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 . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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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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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Grave Cloths

Up he came, stumbling out of the murky grave into the blinding sunlight. Alive. Four days dead, the grave clothes stank of death, mold, and body odor. Layer by layer he was unwrapped, awakening to a fullness of life and freedom as each cloth fell away. Not only was he alive, he had been brought back to life. And life resurrected will never loose its awe.

Life ResurrectedJesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:40-44

Sometimes resurrected life is disguised by bound grave cloths. Dreams once dead and now awakening afresh must break through their old trappings. Grave cloths are not meant to hide or disguise hope, they preserve life for the fully glory of God. We must not be afraid to get our hands dirty in the unwrapping of bonds, the walking out of this redemptive love! What the Father breathes life into lives.

If the Lord is breathing life back into an area or dream, don’t fear the smelly grave cloths, or miss the miracle of resurrection hiding beneath them! Unbinding the grave cloths is the gift of opportunity to partner with the Holy Spirit.

Five Minute Friday prompt :: Break. (For more information on Five Minute Friday prompts click here)


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A Different Kind of List

Yesterday I asked the question “If you lived as a single, with the same intentionality that you plan to live as a married person, how would you live differently?”  I’ve been encouraged many times to make a list of qualities I would want in a future spouse, but today its time to make a different kind of list. A list of what we would and could do differently to live fully alive today as a single person. (Or a married one!) Contentment and joy do not come with a specific season of life, they come with a specific choice of the heart to trust the One who is Always enough

always enough

always sufficient

always loving

always trustworthy

always faithful (even when we are not)

always gives good things (right now)

My journey to living my list began with several mental decisions, heart shifts, and counseling. It was messy. Painful. Hard. But beautiful. They resulted (are resulting!) in much more freedom, fulfillment and joy than I would have imagined.

As promised here is my list. The ways I started to live differently, and the ways I want to.

As you read this,my prayer is for you to be encouraged, but this isn’t a magic list for you. This is what the Lord led me to do. The Lord will prompt YOUR heart in the areas He wants love and free you in.

A different kind of list

1.Stop waiting for my life to be different and choose to make it different.

2. Stop waiting for a husband to do things I’ve always wanted to do like travel, shoot guns, cook gourmet foods (you are allowed to enjoy the food you cook for yourself. It’s not a sin I promise!)

3. Plan weddings. I may not get to plan my own, but man do I get to have fun as a wedding coordinator planning other people’s. I used to believe it was cruel irony that I was becoming a wedding planner and planning everyone else’s weddings but my own. Then the Lord whispered, He was giving me these opportunities not as a cruel joke, or a dangling carrot but because I loved to plan! He was blessing me with joy of planning not just one wedding as most people do, but with many.

4. Choose beauty. Even over practicality and what others think – like pale pink skinny jeans in a redneck town. Oh well I never really fit in anyway!

5. Take a dance class.

6. Pursue a lay counseling certificate

7. Clean out my Hope  Chest. This was a tough one, when I did it.  I wept not just because of deferred hope, but because I had waited to start living in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing to save beautiful dishes till you get married. But my house is full of people now. Today. People I love and want to bless, and serve food to on beautiful dishes.

8. Stop living for the approval of others and the Lord. I’m already chosen and approved by Him.

9. Learn to have more fun. I can be much too serious at times.

For me, my list to live differently has been a process of letting go of what might be, to embrace what is. Ladies, Gents, a significant other does not bring beauty and joy into our lives, they add to what is already there. In direct answer to my own question: “If you lived as a single, with the same intentionality that you plan to live as a married person, how would you live differently?” My answer is: To stop waiting for a man. (That’s scary to say out loud!)

Because even more than I desire a family and a husband, I desire to live the life the Lord has blessed me with. To live it with gusto, to look at what He has created in me and for me, and agree with Him when He calls it good.

So what would be some of the things on your list to live fully today? I’d love to hear your ideas. And seriously, please share them! I want to learn from you 🙂

Today's the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive

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“A Different Kind of List” is a part of Today’s the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive, a 31 Days series. For more posts in this series please click here.


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The Most Important Thing About You

“Who is Jesus to you?”  The question of who Jesus is, without a doubt, is one of the most important questions ever to be asked. And who Jesus is personally to us, is a question that cuts through everything – sick kids, stressed lives, mental fog, complacency, self-focus, and pain. ‘Who is Jesus to you’ is a question that invites vulnerability and realness as it cuts to the core of what is really important. It cuts straight to reality – what really is.

Who Jesus is to us in the moment we answer that question, says more about us, what we are going through, and our spiritual state than hours of conversation could reveal.

Tozer, in The Pursuit of God states:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Who Jesus is to us – to me and to you – reveals the basis of truth in our lives. It IS the most important thing about us.

Answering the question of who Jesus is to us, forces us to either:

–        Refocus and remember who He is (and that becomes a comfort in our present circumstances).

Or

–        Rejoice and spread the joy of where we are seeing Him move in our lives, and praise Him for who He is.

It’s a question you can’t go wrong with, and it breeds growth and community. As we grow in our understanding, knowledge, and love of God, who Jesus is to us will change with the season we are in. Sharing Jesus in us, cannot fail to encourage anyone hearing or responding to the question.

Tonight, after several weeks of not talking to my close friend Trina (who blogs over at trinaholden.com), I shot off a quick text to her asking her this question.

 Katie: “In one word, who is Jesus to you right now?”                                                                                              Trina: “Jesus is enough . . . Though Seth vomiting at dinner means I won’t get to go to church tomorrow. His grace covers even this”.

Her response not only reminded her of the Lord’s grace amidst vomit, it encouraged me to remember that Jesus was and is enough for things I’m dealing with too.

Who is Jesus to you

So friends. Pause. Today, right now.

Who is Jesus to you?

In this moment, when you hear His name, what is the first thing you think of about Him? Let that truth* penetrate your heart and the knowledge of it anchor your day.

Right now? Jesus is a Protective Warrior to me.

Who is He to you? I’d love to know and be encouraged by it. I would be honored if you shared it with me in the comments.

 *The truth in the answer to the question “who is Jesus to you?” has not always been pretty in my life. It’s ok, if it’s not in yours right now either. There has never been a more wonderful time than now to repentant and thank Him for revealing Himself to you.


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Perspectives on Longings

“A hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Psalm 13:12

In September, I wrote a blog series on Longings (view them here), and then shortly thereafter was asked to be a guest on the She Says podcast, to talk about longings. She Says is a once a month sermon length podcast  that one of my dear friends hosts. It’s a group of women who candidly talk through life and what the Lord is teaching them, topic by topic.  I was thrilled and terrified to be asked to join them. It was my first experience with podcasting (though I am serious sermon/podcast listener). The ladies have since asked me to be apart of the team, and it’s been a wonderful blessing to learn from them. I thought you may enjoy hearing their perspectives on longing as well. The podcast is a great wrap up to the series.

Listen here


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What Longing Is (Longing Part 4)

Before you read what Longing is, make sure you read what it isn’t too. Click here.

Longing is a mirror that we look into and see our true motives. Purified longing takes something that is good and makes it great. I long to be appreciated for what I do; not a bad desire, but the Lord sees the motive.  When I am not appreciated and don’t get what I want, longing holds up the mirror to reveal a selfish heart. Longing teaches me to love and serve with agape love – expecting nothing in return, serving out of love for the Lord, not the desire to be appreciated.

Longing is a chance to feel what Christ feels. The Spirit longs for His bride. We think we might have been waiting long, but what have we done to Christ? His bride dallies in her marriage preparations daily. We hurt him, grieve Him, and ask Him to wait to come back for us until we can do or experience certain things – until our desires are fulfilled. As we long, it’s a reminder that the Lord feels longings too – for us. How great is His love for us!  We are His bride whom He is separated from. (Revelation 21).  Longing is about realizing that our story is really about the cross.  It’s about becoming the bride of Christ. Christ is coming back for a body that is in portion to its head.  Are you ready for Him?

Longing is a reminder we are made for more.

“Heaven is not here. It’s there. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” – Elisabeth Elliot – Keep A Quiet Heart

We aren’t made for this earth, friends. Longing keep us from getting comfortable and settling for the shadows of reality.

Longing understands. There is such comfort in knowing that the Lord understands our longings too. Isaiah 40:27 tells us that our ways are not hidden from Him, nor is our cause disregarded. He sees you friend! And He understands your pain.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. Psalm 38:9

We can also understand each other’s pain – pain and longing are what make us human, and we have the privilege of comforting each other (2 Cor 1).

Longing is perspective and focus. Without darkness we would never know what light was. The same applies to what we long for – with longing comes a unique perspective. In the absence of what our heart desires, there is room to love and appreciate what was passed over before. Within longing we see a side of the Father’s face that is only shown to those in holy anguish. The choice is always ours – to focus on what we do have, or what we don’t have.

Longing is leaving regrets behind. David Crowder’s song “Oh He Loves us” says: don't have timejpg

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way you love us”

While Crowder might have been writing about the regrets of sin, when I sing this song it also means the regrets that come from unmet desires. There is a lot of truth in that line. When we are focused on the Lord’s love for us right now, we can’t regret what He has not yet given us. Our hearts can dwell on only one thing at time, we can foster discontent by focusing on our longings, or we can set them aside and focus on His love for us. A love that motivates and drives us to the point that we are so caught up in it, that there is no room for regrets.*

There is a lot of things that longing is, and that it isn’t, but what do we do with it?

Next: Longing – What Now.

*Please note that not focusing on the longing does not mean it goes away – it won’t always, but it becomes manageable and no longer paralyzes us when our focus is on Christ’s love.

Also in this series:

What to do with Longings

What Longing Isn’t

Seeing Our Salvation in our Longings