Friday, November 12, 2010

chapter 4: failure

October 30, 2010
It finally rained for the first time in a while. The drought is over. When the rain came, I remembered who was in charge; to my surprise, it isn’t me. God gives and takes away, and it is a relief to know that I can rest in him. He isn’t sitting on his throne depending on me to save the world; he needs me to depend on him. I kept thinking that everyone else needed to let go, when in fact I was the one who need to let go. God is God. I am not….thank the Lord!
Some date a long time ago
”Peter is a model of our HUMANITY (the fact of being human); Humanity is the mixture of good and bad qualities-
He wanted to be STRONG, but he was WEAK.
He wanted to be FAITHFUL, but he was INPREDICTABLE.
He wanted to be EFFECTIVE, but he was INCONSISTANT.
He wanted to be SUCCESSFUL, but he FAILED.
Peter was like you and me. He had honorable intentions that never got expressed. He had noble aspirations that stayed beyond his reach. He set goals that were somehow never reached. He made commitments and ended up breaking them.
Failure….We have all felt the force of it’s power to destroy. We have experienced the inner pain that failure brings to its victims.
Luke 22:54- 62- (Peter denies Jesus three times. When the rooster crows, the Lord reminds him that he already knew Peter would do that. Peter them runs away and weeps.)”
November 11,2010
O boy have I failed! Who am I to think that I can do anything without Christ?...especially reach his children. I am only a small piece of the puzzle…and I have to get go of my pride and let him help me….and let everyone else help me. I have been defensive and selfish…and I have held resentment to everyone who tried to encourage me…and I am so sorry.
Luckily, God gave me a brain. He intends to use my weakness to lift his name up. He intends to bring me through bondages….so I can understand others who are going through them…and he wants to use this to make me stronger. I’ve always told people GOD could heal you, but I never told them how…because I didn’t understand. Now, I kinda get it. I have to admit that I need help, and CHOOSE to accept it! Failing may hurt, and it may be scary to admit…but getting back up really isn’t as hard as they make it out to be. It simply requires that we have FAITH, and we practice it. We choose to look FORWARD to the purpose God has for us. We are open to changing our habits, and we let love in!

the changing of the seasons...

Oct. 16, 2010
the family came to visit for the reunion...and it was awesome.

i got locked out of the cabin, so i wrote a poem...

Something about the fall…
I can feel that a change is coming in the bite of the morning air, and part of me is battling if I should let it take me there.
Because there’s something different about this season, what it is I’m yet to know, but I see it in the changing leaves and feel it as the wind blows.
I will embrace the newness of this season and let the old fall to the ground like leaves.
Because the same one who turns the summer to fall grants a faith that captivates me.
Though this morning air is cooler and the trees have changed their shade, I like this season of the fall, and in all its glory l’m not afraid.
The mystery of the fall, I cannot help but know,
That it was to change me like the leaves and ready me for winter snow.

the end of chapter 3

September 21, 2010
“Remember him- before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the teacher.
‘Everything is meaningless!’”
-Ecclesiastes 12: 6-8
I really wanted to post this whole chapter, but that would be a lot of typing..haha. Though I have no idea what was going on in your life when you wrote this lesson many years ago, I am sure it was something that changed you forever... And these words are still changing me today.
Every time I read over this lesson, I’m reminded how pointless it is to plan out my life. Verse 13 of Ecclesiastes assures me that the entire duty of man is to fear God and keep his commands. Often I try to analyze and fix everything…but then God always reminds me that I’m not in charge, and that he can do a much better job.
I don’t want live my life searching and searching for all of the answers in places that I know are never going to lead me to anywhere but death.
However, like Andrew, I do want seek to love and care for people before I judge them.
So today, I decided I am different than I was yesterday. Now I look into look into people’s eyes. Now I see their suffering. And now I will trust that God will use me to change them.
I’ve decided that this was probably a good decision…because after I made it, God completely messed up everything I planned to do today, reminded me it was meaningless, and said “hey there, I have something better I need you to do right now.” So in just a few hours, I met a friend who was new to town and knew no one, I helped a lady do her homework in the library, and I prayed for a homeless man at the intersection of Hardy St. and 49th. Dang…I should really take this lesson to heart more often…it was great.
September 22,2010
“it is good to praise the lord, and to sing of his joy in the morning, and his faithfulness at night. I sing for joy at the work of your hands, and my eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries. Surely the righteous will flourish and grow; they will still bear fruit in old age. For the Lord is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” -Psalms 92

So today I praised the Lord. He gives us joy, and he is always faithful. His ways are higher than my ways, and following them is amazing.

September 30, 2010
“Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.’ –Deuteronomy 34:7
That man had one heck of a life. All I can say is that he encourages me. Even in this chapter, where he dies, he climbs a mountain (remember, he’s reaaaaallly old). But when he gets to the top, I’m sure it was worth every step to see the Promise Land.
I want a faith like that…and this morning, as I began to pray that God would help me live to overcome bondage and see his promises fulfilled, I found Romans 4…where Abraham is justified by faith.
“If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about- but not before God. Abraham BELIEVED in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
The great thing about grace is that I don’t have to earn it. I can just accept it, and I can choose to walk by faith.
Faith is where healing begins and where change takes place. Even when I am old I have no fear, because he is strong.

October 2, 2010
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” -Luke 2: 29- 32
God promised Simon that he would live to see the Savior…and of course, he did. After this account, Simon was at peace and he was dismissed. His life, like this chapter, was complete.
There couldn’t be a more fitting way to end this chapter than to say that it has given me peace. I now understand that I am only a candle, but I can carry a fire. This fire is so bright that it can light up any darkness on the face of the planet. It is my job to protect this fire so that it doesn’t die down. I can also share this fire with any candle that wants its own light.
This season has been dry, and weather reporters are warning against building fires because the wind can stir them out of our control and burn up life as we know it…
So far, I’m liking this burning process though…the process of burning up my temple, and rebuilding a temple of God.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

chapter 3: age, time counted in years

Chapter 3:Age- Time counted by years
August 28, 2010
I’ve always thought that I was fearless and that I could stand up to anything that life threw at me. Maybe this was because thus far, life had been easy. It isn’t very often that I really stop to think how blessed I am, but in the moments that I do, I find myself humbled, humiliated even, that I have taken such advantage of the love that Christ has given me. I’ve learned today that I do have a little fear…that is the fear of death and growing old.
I’ve put too much glory on my body and its appearance and its ability to work. Also, I’ve put too much effort into the things of this world. Maybe that’s why we don’t want to die. We don’t want to admit that everything we do and accomplish is all temporary in the grand scheme of things. No one will remember us, and those who do..well they will die one day too.
Aging and dying reminds us that we don’t have as much control and power as we lived like we did. Is this what makes us fear it?
Though I don’t really want to have wrinkles or get fat, I must get off of my arrogant high horse and realize that it really has nothing to do with what I want. My creator is pleased with my spider veins when they were obtained from doing his work. I should look at the effects of aging and smile…because I know that they take me closer and closer to God every day.
This chapter is teaching me about true love, not the emotion, and not the word we use to describe ice cream, but REAL love, that was gained by the death of Christ. We’ve all heard the story, but when it really hits you that God loved you enough to send his son…to overcome death…so that we could live??? WOW, that makes me want to re sculpt the way I think and the way I live. I want to know a love like that and I want to love other people like that.
September 1, 2010
I just wanted to understand real love, and every time I think about it, all I see is death….everywhere. This chapter is about dying, every song I hear is about dying, I read Ecclesiastes this week and it is all about how meaningless this life is, everyone I encounter is losing someone close to them, I saw Ms. Mary waiting on it Sunday at the nursing home, today I saw Mr. Gain’s dying, and last night I had a dream that I died. I just started reading habit 2 in “The Seven Habits of Highly effective people” for school. The first paragraph challenged you to picture your funeral three years from now and imagine what people would say about you. This made me wonder if I’m really living with the end in mind. DO I really do all that I can to encourage and love those around me? Could I be doing more?
I am learning so much about love. I’m learning that loving is dying…dying to my selfishness daily to follow Christ and obeying the holy spirit even when I’m scared…and realizing that really living requires you to always be aware that there is so much more after death. WHY focus on worldly crap?
In my dream last night, I wasn’t scared anymore when I died, but excited. I knew that I would finally get to meet the God who created me and loves me. I can’t wait until that day…I just wonder what he will say. Did I live in a way that pleases him?

September 13, 2010
“Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too’”. Genesis 48: 10-11
It’s funny how this book works. Since this was the first scripture in the lesson, I might have danced around writing because I was a little scared of what might happen. Eventually, I realized I wouldn’t have forever to move to the next step, so what better time than now. So, I called up my dad and decided to give it one more try. I honestly wasn’t expecting to actually see him; I think I just wanted to know that I “tried”…but I ended up spending three hours at his house, and I realized that he is actually a pretty cool guy.
Earlier today, I was organizing a kids church lesson on 1 John 3:1, “How great the love is the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”. Maybe it’s all of the sociology classes kicking in, but I started to understand that I have never had a full idea of God’s fatherly love, because I shut out the idea of loving my own father and believed that I didn’t need it. I started needing a deeper love from God, and in that vulnerability to let someone love me, I got to know my father….like really got to know him.
Sometimes I put things off and waste away until God gives me courage to do them. I’m learning that it doesn’t exactly work like that….nope; I have to trust him and be vulnerable to his power. When I finally decide to make the leap he wants me to, he catches me and carries me through. He is not going to push me off of the cliff though, and I’m learning that I can’t push other people off of the cliff.

September 15, 2010
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. “ -Psalms 71:18
Even though David was old, weak, and tired, he still wanted nothing more that to make God’s glory known…that’s pretty inspiring. Even though I’m young, sometimes I find it hard to get the motivation to do anything. Recently I have had no will to do anything that God is asking of me (like writing this book)….I just don’t WANT to! But after admitting that, and becoming aware that I have tried to strengthen ME, and not God’s kingdom, it’s pretty amazing to see what he has done to my WANT. If I pray for his will, he will make mine line up with his, and it all just flows in perfect harmony. I don’t have to try to force God on people to declare his power. I can’t change anyone except myself, and my SELF is in much need of some change. This is NOT about me, but God will use me if I just ask him not to forsake me. So my prayer today is that God will use me (and you) to make is power known…not MY power, not YOUR power…but his. He can make this life on earth rewarding, but only if I’m living it in reverence to him.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again” -Psalms 71: 20-21
In all of the weakness I’ve faced lately, I sometimes feel like I’m not being used…in other words, use-less. But in my weakness, he is my strength, and he makes me rely on him. Even though I may not feel like he is moving, he always comes back to comfort his children. Earlier my friend Sarah told me that my encouragement had completely changed her life. That comment reminded me that even though I don’t always see what God is doing behind the scenes, it doesn’t mean he’s not doing.
So just in case you ever feel like you are not being used or that you’re use-less, just look at this book! God has used your dedication to him to change me and to change all of the people who I’ve talked about in these chapters (not to mention all of the changes he’s making that we aren’t even aware of). Just like David, you have carried his power on to many generations…that’s pretty cool!

September 16, 2010
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” -Job 1:22
Today when I noticed that this lesson was from the book of Job, I can admit that I was a little scared. Job suffered….like a lot. EVERYTHING he had was taken away. I’m selfish, and I don’t want my stuff taken away…but I’m not exactly in charge of that…and that’s a blessing for sure!
I went to a SOMA event tonight (the Californians and some other people started this at Jones on Thursday nights). After an awesome worship service where God revealed how perfect he is, and how perfect he makes things work, James (the black preacher..haha) decided to share his heart with us. He also shared a verse from Job (that verse up there ^).
So basically, after Job lost everything, he still had a peace that God was up to something bigger….
“I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called upon God and he answered- a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure- those who carry their god in their hands. But ask the animals, and they will tell you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hands is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
So sure, the enemy is definitely trying to attack us (like taking Job’s house..and animals..and wife..and kids..and health…wheeww).
But Job didn’t blame it on God...
I have a choice.
I can curse the God who gave me this life to live, or I can trust him and let him show me just how awesome he is. Yep, I’ll face some junk and I’ll be beat down low…but HE will be lifted high…and HE will be my joy.
I read the other day about the stoning of Stephen (in Acts 7). That guy got stoned for proclaiming the name of Christ…and he prayed for the hearts of the stoners while it happened. So yeah… If God has the power to captivate Stephen’s heart like that, I surely should let him do the same for me.
James urged us that if we ever felt like we just wanted to blame God and die, that we would remember Job and call someone first. So I prayed that prayer….
God gave us life for a reason, and it’s never too late to stop spinning towards the bottom…to choose to let his love tear down the life we’ve built change it into a wall that will stand for him.
September 17, 2010
Today I found out about the death of my 23 year old Cousin, Andrew. He took his own life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

more from chapter 2

August 2, 2010
It’s amazing to me how we’re provided with so many signs along the highway, but it is our choice to follow them. We don’t HAVE to stop at the stop sign that God puts in front of us; no one forces us follow his road map, but it seems to work out so much better when we do.
So why is it so difficult sometimes to obey the signs? Why do we let worry sink in and overtake the wheel? Our faith can be so small sometimes, and we can’t quite make out what the sign ahead of us says because we aren’t close enough to it yet. We could veer off and travel alone, but why not hold fast for a few more yards and watch the sign become closer and clearer? Could it be because we are afraid?
Afraid of what road the sign might lead us down, and afraid that this road won’t be the one we had in mind….or maybe just afraid that it will be too hard.
I’ve learned this week that the road God has set before me is not exactly what I would have chosen. I don’t think I can handle working with kids chuch and sometimes I don’t have the courage and faith to say and do the things that I know the spirit is leading me to do. But that’s the way the highway is supposed to be. If I could handle the road alone, I wouldn’t need signs and I would get the glory. But God gives us a seemingly impossible task sometimes to show us that he is a lot bigger than us and it is only by following his signs and his spirit that we can succeed.
I just saw a great example in Ezekiel 37 1-14. I don’t think that the things that happened in that passage could happen by following our own signs and giving in to fear and lack of faith. In fact, I am certain that they couldn’t have.
And again in 1 Samuel 13 the Israelites hide from the Philistines in caves because they fear they will be overtaken by a large army. They were scared…worried you might say…because things didn’t go the way they had planned. But instead of faithful submission, they foolishly chose their own detours. Of course, they ended up in a ditch.
When it’s raining so hard that we can’t see the road, Papaw has always taught me to keep my eyes on the yellow line in the center and make sure I keep the car directed towards that line. You never just pull over, there may be a ditch lurking on the shoulder that you didn’t quite see. As long as you focus and drive slowly and carefully, you will always be safe. Heck, you may even have to come to a complete stop for a second…but you DON’T get off the road.
Bottom line: Christ is our Ebenezer (1 Sam 7:12). He has brought us this far on the journey, and he will carry us home if we let him.

August 9, 2010

“For God did not give us the spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self- discipline”
2 Timothy 1:7
I haven’t written in a while because we’ve had visitors in town. Teresa and a friend have been hitting a little highway of their own and road tripping across America this summer. After hearing all of their stories and seeing how spontaneous they have been living, I’m wondering why I don’t live more spontaneously myself. I feel like sometimes we get caught up in routine and doing things the way we always have, and forget what joys life can bring us if we surrender control and let it not be so structured. It was nice to be reminded of that.
So to catch you up on the journaling, yesterday I had to officially teach kids church all on my own for the first time. I told the kids the story of King Saul and how he lost his kingdom because he didn’t obey all of Gods commands in the battle against the Amalikites (1 Sam 15). He says later on that he did this because he was scared of the people, so he gave into them. We played Simon says, and the kids who obeyed everything that Simon told them to do won a crown.
So often I don’t press into all that God wants to give me in his kingdom because I’m scared of what it may mean that I have to give up. I’m learning just how prideful I am and just how much I hold myself up higher than other people. That is a harsh realization to come to on your own, but Gods gentle way of rebuking us makes it seem a lot less like punishment and more like progress.
I wanted to stress to the kids just how simple it was to give in to other people’s opinion just because we are scared of what they will think of us, but more than that I wanted them to know that there was a way of overcoming this….they DO have a choice!
I’m sure no one ever sets out on the highway intending to get lost in a desert or total out there car, but when the moment comes to take enough control of the wheel to choose the right path, we just aren’t strong enough to do it alone. Then, I remembered a verse from your journal on worry that clearly pointed to the encouragement that I was looking for, 2 Tim 1:7. The spirit of timidity that causes us to lack courage to stand up for what our spirit knows is right is NOT from God! When we are standing at that cross road debating our path, all along we usually know when we choose the wrong one. Isn’t it great to know that we don’t have to deprive ourselves of the road that leads to the kingdom because we are scared?
God wants to give us power, love and self- discipline…fear is GONE when he is guiding us.
Instead, power to overcome temptation is granted.
The ability to love those we alone can’t forgive is granted.
Strength to have control over our addictions is granted.
Why pass up the sign that points to all of these things for a crooked, dead end path?

Aug 18, 2010

So many people before Nehemiah failed at their attempts to rebuild the city. I’m not sure how many people, but I can conclude that there must have been something that Nehemiah did differently.
One thing I’m learning is that when we are building the wall that Christ has called us to, we will face opposition. I learned that while reading and teaching Chapter four of Nehemiah to my kids Sunday… and it was then confirmed on my way home when I got ran over by a Yukon and totaled out my car. Good thing I have a God that fights for me who protected me from this opposition…and I walked away with only a scratch and a massive headache to remind me how blessed I am. Funny how even when I do turn my head to look at the cows, I’m still protected. Nehemiah had a shield, the Honda had airbags.
I love how when we fight with our swords and shields, everything that the enemy throws at us in life can be used to make us stronger and more driven to build our walls. I bet that really pisses him off….and stomping in his face is actually really fun.
So I’m back on the highway again. I have to start school at Southern tomorrow and be in a wedding Saturday and teach children Sunday. This time I will be more cautious driving and I will follow the signs God has set in front of me. His road signs make it so easy to fall in love with him even more. He is surely directing my paths and protecting my ways. When I worry about those paths, I’m tempted to follow my own signs…but submission leads to success…so I pray that I will be obedient!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


just a preview of what I've done so far.

chapter 1: "Consider the Lily"
making this chapter last week changed my life...maybe i'll share some of Ch. 1 later :)

and here's the introduction...some of her poetry and tons of pictures of how we're alike are in here...and those pictures are really i'll skip that part!

here are a few of the journals im using that inspired this whole thing (i also found a real cute purse and a copy of "Mere Christianity" from the 80's...score!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

a bit of chapter 2: "Highways"

my grandma's lesson was on highways, so here are a few of my journals on this lesson.

July 26, 2010
The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life”. –Proverbs 16:17
I was anxious to start this chapter this morning because I knew it would go right along with what our discussion at the Warehouse last night.
We studied many examples about guarding heart and mind. The one that stood out to me the most was the story of Nehemiah. Many people were given the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem before him, but they never accomplished the task because they didn’t keep their shield up and sword in hand (Nehemiah 4: 19-23). Though this is just one of many examples, it shows so clearly how our destination can NOT be reached if we do not guard our way at ALL times.
Sometimes when I’m driving I get distracted. The road may seem boring at the time; honestly, I’d rather look at the cows in the fields than ride on to my destination. I’ve learned the hard way that if we take our eyes off the road, even for just a second, we can find ourselves in a ditch. Sometimes we can manage to regain control of the car before it’s too late, but sometimes we find ourselves flipping through the air only to land upside down, crashed into a tree. Not only can we crash, but we can take other people down with us. When I turn to look at the cows, surely everyone else in the car will look too. Then, nobody has his eyes on the road and when I crash into the tree, they could be crashing with me. When my way isn’t guarded I can hurt other people. Scary thought.
Today I pray that I can forget about the cows and avoid distractions all together. Like Nehemiah, I have a wall to build, and a highway to travel down. I know that this will require me to carry a big shield around, but luckily, I know just where to find one.
P.S.- Earlier tonight I was reminded that God provides us with STOP signs. Here we can stop and think while the traffic that could smash us to pieces passes by. Someone literally just held a small paper stop sign in my face that said “stop and think” and in that moment I was able to bring the car (my mind) to a hault and not gas straight into the raging traffic that walked into the door. Thank God that he planted signs (literally) to guard and guide the highway of the upright!

July 27, 2010

“I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You KNOW the way to the place where I am going”.
“Thomas said to him ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one comes to the father, but through me”
John 14: 2-6
Even though sometimes we know the WAY that God is calling us, we worry that he won’t come through. We let those cows and other distractions take our eyes off of the road. Sometimes our flesh is so curious that it begins to trust in its OWN way, knowing the whole time it will lead us to the ditch.
But I love that the scripture says, “I will come back and TAKE you”. Why don’t we just let him take us down the path? Why do we convince ourselves that random detours will get us to our destination more quickly? This really opens my eyes to just how impatient and unfaithful I have been today. I felt like I was the only one on the highway, and it almost makes you want to mash the breaks.
But HE IS the way, so I am NOT on the journey alone. And I will surely not reach my destination and get to the father if I continue to create my own ways just so I can visit with the cows.