Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple Eyes

God often surprises me. Tonight was no exception. Here I am reading in the Psalms, all kinds of great stuff about God hearing, and listening, and trusting in God's justice and protection and then I read this...

"...Keep me as the apple of your eye..."

I stopped and literally out loud said "what?!" I couldn't believe a phrase of such endearment would be right there in scripture and that David (the one who wrote it) would have the boldness to ask God for that kind of affection. It's amazing.

So of course I prayed it for myself. "God, I want to be the apple of your eye too!" (I figure if David is allowed to ask, I might as well take advantage of the offer). Here's the amazing part...I think God delights to answer prayers like this.

The thing about me, is I'd pretty much rather slink around in the shadows, content to grab a table scrap or two off God's banquet when others are finished, but this is absolutely not the life of faith He has called me to. He calls me daughter, apple of his eye. Do you know what that phrase means? It is literally translated something like "Little man of the eye", and conveys the idea of the reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils.

It dawns on me slowly, like molasses, that this is the same thing my little ones see when they are close enough for me to give them hugs, or tickles, or love. I can be that way with God. But the most amazing part, is that it is something we ask God for. In my own pride I'd be tempted to think I could somehow muster up enough "good" or enough perseverance in my own strength to stay right there as the apple of God's eye, but at the end of the day it's just not true. I'll slink back to the shadows any chance I get. But God (which happen to be my two favorite words in history), CAN keep us as the apple of his eye if we only ask.

So, I'm asking. "God keep me as the apple of your eye, your daughter, the one you are looking at, face turned toward, attention on. Cause I just need you! And as long as I know you've got your eye on me, I can go anywhere, and give up anything. Brave the iciest storms, the deepest valleys, apple of your eye. I could never deserve it, but that's the best part about you...you just give it anyways. Not because of who I am, but because of who you are, unfathomably loving, unendingly generous, apple-eyed God of the universe."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Everything from Nothing

Just beginning a study of Genesis this year, and was reading through some notes about it. I have to admit, I was struggling to "get into it". I've been feeling pretty run down lately from so much that's going on in my life and some more bronchitis etc, so I'm just feeling a little underwhelmed.

I was walking through the motions because I realize that sometimes thats what we have to do and then I began to see seeds of faith sprout in my heart. There is a unique word used in Genesis 1 for what God created. This word can only be used when it applies to God because, while all the other terms mean that existing materials were used to create something, this word means something was created from nothing.

Did you get that or did you just breeze past it? When I read that God has unique power to create something from nothing, something inside me started wanting to jump up and down.

I asked God "why is that such a cool thing to me", and it was like God said "because there are lots of areas in your life right now where you just feel like you've got nothing." BOOM! Then the tears came. Cause I saw my nothing. Relationships, my mothering, my energy to even go to the grocery, life in general--I got n o t h i n g.

I was overflowing with excitement, relief, awestruck humility to know that I am loved by a God who is not limited by my limitations. He sees me and knows exactly what I bring to the table--not a damn thing. But does that stop Him? Does He look at me and say "hey girl, come back when you've got something to offer?", or "why don't you go muster up some scraps and bring them back here so I've got something to work with?" No! He's in the business of taking nothing and making everything, in fact--it's kind of His thing. He takes all my desert, all my empty, all my crumbles, all my nothing, and with it makes gardens, rainbows, fruit trees, and waterfalls.

So bring Him all your nothing. Add a little faith, watch what happens.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Messages from Daddy

My sweet daughter is so much like me. This theory has many implications. For example, she can be crying one minute and laughing out loud the next. She loves to make people smile and occasionally goes into a solo performance in the middle of the living room. Unfortunately it also has some negatives, like having a temper, making impulsive (and often downright dumb) choices, and (as we discovered tonight) can be sent into a hopeless downward spiral over a bad haircut. Let me back up a little...

I got this idea tonight, during our little toenail painting, girls night, pretty party, that I should cut Ellie's bangs. She's never had bangs before, and in fact has only had very minor, and very infrequent haircuts. Well tonight, as she was happily playing games on my phone, I started snipping away. As soon as she set the phone down and her eyes locked on the scissors, she launched into a fit to make any angry politician on the senate floor or colicky baby look like an amateur. I was totally shell shocked and caught off guard. When I finally settled her down enough to talk to her she looked at me with her giant, blue, tear-filled eyes and said "Daddy won't think I'm beautiful anymore." I stared at her in disbelief for a moment, and I'm not sure if it was because I could so plainly see the plight of every little girl's heart (including my own) or that she would be so insecure to think that her Daddy's affection would ever be lost but my heart fell to the bathroom tile and shattered for her.

I immediately texted John (who couldn't answer his phone at the moment) and he responded by sending her a voice text. After 10 minutes straight of crying I got her to listen to it. There were many sweet little sentiments in the message but the one that was most significant was "Ellie you are so pretty." After listening to it 5 times (I'm not exaggerating) she settled down. I was able to hold her and pray for her and encourage her and all was well...then she looked in the mirror again...and on it went.

I had to let her listen to the message over and over again for her to finally settle down and go to sleep (after ferociously telling me she did not like her hair and I could never cut it again).

Now sometimes watching these little moments in our lives play out seems significant for reasons we can't yet decode, and other times the parallels to our own hurts and hang ups are so obvious that we're dumbfounded at their lack of subtlety. See I think a lot of really ugly things about myself, and (if I'm being honest) about what God thinks of me. I know the Bible says God loves me, and Jesus died for me, the only problem is that doesn't intersect with my identity very often sometimes. You know how I can tell? I start getting really hung up about things like my saddle bags, and how clean my house is. I might be able to settle myself down enough to listen to a message from God "you are mine, you are beautiful because you're mine" long enough to stop freaking out, but soon enough I'm looking back in the mirror and I'm screaming.

It's as I'm watching my daughter press the play button over and over on that sweet message from her Daddy that I realize, I need messages from my Heavenly Daddy on repeat over and over again, not just once or twice, incessantly,relentlessly, perpetually echoing in my ear:

"John 1:12 I am a child of God"; "John 15:15 I am Christ's friend"; "Romans 6:7 I have been freed from sin's power over me."; "Romans 15:7 Christ has accepted me." And on and on and on (click here for an amazing list of messages from your Daddy).

I must be ever vigilant to remind myself of His words, His truth about me. I must be so ridiculously dependent on them that without them I scramble to get that phone back to my ear, listening to his voice, and his truth. Otherwise, I'm just a sad little girl, crippled by my own fears and lies, staring in the mirror focusing on all I lack.

Martin Luther once said, "entertain no doubt of God's love and kindness", I'm learning...moment by moment, to live this as reality. So tomorrow morning, when she looks in the mirror and remembers she has bangs, I'll begin pressing the play button on my phone for her again and again, all the while pressing the play button in my own mind...for myself.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

That darn cat

Remember that sweet little kitten that found us by crawling out from under a dumpster? (Read the story here) Remember how she entrusted herself to us, and it was like she knew that day that we were her only hope of making it so she became part of our family. Remember how helpless and sweet she was? Turns out she's terrible. She just is. She looks mean. She exudes meanness. You'll be walking around and all of the sudden she just bites the heck out of your feet. She'll bite your face, your hand. She'll bite you when you're petting her and when you look at her funny. She refuses to stay off the counters, and she knocks my favorite vintage glass strawberry on the floor (and I just know it's in hopes of breaking it). I can't stand her really. So I tried this thing "Project Nessa" to turn her nice. I thought, "if we are so super kind to her, and just show her love eventually she'll come around and start being a sweet ridiculously cuddly cat." Wrong! She's just as awful as ever. So here I am one day lamenting to my husband about it. Telling him "how did we get stuck with this waste of a pet?", and "She's the meanest living thing I've ever met, it's ridiculous." Then I mention to him something to the effect of "and to think we thought God was using her to teach us about him." Then John says something insanely (and characteristically) smart, "she still is." "OH yeah!", I start, "not a chance." And John, in typical fashion responds again, "Well, no matter how bad we are, God never gives up on us." I staggered mentally for a moment, realizing the perfection of the illustration. This helpless little thing, rescued from certain peril, only to turn into the kind of creature who would bite (quite literally) the hand that feeds her. And I realize, he's exactly right. Am I not like this with God...and, isn't everyone? Isn't that the whole point of Israel's story? Rescued from Egypt only to complain to God in the wilderness about the manna they were sick of, build a golden calf, forget Him and turn back to Him again and again? And how often do I take for granted the amazing salvation and love I've been shown by the Creator of the universe and bite at his hands in my life? But the point isn't my awfulness, or repeated failures. The point is God's love. See, the depth of the sin only makes the measure of the love greater. If I could love this cat...this mean-as-hell animal, wouldn't the love be greater because of her awfulness? Because of the fact that she never could be the kind of animal who "deserves" it? And wouldn't my love seem that much more amazing because of her terrible-ness? I remember Hosea, you know the prophet God told to marry a prostitute just so he could be a living illustration that no matter how many times we wander, he always accepts us back. Then I'm humbled. "The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” -Hosea 3:1 And I'm comforted again that God never stops loving. "His love never fails. Never gives up. Never runs out on me." (Jesus Culture, "One thing remains") And as my awareness of my sin increases, so does my appreciation for a God of infinite capacity. I guess I won't give up on her just yet...who knows what metaphor God may be teaching next.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I was sitting at my kitchen table this morning, journaling about life, and my heart. Telling God all the yuck. How I felt like I couldn't do it, couldn't muster enough anything to keep going. How if I was to keep pressing on I needed to know He was there, would hear me, was listening, and would give me what I need. Telling Him how defeated and discouraged I was and how I didn't know what it would take to get me going again but I needed it. I read this verse:

"Those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

...and I needed that, to soar, to run, to not be faint. And I thought about how easily we give up sometimes. That when things can't be done perfectly, instead of pressing, fighting the fight of faith and refusing to give up on God's goodness, we stare at the challenge and whine (I do). Often I think of the Christian's walk as one that looks easy, effortless, but it's never painted that way in the Bible. It's always painted as a war, a race, a challenge, a fight to the death. And we have what we need, but we must fight. Fight to believe. To always remember our hero will not be conquered...cause He won't.

And then this video popped in my head, of my friend Lyndsey. (click the words "this video" to watch) She just accomplished maybe one of the hardest things she's ever had to do physically, and it's such an amazing story of triumph...of choosing to move forward when everything in us screams "QUIT!" She just had this crazy workout to do in the competitive workouts she's started, it included rounds and rounds of things that would make you want to die and all along the one goal she had was to get to the end and get one "muscle up" (which is where you pull yourself up on the rings from a position of standing under it.) So she finished the workout with ten seconds left on the clock...ten, runs over to the rings and goes for it.

Having that image in my head inspired me to fight the same way, for belief that God is there, and will never leave or fail me. There I am, hanging on the rings, arms burning, everything in me screaming, "Give up!", "Let Go!", and I have a choice, to press up, or let go. The angels in the heavenly cheering just as loudly as those in the video around Lynds, saying "Go for it!", "Don't give up!" and with even more at stake, I choose to fight again.

What about you? The next time there are ten seconds left on the clock and the odds are stacked against you will you press up to victory with muscles aching and exhausted, or will you stand under the rings defeated, while the angels cheer for your hero to be recognized? I'll never forget this.

". . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." [Revelations 2:10]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Story

We were, each one of us made for love. Thankfully, God provides that love. I hate the impersonal nature of a blog post to share something so huge, but I wanted to include the most simple, concise, basic way of stating the message of the Bible, and what I believe, because it is, a love story of epic proportions.

We have each at some point, broken God's rules. At least once (though if you're like me, daily). This breaking of rules (called sin) separates us from God. Like a giant chasm between us and God, our choosing to disobey stretches between us.

This chasm could never be bridged by one of us by doing enough good stuff. In fact, the wages (or what we get) for any sin (even one) is death. Death that finally separates us from him and gives us over to what we chose, separation from God.

BUT (and this is a game changer) God sent Jesus, to come to earth. To live a life totally perfect, never sinning once, and then to choose to die a death he didn't deserve. When he was dying, God took every sin ever committed in the past, present, or future, and placed the punishment for it on that perfect son, Jesus. Then took all the great stuff that comes from Jesus' life, and gave it to us. So when God sees us (those who believe) he doesn't see our sin (it's already been on the cross) he sees Jesus' perfection. It's called grace (getting what we didn't deserve). He became the bridge.

Then, Jesus didn't stay dead. He came back to life (seriously) showing that he had taken all the junk (sin) that was put on him, and beaten it once and for all.

That means that anyone who believes that he did that (died, taking on all of their sin, and coming back to life) will live forever with him in heaven, and is welcomed into his family. Called daughter or son, brought near. The chasm caused by our sin is forever bridged by Jesus. That's it. Believing. Any good stuff you do from there you don't do to get nearer to God (you already are, and could never get more near), you just do cause you love him, and you're thankful.

That's it. The story. It's what I believe and why I do everything I do. It's that simple, even though people try to make it so complicated. He loves us. More than we could ever know. And wrote the best love story we could dream.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Full at the Empty Place

Sitting in my mom's house, giggles ringing through the vaulted ceilings, it's impossible not to feel a continual pang of sadness on the day we will drive to the place with airplane carpet and fly away. Like feeling gravity for the first time, it's always pulling you back down--"you have to leave this." I remember 7 years ago, this first leaving, this same month, how it felt. Like everything I wanted, all I knew was being ripped from my hands.
I remember driving through a grid of streets I now navigate with ease, as if I was trapped in a bitter jungle that I never would have chosen for myself, crying and crying wondering "why?". I remember that first tiny apartment, that felt like the emptiest place in the world. Small, sad and full of bugs. Friends that I was inheriting that felt nothing like my own. A life, that felt like someone else's. Empty all over the place.
And now, I sit here and begin to realize how full it's become. I texted friends last night and asked them to remind me of why coming home to Colorado is good, and was flooded with one text whistle after another of sunshine, and love, and family, and running, and Christmas lights, and laughter, and slumber parties, and being on my knees. And I started to realize. It's overflowing there.
I read this:
"And emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy." (Ann Voskamp)
And I realize that emptying of my hands 7 years ago, created a place for God to swoop in. And I think back on all the recent emptying, again and again, where there's been hardship and pain and suffering, and the only things that have come from it over and over are not bitterness and strife, but joy. And peace. Because our God is infinitely resourceful with our emptiness. And he never leaves the empty places that way. He just fills them with the right things.
I realize anew that He is good. His ways are perfect. And he never. Never abandons his children.

And I look down, and see full hands.