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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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Oh, how he loves us. I don’t know of anything more beautiful, and more worthy, than this.

So thankful for the sweet things in life.

baseballgameFor this godly man, and his sweet, gentle, persistent kindness and faithful love.

friendsFor these friends, and the way they love me enough not only to cheer me on, but to show me my sin and tell me when I’m wrong. Also, they’re hysterical and not a day goes by where one of them doesn’t make me laugh.

familyFor this family. Words cannot describe. I credit them with my faith, my passions, my humor, and of course (as you can see), my really awesome hair.

2013-06-30 10.17.47For these two fluffy idiots, who never fail to entertain and exasperate with their antics. Also, I’ve never had a better kiss (sorry, Clay.)

2013-06-08 20.30.46Thankful.

Ok, I’m sorry. I know I promised to post about my family, my friends, and my boyfriend. And I will. Life just has a funny way of getting overwhelmingly busy. And I want those posts to have the time put into them that they (and the people that they are about,) deserve.


I’m ever learning this one incredible truth.

I cannot run from God.

I can’t. No matter how fast I think I’m going, or how far I flee, or what I tried to hide under. I cannot run from God.

He tracks me down, He finds me out. No matter where I go or what I try, He knows.

And instead of being angry at me for my stupidity, He offers comfort and life. He says, “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy laden, I am gentle and lowly of heart. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matt 11:28

He loves me. He loves me so desperately. When will I stop forgetting that? When will I stop fighting Him at every turn? When will I stop being reluctant to come to Him?

I need to come. Even if most days it feels like I’m dragging a broken, bleeding shell of a soul, I need to come.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter…
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…

That voice round me like a bursting sea:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’Halts by me that footfall:Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

The Hound of Heaven, by  Francis Thompson

I hate to assume that everyone is as messed up as I am, so though I refer only to myself, I have a feeling that I am not the only one that has done this. 

Before I got into a serious relationship, I constructed an elaborate idea of what it would be like in my head. I journaled prolifically, detailing exactly what my partner would be like, and how our relationship would work.

He would be gentle, but strong. Godly, manly. Never passive. Never wavering. Never unsure. Everything he did would be the model of leadership. He would never make me angry, or frustrated, and certainly he would never hurt my feelings. 

And, of course, our relationship would be similar. The epitome of what it looked like to be in a Christ-centered relationship. We’d do devotionals together, and pray regularly. Of course, he would be just like me, so working through differences of opinion in theology, Bible reading habits, and styles of prayer would never be a problem. We’d never struggle with purity, ever. We’d be purer than the Duggars. We’d always treat each other with kindness and consideration, and harmony would reign.

In short, we’d be perfect. 

Then I got into a serious relationship, and it’s been a 2 year struggle to let go of my imaginary boyfriend. To drop the pretend, and realize that I’m a broken human being, dating a broken human being. I had to come to realize that all relationships in a broken world will have issues. I had to come to terms with the fact that my dream world wasn’t real, that in a real relationship there are differences in opinions, there are faults that must be forgiven, and bad habits that aren’t quickly unlearned. 2 years of misunderstandings, arguments, anger, disappointment, sadness, worry, strife, anxiety, and tears.

2 years of a real relationship that have been among the best two years of my life. 

Because even with all of the brokenness, even with all of the ways that it has failed to meet my impossible expectations, it was been incredibly beautiful. 2 years of friendship, laughter, healing, joy, happiness, surprise, delight, kindess, warmth and love.

I’m a broken human being dating a broken human being. A beautiful, kind, sweet, gentle, funny, intelligent, and brave human being. 

If that’s not grace, I don’t know what is. 

Question: (And this is embarrassing)
You ever been scared you had no idea what you were talking about?
Yeah, me too.
Honestly perplexed.
I’ve lied and so have you, Christians.
Lying.

Like you never had questions?
Like you never had a moment
when your inner dialogues
were all of a sudden in third person like,
“Are you really buying this?”
You’re lying.

Like your eyes are 100% always satisfied by your spouse
and you don’t need accountability
neither of which is biblical, by the way.
YOUR EYES ARE NEVER SATISFIED.
Us, overgrown primates with egos, lying.

You quote the devil when you declare yourself okay!
You get it but you don’t get it.
Like you’ve never planted your Chuck Taylors firmly in the sinking sand…
You’re lying.

We for centuries sing hymns of grace,
and THIS IS WHY IT’S AMAZING!
And if it’s not, you don’t understand…

Or you’re lying.

Which is why your friends don’t believe you.
There is just as much Jesus’ blood on your hand as there is his.
You sure you understand the cross?

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

And Muslims— excuse my boldness— but what if you’re lying, too?
Like you don’t ever have questions?
As if you’ve never wondered why Allah’s ears only hear directionally,
and if you accidentally point it slightly north easterly then you’ve blasphemed?

As if the thought has never crossed your mind
that the Jihad has interpreted the Quran correctly
and you are what we Christians would call ‘lukewarm’?
Which makes you much more like my evanjellyfish churchianity would allow me to admit.
And you call me on it; I’ll deny it, just don’t believe me
because I’m lying.

I strain at gnats; I focus on silliness; I act like God has joined a political party— just like you.

As if you’ve never thought,
“What if I was paralyzed and I can’t make my pilgrimage to Mecca—
yet I follow the text better than my whole family? Is there enough mercy for me?”

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

I know it’s wrong for me to front like I understand your theology
as well as I think I understand mine,
but I know we can agree on this:
Something is deathly wrong with us.

And you, smarty pants, don’t front
Like the little you know about our universe
you ready to draw conclusions about it’s origins?
Maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do…
Science still can’t explain yawning.
Like you never took your world view to it’s furthest conclusions?

That if human behavior is just what protoplasm does at this temperature,
then there is no need for humanitarian effort,
because these atrocities weren’t wrong,
IT’S JUST THE UNIVERSE WEEDING OUT BAD GENES.

Them is fingernail-on-chalkboard words, ain’t ’em?

You’re lying.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re right.
Maybe we’ll find out the day after the world ends.
Yeah, I guess we’re all a little inconsistent,
SO MAYBE WE CAN JUST SHOW EACH OTHER SOME GRACE.

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

You ever bury yourself in self-righteous guilt?
[Huh, me too.]

Are there fresh tally marks on the walls of your brain’s prison,
[Mine, too]
hoping that the count of good deeds outnumber the bad ones?

Are your miserable failures your badges of honor?

And when you count those tallies,
and the day the good outnumber the bad,
pat yourself on the back:
YOU HAVE JOINED THE REST OF HUMANITY.
You, too, are lying.

Like you never thought,
“Someone might catch me in my contradiction.”
Yeah, me too.

You ever think to yourself,
“I have no idea what I’m talking about”?
Yeah, me too.

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking

-by Propaganda

Forgive Me for Asking

This past week, 1 Peter 5:8 has become unnervingly real to me. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 

There have been several incidents recently in which I’ve felt the sneaking pull of temptation, tiny whispers in my ear. “It’s not that big of a deal. No one will know. It will make things so much easier. This could help you do God’s work. You can repent later, there’s grace right?”

It’s only after I leave the situations that I look back, and my blood runs cold. It is scary that there is temptation. It is scary to see how specifically the devil targets my weaknesses. It is scary to know that I am surrounded by opportunities to sin. It’s even scarier that some of my thoughts try to rationalize it by telling myself I’ll be serving God.

But I think what scares me most is that last thought. “There’s grace, right?” Yes. Yes there is grace. But I cannot presume upon that.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” -Romans 2:4

His grace is never meant as an excuse for sin. I shudder to think that my mind could even go there – to use something as beautiful and wonderful and sweet as grace as an excuse for darkness.

It’s also shockingly easy to blame my temptation on where I live. I’m in a college town, the #3 party school in that nation. But something I learned full well this summer is that it’s not where I live that produces sin – it’s the heart inside of me. I could live in a convent and find ways to sin if my heart is not always falling back upon Jesus. I can’t use that as an excuse either. The only thing that causes me to sin is the sin nature inside of me.

So there you go. The dank and dirty corners of my mind. Even though I’m tempted to abuse it, thank God for grace. I truly am “a poor, gospel-abusing sinner.” I am so grateful that in Jesus, God doesn’t see me that way, but rather as his perfect daughter. Moving forward in THAT grace today.

For sin is no game, no toy, no bauble; Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the is committed as in the greatness of the person sinned against.” – Valley of Vision

Grace – a gift; something given even though the recipient has not only done nothing to earn it, but has in fact earned punishment, not reward.

God’s grace is seen most clearly in Jesus, and his sacrifice. But that gracious crucifixion plays out in my life over and over and over in the way that my family, friends, and loved ones treat me. Specifically, I see such a wonderful picture of what grace is in the way that my boyfriend, Clay, treats me. (Yes, this post is pretty much all about him. You’ve been warned!) Even when I am being irritable, obstinate, stubborn, and argumentative, his responses always point me back to the cross. The following are just a few examples of his gracious responses to my ungracious actions.

  • When it was actually my fault that the cooler spilled (twice) on a long car trip, and I angrily blamed him with unkind words and an attitude – and he responded by stopping, helping to clean up the mess, and apologizing.
  • When I got us lost in Michigan, and he never blamed me, but then when he got us “lost” (we took the long route) in Ohio, and I got mad at him – he responded by apologizing, and didn’t bring up the fact that I had gotten us lost.
  • When I lost my wallet, and gave into hysteria. He (kindly) called and offered to come over and help me look for it, to which I responded by (angrily) telling him not to come.- He came over anyway and delivered the wallet to me with a hug. (Even though it was right where I told him it most definitely wouldn’t be….)
  • When I call him in hysterics over the present state of affairs in my life, and he calmly listens as I cry and reject every suggestion or comfort offered – And then he always calls back later to check back in.
  • When every single time I get impatient, use unkind words, speak in a harsh tone, act selfishly, demand my way, take out my frustration on him, and generally sin like crazy – he responds with kindness, gentleness, and a loving reminder that, “it is for freedom you have been set free… walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:1, 16)

Every day I’m learning about the Gospel, and grace, and what it means to be loved, cherished, and honored in spite of my sin. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn.

Image

Teddy had it right when he wrote these words. Lately, my joy has been MIA, and I know that comparison is to blame.

It’s really hard to watch your friends do all of the things you want to do – graduate, go on missions trips, join ministry, get married. All of those things I eagerly want, and yet, when I look at myself, I can’t help but to think, “What do I have? A summer at home and then another year of school.”

 My mind starts to race, and runs away.
“They have so much to look forward to – weddings, honeymoons, new jobs, new homes. And what do I have to look forward to? Classes, tests, papers and projects.”

My heart sinks, and my eyes water, and it’s all I can do to hold myself together. And then, no sooner does the wave of jealousy and envy burn in my stomach than a wave of guilt and disgust at my sinfulness hits my like a train.

“Why can’t you just be grateful for what the Lord has given you? What kind of friend are you if you aren’t happy for them? You know this is wrong, so why do you keep doing this? You’re doing a terrible job at being a Christian.”

So there I am, sitting in my living room, wallowing in envy, jealousy, guilt, and self-disgust.

“Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

I know there is but one answer – Jesus. For me, there is one cure for my soul. I need him, his grace, his love. I know this.

I wish I could wrap this up by saying that because I know this, I’ve figured it out. That I’ve found peace, that I’m clinging to Jesus and learning patience. But I haven’t. I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure of my next step.

So if you’re disappointed with your summer, discouraged by your future, disgusted with your sin, I’m right there with you.  And I don’t know what to tell you to do. But I do know one thing – there is grace for this, too.There is grace for my envy, my jealousy, my self-pity and self-disgust. There is grace for my lack of gratitude and my inability to do what I should. There is even grace to cover when I don’t believe that grace will cover my sin.

So no, I don’t know the way out. And yes, I’m still stuck here. But there is grace, and I’m going to cling to that.

“Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.”

There’s always at least one point in my day when something happens and I realize, “Shoot. I’m a sinner.”

In that moment, I have have two options at how I can choose to respond. Option number one is to humbly confess that I am a sinner saved by grace, and in need of grace every minute of every day. Option number two is to harden my heart, become stubborn, continue in my sin, and persist in walking in jealousy, anger, fear, selfishness and apathy.

I have to admit, more often that not, I chose the latter over the former. I choose to turn away from grace, and wallow in sin, shame and misery. I cry to God in a perfunctory fashion, bemoaning my condition but not accepting his provision for my change. In the moment, I turn my back to the cross and declare that the work completed when Jesus cried out, “it is finished,” is not enough for what I am experiencing.

But this where grace comes through. Grace, which has both saved me from the penalty of my sin and cleansed me from it’s effects, does even more. It will not leave me there. In that moment, the Lord doesn’t respond to me in anger. All of His wrath poured out on Jesus, He can turn to me in kindness. In gentleness. In love and mercy.  He beckons me until my hardened heart melts and I cannot resist.

Again and again and again, He calls me back to Him. He pulls me back into his arms and reaffirms what I have already learned. I am forgiven. I am his daughter. I have a kingdom that will never fade and an inheritance that will never perish. In His eyes, I am perfectly righteous and completely holy. Nothing that I can ever do will change that.

“Shoot. I’m a sinner.”
“I know,” he says. “And I love you.”

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Eph 2:8,9

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Past Musings