All covered up in Love

Laying here in bed just enjoying the love of God as I prayed in my heart after getting my little boy back to sleep. One of those moments where a sweet stillness has come and the heaviness has lifted off of your soul and Love has grabbed your attention with His sweetness. Then unbidden, in creeps the truth about what I have done – something I am guilty of – to try and ruin my joy.

Well tonight I wasn’t having any of that so I began to pray again, to get out of my own mind and keep enjoying Jesus and how much he loves me. And you know what happened? I heard His voice talking about Grace. I saw a picture of it. I was standing under the sky and because of my thoughts about my sin felt the acceptance and happiness draining away from me and God pulled the ripcord on a parachute that I didn’t even know I was wearing. And when the parachute launched into the sky above me it completely covered all that I saw. It was a big canopy of actual grace over me. As it began to fall it changed all it touched. It made a new sky over me – a new reality. God said, “Grace touches everything you are.” The truth of what happened is there but the reality of grace is that mercy triumphs over judgment and you are going from here all covered and loved and new. Grace even seeps into what you were and bad choices you’ve made and forgives them. Touches them with the new reality that is grace itself. Such a heavy weight lifted all because of Love!

Nope. Not going to steal my joy from me tonight.

I’m still enjoying being so loved so I’m going to end this here. 🙂

Goodnight.

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Sleeping in the new year

I’m going to sleep now. We’re exhausted inside and out. We need to rest.

Going to sleep in 2012, waking up in 2013. I hope that’s a picture of this next 365 days. I really do. Enough of the building up, the waiting for one moment. I’m all for waking up, and finding something that I can’t see has changed. Life continues on, and there was no Big Bang, but something will have changed and brought us into different days. All without my effort. Or maybe – and this is what I really suspect – maybe my part is simply saying yes (obeying… what a concept), resting, and coming out on the other side of the rest different.

So, happy new year, people.

The disappearing church

Do you know what I think about all this talk about the decline in church attendance and how more and more Americans identify themselves with no religion whatsoever? (More than ever before in the history of our country apparently)

I think we’re missing the truth big time. The front page story isn’t that people are so wounded by the church that they’re leaving in droves (though that is happening). The truth isn’t how does Christianity meld itself into society without losing itself or compromising.

The truth is that it’s God at work. He doesn’t live in church buildings. He never has. He is moving everyone out into the streets, into the broken parts of their lives, into the creativity that He meant for them to be in, into the bland landscape of no particular religion so that He can have the freedom that we rarely gave or give Him in our gatherings. His light explodes into darkness and His life is arriving like splatters of color onto the blank canvasses of our numb, sarcastic, jaded, lonely souls.

He’s always wanted to break out. Like the guy who tried to keep the Ark of the Covenant from toppling over, we try to keep Him in place. (2 Samuel 6) He doesn’t want to have to be confined, He wants to be with us!! For heaven’s sake, don’t try to keep things steady, let Him out of the box!

We take ourselves too seriously. We see things backwards. We mourn at the decline of Christianity in our country and try to build more programs (or arks), or try to write the most hip blog to hold on to the people so they won’t be lost, but really, we’re the lost ones. We’re blind. We can’t see that what we fear the most is probably the biggest blessing to God… People being positioned to be less bound up by rules so that He can carry grace straight into their lives and make His home of love inside them. Us included.

Be free. Be free and think outside of all you’ve ever known. You’re loved and you’re not alone.

Creating

I LOVE CREATIVITY!!!!

I recently watched Flea’s induction speech into the rock and roll hall of fame. For some reason I’ve always liked him. When I heard the passion, love and heart that he has it moved me deeply. He said he prays every night to uplift the people he plays for, to love them and to give them the best that he has. That it’s his life’s mission. And music… It’s a burning desire in him. He said he is lost in it when they are playing, he is one with everything, and in that moment he is truly free.

Do you hear it? It’s pure unadulterated passion. Its something inside him that he must do. It brings out beauty and life and vibes and those great, great Chili Pepper tunes. It courses through him, and when I heard him giving the speech I felt it coursing through me.

I think that living out of passion and purpose enables others to begin to desire and live in theirs.

As many of you know, I love Vincent van Gogh. Passion and purpose coursed through him… And let loose on the world through his hands, his paints and his heart. He was a missionary before he was a painter, but he was always an artist. He once wrote, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” He was made to love people. His eyes translated what he saw into works that still move us all these years later. I think it was in a letter to his brother Theo that he said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painters soul.”

In his words I hear it again. The echo of the eternal being expressed through someone’s purpose, through their passion.

I am searching to find out what my purpose is. What am I made to do?What ignites me inside more than anything else?

I believe I will find it. I believe we will find it. I don’t know how, but I am searching to engage with the passions that have been put into me from the moment of my creation.

I see my generation seeking and finding. Not buying in to how it is supposed to be or “how it has to be”. The “that’s life” kind of attitude. It is no wonder, in these times, that we deal with such depression. Depression, for me, always comes when I feel I am without direction, all alone in my struggling and suffering, without purpose and void of a way to give my love away and receive love in turn.

We’ve got to reset our sights on what God really made us for. He made us to live! Not just to exist!

Dang! It feels good to get that all out!

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Hiding

I’m in that kind of mood these days… Hiding away, thinking a lot, digesting what I read and hear, not having much to say out loud about it. It’s all rolling around me inside, totally alive, but outwardly quiet.

I read a friends post about isolation recently and it so clicked with me that it’s been in the forefront of my thoughts for several days. So freeing to be taken aside through isolation (spiritually). Maybe “taken aside” isn’t the correct description because I don’t feel that I’ve come off the path in this journey. I feel that I’m looking for and finding Jesus.

So many political things I could have been throwing out views on. So many religious views to debate. So many days just slogging through the work day. So many magical moments of encounters with God and people within all of these issues and viewpoints and boring old days.

My main recent decision? I’ve decided that every person is loved by Jesus and that their path to Him will look very different to mine. I don’t care if they believe in Him or not. They don’t have to measure up to my standards. Hell, if I’m honest, I don’t measure up to may standards!!! They are LOVED. And so am I.

Gay marriage? I don’t mind it. It doesn’t threaten me. I feel for them. I feel that if the Christians who truly believe its sin worked on loving those around them, straight or gay or anything in between, the world would be better off because of it. I don’t think the world, or my children, will be better off because of a debate about marriage.

Politics? I don’t have time for the power hungry. I believe politics do play a roll in these times, but not as big a roll as we give them. The undercurrents are full of the presence of God. That’s where I am choosing to look to gauge my life and times.

I’ve taken a leap off the tracks of the discussions about what church is, what should it be etc, etc, etc (thanks to a very concise and beautiful dream that gave me permission to do so!)

I still struggle in my day to day 9 to 5 job, but that’s ok for now. It isn’t heavy like it used to be. I’m hearing some things in my heart, I’m looking at a light at the end of the tunnel.

I love my friends and I miss England a lot these days. Really longing for their company, laughter, depth, and a good night out with them in an excellent pub.

I’m loved by my family and that’s just an awesome feeling. I love and enjoy my husband so much. My sons really do delight me. My parents bless me. I’m rich because of my family.

These are good days. I think it’s going to get better and better from here. I have so much to learn about everything!!!!

Wherever you are in your journey of life I hope you feel loved, I hope you have people around you who love you, and I hope you are continuing to learn to love. Without love, none of this means anything. If I can remember that, I think I’ll not waste my life. (remind me of that on the days I want to strangle my boss, ok??!!??). 😉

Take care, guys. Good night.

on a quiet day I can hear her breathing…

Hadn’t seen this one for awhile. Came across it in one of my old photo files on the computer.  The quote says: “Not only is another world possible. She is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.” Arundhati Roy

I love the line of thinking this quote leads me into… Not only is it possible, it’s the truth. If you pay attention you will realize that He is real, and you will know the breath of life from Him. It’s not just on it’s way, it’s here now.  Sweet!

 

Raising the dead or raising the living?

Some words that have stirred my soul up tonight. From a guy named Peter Rollins.

The poet is one who helps us experience life as inscribed with a rich and sensuous texture. She helps us to call forth, confront and confirm our existence. Inviting us to find the courage that might enable us to say “yes” and “Amen” to life in the midst of its complexity and in spite of our anxiety.

In light of this we might begin to understand how a divine miracle is not something that simply raises the dead but one that is able to raise the living to a place where life is not experienced as death. For without the latter the former would appear to be nothing more than the work of an evil demon.

I guess that is why I was never that interested in gods who raise the dead. The real power lies in raising the living: something that is testified to in the act of love.

the wild goose and the wind

Below is an excerpt from Paul Leader’s post that you can read here.

“It is believed that the Celtic Christians preferred to refer to the Holy Spirit using the metaphor ‘The Wild Goose.’ For them the Holy Spirit was not a quiet, demure bird but a loud and uncontrollable one, which always seems to arrive unexpectedly and does not submit to human authority. Someone once called it the untamable wildness of hope. The word goose comes from the European word ghans, which is said to refer to the sound of honking that the geese make. The word wild is also of European origin, ghwelt, which means untamed or natural. The goose then is a bird of hidden treasure- of spirit in unseen motion, like water flowing underground, until it bursts forth in a spring. Wild is not a word of chaos but one of following it’s own will, making it’s own meaning, sailing on it’s own winds. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. It is time for the Wild Goose Chase. We can feel as if we are going around in circles going nowhere, but really we are circling around the elusive and mysterious. Being caught up in the uncatchable, untamable One. This in turn makes us uncatchable and untamable. Join the flight of the wild goose.” (italics are mine)

I love this!!

The other day my two year old son Elijah and I were outside in the afternoon. There was a pleasant breeze blowing. He felt the breeze ruffling his hair and froze with an astounded smile on his face. “Look!” he told me and pointed to his hair. Then he realized that the leaves in the tree were moving to. He was fascinated by it. I told him it was the wind and how the Spirit of God is like the wind. I like telling him about Jesus, I pray it sinks into his little spirit. 

What a cool way for God to explain Himself. What a pleasant and wild feeling it is to be touched by a Presence totally outside of ourselves. Like Eli, it makes me realize that I am being touched and that things around me are indeed moving in a wild way that I cannot predict. I love that about God! The wild goose is such a cool symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Our times are in your hands

“But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalms 31: 14,15a

I remember sitting with my friend as she was crying. The warm sunlight was streaming through the window while she told me that she didn’t know how to explain to her then three year old son that he was a mistake. She’d become pregnant with him in her teens and had been on her way to the abortion clinic when Jesus intervened and changed her plans.

She said to me, “How do I explain to him that he was a mistake?” She didn’t feel that it was a mistake that he was in her life, but she was struggling with the fact of his unplanned conception to a young, unwed mom and a father who wanted no part of him.

I don’t know why I knew the answer that I gave her, but I knew it without doubt. We read Psalm 139.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
-Psalms 139:13-17 (NASB)

I’ve always believed (I’m sharing with you what I shared with her) that I was meant to be Shannon. No matter the circumstances of my conception (my parents were married when I was conceived. However, pizza and beer had a lot more to do with it than careful planning and because of this my mom was always afraid I’d I’d feel unwanted. It’s a true story and, opposite of what she feared, I love the fact that pizza and beer were in my beginnings. Ha!), no matter the exact year or place, my spirit, my personality, my self, my life was in God’s heart before even the heavens and the earth were created. I was meant to be and so I am.

Now, here I am in this messy life, with its ups and downs and sadness. Its questions and joy. Its fun and family and friends and all the things I wrestle with. And my life is in his hands.

My friend was freed from the fear and worry that day. She realized her son was NOT EVEN CLOSE to being a mistake. And neither are you. And neither am I.

I dreamt this. I dreamt of writing this post last night. God spoke to me, telling me what I needed to hear. My times are in His hands. I dreamt of the conversation so long ago with my friend, I dreamt of sharing it. So here it is. Maybe some of it is for you. Some of it is definitely for me.

🙂 Have a good one, guys.

Bring it on

Don’t listen to the Christians (or anyone else for that matter) who tell you that your yearning and struggling and dissatisfaction is ‘just the way it is’. They’re wrong.

You know there is more!! Don’t believe the lies and find your peace with Jesus. He is going to open doors for our lives that help us live out his will… Loving, healing, setting free. And our reward is joy. How awesome is that?? Come on!!!