so-great parts of my personality. There are people who are extremely excited about me moving into this neighborhood, and i've realized that i don't understand why. i don't feel like i have a lot to give. i feel like i fake it sometimes....
and maybe that's why this move is a really great thing. maybe it's that i need to really understand that there are people who love me for all the parts of me, good and bad. and that i need to understand that God loves all those parts of me.
It reminds me of what Henri Nouwen talks about in Return of the Prodigal Son. He proposes that when we do not understand our Belovedness, when we do not understand that we are completely loved by and cherished by God, we act in certain ways. I'm realizing that for me, it's a whole lot of fear. Fear that people will leave or will be disappointed when they see the real me.
I tend to beat myself up for not intrinsically being who I want to be. For needing to be around others in order to feel motivated to serve, to love, to produce. Sometimes that feels like i am doing things only for others, but maybe it's also about others encouraging us to be the best versions of ourselves.
Monday, July 30, 2007
i'm excited... i think this will be a great thing, and a long time in coming. And more than anything else, i really see God's hand in all of this, which is scary and encouraging all at the same time.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
- stressful week with the kiddos
- lots of tiredness on my part
- feeling overwhelmed by one too many unknowns
- feeling like i am in a whirlwind
- needing car repairs
yet, somehow, in the midst of it all God has worked. Things still do not make sense. I am still confused, overwhelmed... but I am reminded of God's presence. And that's really all we can do sometimes. And after a much-needed breakdown on Wednesday night, I felt at least a little bit of peace, and even found myself in the position to get to encourage a couple other friends... which I was so thankful for.
And in the middle of this, I've been thinking about what it means to be truly healed. My pastor and I (a genuinely awesome guy who is probably the most accessible pastor i've ever had the privilege to be around) have had some email conversations about that this week. His wife died about 2 months ago, so it was interesting to get his take on the subject. He basically ended the conversation by saying, "maybe it's all a matter of perseverence. Because if we are healed from what we are wanting healing from, there's just something else waiting around the corner, because life is hard." And it's so true. Maybe it's not just a matter of asking for healing from something, but for God's grace within whatever life throws our way.
So...even in the midst of a somewhat frustrating week, I can still say that God is. And i can say that God loves me... maybe even likes me.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
And then today in Sunday School, we talked about this again. We are about to start a trek through the book of Deuteronomy (which I have never read in its entirety) and this is also an apparent theme. Remember. Remember. Remember God. Remember His faithfulness. Remember that He loves you. Remember that you are His child. Peter, who teaches our class, encouraged us to also remember our own journeys of faith as we read this book. Remember.
There is power in being able to remember. There is power in being able to take a step back, especially when the details of life are overwhelming...when the freshness of a relationship with the Father seems mundane....when what is apparent and obvious is pain. Remember God. Remember that I am loved and beloved. In remembering what is true, I can shift my thinking-reminding myself that I belong to the Creator, the King of Kings, YWHW, Jehovah. It is easy to think that I don't belong to him... which is why I must stop to remember.
I am reading Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen... a book that is all about living into our Divine belovedness. Today I am reminded to remember that I am a child of God, and that in truly understanding that truth changes my posture... changes how I live, how I treat myself, and how I treat others. Remembering and understanding who I belong to and how much He loves me allows me to enter into light and joy. Understanding and remembering takes me into the arms of the Father and trusting in a way that far surpasses any that I could conjure up in my own head. Understanding and remembering carries me from walking slumped over in shame to walking in confidence with my heavenly Father. I'll be honest--this is difficult to remember most days... which is why I guess God is into object lessons.
I often feel guilty for not remembering-for trusting myself and the opinions of others far more than I trust God. But I guess God knows this our tendency, since we are reminded to remember over and over again. And I guess this is why God wants us to worship together... to celebrate Holy Communion together....to remind each other to remember.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
- Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Driven in Manhattan.
- Been on the Staten Island Ferry at Sunset.
- Eaten one of the best cheeseburgers i have ever had. ever.
- Eaten a bowl full of cheeries. A couple of them actually.
- Seen the ocean.
- Driven from Brooklyn, New York to Wilmore, Kentucky in one day.
- Had incredible conversations with my brother about life, family, and God.
- Been enormously grateful for fun family times.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Yesterday I was attempting to give the kids a snack, and this is normally a pretty tumultuous time. This time happens not long after they've gotten up from their nap, and a few of them just do not wake up well (i can relate to that... maggie in the mornings is not a fun sight), especially because a few of them are there for long days, and they are just really tired. What I often do during this time is let one of the kids be my helper. This is a privilege for the kids, one that is worth fighting over. One that is worth shedding tears over. This got me thinking....when do we make the move from the helper as one of privilege to something of a chore? When does it become a burden to help someone else?
It also led me into thoughts of how God designed us. It seems like maybe God wants us to view being a servant in His kingdom, being His 'helper' as something of a privilege to get very excited about. God's pretty big and powerful.... He can do anything He wants.... does He really need us? I don't need the kids to help me.... but it's fun to watch them get excited about being helpful. I don't know if God needs us or not, but it certainly seems like He really wants us to serve Him, and that it delights Him when we get excited about walking with Him and attempting to help His purposes along. It is usually very likely that when the kids help me, something will get spilled or some mess will get made. And i'll be right behind them to clean up whatever mess has been made. And i'm reminded that God doesn't need my perfection, He just wants my willingness, because He knows a mess will be made, and He'll help me clean it up.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
- I have been working at the Wilmore Day Care Center. I am the teacher for the 4 and 5 year olds. Most days, I like it. Some days, my frustration level is a little higher than I am proud of, but I really like my kiddos. they're fun. and they say lots of funny things. and i have a really awesome boss who is more than gracious with me.
- I have been reading Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. You must read this book. Many of the life-changing thoughts that are currently in my head are a result of reading this book. I may write something later after i've processed it all.... but it is wonderful.
- I am really glad that I'm not taking classes right now and have adequate time to read and process aforementioned book.
- I have to move out of my apartment in August. I have absolutely no clue where i am going to live. This is probably something I should start thinking about soon.
- I am going to new york city next weekend and i am puuuuumped! yay! yay! i believe that new york city is one of the greatest places on this earth. to add to it's inherent greatness, the one and only randall middleton (older brother of yours truly) lives there. yay for vacations!
- I have attempted to go fishing the past two weekends with my friend samantha, and have failed both times. I even bought my very first fishing pole for the occassion, and it sits unused, and I am sad. Thus, my goal before summer's end is to go fishing. Not necessarily to catch any fish, but i would really love to put my feet in the water and hold said fishing pole. If I happen to catch any fish, that will be an added bonus.
- I have done about 10 things today that I feel really stupid about. These aren't bad/sinful things.... Just really awkward things i've done... and i feel extremely foolish at the moment, and i keep dwelling on them.
- Things I am thankful for today: iced hot chocolate (from Coffee Times!), gift cards from Coffee Times, really great friends, hugs, getting a short vacation in the middle of the summer, thoughtful people, God's provision, sitting on a friend's porch, long drives with friends who "get you," hope, new insights, God's presence, Sunday afternoon naps.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I have been busy in some unanticipated but joyful ways. My mom and stepdad came in town to help me celebrate the big 2-9. It was a very baseball weekend... we went to the Louisville Slugger Museum, and then went to a Lexington Legends game. Baseball is one of the things my whole family likes to enjoy together, so it was good fun. I guess that's where my love of the St. Louis Cardinals comes from.... it's my family language. =) I've also been busy with other happy things.... spending time with friends, La Roca youth trip to Mammoth Cave, helping Mission Year out at Icthus, seeing out of town friends.
I'm not taking classes this summer... just working, which is so nice. It's wonderful to feel the freedom to spend time with people without feeling the pressure of schoolwork. I've also realized in myself an overwhelming desire to do summery things.... putting my feet in the sand, barbeques, swimming, feeling the sun on my face, enjoying great conversations while i play and take in all the kentucky-ness around me.
It's also been a great few weeks to do some self-reflection.... I have realized how much I crave validation of definition from other people... and so now i am doing the hard work of trying to not care what others think of me. I am also trying to find the balance between not caring about the opinions of others, but also caring for those around me.
I also still really want a porch. and i want to go to the beach. soon.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Many of you who read this know Peter and Jackie, and know how great they are, so hopefully this won't be a cheesy post. But in many ways, they've just really been a means of grace in my life, and I can say with certainty that God put these two crazy kids in my life, and it's been incredible to see how my friendship with Jackie in particular has grown. She does a great job of loving on me, accepting me, and reminding me of the things that I often like to forget. In a lot of ways, she has become like a sister to me, and I find myself saying thanks to God for her most days. She also lets me share in her life, and I love it! And Peter's just good fun, as well as an exceptional teacher. I've never known Peter and Jackie apart-I met them when they had already been dating about a year or so. And what can I say? They belong together.
Why am I rambling about them? I am rambling because I felt like I got to be a part of something truly special and meaningful this weekend. I cried as Jackie walked down the aisle, and not because I normally cry at weddings (which I don't). I cried because I have been given the enormous privilege of walking with her through life over the past year and a half, through a lot of hard times and some good ones. And to get to finally see her on that walk down the aisle... something we've talked about a LOT... it was so beautiful to me. I just kept thinking, "wow. these are two amazing people. and i get to share life with them. and i get to share this moment with them."
I am tired and drained and exhausted, but I wouldn't have traded this weekend for anything. It was a beautiful thing to get to serve jackie and peter in small ways and to just be able to love them in a fraction of the way that they have loved me.
I guess that's part of what community is. getting to share in the happy and sad moments, and finding ways to serve each other. it's about really, truly understanding that we are brothers and sisters, and finding ways to love on each other. having this weekend has reminded me of how many ways in which God loves me through His redemption, His sacrifice, His provision and His community.
So here's to you Peter and Jackie... you guys rock.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, through I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
-Thomas Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude
sometimes i don't have words of my own to describe my state of mind, where i am, or where i would like to be. i'm so thankful that God works in all of us so that we can give each other words.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
I have been thinking a lot about death today. This morning, a good friend from Atlanta sent me a text message to let me know her father had just passed away. I was so sad for Jamie, and all i could do was cry for a few minutes as I thought about Jamie's dad passing from this world to the next. I thought about Jamie trying to take care of her now widowed mom, and thinking of all her memories of her father. I thought about wanting to give Jamie a big hug right now, knowing that there is nothing I can do to take away the pain, but just wanting to be present.
Later today, I found out that a player from my beloved St. Louis Cardinals was killed in a car accident last night. This guy was my age and a relief pitcher for the Cards. It made me think... about a lot. I've thought a lot today about the rest of his teammates and the sadness they must feel, and the fact that tomorrow (or maybe the day after) they have to get back to business and play a game. I've thought about his family and the unbearable grief they must be feeling at losing a son so young. and it makes me sad.
These two scenarios are, of course, followed by the tragedy at Virginia Tech which has no doubt saddened many of us. Death is always sad, but untimely deaths do something to us. They shake us up... make us think about life.... get us on edge. It's not normal... death is not supposed to happen like this.
I'm not sure what to do with all of this, but in the midst of thinking about these things, I've been thinking about certain parts of me that need to "die," and as a result I've been thinking about what it means to "die to oneself." I've been remorseful tonight over some areas of my life I'm not incredibly proud of. But I am reminded that sometimes, some parts of a being must die before true life can take over, and even though I am tempted to berate myself for these things, all i can do is give God this yuckiness and trust that Jesus has victory over this sin, and there is no reason for me to live in it any longer!
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
As i think about death... even these extremely sad, untimely deaths, I try to wrap my mind around this... because of the resurrection, we have passed over from death to life. Christ has had victory over sadness, sin, death....it boggles my mind when i think about it.... fills me to the point of overwhelming gratitude!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
but perhaps it's a good thing... maybe it will give me some time to rest, think, process, chill, be. The past week has been filled with the newness of possibilities, and my mind is in overdrive because of it. I have before me a potentially exciting opportunity, and it is so tempting to think of all that could go wrong. It is tempting to think that I will fail and disappoint all those around me. It is tempting to think that I have to plan every moment of this possiblity now.
this, of course, leaves no room for the magnitude and the extravagance of God's plans. I was expressing my fears and thoughts about all this to someone the other day, and he just said, "just go for it. just show up." what a freeing thought. the reality is... this thing is out of my hands at the moment. i have done what i can do for now, and just need to trust. trust. trust.
we've talked in my sunday school class a few times about the need to "participate" with God. So where is the balance? where's the balance between trusting God for all that He will and is able to do and our part in walking with Christ? What is my role? Balance is hard for me, as I think it is for most people. I tend to go to an extreme... I either blindly do nothing, and assume it will all work out (while doing nothing) or i worry, worry, worry. where is this balance?
maybe it's a simple matter of obedience.... waiting on God, and in the meantime treating people with love and respect... treating them as Christ would treat them---responding to injustices---praying---trying to draw close to my Creator---trusting the greatness of the plans that He's got, and knowing that these plans are not just for me. Any plan that God has for me, is not just for me. It's for the Kingdom. so until then... i am trusting, and hopefully learning how to treat others with at least a little respect and dignity.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
my friend peter teaches the sunday school class i go to each week. and each week we start prayer with just listing our "thanks." there's something profound about saying thanks to God and to others in a communal setting that draws us close to the Father... there is something there that reminds us that we are His, that we are taken care of when we are reminded of all that He has done for us.
over the past year, i have mulled over the phrase "giving control to God." and i realize that i have absolutely no idea how to do this, and most days, even what this means. we like to say it a lot. but really, what does this mean? what does it mean to give control to One i cannot see, while i still need to live my life, make decisions, pay bills, and be proactive in loving people? what does it mean to be humble before the Creator of the universe and allow Him to take control of my life? what does it mean to truly live in a Christ-centered community with my brothers and sisters? i want to suggest that true, genuine gratitude is at the heart of it.
i have been reminded this week of a few things about gratitude. first, true thankfulness is at the heart of humility. if i am genuinely thanking you for doing something for me, i am admitting that i have not done it myself, or was not able to do it myself. i am confessing that i have received something outside of my control. in a way, i am reliquishing my dependency upon myself. thanksgiving leads to the willingness to be humble. living in gratitude reminds me of what i have been given, and that i did not do it for myself. and when i'm not thankful, when i'm arrogant and living in a posture of demanding to be taken care of, i am much more likely to live into pride and a host of other sins.
second, i'd like to suggest that to truly be thankful is also related to doing and being in the center of God's will. There's a verse (1 Thess. 5:18) that says, "Give thanks continually, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." i'm realizing more and more that i wonder and stress out over which decision is right and "God's will." maybe it's not necessarily a matter of which job to take or which road to go down-but it's about me being in a posture of genuine gratitude. It's a matter of me acknowledging that all good things come from above (and not my own doing!) and living a life that reflects my dependence on my Creator and living in awe and thankfulness for what He alone can do.
back to that first thought about the trouble of understanding how to give God control.... if i understand that all things come from Him, and I am able to live in thankfulness for all that He has blessed me with, then I am able to be much more free to relinquish control. I am able to remember in my mind and heart that His plan is intrinsically good and i can trust that. I am able to give myself over to Him. as simplistic as this sounds, it starts with giving thanks! Giving thanks is about giving up myself.
i believe understanding this will change how i see other people and everything that has been created by God, and how i understand this life. it seems so simple... yet this is our calling: to remember that God is the source, and that He is good.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
-i have discovered that i despise terms like 'evangelizing,' 'witnessing,' 'accepting Christ,' etc. Perhaps that makes me a bad Christian, and I am ok with that label. Instead of having a strategy to evangelize and change people, i think i would rather just invite people to follow Jesus... I would rather invite them to the feast prepared for us by our Heavenly Father. I'm already selfish enough... i really don't have a need to keep God for myself (as i accept Him for myself... i really think He wants to be shared with all the people He created).
-i am finding that in the recent days of gorgeous Kentucky weather, I would do just about anything to live in a place with a great porch. oh, how i long for this.
-There is great, deep and profound power in invitation. When we invite others to join us... for anything, we are reminding them that we delight in their presence and that we long to be with them. We are able to affirm them by saying, "i see good in you. so much so that i want to be with you." Do I delight in the presence of others in the same way that God delights in me? Do I understand how God delights in me and in my presence?
-i realize that it's quite easy to mourn over the things that i don't have, and forget all that i do have. but i do have so much.... i am so thankful today for the beautiful women in my lifegroup, for beautiful weather, for God's provision, for silly middle school girls, for the beauty of simplicity, for laughter, for babies, for friends who care, for the power of those who welcome me in, for cleansing tears, for redemption, for self-reflection and self-awareness, for hope.
-finally, i read this passage today and it was particularly meaningful to me:
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
and so, since i am having trouble journaling about what someone else wants me to journal about, i'll start here. i have so much going on inside my head that i just don't know how to express. i know that is a common problem of mine, but it really does get old. i find myself longing for belonging, longing for the touch and depth of my Heavenly Father... longing to understand the beauty of how God has created me. longing to understand and to really, really know the mystery of having a relationship with Jesus. it so often does not make sense to me and doesn't click, especially being in the midst of much Christian-ese.
I was babysitting today for a sweet little 3 year old. We were playing outside and she decided that she wanted to pretend to be Jesus. I couldn't call her by her real name--I had to call her Jesus. There were a lot of thoughts that went through my head as we played this game. First, I kind of liked that she is growing up with a deep awareness of talking about Jesus and having the reminders that He is close, present, accessible. Second, I thought about what it might mean for someone to see me and to think... "hey, you remind me a lot of Jesus... so much so that you look like Him, talk like Him, think like Him." (i am nowhere near that point....) Perhaps that is the point of the deepening of the Christian life... to continually be on a quest to figure out what it means to both imitate Christ and to follow in His footsteps. There were other thoughts too... really, i thought it was funny that she wouldn't let me call her by her real name... only Jesus. it was cute.
i am also doing a lot of thinking about what it means to truly match up what i think with what i say, feel, believe and do. I am realizing more and more how many discrepancies there are in my life. i'd like to be genuine... to offer warmth, acceptance and hospitality to all... and i'm working on it.... but i also realize how many selfish tendencies i've got. i've been deeply reminded recently that the point of my life is not for myself. any good thing that is bestowed upon me is not really for me... it's for the Kingdom. it's for something much bigger than myself. i have had a friend recently remind me, a couple of times, that i just need to be honest. even if i am mad at him or disagree with him-i just need to say what i think. in theory, this is a great idea. but for some reason i struggle with this so much, and have a hard time just saying what i think without apology.
i'm also in a season where i realize that i have some very strong, deep desires that I am not sure are from God. As i am praying through these things, i struggle with the balance between knowing that God honors and uses the longings of my heart, but being able to desire only the things that are of the Father. i really have no idea how to do this, but trusting in the provision of God.
if you have made it all the way through this post, bravo! blessings to all who tread here...
Sunday, March 04, 2007
-a tornado hit the town where i spent most of my childhood summers and where i still have family. it's been scary and sad to think about, especially reading reports on this. if you think about it, keep enterprise, AL in your prayers. this tornado appears to have done significant damage. i'm sad for my aunt who still lives there, as she takes in all this damage and destruction.
-the past few days have been hard. i've taken things way too hard, way too personally. i've made mountains out of molehills, and i'm realizing my selfish tendencies within this. i'm reminded that a little perspective goes a long way, while at the same time needing to give myself permission to be upset if that's how i feel. i've gone through the gamut of emotions this week... joy, pain, rejection, isolation, contentment, discontentment, holding on, releasing, deep frustration, feeling ugly, feeling beautiful. i struggle so much with not allowing others to define how i feel... slowly, i'm learning how to balance this with being comfortable in my own skin.
-i allowed frustration to get the best of me this weekend. luckily, i was able to confront my frustration, and the object of this frustration reminded me that i have the right to speak my mind, and i have the right to feel mad. it's nice to feel validated sometimes.
-learning how to be honest without being mean and while maintaining sensitivity and respect is definitely not something i have mastered. i'd like to be there... and ever so slowly, i think i'm getting there.
-in the midst of so many frustrations over the past few days, God has reminded me of His presence, His plan, His purpose, His love. and while being frustrated, i've also felt the warmth of connection with good friends. it's been a week of sometimes wondering why i try in friendships... feeling disillusioned, but then being reminded that i need to chill out. i've been reminded that people do care for me... that even in my messiness, i do have people who see beauty in me, and who don't want to see me hurting.
-i'm realizing that the ways in which i desire to be loved by others are often not how they will always choose to show love. instead of coming to the table with my demands, i need to seek to be surprised by joy.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
all i can say is... wow. this is something that has always been a struggle for me... i know that i have strong opinions, but i tend to live in this place that tells me that others will think what i have to say is juvenile, or stupid, or worthless, or won't make sense. or that my thoughts won't make a difference. I have a really hard time believing that what i have to say will make a difference... or that i have a voice worthy to be heard.
but i was reminded today that i do have a voice, thoughts put in my head by my Heavenly Father to do good things. I am often tempted to downplay what I think, wanting to reject what goes through my head. But my friend Judy has so lovingly reminded me that it's just not true. and when i reject my own voice, perhaps i am rejecting receiving from God, and from giving to others what God has given to me to share.
it strikes me that it's all part of a process of trusting the Creator with how He has created us. Self-deprecation can be so deceiving, and what may feel like humility is exactly the opposite.... looking to our own failings more than we look to our Father. Knowing that I have something worthwhile to say... something that others might listen to... wow. this floors me... all a part of the process of understanding God's purposes for me, i suppose....
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
last week in one of my classes, Dr. Kiesling posed this question to us: Has evangelicalism contributed to the narcissism of our age? Does the church's mission point to the cross, or to individualism?
in mulling over this question, i started thinking about the language we use in the church. Receive Christ for yourself. Accept Him in your heart. Make Him your personal Lord and Savior. These statements conjure up images of having a little Jesus action figure that i can put in my pocket and pull out when I need Him. Isn't God bigger than that?
Dr. Kiesling suggested that the language we should perhaps be using when one decides to be a Christian is to "follow Jesus." This, to me, speaks of the difference between trying to fit God into my life versus deciding to make my life about God.
How do I get rid of all this "I" language while still caring for and acknowledging the creation that is Maggie? How do I make the Kingdom of God my end goal? What does it really mean to follow Jesus... to follow this One I cannot see, cannot touch... but that I trust in? What does it mean to pour out my heart... to empty all that is important to me onto the feet of Jesus?
I've realized that recently it's been difficult to sit through worship services, where I feel like I hear the same thing i've been hearing for many consecutive weeks. How does this thing, this movement, this life in the Kingdom stay fresh and alive? And in my desire for spiritual moments, I realize that I've got some spiritual selfishness i need to deal with. Will this cycle never end?
peace and blessings to all who enter here,
Monday, January 29, 2007
my friend peter explains this as "everyone showing up with an armful of presents." we give and receive the life-giving message of Christ's hope to each other. most of the time, we don't realize how much we mean to each other, but in the end, we bring the message of salvation to each other. what a simple yet beautiful thing.
some days, i'm realizing, it's just too much to try to convince yourself of the truth when the craziness of life hits. there's something about hearing truth from a brother, and knowing that he really cares and wants you to really believe it.
God is good.
Monday, January 22, 2007
-I have been working a lot... babysitting and phonathon. and when i'm not working, i'm preparing for church stuff. that's been my life. i wish that i had something else really exciting to report, but i don't. i think that i struggle when life is not "exciting," so i'm trying to learn how to live in joyful contentment when life is even-keeled. but seriously, jumping on a trampoline or having a party or hearing from someone i've never heard from sounds fun right now. sound high-maintenance? i can be like that.
-i have been thinking a lot about my motivations and realize that most days, my motives are really not that great. in fact, they are really pretty selfish. i find that i do a lot of things for the attention and acclaim of others... especially "spiritual" things. this thought makes me sick. it leads me to think about what it REALLY means to be a disciple. is it singing pretty praise songs and praying and reading my Bible and going to church? or is it more? is it really about being able to serve others before myself? is it more about loving people who don't receive love? how do these two sets of things meet?
-i am longing for connection, yet needing alone time. i am learning how to be honest with other people (but that's a pretty slow process).
-i have struggled through some emotional hurts this week from unmet expectations. trying to hope-not expect.
-i have been really stressed about money.
-my roommate's not coming back this spring. i think it will be weird, but ok. i see God's hand in this.
-i have been trying to uncover all the things that God is wanting to refine. Sometimes i feel like i'm doing ok, only to realize that there's so much that God is wanting to tear away. Some days it feels like a lot to comprehend.
-i have been very thankful for emerging friendships this week... people who accept for who i am, quirks and all.
-i have been trying to be very, very honest about who i am, how i relate to God, where He is taking me, etc.
-i'm not sure how i feel about the upcoming semester. some days i dread it... i feel nervous about all that is coming up. trying to stand in faith that it will be ok. also excited about new friends and relationships.
-i am realizing now that this post sounds sort of negative. i don't know why i feel negative right now... things really are ok. i think i am very tired, and feeling unsettled. maybe i just need a hug, some hot chocolate and some good sleep. and if you've made it thus far in my ramblings, you are awesome!
Friday, January 12, 2007
i have found myself in many spots recently where i have needed to learn to be alone... and i realize that i stink at this. i crave people-i crave attention-i crave hugs and affirmation and encouragement and community and truth and authenticity...and when i don't have these things... i struggle. i don't think it's bad to crave these things, but when they start to define who you are... that's a definite danger zone.
as a result of having spent so many years of defining myself by what others have said, i now find myself in a spot of needing to search and seek out what my Heavenly Father says about me. A few weeks ago I was floored by a passage in Hosea:
14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.
A couple of things really affect me in this passage. First, in verse 14 says that He will allure His daughter into the desert...into a wilderness spot, of sorts. i feel like i've been in a wilderness spot for a while, and i haven't understood it. i've scrambled and i've wrestled and i've tried to get away from the wilderness. it feels dry-hopeless-lifeless. but this passage reminds me of the purpose of the wilderness....it is out of God's love and desire for His children that He leads us into the wilderness... because sometimes in the wilderness, when we are most naked and vulnerable and needy that we are able to hear the life-giving words of the Father. It is out of His love that He leads us to the desert.
The second thing that pierced me about this passage is the end. "...you will call me 'my husband' instead of 'my master.'" How often have I gone to God simply out of necessity? How many times have I viewed Him almost as a slot machine (put enough prayers in, and then something good may come out) or even more often as an angry, distant father for whom I could never be good enough? But i've been reminded that God longs to be more than a master who gives me the bare minimum... He longs for intimacy with me, and with His church as a whole. He longs for our hearts... our whole beings. He is not distant... He is not disinterested. He wants to be as close to me as i would one day be to my husband. He longs to be as close, if not closer, than two humans can possibly get.
i tend to live and learn experientially, and so feeling close to a God whom I cannot physically touch is a challenge sometimes. And as i find that I long for others, God is showing me how to be satisfied with Him. to be joyfully and simply content. some moments i'm good at this... and others... well... i'm learning. there are many times that i have to be reminded by others of who I am to God. but that's community, i suppose... and a subject for a future post....