Archives

All posts for the month May, 2014

Life More Abundantly

Published May 27, 2014 by Dawn

Last night was girls’ night at my house. My sister, two of my nieces, and my daughter and I all got together and watched movies, ate fudge and made hair bows. It was a blast! The best part of the night for me was getting to see the budding personalities of my daughter and nieces, and to understand the hearts of the women in my life that I love dearly. Below is a list of the highlights of the night:

Best misunderstanding:
My sister: “What movie are we going to watch?”
Me: “I don’t know…”
My sister: “Well, you have netflix, so there’s endless possibilities.”
My daughter: “Is it funny?”

Philosophy from a four-year-old, after being bitten on the toe in bitter revenge:
“You shouldn’t bite my feet anyway because … they’re dirty.”

Best movie of the night:
Penelope – It’s got a great message that counteracts the message girls are receiving in our culture today, a gorgeous male lead and a surprise ending. I highly recommend it for girls’ night!

Best fudge:
My daughter insists this one was mint … I guess I concur. The worst was the Heath flavored fudge … what is that?

Best Bow:
It’s so hard to judge this one … I took a poll, wish I had a picture, but it seems that out of roughly 25 bows, the winner is a toss up between a hot pink/lime green combination with a jewel in the center, a hot pink/white bow with tiny jewels all around, and a gray, green and black bow with googly eyes all over it (super cute idea!).

Best entertainment:
Hands down, it was the four-year-old on a sugar high.

Best girl moment:
Putting googly eyes on our faces and taking pictures! Again, wish I could share but it was hilarious!

We had so much fun last night. I got up this morning after slightly less sleep than normal, walked through the wreckage and thought, “Girls’ night was a mess!” There’s hot glue wads all over my dining room, cups and plates everywhere, blankets strewn all over the couch, and crumbs in the floor. Near the couch is a pile of things that used to be hidden away beneath it, thanks to the four-year-old. And obviously, I will eventually have to clean it all up. But how can I complain? I enjoyed a great night with the lovely ladies in my life who make me happy. And that is enough to make the mess seem minimal.

There are many opportunities in our days to embrace people. To allow them into our lives and get to know them deeper. I know that sometimes, I hesitate, or even run from it, because I know it’s messy business and I’m not up to taking care of the mess. But I’m starting to think it’s all worth it. This is life more abundantly. Relationships. Family. Fellowship. It’s so worth the mess. It’s so worth the misunderstandings. It’s so worth the joy. It’s so worth the vulnerability. It’s even worth it when they rearrange your purse (thanks Cinderenda!). Without people, without the sharing and love, what exactly do you call “living”? Yes, this is life, mess and all.

Advertisements

How Will You Die?

Published May 22, 2014 by Dawn

Sweat dripped into his eyes, momentarily blinding him. Crouched down on the warm, southern earth, heart pounding in his ears, he hardly dared to move. He could hear the faint yelp of a dog on the hunt and knew they were not far. His hope of survival seemed torn away from him with every step closer to home. Or what was once home. A home undeserving of its name. Certainly it was without the comfort a home should bestow. It was lack and cruel work. It was bondage in every sense of the word. And he faced it once more with the hopes of bringing his family out, or anyone out who dared dream of something more. For a brief moment, he had known the comfort of freedom. He had known security and rest. He had known what it was like to enjoy simply breathing. But it all seemed bittersweet because there were so many still enslaved. So many still starving, so many being beaten and worked to death. So many who had to know the way.

He had been approached rather apprehensively by a man known only as Abolitionist, who asked him with many tears if there was any way he’d return. They had to know. They just had to know there was a way to freedom. That the word that forever filled their hearts with passion and joy was a real, tangible thing. Would he go?

How could he say no? So after resting a while from his own harrowing escape, he reluctantly agreed to risk it all and go back. He had been given a large amount of cash to be dispersed among the slaves, and he had been given new clothes and shoes for the journey. He’d been given a map and directed to leave signs along the route so that other would know the direct way to freedom. He knew the houses they were safe in, and he ran with a surety for many days until his feet began to falter. He was tired, bone weary and afraid. He was unsure of himself. Unsure of the plan and ready to flee for safety. But something kept pulling him southward. It was the understanding of bondage, and the uncovering of freedom. He couldn’t keep it from them. His heartbeat in his ears reminded him of the rhythmic drone of complacency that comes on a man who has lost all hope. He couldn’t bear to leave them without hope. His passion for freedom drove him on for many days. He couldn’t stop now. Not so close to his goal. He had to press on. Despite his pain and weariness. Despite his own fear. Despite the nagging feeling of oppression that had burrowed into him. He couldn’t stop. Too much was at stake. Too many needed to know the way.

********
This is the story of a slave. A slave who found freedom. To many, the Underground Railroad was a myth that seemed to good to be true. To others, it was a beacon of hope and happily ever after that spurred them on in the face of intense peril. There were those who conducted it, who risked their lives to hide their passengers. There were others who offered large sums of money to help in the cause. And there were those who hopped the train for freedom and never looked back. But the Underground Railroad could never have been the catalyst that is was without the brave men and women who road the train both ways. Who entered into freedom, enjoyed its sweet embrace and then jumped the train to ride back into the south, risking their lives so that others could escape.

It occurred to me this week that this is the plan of Christ for His church. Not that we hop the train for freedom and never look back, but that we experience the sweetness of freedom and become so passionate about it that we run back toward those in bondage and risk our lives to set them free.

It is tempting to accept salvation and know freedom, and never again move toward others. Comfort is tantalizing, is it not? It surely is tempting to become complacent about the world around us that’s going to hell, chalking it up to a matter of choice and human circumstance. But I wonder, is it Christ-like? Surely, a God who is desperate enough to have us for himself that he’d live among us and die a criminal’s death does not give you the impression that he’d sit idly by while thousands die and go to hell. Are we not of the same stock? Made in His image? Crucified with Christ? Doesn’t His passion burn within us?

The men and women who risked their lives leading others to freedom did so out of a deep sense of love and moral obligation. Is there nothing left of God in the church? After all, God is love. While we may know the truth that sets men free, there are millions still living in bondage. Are we so weak-willed, and do we know so little of the power of God that we are willing to sit by while many die enslaved to sin? Where is our passion? Is it in things of this world? Is our hope so self-centered that we cannot see the desperate circumstances of our fellow man? By God, what will it take for the church to become passionate for souls again? What discomfort will shake us from our lethargy and awaken us to our mandate? Outside the walls of the church are masses dying in pain and torment. Gripped by fears and roaming about in darkness. Aimlessly.

We know the way, church! We know the truth that sets captives free. We know love and joy and peace and all the things of God that men crave in the deep recesses of their hearts. Why are we keeping it to ourselves?

You will die a slave to something. You will either die a slave to sin. Or you will die a slave to self. Or you will die a slave to Christ. One way or another, you will die. And each death will cost you something. Only one will give you life. How will you die?

Prom

Published May 10, 2014 by Dawn

Today is my first prom. That’s right, I’m 28 years old and going to my first prom. I didn’t go to prom in high school because by the time my prom rolled around, I was a mother and would have rather went with a wet dog than the guy who asked me. So today, I go as a chaperone to my special needs students. I am super-excited, and thought that perhaps, even though I don’t want to dress up in a prom dress, I do want to dress up. So I looked in my closet and pulled out anything I had that I thought might be worth wearing. I tried it all on, and nothing seemed to give me the look I wanted. I looked fat and frumpy in everything. So I invited my sister over, and she brought something she thought might look good. It was a bust. So my first dilemma was, there’s nothing to wear!

My second was I have no idea how to fix my hair. If it ever looks good, it was either my savvy sister’s work, or a complete accident. My hair air-dryed after the shower this morning, so it was pretty wanky from the get-go. But then she tried to fix it … I own three bobby pins. So, my hair was a no-go too. I thought I might like the ‘do she put in better if I put on make-up, so I went for my make-up bag and since I hardly ever wear make-up, I had no idea where it was. Turns out, it’s nowhere to be found. With the stress building in me, I yelled, “I’m such an ugly woman!” And then laughed about it, because that’s what you do when you realize you hate yourself in front of other people.

After she left, I headed off to shop for something to wear. Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, I’m going to prom tonight, so preceding that all is a me-party! An hour or so later, I came home with a few skirts and shirts that looked good in the dressing room mirror. And the weight of rejection on my heart. My old church was hosting a b-b-que in town to raise money for their children’s program, and half the congregation was there. Four years as the youth leader, and out of every fundraise I ever held, my record number was eight people from church helping out. Just so you know, eight is way less than half.

This is all piled, of course, on the rejection from a job last week that would have really benefited my family, and years’ worth of rejection from falling in love with men who don’t really want my heart. Yes, I spent all the quiet me-time today reminiscing about the past…My me-party became a pity-party.

I realized, as I sat here letting all these things hurt me all over again, that I really do hate myself. I’m sure, though, that I’m not the only one struggling in this.  And as much as we know about God, and as much as we love Him and love Him loving us, we struggle to accept His love. we struggle to receive it. It’s so foreign, and I think, deep down inside, we’re waiting for Him to give up on us. Waiting for Him to get sick of us. We’re expecting God to reject us, because that’s what we know how to handle. Maybe we’re so used to pain in our hearts and rejection in our lives, and that it is more comfortable to us than being loved.

Here I am, in the midst of a storm of emotions, refusing even now to let go of what I know: God is good. He loves us tremendously, and even though right now, I’m feeling resentment, fear, frustration and bitterness, my God is big enough and loves me enough to rescue me from this pit of despair. And He will. I know that sometimes, God allows us to know the deep, hidden things in us so that we can be healed. So all we need to do right now is surrender this to Him. I have messed up so many times in my life, and not any less since becoming a Christian, and yet I find Him at the point of my need beckoning me. Or I find Him at the place of my pain wooing my heart. He hasn’t run away. He hasn’t rejected me. He’s still loving me, even though I am not good enough to earn His love. Every time I turn to Him, He’s there. Surely the same is true for you.

Father, I want so desperately to love myself. Regardless of how others treat me or make me feel. I want to be steadfast in you and able to love myself. Even if I mess up. Even if I’m ugly. Even if I don’t measure up to what other people want. I want to be okay with myself. I want to love myself. I want to be able to receive your love everyday for the rest of my life. I’m tired of wavering in my relationship with you. I want to know, always, that you are with me and that you love me, no matter what.

Here and Now

Published May 2, 2014 by Dawn

She stood anxiously on the corner, waiting. Her hair whipped around her face, and she stared through it vacantly. A thousand dreams mesmerized her mind and her heart danced to the rhythm of desire. She’d worked the corner of When for so long, she’d forgotten the world around her. Well most of it, anyway.

Several blocks over was her number two spot. The corner of Then. Between the two, she preferred the corner of When, but sometimes, the lack of business there drove her back to Then, where Fear and Despair would swoop in and torment her mercilessly. What did it matter, though. Life offered little more than Hell did for a prostitute.

Sometimes, her memories would draw her focus to the one place she was ever happy. Her home, a cozy little bungalow on the corner of Here and Now. Her heart yearned for the comfort of it, the sanctity and security she knew there. But Here and Now was so far removed from her present life, she didn’t dare entertain the hope of it. There was nothing there for her, she was sure. And because she was sure, she recklessly sold herself on the corners of Then and When. And little by little, her heart was torn away and she lived in agony.

*************

Dear reader, let it be known that Then and When are the most effective tools of the enemy. He would have us to either live in the past (Then) or in the future (When), so that we completely miss the Here and Now. And sadly, when we refuse to live in the present, we are forfeiting our right to live at all. Because reminiscing with the past, or gallivanting with the future is dancing with phantoms. Some that torment us, and others that simply distract us. That is not the life Jesus died to give us. He died so that we might have life abundantly. I am certain that living in the “if only” or the “what if” is not living abundantly. It’s living in either regret or anxiety. Neither of those are good for us, because both are a form of inner chaos. God is a God of order, not chaos.

When we choose to entertain the phantoms of things that are no more or seemingly yet to be, we prostitute our now moments. We sell ourselves to things that may never materialize and we completely miss what God is doing in the present. We give away moments that we will never know or get back, in exchange for vapors. And living in such a way causes us to be vacant to people who are present now. How tragic!

Listen to me: God is the I AM. That is a present tense action verb, meaning He is here now, doing something. Here now, doing something. Don’t miss what He is up to, wishing to be in another moment in time you aren’t even guaranteed, doing things that may never come to pass with people who could be nothing more than figments of your own imagination. Satan would love for you to live your life always looking into the future. But spending too much time there is flirting with witchcraft. God never meant for you to live that way. Nor did He intend for you to live your life looking into the past. The location of your eyeballs is not an accident. He wants you looking straight ahead! He wants you to see what He is doing, embrace life as it comes your way. Live fully in the moments He has given you. All these ideas built up in your head may look good, but are they from God? Who can say for sure? But I do know this: if God told us everything before it happened, where would our need for trust and faith be? And even when He gives insight and visions, you can trust that it won’t come about in the way you imagine. The Bible is full of promises that took the long way around, and in the meantime, men who had to wrestle with life and holding on to faith. Abraham was given a fruitful land and promised a child, but married to a barren woman and living in famine. He could have been so paralyzed by fear and disappointment, but what kind of life would he have lived in the waiting? Joseph dreamt of a royal throne, but seemed to always be sitting in a dungeon. His past and his future both looked bleak. What hope did he have? Moses felt the passion of a revolution, but was exiled to the desert by the very people he longed to save. Do you know the common thread that bound these men together? They got to know the I AM and lived fully in the present until God moved on their behalf. They ministered where they were and waited faithfully for God to do His thing. They didn’t sit around bemoaning the past or anxious about what was to come. They lived in the present and entrusted the future to God.

Here and Now. There is a life to be lived there.