1 Corinthians 2.9

“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

I spent 3 hours painstakingly painting that verse on a crinkled brown piece of paper I had saved from the wrappings on a bouquet of flowers. The painting didn’t turn out that great. It’s hard to get the letters straight and the same size. And it’s not really bold enough on the wall because I painted the letters too skinny.

But it was good for my heart to slowly write those words. It forced me to think on what they mean.

It’s the end of week 4 of joblessness. 40 applications, 3 interviews, 10 resume drop offs, 3 nanny websites plus craigslist, 200 website checks for new positions, 20 nights sitting home alone.

It’s getting a little old. A little frustrating, a little boring, a little discouraging, a little lonely.

But God says that his plans for me bigger than my imagination. I suppose that means that I could end up with some crazy good job that impacts someone’s life in a huge way. Or that he moves us to some foreign country to do missions. Or that I have an opportunity to take a photography class and somehow become a famous photographer…or writer or crafty person or whatever. Or I suppose it could mean he leads me into some not so great situation that as far as I’m concerned kind of a bummer…but uses it to change lives that I don’t even know about. Whatever it is…I know I can trust him to find me the right job at the right time.

I love him. So in the end of the big picture…I will have an impact that is beyond anything I’ve ever seen, heard of, or even imagined.

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He Speaks in the Silence

A month or two ago I discovered this blog: He Speaks in the Silence

It’s written, for the most part, by the wife of the pastor that began my church. She has so much wisdom, is down to earth, and fun to read. Here are some quotes from a recent post on forgiving:

“The only way for the ‘forgive-and forget mentality’ to be practiced is through radical denial, deception, or pretense.”It is not possible for us to forget, only to choose to “not remember” over and over again.

You have an enemy who works with the offenses of others to smother us with untruth. Satan cannot stand our reflection of God’s beauty. He will use the hurts of others to try to convince us that we are ugly and awful and less-than. We need to separate those enemy-fed lies from what actually happened.

Forgiveness does not require years and years of professional counseling. It is not a process as much as it is a heroic act of our wills. The process part is the sluggish following of our feelings to catch up with what we choose to do with our wills.

Inadequate

Inadequate.

It’s been circling my brain lately. In not such a good way.

‘You aren’t good enough to mentor high school girls. You aren’t experienced enough to find a decent dental assistant job. You aren’t devoted enough to be a good Christian. You aren’t selfless enough to love your husband right. You are undeserving, inexperienced, messed up, selfish, and broken. There is no way you can do that. You are inadequate.’

It plays on repeat. I try not to listen. I live my life despite it. But eventually it wears me down until I’m simply too tired to do anything but watch some Friends and laugh.

The thing is alot of it is true. I am broken, messed up, inexperienced, and selfish.

What I forget is the counter truth: Jesus.

He makes up for my inadequacies. He is everything I am not, he has everything I am lacking. And I have him so I am adequate. He is what makes me good enough to face life. By myself I’m not so great, and definitely not all that qualified for anything. But he is.

to be real

It has been along time. And my excuses are not that impressive:

I forgot.

I don’t write if I don’t have anything noteworthy to say. Which is a bad habit for any writer. Brilliance doesn’t come when you’re sitting around waiting for it.

I learned that depression is real and not made up by overly dramatic people. One result of continuous bummed-outness is a downward plunge in the desire to be social or communicative…even on blogs.

It’s not necessarily healthy to indulge my tendencies to seclusion; but being depressed doesn’t make it any easier to transform my introvertedness into something social…ish.

I hate admitting my struggle with depression. It’s far from the horrors it could be, and I feel guilty knowing my sadness can’t even compare to degree others suffer from it. Things in my life are actually pretty swell too so it feels like I’m overreacting to nothing. If anything I should be overjoyed with life right now.

But there’s no doubt it’s real. There’s clear moments where I know I’m not being silly, emotional, or exaggerating my feelings. My heart rate goes up, irrational fear fills me, and it feels like I’m watching myself do normal life from a dark dirty corner. Literally.

For years I firmly believed that depression was sin. Black and white. A person saved by Jesus should be constantly ecstatic. He has saved me, loved me, showed me mercy, grace and forgiveness literally without measure. He is so much bigger than my pain or problems. If sadness hits…it seems only true that God’s goodness in me should so dwarf my pain that dwelling on it would be wrong.

And maybe so…

But what about all those times in the Bible where Yahweh himself is sad:

Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery.    Judges 10.16

Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.    Psalm 78.40

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.     Ephesians 4.30

Then Jesus wept.     John 11.35

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.     Luke 19.41

And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.     Luke 22.44

Jesus was in such emotional turmoil about what his circumstances that he even asked the Father if there was another way. Jesus was perfect.

God himself is sad and upset by the messed-upness of this world. The people he made in his very own likeness whom he dearly loves and adores live in a chaotic horrific world that leaves them broken at every turn. Not to mention the way we have relentlessly hurt his heart and abused his love many times over.

God knows better than anyone how well things will end. How at the end of it all, his church will be saved, and the world will be as it was supposed to be when it was made. He does not doubt his own plan, goodness, and love. But he’s still sad. The reality of goodness doesn’t mean we have to deny the reality of pain. Both are equally true.

And as far as my own little crying heart goes…that’s pretty much all it has figured out. To not deny the realness of the pain. And to recognize that there are legitimate reasons for sadness and even depression.

Still, joy is a learning curve. It takes practice, choice, and guts. And this I don’t have figured out. I can choose joy…but I squash the sad. Or I give into the sad and can’t choose joy. Both are wrong.

But I realize…I’m excited to learn. It may take years and years. But my Savior will not leave me treading water. He will teach me how to balance grief and joy and I will know him better for experiencing both.

IMG_1474

…cody still holds true to his promise to never let me go a day without flowers . it’s 2 1/2 years…

heaven

If you think about it honestly…who really wants to sing to harp music and be blinded by golden streets for eternity. It’s definitely better than the other option but still…as much as I am ecstatic be with Jesus, I will admit the traditional picture of heaven gives me the yawns.

I really don’t think this is what heaven will be like at all. God created us with the built in desire to create, imagine, work, and socialize. This was part of life before things went wrong in the beginning, and I’m fairly certain these human traits won’t just vanish in the end either.

I’ve always imagined heaven more like C.S. Lewis describes it in the last Narnia book. Narnia heaven has the same geography as the old Narnia…everything is just so much magnificently better! Who knows what it will exactly be like. But I’m fairly certain that when Christ comes back to establish his perfect kingdom…it’s going to look like he intended it to look like in the beginning: his people living in unity creating and working and building for him. Only this time we won’t have the option to mess it up.

God’s will…???

The battle to figure out God’s will. Honestly, I’ve never sweated about the whole thing that much.

For the most part I think God wants you to live the same way He would live your life if He were you. I mean, He was a carpenter. He was probably fair to customers and did his job well and showed love to everyone he met. So that’s been my goal: do what’s in front of me well and love people. And when it came to big stuff I made the best decision I could and expected if that wasn’t where God wanted me, he’d stop me.

But recently it’s been nagging at me. I suddenly realize I have choices. Choices that are all good. I could follow any path and live like Jesus. There’s the logical and wise way. There’s the comfortable way; and the scary, adventurous, sacrificial way, that could be downright unwise.

But suddenly questions are popping into my brain. And with them comes a fear of doing the wrong thing.

If I choose the adventure I could probably never go back to the logical. The comfortable really doesn’t make much sense but it’d do the job and is versatile. My heart keeps going back to the adventure, but would that choice be stupid? Has God called me to the adventure? I could take that path later…but should I now? I had planned for the logical way. And most people would probably advise me to stay safe.

At the end of the questions, a few tears, and an extra sleepless hour in bed…the end question is: where does God want me?

And I have no idea.

So I pray. I talk to people, gather information, pray some more. And then I’ll pick one and go for it. And if it’s not where God wants me…then it won’t work out.

moved

We are officially big city people. We moved across the river, North Portlandia is our home. And to be honest I feel more at home here. We are three blocks from a street crammed with freaky-good restaurants, bike shops, music stores, a children’s book store, coffee, tea, crafty things, a market. We are surrounded by hipsters, hippies, college folk, crazy bikers, make your own beer dudes, weirdos with a little b.o., kiddos wearing clothes I want, the use your own grocery bag type humans, bearded beanie-wearing homegrown organic types, the happy, sad, messed up, and torn, biking their way through rain and life with no purpose folks.

And if multiple denied apartment applications give any hint of where God wants us…this must be it. Now, to bring a bit of Jesus to this place.

hosea

‘How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils within me;

my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my burning anger;

for I will not again destroy Ephraim;

for I am God and not a man,

the Holy One in your midst,

and I will not come in wrath.’

Hosea 10.8-9

So often I think of Yahweh as a justice first God. Zapping people with wrath. And when he does choose mercy it’s only because his nice side is required to show itself every so often. Not so much because he has real compassion in his heart.

In short…I assume he’s me. Someone messes with how I want life to work and…bam…I’m upset. Then I talk myself down and make up 5 reasons to excuse the behavior. The anger isn’t true justice. And getting myself over it isn’t true mercy.

God’s not me. His wrath is just and deserved, and often dealt after mercy. And his mercy is genuine. It’s born out of his compassion broken heart–which is his default.

god

God defined by God:

‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.’

{exodus 34.6-7}