Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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Wherever You Go

I don’t know if I’d ever recommend a move, career change, break up and a new job in the space of four months, coupled against the backdrop of your family moving to a different part of the country, and several close friends and a roommate marrying and moving away too. But then again, maybe I would recommend it . . .

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Darkness was falling as I loaded the last trash bag full of laundry and smelly costumes into my trunk and locked up the now deserted building. I should be ecstatic. I’d just designed and costumed my first huge children’s stage production. And it was awesome – a smashing success full of color, class, and creativity. But success brings home loneliness in a way that failure never can.

Quietly crying a hoarse whisper croaked from my heart, ‘Lord I just can’t go home right now and face an empty apartment. I can’t.’ His response was an immediate and quiet invitation. ‘Come swing with Me’.

What? Swing? Now, at night? You’re kidding right? Swinging wasn’t a normal part of my life, or what I‘d consider a safe-after-dark activity in the town I was living in. But the alternative quiet of my apt was even less appealing.

Questions that caused sobs to catch in my throat, poured from my soul as I found a swing set across town.

Why Lord? Why?

What now?

I knew it was time to leave my current job and I was terrified of the unknown. When I started in vocational ministry I was practically a kid – wet behind the ears in both life and ministry. Almost a decade later, I was burned out and broken. I had no idea where to go or what to do next. Lord, help. I’d always imagined the leaving of this season of life would match the  entering a new life season with my own family. And yet that wasn’t to be either.

Did I even want to be in vocational ministry any more? It was desperately lonely, complicated, and my heart was smashed into a million pieces, not just by the recent break up, but by some very difficult tensions and ministry situations that were unexplainable to most.

Each breath hurt as I pumped and kicked higher into the air, pointing my toes out of the swirl of emotions around me and13406734_10209894568907516_6002805336326950637_n towards freedom and peace. To each of my tangled questions the Holy Spirit simply answered with a hush on the wind. An hour passed as the Lord whispered ‘Hush’ and the moon rose, a brilliant orange and red.

“Lord, speak to me about the moon! You know how much I love pictures and visible reminders of your faithfulness! I don’t even think I can hear you anymore’.

Silence. Hush.

Kick, pump, swoosh.

Hush, peace. Repeat.

Peace that only the Holy Spirit can minister came in those moments. Without answers, but calm, I headed home to journal, finally able to face the empty apartment.

Staring at a blank page a song came on shuffle, one I didn’t remember hearing before. Cleansing tears flowed as my Father spoke to me about the moon and reminded me of the pursuit of His love and faithfulness for me. Feeling abandoned by all others, He drew me with love and courage for what was ahead as He bandaged the wounds from what was.

“There is a train leaving your heart tonight, there’s a silence inside your head and you’re running, you’re running from it. Down the tracks on a midnight line, There’s a red moon in the sky and you’re running, you’re running from it.

But I’m coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.

But I’m coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.

 Father’s and mothers don’t always come through, but I’m never gonna stop following you

Prophets and lovers don’t always hold true, but I’m never gonna stop following you.

So when your wine’s all gone and your well’s run dry, open your hands and look into my eyes; all that you see here, you will soon leave behind, so open your hands and look into my eyes, ‘cause I’m coming for you wherever you go” – Wherever You Go, Audrey Assad

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FullSizeRenderSwinging under the moon that night was a significant turning point and landmark in my life and with the Lord. The 16 months that have followed have daily proved He always, without fail, comes for me. Wherever I’ve gone and into wherever I go, He comes. It’s been some of the most painful and deeply freeing and beautiful months of my life. He’s changed me from a woman of gentle steel, to a messy, free, vulnerable, piece of Art in progress. That much change condensed into a short time may be our undoing, but it’s an undoing that I would recommend.

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Below is Audrey Assad’s song in full. It still brings tears to my eyes, may it also call to your heart. He too will follow you wherever you go, and into the places no one else will or can.

A dear friend painted the above scape for me from a description of the evening. He captured what my heart could not yet see – hope and freedom. He entitled it “An Orange Evening”.


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Time

Time. It’s what spans the distance between two points. The craving out of space. Patience. Time is the grace that fills the waiting as life journeys between two points.  “Time” – was this week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt, and something the Lord has been teaching me about lately.

Letting time be the space for God to work isn’t something I’m always good at. I want instant miracles and life changes. Not processes and journeys. Yet time and space is the greatest gift the Lord is giving me, and that I can give Him. For:

“He is not slow concerning His promises as some would count slowness, but is patient toward you…” 2 Peter 3:9a

He is not only patient toward me, He is FOR me. In the waiting, in the process, and in the journey. It seems at times life is less about reaching the distance we are traveling too and more about the time it takes to walk there.

It’s in the space of walking that we can come to know the Father. To learn to walk with Him, to co-labor with Him toward the destination or promises.

As much as I long for instant miracles and healings, if they all came instantly to me, I would miss relationship. Miss gracethe opportunity to know the Lord here. In the Now. I’d miss learning and experiencing the wonder of how He moves. And watching Him slowly shift and change me. There is a gift of intimacy that can only be found in time. A faithfulness that can only be discovered in the ‘agains’. And a confident grace and beauty only found in the proving and walking.

Giving God the space and time to work is part of the relationship of grace and space can be our greatest gift back to Him.

In her book on Advent, Ann Voskamp writes:

“Now, here, in this juncture of time and space, God chooses the inconceivable – grace. And conceives Himself to deliver grace into the world. Conceive: It’s not passive, but an active verb. It’s root in Latin means nothing less than ‘to seize, to take hold of’. When grace conceives in you, you take hold of God. When you are a space to receive whatever the will of God is in this moment AS GRACE, you take hold of God. You most take hold of God when you simply receive Him in this moment of taking hold of you.”

What if our greatest gift is not our gifts, but our surrendered yes to be a space for God to conceive and birth things in us? And in our relationship with Him? What if the greatest gold conceived in us through the journey is knowing Him?

“He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. Also He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God as done from beginning to the end.”

I don’t know how most of my journey’s and adventures with the Lord will end, but I know that they are and will be beautiful. And if we knew the ending to every adventure, wouldn’t it rob us of the beauty to be discovered as we journey? And what of eternity?

John 17:3 says that: “now this is eternal life – that they know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.”

Eternity is in our hearts so that we can know the Lord by walking with Him, and not just in the big moments when He moves visibly, fulfills the promises or answers our questions. Those moments are about knowing Him too, but all our moments can be His. Part of the miracle is knowing Him as He works, not just when He does.

Solomon continues

“ I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.” Ecc. 3:11-13

To take pleasure in time, is God’s gift to us. And ours to Him.

Will we receive that pleasure? And will we give Him space and time to work without resenting Him for it?


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Lean In

She stood at the end of my line, quietly. I only briefly noticed her as I rushed through the waiting children. Spiderman, rainbows, a cupcake, and more super hero’s. My relief was barely contained as I announced to the children that the other volunteer would be taking over the face painting.

Wait, where was she? The middle-aged lady at the end of my line? I peered through the crowded room and caught a glimpse of her sitting down back down. Her face screaming disappointment. Feeling responsible and a bit guilty I made my way over to her as my stomach screamed its protest. I had officially reached the hangry stage, and was annoyed at having to reach out. Breakfast was more hours ago than I could count.

I pasted a smile on and began to convince her that the other face painter was way better than I was and her children would be in wonderful hands. Her voice finally broke through the fog and protest that were creating a harmony of discord in my brain and stomach.

Wait.

What?

She wanted ME to paint HER face? I wasn’t anyone special. And I was definitely NOT an artist. I was the pinch hitter volunteer. The one they called over when they couldn’t find anyone else, or while the artists took their lunch breaks.

And painting an adult’s face? That was a scary proposition I had no courage for. A kid you could mess up on and they either wouldn’t know any better or be too respectful to tell off an adult.

I wanted to faint, not paint. My stomach growled again. But her face! It was filled with hope and with a confidence in me that I didn’t have for myself.

What’s one more? I shrugged as I told her. And besides I hadn’t eaten in hours anyway.

The Spirit whispered

“I go after the one more too Katie”.

One more. Right. Ok. My stomach quieted. We got this. Right?

Nope.

I picked up the brush and froze. She wanted me to paint Olaf the snowman from Frozen?!? Frozen became more of my mental creative state at that moment than a mere movie title.

You gotta be kidding me! I couldn’t free hand to save my life. Full face painting where you could smear with a sponge was my type of face painting. Not detail color work.

My hands began to shake at the very thought of having to keep my hand that steady. And circles? Right. The only circles I could draw where the ones that wrapped themselves around my brain in protest.

Have fun lady. Sure you don’t want to wait for the other face painter?

Nope. Oh course not.

Well this was about to be an epic fail.

I braced myself and picked up the brush again. Fail, and then run away to lunch. It was a bad plan, but none-the-less a plan. And at least the lunch sounded comforting.

I froze again,  brush paused in mid air, as it hovered just below her cheekbone.

“Lean In”

What?

“Lean In”

The Holy Spirit repeated, again, stronger this time.

“Lean In?” I asked back. What?

‘What?’ seemed to be the only thought and word my brain could come up with since this whole drama began.

‘Stop thinking about what you can’t do, who you think you aren’t, and simply lean in. Lean into the beauty.”

Beauty. More than the way Olaf did, my heart began to melt at the sunshine of that word. Beauty. Beauty was my safe word. The song my Father had written into the deepest chambers of my heart. The parts of my heart I was just discovering with Him, long buried under the layers of dust and busy, rushed, neglect.

Beauty. Lean in to the beauty.

Yes!

My heart overflowed in love for this grown woman. The one who was brave enough to want to be a little princess adorned with glitter and pink again. The one who wanted to delight in a happy snowman.

Casting aside the fact that I couldn’t create circles or shade, I leaned in. Pressed against the Holy Spirit and breathed. Breathed beauty, breathed delight, and let go.

Frozen got something right. Let go.

My hand moved with a steadiness I had never experienced before. My heart laughed in delight as Olaf took shape.

I couldn’t believe it. I was actually drawing, painting, creating. The fear was replaced by the love of beauty.

Creating beauty, creating art, being an artist, is not about perfection, and who we are not. It’s about being aOlaf co-heir, and a co-laborer with Christ. He is perfect in beauty (Psalm 52). He is already the beauty, the art, the perfection. We are invited to lean in, to create with Him. It is the delight of the Father to share His creativity and joy with His children. We are His children. Invited to let go, and  lean in to the art He has placed in our hearts to discover with us.

We are invited into deep measures of freedom when we create art and beauty  from  the understanding that we are heirs, children, co laborer’s of Christ.

My heart IS His art. 

She walked away with a picture that will wash off her face in a few hours.

I walked away with a picture that will forever change my life.


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Only a Few Books at a Time

She looked at me liked I was crazy. But what she didn’t know yet was that I really was. Crazy for her to know how much she was loved and how much grace the Lord had for her questions. He wasn’t overwhelmed by them even if she was. And He would give her the permission and peace to rest even if she didn’t fully understand or have all the answers to the questions her heart was asking just yet.

With many ‘are you sure?‘ glances she finally did as I asked and pulled all the books off the shelves till they were piled around her on the floor. I mercilessly began to toss them at her, asking her to read that chapter, or this sentence from a dozen different books, faster than she could keep up with them.

The books flying at her mimicked what the questions assaulting her heart and mind were creating: Overload.  That night I was able to share with her a very important, tangible, lesson I’d learned on my own journey.

Will you join me by reading what that lesson was for me? Click here.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love what I do here at the Discipleship House? Listening to the students stories and having the honor of walking a short bit of their lives with them? I am blessed indeed.

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“Only a Few Books at a Time” is Day # 30 of “In Deep, a 31 Days Series”.


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Strong People

People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at His feet
And they don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

-Twila Paris

But you’re like – a saint or something!’ My brother stood looking at me a little aghast. We were sharing memories of a painful time in our teenager years, and he was shocked to find how affected I was by them. And how much I too had struggled in them.

I’ll never forget the surprise in his voice or on his face. I was as equally surprised at his reaction as he was to know of my struggle. He looked at me as a strong unshakable person. As one who seemed to roll through life’s painful seasons with a grace and maturity that denied the circumstances.

Oh, what he did not know was that the grace and ease he perceieved was not pedestal sainthood,  but a child who wept and fell daily before the Throne. A child learning to wield the sword.

Over a decade has passed since then, and enemies still lay me before His feet. I come home some days, drop my sword, and cry a little. While the warrior may become seasoned and more mature, the need for the child to find comfort, encouragement and grace before the Throne never changes.

As long as there are children of God, there will always be ‘deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child‘. We are His children! We have full access to the Father and everything on Heaven and Earth is His.

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them. Psalm 89:11

With everything He has for us, and everything we are as His, we still have the freedom and the grace to come and cry a bit before the Throne. The wounded warrior He does not reject. He receives them as a child.

I rarely give myself the grace to think of myself as a child. Instead I condemn myself for feeling weak in the battle. What my brother and others perceive as strength, I only see the struggle.

It’s the struggle that produces the strength of character.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Do you know a strong person? Someone who you think of as a strong Christian? Chances are what you see as strength is battle scars.

Like my brother, I too tend to see the strength in others and miss the story that is creating the room for the strength to grow. Strong people need encouragement.

Personally there have been many nights when I wished someone would see past the warrior to the child in me. And the times when people do has been life changing. Encouragement is like a protein boost for a warrior.

I’ve also been guilty of thinking toward others: ‘I probably shouldn’t say anything, they probably already know they are good at that‘ or ‘they seem like they have it all together, why would they need my encouragement‘? 

Since when is encouragement only for certain people? Everyone needs it.

In DeepMaybe at times encouragement is needed especially by those we would regard as ‘the strong people’. How will they stay strong?

That ‘strong person’ you look up too and thought of a minute ago? Will you drop them a text, a hug, or a bit of encouragement today? You have the power to empower the warrior and comfort the child.

The Warrior is a Child – by Twila Paris (Oldie, but goodie)

“Strong People” is Day 28 of ‘In Deep’ a 31 Days Series


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A Birkenstock Princess

I’ve never been able to pass up a chance to dress up or wear a costume, and today was no different. A bit surprised and very thankful, the Cinderella dress I made as a teenager still fit – Disney Day at the Coffee Shop here we come.

The glass heels however were not to be. The very thought of standing on concrete in them for five hours made me shudder.
12186673_10153412642679807_3970349743889068141_oAs I cleaned tables and made Lattes in the princess dress, I had to chuckle at the gentle ironic humor in it. I was dressed up just as the Lord has been calling me to be of late: a princess in birkenstocks. A girl who knows and walks in her authority and confidence as daughter of the King. Completely feminine, romantic and a dreamer, and yet reachable and down to earth – unafraid of the dustiness and dirt of real world living. A princess who can kick butt.

Made for both the ballroom and the kitchen. I find myself at time falling into the subconscious patterns of believing that I need to be all of one thing or another: a princess or a tomboy, a speaker or a barista, in the ballroom or in the kitchen.  When in reality the Lord just calls me to be me. To enjoy the things He’s put in me to enjoy, and all the gifts and opportunities that come my way. Today I was a princess, tomorrow I’m going to be a cowgirl. And both – ARE SO MUCH FUN! We are the ones who limit ourselves – the Father invites us to adventures.

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It seems these days I now think in memes! (thank you D House students!) My hair may or may not forgive me for this one. We shall see.🙂

 


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Cast Your Bread

The tears formed as I plopped down in the middle of the road. I refused to go backward: I KNEW He was good, and good to me. It was a truth that fires had buried so deep in my soul I couldn’t turn around and retrace my steps. Yet the basket of question marks I held in my hands refused to let me walk forward. I was stuck. With a holy stubbornness refusing to go back, and a  prideful stubbornness refusing to walk on, I sat. In all the refusing wrestling within me the most control I could muster over my heart was refuse to cave to either side – and so I sat.  Tears flowed into the questions. They represented so many things: people, circumstances, relationships, emotions and even God Himself.

I’m not very good at casting my bread. The sowing-of-the-seed-in-investment kind or the food-hurling kind. When I invest in something I like to go all the way in and know what the end will produce. That there will be a tangible return that was worth whatever the investment cost was.

Solomon has a different perspective.

Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.

Give a serving to seven, and also to eight,
For you do not know what evil will be on the earth.
If the clouds are full of rain,
They empty themselves upon the earth;
And if a tree falls to the south or the north,

In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.
He who observes the wind will not sow,
And he who regards the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know what is the way of the wind,
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.

In life, and primarily in the Lord, we don’t know what the turn of our investments will bring. I observe the wind and so I do not sow. I look at the clouds and say ‘but it will rain’. But what if the rain is what waters the seeds I sow?  

‘I will give rain to your seed which you sow’ (Isaiah 30:23)

Do I understand how the Lord knits bones together in the womb? Or why some pregnancy ends in the miscarriage of a child, while others end in a long term investment of a child? But BOTH children live? And both are known by the Father?

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:13-16

So I don’t understand the works of the God who made everything. And knows me, and knows the road I sit on.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3

I don’t need to understand when I sow and when He tells me to sow because He understands.

In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.

I don’t know what will prosper or whether both alike will be good. But I do know that He will always be good, and I will always be known.

tomorrowMy Pastor  recently talked about how we all want to know the end, and to know what the will of God is for our lives. To some extent we do or can know what His will is. But to become fixated on what the will of God and the calling/plan of God for your life long term can cause you to miss out on what God has for you right now.

I’ve been guilty of missing out as I wrestle with trusting Him in the questions. God doesn’t always let me know what the investments (casting my bread upon the waters) will  yield in my life or others.  The Father isn’t withholding His love from me when He doesn’t answer my questions about the things I’ve sown. His silence about tomorrow is an invitation to know Him today.

If or when I need to know about tomorrow, and the answers to my questions, He will show me.

So I stand up slowly and seed the questions into the wind. I am known today. And so are you.

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Cast Your Bread is Day 26 of “In Deep” a 31 Days Series

 

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