Friday, March 23, 2007

Hey you-thanks!

i've been wanting to write something on the importance of gratitude and thankfulness for a few days now. no, i am not going to list what i am thankful for. no, i am not going to merely suggest that it's a good idea to be thankful.

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


Musings of the week:

-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.

-Psalm 3:3-5

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Journaling about Journaling

I should be doing homework right now. What homework, you ask? well, in all reality the two people who read this probably aren't asking that, but i shall tell you anyway. All i have to do is write 2 journal entries for my discipleship development in the family class. This seems like an assignment that I'd love... I normally love to do self-reflective writing, the kind that helps me probe into my soul and allows me to express myself. however, I am definitely not into it, and i'm not sure why. In fact, doing school this semester has been difficult. In fact, it's been a struggle to stay focused the past month and a half. anytime i need to listen to someone who is speaking in a public setting I have found my mind wandering... daydreaming.... i feel as though i'm somewhere else. i don't know where i am, exactly, or where i wish i could be. and it's frustrating, because i want to be focused. i want to be in the moment. so this has been my prayer of late... that i would be where i am, and be engaged in what God has for me.

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 new week, a new post

it's been one of those weeks where a lot has happened, and not a lot has happened at the same time. here's a review of the life of maggie...

-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.