Its amazing what happens when you are obedient. When you can take that step back, letting the humility wash over you, as you realize you really didn't know better.
This is what you wanted God? This is where you wanted me? Are you sure?
I tend to think I dream too big- but then I remember I serve a big God. That His ways surpass mine and even in the midst of confusion and only slight understanding, He continues to have grace upon me- revealing little glimpses of what is to come. I feel like a kid peaking inside the present closet before Christmas- all smiles and anticipation.
I know He loves me and whatever He has for me is going to be beyond what I can fathom. I tend to become that spoiled brat- demanding what I want right now. I take on the persona of Veruca Salt and often feel the need to be deemed a bad egg. (Willy Wokna people- stay with me). Then, once again, He lets me peak inside the closet. Just enough to give this spoiled brat's heart the ability to skip a beat- as I see that the years of praying, dreaming and yearning are actually going to happen.
I am my biggest problem. I am the one who gets in the way. Often we like to put the blame on the people, circumstances or the devil himself. Yet reality remains- I am the issue. If I would just get out of the way- imagine what God could do? Then again, in spite of me, in spite of my stubborn foolishness, He lets me in. He welcomes me into His presence and I am restored.
".....fit me for every scene and circumstance; stay my mind upon thee and turn my trials to blessings, that they may draw out my gratitude and praise as i see their design and effects. Render my obedience to thy will holy, natural, and delightful. ......help me to cultivate a disposition that renders every duty a spiritual privilege. Thus I may be content be a glory to thee and an example to others."
My eyes fall to my feet, as they stumble over Yours. The perfection of this dance, as You lead me through, leaves me breathless. Your hand gently draws my face back to Yours, as our eyes fixate on the reality that You are shepherding my aisle. I desire to get lost in You.
To rest in You.
To move when You move.
You lead me gracefully as I step on Your toes and You guide me with understanding as I once again, look down to watch my feet. I am reminded that it is not me who is leading- as much as I desire to take over. The anticipation of where I am going- where you are leading me- makes my heart race. I am reminded that You are in control. You are leading me and that leaves me in Your refuge of security and protection. You are strong and I am weak.
My flesh fails, as Your spirit over takes my heart. I must keep my eyes fixated on Your face, to trust in Your leading. My arms become weak and being to falter, but You hold them up with divine strength. I continue to lose myself in You- my feet move to Yours, my ways become Your ways. I may have perfected this dance, but You took me where I needed to go.
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
When I first read this verse, when it first got to me, it was roughly seven years ago. I remember, cause like most girls, I struggled (past tense? no- STRUGGLE) with my self-image, weight, and the perception of myself. The whole “fearfully and wonderfully made” mindset has taken years of prayer, fasting and growth to sink in. All that to say this verse was one of the first steps in helping me realize the selfishness that comes with all consuming vanity.
However, as I have gotten older and (somewhat) wiser in the last seven or so years, this passage continues to expand and grow deeper. Just like the rest of the Word, it continues to amaze me with its vase depth of relevance. But lately, there were two words in particular that have haunted me.
Gentle and Quiet.
If you know me, you know I am neither of these things. I am not exactly the most dainty, graceful, gentle girl. I am also not quiet. Ever. (I can’t help it if I get excited and therefore my voice carries or, as I like to call the perpetual rising of volume). I tend to be dramatic and very extroverted. I am a queen social bee and love, love people. All that being said, when describing myself I don't exactly go to words like gentle and quiet.
I think of “gentle and quiet spirit” and visualize this mousey girl in boring clothes in the corner of the room who uses words like “precious” and “bless you, sister.” Who just radiates innocence and worships the Lord with self-control and a cute smile on her face.
I struggled with this. Should I become more mousey? Should I wear floral mu-mus and not talk as much? Should I learn to laugh with more volume control? (Don’t answer that!) Should I worship with a softer voice and only raise one hand? Should I change who I am?
God you have called me to obtain this incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit— that is so important to you. How do I do that when my personality is so opposite?
I’ve tried changing, thinking that is what He wanted. Thinking my perception of what He deems as “incorruptible beauty” was correct. (Cause I am always right....) But I failed. Every time. I would show up somewhere prepared to be more to myself and introverted. Then BAM! Laura Jean comes out and I can’t help it. I thrive off people, mingling, and the next thing you know you hear me cackling (yes, I tend to cackle) in the corner and I am planning where we are all going to dinner as I run around.
Sitting on my bed one night, me and the fabulous roommate were playing catch up and I voiced my concerns. Her wisdom was paramount as she pointed out one simple word:
God desires a gentle and quiet spirit. Not personality, or voice, or extroverted/introverted projection on life or even our relationship with Him. He created us with dramatics, creativity, passion and emotion. Don't suppress the personality that He formed. If you have a more shy, quiet persona, EMBRACE it. If you are a more dramatic, loud personality, EMBRACE it.
The prayer then needs to become: God give me gentle and quiet spirit.
I ask Him:
How do I approach You?
How do I deal with others and their relationship with You?
How do I love You?
Is my spirit one of meekness, submission, humbly patient and open? Do I allow my spirit to be silent and willing to listen?
"O God of the open ear, give me a heart frameable to thy will; so might I live in prayer, and honour thee, being kept from evil, known and unknown. Let me know that the work of prayer is to BRING MY WILL TO THINE, and that without this it is folly to pray; When you command me to pray it is because thou wilt give me the thing promised, for thy glory, as well as for my good. Help me not only to desire small things, but with holy boldness to desire great things that I might live to show thy glory."
Lights out, the living room is filled with nearly 30 voices desiring to be in the Presence of God.
"I get nervous that people are listening to more podcast, teachings and worship songs then they are spending time in the bible... Man can be inspirational but God's word is revolutionary.
Man can get up and inspire people to do something but that goes away. But God's Word will lead you and challenge you to do what you are called to do. I want to be apart of something that is lasting, and that comes from God's word. Church’s are going off of feelings, stories and what a guy says and not even comparing it to God's Word! Let's be apart of a revival that is centered around God's Word and going out and making disciples and not just listening to what man has to say all the time. You feel me?
The sidewalk is familiar as I make my way to the front door. For majority of my existence this has been what I have considered home. Tonight is no different, although what is taking place is something I have only been able to dream of. I open the front door and am greeted by the familiar faces that have grown accustomed to this Tuesday routine. Habit sets in and we gather around the coffee pot in the kitchen, waiting for the stragglers to show. The last few weeks we have had some new faces and the encouragement of the contagious event is starting to make way. It seems one person comes and then the next week they bring someone else and the pattern just continues. As the half hour approaches we make our way to the living room, taking a seat in what seems comfortable. The new recruits are still a bit in the dark and you can tell the hesitancy is there- but its masked by the anticipation of what they have heard.
Tonight has been our biggest crowd as they start to spill into the hall and some onto the foyer.I take a quick count... just for fun... 18 tight. 18 strong.
We gather around as we open in prayer and the sound of the guitar starts to lead us. Prayers begin, praise is sung, and we Encounter the One who desires us. This is our refuge. The battle is hard, the fight is strong, and it seems to be never ending. But this? This is a refuge and mighty fortress of restoration.
Original post was from October 6th, 2008. You can read the whole thing here.
" We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God's standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have the power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. The moments on the mountain tops are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God's purpose." Oswald Chambers
It came at perfect timing and I could not have asked for a better trip with better people. When I got back home from Boston, my roommate asked me our traditional question: "What is one high and one low of the trip?"
As I sat there, and realized I was back in Florida where the season of fall is 80 degrees and shorts- I tried to take myself back to the actual autumn that I just left. You know the ones that you see in the movies and the pictures of other places? The leaves are changing from green to vibrant oranges, reds and yellows. You actually need a jacket when you go outside- maybe even pack the gloves and scarf for after the sun sets and you don't sweat as you drink your hot cocoa. *sigh* oh well. I can at least say I experienced it right? :)
It truly was an amazing trip, along with the fact that everywhere we went we kept seeing FSU gear on strangers.
These are just the images taken with my phone. I decided to get all artsy and take my old 35mm camera. So when the film gets developed I will share some of those with you as well! But as for now... enjoy! (there is a lot!)
Thursday- Fenway and game day!
Our tour guide at Fenway Park. He was amazing!
We eventually conquered the subway system.
GO NOLES! My first away game and I loved it!
Harvard. I felt like Elle Woods
Yes. It is half eaten. But it was amazing.
Our Ghost tour. It was...entertaining.
Last sunset in Boston. We will be back.
Lastly- Thursday was Keely's birthday! Our your guide at Fenway had everyone sing her happy Birthday. It was awesome, along with the fact that 80% of the people on our tour were FSU fans.
Sometimes my heart and mind gets overwhelmed by a few words or thoughts. They become continuous in my life, prayer, reading and in conversations. During those times I cant help but wonder what God has up his sleeve. It is in these times, that I have to write it out and see what happens. This is one of those moments.
I stumble over them. They are disposed everywhere and as I walk, I am careful not to crush them as they are already fragile and broken. I tip toe around the pieces of what once was. I remember this place. The memories of full life and vigor rush back as the reality of dried death stare at me in the face. The spirit of praise, adoration and revival are no longer. The love of You was immersed in this valley and now... now I feel desperate and alone. The ground is covered in the memories of the lifeless past. Somewhere along the line- we forgot what had happened. We got caught up in the technicalities of doing work and not realizing the death that comes of monotonous, dull routine. We allowed division to creep in amongst us and quenched the power that was once inside of us. The walls became thicker and the mortar of pride and selfishness rang in strength.
Here we are- dead, stagnant and lifeless.
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’” (NASB)
The breath fills my lungs as my eyes are open to the awakened new life that is within me. I am aware that I am not alone in this- as others are becoming aware of the need and the urgency to stand. As one we rise, we come together and proclaim that it is time to call upon the power of the grave. This is not a time of slumber no more- but to be brought back to the active wonderment of Him.
"'For here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You'll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!” Ezekiel 36:24-28 (MSG)
In 27 hours and 17 minutes I will be starting the journey to check off one (of many) that is on my travel list. I cant wait to sit on the plane and feel like its actually happening! You see this trip isnt just any ole trip. It contains some important variables: Football, Friends, and Cold weather.
Our beloved Noles play Boston College this thursday and we are making a trip out of it. I am looking forward to actually witnessing fall colors, bundling up in layers and just having a good time with friends.
But to get in the spirit of the trip and set the stage for what all is happening I have some photos to recap the past few weeks.
Its been good fall weather for the game days and I just love it.
My camera is ready, my new moleskin is full of blank pages waiting to be filled and the anticipation is just a sign that I wont be sleeping tonight.
The creative diversity that makes up my family is pretty evident in all of our lives. The guitars, the voices, the writing, the chairs on the wall on the back porch. It flows in and out and its something that I have been consumed in my whole life. For years, I was surrounded by all the elements of art and creativity. Yet the gene that is so prominent in my brothers and parents, has seemed to skip me. I cant carry a tune and the farthest I have gotten in my artistic ability is probably a stick figure. As the years and moments have passed, my love for all things creative grows and amplifies- I just cant seem to do it myself.
Then one day it hits me- I may not play the guitar, be able to draw a fancy picture or paint a mural. But what I can do, what I am natural at and seems to trend in my own life: are the simple things. I have come to realize the simple post-it note on the mirror in the morning can change someone’s day. The simple coffee cup on the front porch, or the conversations we have as we run through the neighborhood, are cultivating the relationships beyond what is our own doing. The warmth that exudes from the home as the simple knowledge that whoever it is- feels welcome.
God created us to be relational beings- its why he longs to have relationship with us and why relationships have a greater effect on us then we realize. I believe the creativity of cultivating relationships and fostering the idea that there is beauty and art in the act of watching someone bloom. I am pushed, pursued, and filled by stories and lives. To know that the simple act of love is just that- simple. We cant save the world, but we can change the people within our days with the foundation of simple love.
Embrace the creative act of friendship and the art that lies in the simple things.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonesty with much. Luke 16:10 (NIV)
God won’t give you more to do for Him until you can do what He’s already given you to do.
Stop praying for a life of impact and do something impactful.
Stop praying for a bigger platform and use the one you’ve been given.
Stop praying for a better assignment and start performing better with the one you have.
This is a 2 part-er. Only because the emotions tied to both post are complete opposite... enjoy
"as for God, His way is blameless. The Word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 18:30
Here I am. Once again at the point of surrender. Will this be the last time? Hell no. But for right now- it feels like it could be. You see I have this terrible habit of getting sucked into the story. My writer brain takes off and I have this whole epic tale being played out in my head. A smile comes across my face as I picture the imagery of all the possibilities of what it could be. Anything could spark the onset of the ”maybe one day” tangents. The plot lines are endless, from the weather to colors to just day dreaming.
The whole picture comes together from pieces that are placed side-by-side. I long to be in the middle of it- to not sit on the side lines and witness the awakening. But to be in the thick of it. I see the past and rejoice in what has happened and get caught up in what will happen in the future. But right now? Right now is happening.
Take away the pride that lies within- the pride that is the sturdy foundation of my expectations. I hit my knees, draw a circle around who you have created me to be and recognize revival starts with me. I desire to hear the dry bones that were broken- come to life again. Bring me back to the joy of my salvation.