I’m an Excellent Swimmer

I feel very messy, very feely, very misunderstood and over my head.

 

excellent swimmerExcept I’m an excellent swimmer, a proverbial mermaid of deep thoughts and deep life and deep action.

 

And its al this surface living that is suffocating me.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot bout Mary and her faith and her deep, painful life. Ive been thinking a lot about Satan and how he takes pleasure in toying with our mermaid minds.

 

But here’s the thing, us mermaid deep divers, we scare the hell out of him.

 

We change the game. We fight hard. We give big faith yesses. and sometimes the enemy’s riptide catches us off guard.

 

He has no choice but to fight hard, to counter attack, lest he lose ground.

 

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you… If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you… it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” 1 Peter 4:12,14,16

 

and yes, I’m sitting here feeling all weighty on the surface, longing to be understood, to have a diving partner, or at least breathe in the salty sea again.

 

This I know, God’s on the move or it wouldn’t be this hard.

-J

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A God that Weeps

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season!  I think we can all mutually agree we all do.  What I’m particularly struck with gratitude over, in this 11 o’clock hour, is the greatness of my God.

And I don’t mean greatness like He’s good or great to me (which He is)…but His majesty, His power…

The idea the kids’ song expresses, “My God is so BIG, so STRONG, and so MIGHTY.  There’s nothing my God cannot do.”

We all call on God for different things at different times ~ drawn to different elements of who He is – friend, counselor, savior, father, etc.

 

But today –

in the quiet and solitude of my own bedroom, alone with my Creator –

I call on the God who is greater than the crushing weight of this world…

the God who weeps alongside me,

weeps alongside everyone who feels overwhelmed and beaten,  who feels powerless in the face of evil

weeps alongside the mother who cannot comfort her babes

weeps alongside the dad feeling powerless in the future of his children

weeps alongside the vet sleeping too many nights on the same cold bench.

I call on the God who is bigger than all this, big enough to see all this.

 

Big enough to hold me, comfort me, and then nudge me – keep going, keep pushing, keep loving.

Keep weeping, bear witness, represent me, and do something.

  • S

It’s Not Us or Them

We used to be a bold, courageous country. Yes, maybe at times we were fearful; however we didn’t let those emotions control us. We harnessed them for good. Today, it seems like we are letting fear dictate our decisions and alter our moral compass.

That is surrender; that is letting the enemy win.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Aren’t we a country of “good men?” (and women!)

And furthermore, the primary argument I hear is that we should be helping homeless American citizens and veterans instead…but that’s a flawed logic for three primary reasons (in my opinion).

  • God doesn’t value American lives over any other culture. We are all brothers and sisters united in His eyes.
  • If we act give into this fear, we are acting against the very thing veterans fought for; freedom from tyranny and the right to pursue the American dream without fear.
  • Mostly, it’s not one or the other, us or them; and this is perfectly illustrated in the gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15):

There was a huge crowd (estimated at 5,000) and the disciples (with the best intentions) told Jesus to send them away, there wasn’t enough to share. Send them to take care of themselves and buy their own food.

And Jesus replied (and I’m paraphrasing) “bring me what you can (5 measly loaves of bread and two fish) and lets give it all away, and don’t worry about it, I’ll make it work”

Note he didn’t say, “I can turn these 5 loaves into 5,000. So tell 4,000 people to stay and we’ll use the extra 1,000 loaves to nourish ourselves first and then help out those in need, plus have extra rations for later”

His response wasn’t logical or humanly possible. It was IMPOSSIBLE from any rational standard, but that’s the beauty of my God.

It’s not us or them; we are all in this life together. And yes, as a believer in God, I am called to use wisdom, but when it comes to helping people God was and is always radical.

And that makes me smile, arms wide open in confident faith He’ll take care of the details.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

J

Life as I Imagined

“It’s not the life I imagined for myself, but it’s the life I’ve been blessed with and I won’t take a moment of it for granted.” in Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose when Life Hurts by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver

I came across a list the other day of everything I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30.  The time frame from that list is quickly counting down.  However, I found it really amazing how much my priorities had changed since high school.  My list then wasn’t bad or even silly, but it is so different from my current list.  God really has shifted my desires in pretty major ways.  Here are some of them:

  1. Own a home (or at least a nice apartment/condo)
    • I currently live with my tribe of Chris, Jessi, Nici, and Ainslee in their house.  I have not owned a home and will not own one anytime soon11903934_10107202311771294_2004765272783707143_n
  2. Be married with kids.  (Okay I combined these two they were actually two separate goals.)
    • Much to many of my family member’s chagrin, I realized several years ago that God has called me to singlehood, which means not having children of my own.
  3. Have a college degree.
    • Hey, I am a success!  I did get this one (and a masters to boot)!
  4. Have a good job that I enjoy.
    • Again, pretty good.  I do enjoy it (at least most days).

Now, let me share my new list to accomplish/continue to work on by the time I am 30, which is really only about 15 months from now:

  1. Show love and compassion to all I encounter.
    • I want everyone to see my Jesus through my compassion to them.  I want my actions to live louder than my words.
  2. Treasure and value my family
    • They are incredibly important and I want them to continue to be so.
    • I particularly want to spoil any nieces and nephews like crazy.  I LOVE being an aunt!
  3. Get healthier
    • I believe this is a process and it is one I am working on.
    • A truth that was kind of hard for me to swallow was that part of not taking things for granted is taking care of my body better so that I am around to enjoy them longer!
  4. Be fiscally responsible, ethical, and generous.
    • This is a lot in one.  But, I’m working to pay off all my student loans (and it looks like a massive boulder at times), spend my money in ways promote ethical business and trade practices, and save in order to give.
  5. Listen and Go
    • This is the big one and the main one.  I want to listen to God’s voice telling me when to stay, when to go, and when to just explore.  I want to live completely for him and risk everything for Him – easier said than done.

Bottom line, God knows better than I.  The life He has given me and is unfolding for me is so much more than the life I had planned for myself.  I can’t wait to see my new list ten years from now!

  • S

The Next Einstein

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from Vox read article at http://www.vox.com/2015/11/16/9746456/map-syrian-refugees-governors

Unless you live under a rock, you have read about the horrible attacks in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris at the end of last week.  They are horrific and inexcusable and the result of hate.  They are also directly tied to the refugee crisis.  These are the very things, the very people that so many of these refugees are running from.

I have been fervently praying over the issue, fervently pouring over my Bible about the issue.  God keeps leading me to one answer – the fear and self-protective  based decision to not help these refugees is simply the wrong one.

Sure, statistically there might be a few terrorists using the crisis they created to hide among refugees.  It’s possible.  However, statistically (and historically), so is the next Albert Einstein –  or the prominent author Chinua Achebe – or brilliant stateswoman Madeleine Albright.  How about Bartok and Chopin, Freud, Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger… shall I continue because the list is a long one?  Some of our greatest contributions have come from refugees.

There are many arguments about why shutting our borders and doors to refugees is the wrong one.  However, today I am just focusing on one specific argument.  Because, frankly, for me it comes down to one thing. What is right?  What is ethical?  What is Biblical?  All of those point to one thing.  Helping refugees, not closing our doors.  

This is my plea to help the refugees based on a Biblical argument.  I firmly believe it is what God has called us to do and that (to coin the too used phrase) it is what Jesus would do.

The Lord watches over the foreigner

   and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

   but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. – Psalm 146:9

Shouldn’t we also work to watch over and sustain those whom the Lord does?  Or are our interests different than his?

 

Do not do wrong to a stranger or make it hard for him. For you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 22:2 (and again in Exodus 23:9)

Take out Egypt and place the U.S.  Frankly, we all came here as strangers.

 

Jeremiah 22:3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

 

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.  Jeremiah 7:5-8

Whose words are you listening to?  Ones rooted in earthly concerns or heavenly?

 

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’  Zechariah 7:9-10

Check out verses 11 and 12 to see God’s response to “their hearts as hard as flint.”

For me, the two verses that really compel me on this issue are below.

Malachi 3:55 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

‘“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’  – Matthew 25:40

 

If you aren’t convinced, Check out 1 King 8:41-43, 2 Corinthians 8:7, Leviticus 19:10, or the whole book of Ruth (the entire book of Ruth is based on the experience and suffering of migrant people.  Ruth and her mother-in-law got up and left.  It doesn’t talk about security clearance or paper work.  They went somewhere else where they could make a better life.).  Look at Matthew 5:43-48.  Truth be told, the Bible has God commanding us to show love, compassion, mercy to foreigners.  To not just do them no harm, but help them find justice.  
I could go into the details of why I believe that shutting out refugees figuratively and/or literally is the wrong call based on elements of national security, economics, and simply American well-being (and maybe I will on a different day).  However, for me, it is much more simple and much more important than those items.  It is a question of what I believe God has called us to do and I can’t find a Biblical argument for anything other than helping them.

-S

Bags are Heavy

“I surrender all that I have carried in my own strength” Lisa Bevere

 

You can’t press on, excited for what lies ahead, while dragging three tons of emotional baggage.

I know; I’ve been trying.

I’ve been relying on God and praying and meditating over his word. More so than ever before; and yet, I have yet to surrender it all.

 

I’ve never said, “here ya go God, and good luck cause it’s messy. You do the work I’ll show the love”

 

Don’t get me wrong I try to be kind and act out of love every day. In the midst of this messy 2015 season, my actions sometimes turn hollow and bitter. Still kind, but not out of love

 

bags are heavyThe baggage was/is too heavy to walk in grace on my own.

 

I needed a new grip, with God’s hand first.

 

I am simply not strong enough; I’m ready to move forward in joy, to find my actions strong and rooted in love not bitterness.

 

I need help. I’m surrendering it all to God (and seeking professional counseling help). While praying “anything Lord, take my life and do what you want”

 

There’s no shame in needing help, in working towards the ability to love better.

 

I must let go of past hurt to give better yeses.

-J

And so…I pray.

This is how we should be about those we love.  Unable to keep still in prayer.

Isaiah 62:1

I feel ill at ease, unable to keep still in prayer.

I can’t fix things (or people).

So, I pray.  

I pray for grace.

I pray for forgiveness.

I pray for humility.

I pray for salvation.

I pray God’s hand on the situations.

I pray for healing.

I pray for patience.

But above all, I pray for hope and faith.  For I think they are the key.  If you lose either, you’ve lost.  

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Julia Geiser

So, this November, I pray.  I pray in thanksgiving for all of my blessings.  I pray in the humble knowledge that I am but one small woman in the midst of messes around me.  

I pray with the knowlege that my God is listening and answers.  I pray to move mountains.

-S