Posts filed under Knots That Bind---

While Your Legs Propel You Forward...

Learning.

Growing.

Changing.

I have been thinking about how many things in my life that I've needed to take one step at a time, focusing not on the end, but the right now.

Running a marathon.

I spent months training and conditioning my mind and body to be prepared and capable of running for 26.2 miles straight, without stopping. During the training, the longest run I did (based on the training schedule I followed) was 23 miles, so when the race day came I was a bit nervous about what the added 3 miles might do to my mind as well as my lungs and muscles. I'll tell you what they did, they rocked me. My legs were jello and my brain was empty, but I assume, because of the repetition of the miles of running, my body kept going, carrying me through the finish line with a huge smile on my face.

Having a child.

Once again I spent months (9 to be exact) preparing my mind, body and house to bring a child into this world. I changed and adjusted the way I ate, exercised, slept, dressed, breathed, sang, and moved, little by little, till the day came when my baby girl began a ruckus that brought her out crying and gorgeous.

In both of these instances, there was a point towards the end, where I was physically thrashed and mentally exhausted and if someone had dropped me straight into that moment of absolute pain and weakness, then asking me if I wanted to try it, I probably would've said "NO!" But, I wasn't dropped into those moments, I started from a place that I could wrap my brain around with only enough pain or discomfort that I could handle and would challenge me enough to help me grow...to the next stage of uncomfortable challenge. There were little things, subtle at first that I adjusted to until I no longer noticed them. Then, I could handle a little bit bigger things that would once again cause me to adjust. On and on it went like this until I was able to look back and see that "Ah! I just finished a marathon!" or "Oh. My. Goodness. I just had a baby!"

Now again there are little tiny things in my life that are rubbing me, pushing me, making me just uncomfortable enough that I need to change, wrapping my mind and body around a new line of thinking and moving. I do it happily (or, I really try to do it happily) because I know if I'm diligent and stubborn and patient enough, then one day I can look back and see what great challenge it was all for.

So, if you find yourself in this moment, don't worry about the end and what it is all for, but focus on learning and adapting and growing in the now so you are ready for that end. Tuck your chin down and head into the wind, pumping your arms while your legs propel you forward.

You can do it.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."-James 1:2-4


The Multitude Of Anxious Thoughts (Knots That Bind #21)

I try to quiet my mind by running. The louder the world is shouting at me, trying to press itself upon me, the further I run, hoping that I will exhaust my worries. I know it is only a temporary and frequently insufficient salve, but, since I enjoy it so much, I still find myself attempting to use running as a therapist, and what a great listener she is.

I know that I find other things to distract me from worries as well, a new pair of boots, a day at the beach, a hot fudge sunday with banana, a good book, internet wandering, studying, writing, singing, people, etc. I could go on and on but when it comes down to it, not one of these things is enough. One thing may soothe one part of me, running may relax my body, but my brain will still be tumultuous, tossing back and forth on a sea of worry.

So how can I find complete peace? How can I be comforted down beneath the layers, to the depths that are my soul?

The songwriter of Psalm 94 says this:

"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."-Psalm 94:19 (English Standard Version)

"In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!"-(Amplified Bible Version)

It is only through the comfort of a Savior that my soul may be delighted. It is only through His consolations that I will be cheered. So I can run and run and run but my soul needs the comfort of Christ. His comfort, that is tailor fit for me, not a generic string of words that are thrown out like a blanket over multiple people, hoping they mean something to a couple of them. His consolation, that of someone who knows me and what I need better than I know myself. Him, the Former and Shaper and Creator of the very soul He is transforming from anxiety into delight.

How do we receive this consolation/comfort/delight? How do our souls find this peace if it is available to us?

We listen.

When He says "I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)," we know that although it is dark and quiet, we are not alone.

When He says "I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10)," that though life may seem empty and and lackluster, there is abundance promised and to be found by following after Him instead of our own unfulfilling desires.

When He says "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)," that although our eyes are filled and re-filled with grief born tears and our hearts can take no more crushing, there is the hope of joy coming, with the first rays of the dawn.

The bible is lined with promise after promise waiting for our eyes and hearts to read and listen. Waiting till we pull out our shovel and rake, stretch our gloves over our fingers and busy ourselves with planting His words and these promises within our hearts so that "When the cares of [our] heart are many, [His] consolations cheer [our] soul[s]."

Posted on August 17, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Knots That Bind---.

People Taking Pictures (Knots That Bind #20)

(Jonny and I in South Korea)

The other day I saw what looked like a mother and daughter, huddled together on the side of the road, with big beaming smiles in front of a snowy mountain while a man took their picture. As usual, I started day dreaming about those people, wondering who they were, where they were from, what it was about that particular spot and that mountain landscape behind them that was worth pulling over on the side of the road to capture on digital film.

I began to think about all of the places in my life that I have posed for pictures, eager to show them to family and friends saying, "Look! I was here! I can prove it! Look how unbelievably excited I was to be there." I have photos of myself snorkeling on my first trip to Hawaii, bowling with my friends in a hotel in Poland, standing just outside a museum in Florence, Italy where I had just seen the famous painting by Botticelli called "The Birth Of Venus." I have many photos red faced and grinning at the finish of 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon races. I have photos of me standing with musicians that I have great respect for and have looked up to. I have photos of me standing with an explosive smile, arm in arm with my husband on our wedding day just as we are announced husband and wife. I have photos of myself the first time I held my daughter, with tears and laughter streaming down my face.

We have a desire to document, to remember, to show, to tell, to keep, and photos are one of the ways we easily do this. Our phones have high resolution cameras built into them and applications that allow us to treat the photos so that they look best and allow us to send them instantly to any and all social media outlets we are signed up for in order to share them quickly with those we call friends. We want to show where our associations lie, what we are interested in or proud of, where we would desire to be, who we desire to be with and what we desire to be doing.

These thoughts followed a swirling, twirling brain path to this verse, one of my favorites and one that I have folded within my heart:

"Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper."-Psalm 1:1-3

I don't have any photos of my spiritual life, but if I could take a snapshot I would hope I would look like this tree. I would hope that I found myself delighting in Him so greatly that I let my feet sink in, like the roots of a tree, stretching deep down into the banks along His rivers of water, and stood beaming for a snapshot that I could show, and tell so that someone could find their way to Him as well, and so that I could remember, if ever I found myself wandering away....

Posted on August 3, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Knots That Bind---.

Fishing And Christian Traditionalism (Knots That Bind #19)

Can you handle another blog that is fueled by my recent trip into the Colorado Rockies? I hope so because this one has been lingering/clinging inside my head and I need to put pen to paper (ummm fingertips to keyboard) and relieve my brain from it's grip.

The thought starts here:

I sit in the early morning light with fog rolling over the water that is just before me, where I have quietly thrown my fishing line in order to catch a trout or two. We (my fellow fishermen and I) came prepared. We knew that the fish had been biting on the bottom and on a certain type and color of bait, so this is what I had equipped myself for and followed through with. My line was straight out ahead of me, and resting, hopefully yummily looking, at the bottom of the lake. I had the right bait on, in the right color, despite the fact that applying it to the hook made my hands smell as if I had been cleaning a VERY dirty out house without gloves.

As I sat in relative silence (the birds chirping and tree branches swaying made a symphony befitting the early morning) I started to notice something slightly annoying. The fish were hitting the surface of the water. There, where the bugs land on it's glossy surface, were the rippling rings that were the remaining evidence of a fish's mouth and it's prey.

"What???" I thought to myself. "No wonder I am getting absolutely no bites on my line, because all of the fish are at the top frolicking in the endless buffet of hook free eating."

Ugh.

Well, it's a good thing I like quiet time, because there were no fish to be caught for me and my bottom of the lake fishing that morning.

While I sat there catching no fish, I began to think about the verses in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

"I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you."(NKJV)

The Message has a beautiful and well written version of this and the preceding 3 verses:

19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

I started thinking about how I will sometimes decide "Yes, I will be a servant to others so that they can know Christ, but, only the kind of servant that I want to be." In light of this verse I can see that my line of thinking is about as silly as expecting to catch a fish on the surface of the water by throwing my line to the bottom of the lake.

How could I expect to show/lead/point people to Christ if I am nowhere near them or insistent on speaking a language they don't understand?

The definition of servant is: A person in the service of or act of aiding another.

Can I serve someone by continuing to do what I want instead of what they need? Can I let go of the traditional way I would go about doing things so that a wider range of people can be reached? Can I change myself and my routine and the way I do things and what is comfortable for me in order to lead those I meet into a God saved life?

Oh I do hope so. I hope that I haven't become too lazy or scared to let go of what is easy for me and meet others where they are at. I want people to know their Savior. I want more people to live lives of hope. I want more people to know and come face to face with salvation and rescue.

Soooo, I will make myself hop out of the groove I have forged in this path and start the trudge through new territory because, "[I don't] just want to talk about it. [I want] to be in on it" too!

Wanna join me?

(This is my newest blog in a weekly series where I share my thoughts behind some of my favorite scriptures out of the bible. If you want to see why I've started this weekly undertaking you can go back and read my blog called "Pirates And Their Knots...")

Posted on July 27, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Knots That Bind---.

Singing What You Know (Knots That Bind #18)

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" Praise Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, praise Him in the assembly of His saints....Let the saints be joyful in the glory and beauty [which God confers upon them]; let them sing for joy upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throat"-Psalm 149:1,5-6

My Daughter has started writing music and it has been interesting to see what words line the melodies of her songs. She, like most kids her age, sings about what she knows. She wrote a song today with the melody of old MacDonald that said "Dada loves blue and his shirt is blue and this cup is blue too!" while the other day another melody and another cluster of words, "I love my Mommy and Daddy...because I love them." She even wrote a song with a chorus that repeated "I love to obey, I love to obey." Yes, she wrote that song after getting into trouble and a quick discussion about making good and bad choices.

Will this change in her?

Did we change?

As adults do we still write songs about what we know or are we too dependent on others to write our songs for us?

If we had to write a song centering around what we know about God, instead of using other worship leaders songs, what would our song sound like?

Would it sound like a song written by someone who didn't really know their subject or would it be extremely immature and lacking depth?

Would it sound like someone who actually knows Christ?

I don't think you need to have a songwriting career to write songs. You don't have to have a voice like Adele to sing songs. All you need is something/someone worth singing about.

Do you have that?

Find some quiet right now and think of your song. What words do you use? You don't have to worry about melody or rhyming or a hook, just think of what your song says.

What does your song say?

I love in this verse that it says

"Let the saints be joyful in the glory and beauty [which God confers upon them]; let them sing for joy upon their beds."

The Psalmist (or songwriter) here was stating that the saints sing a new song in the good times and the bad, in the glory and beauty as well as on their beds, which refers to times of mourning.

During the best and worst.

So what moment are you in? And what does your song say?

I'm going to spend time thinking over this and post my own song. I will only post it's lyrics because I want to encourage you to also find and write your song and post it as well and I don't want to get distracted by the sound of voices or talent but instead keep the focus on what we are saying.

So what does your song say?

Close out all the words from everyone else, think only of what you know about Him, and tell me, what does YOUR song say?

Once you have it figured out, come back to this post and let us see it, let us worship with you.

But for right now, sing about what you know, "sing a new song and let the praises of God be in your throat." (Paraphrase mine)

(This is my newest blog in a weekly series where I share my thoughts behind some of my favorite scriptures out of the bible. If you want to see why I've started this weekly undertaking you can go back and read my blog called "Pirates And Their Knots...")


The Danger of Hiding (Knots That Bind #16)

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"O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you."-Psalm 69:5

Sometimes when we hide, we find ourselves in the most dangerous place.

On the day after the 4th of July I went for my routine jog near my house. While on the trail that makes up miles 2 and 3 I noticed a few spent fireworks littering the trail. Oh it made me think.

"What kind of crazy person would come back here on these trails with all of the flammable dead brush around to catch fire?"

I know what kind of person.

A person in hiding.

In the county of San Diego it is illegal to light fireworks. It is illegal to even sell them, yet people get a hold of them either by heading out to the desert or across the border into Mexico and buying them where it is legal. Once they are back home with their newly acquired prohibited substance they find themselves with a dilemma, where can they use them? Wanting to avoid huge fines and jail time, they head out to places that are hidden and obscure.

This made me think for the rest of the run. It seems that when we attempt to hide our wrongdoings and do them in secret we find ourselves in extremely dangerous places or situations.

Sexual sin trying to remain hidden might find you in a place where you risk your life through disease.

Substance abuse kept in secret might find you overdosing without someone nearby to save you.

Trying to hide wrongdoings from a friend or loved one may find you destroying a relationship with someone who is dear to you.

Attempting to hide financial sin (greed or gluttony) can lead to bankruptcy or the dissolution of marriages and families.

Sometimes there seems to be no other option but to try to hide. Even Adam and Eve tried to hide. But surely if we step back and weigh the burden of our guilt against the burden of coming out into the open we would see that the guilt carrying and danger or perils of the hidden places are so much greater than truth telling. Because in truth, nothing is ever truly hidden. Just as this verse states, our sins are not hidden from our Savior and maybe once we realize this we will begin to confess what He already knows and find relief.

Psalm 32:1-5 1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,[b] whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Oh to have the relief of our guilt being gone. I wrote about these verses last year in a blog called "The Hit And Run..." and still find myself reminded of how we waste away when we try to keep silent in our sins. But with those first words of confession I can imagine great burden filled bags dropping from our shoulders, back, shaking arms and weary fingers.

Then, once the great heft of our sin/guilt is relieved, hopefully, we will be more hesitant to find ourselves picking it back up, shrugging it onto our shoulders.

Maybe.

Just maybe.

Next time we will find ourselves not only wanting to avoid the stress of creeping off hiding with it but also avoid the sin of grabbing hold of it in the first place. We would release our grip on this foolishness, thereby releasing it's grip on us.

So put the matches back in your pocket and take those fireworks back to Mexico...

(This is my newest blog in a weekly series where I share my thoughts behind some of my favorite scriptures out of the bible. If you want to see why I've started this weekly undertaking you can go back and read my blog called "Pirates And Their Knots...")

Posted on July 6, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Knots That Bind---.

Knots That Bind #14...

My daughter started walking 3 weeks after her 1st birthday. It was a sunny evening made brighter by our laughter and joy.

There were weeks of stumble grabbing teeter walking. She probably even thought she already was walking, not realizing that her hand was always holding on to something. A chair, the coffee table, a wall, a leg, a hand. These were her walk aids for a long time but one day she let go and hand free walked her way across the floor to my aunt who was holding a flip flop that Scarlett wanted.

What is interesting is that it wasn't even something particularly cool that she was walking for. I mean, a flip flop? We told her, "No, she can't have it." She responded with steps. Arms flailing, tooth grinning, mouth babbling steps. She wanted that shoe and she was serious. Serious enough to do something she had never really done before. Something she would, now, never stop doing.

My daughter started walking and she never looked back.

About 15 minutes into the walk-fest she reached out, a little too early, to grab a hold of the leg of a tall table. As she leaned into the misplaced grab we watched in horror as her arm went past the leg of the table and her forehead made contact to the sharp corner of it.

BOOM!

Crying, wailing, tears and snot. In my arms she babbled and cried her thoughts about the injustice of the fall but soon with a red turning purple bruise surfacing on her large, beautiful forehead, she started walking again. This time a little more carefully, not quite as crazy/carelessly.

I watch her now as a 2.75 year old and I shake my head, in awe, as she runs, body fluid, legs steady, across the field at the park. There is no more stumble in her step and no fear in her eyes. She knows what she is doing and she has never regressed backwards from that day where she moved from a crawl to walk.

Later I find myself running, my legs smoothly churning a steady rhythm onto the trail near my house. I don't even remember what it was like crawling. I don't remember being 1 and seeing the world through the view of the floor around me, with me on my hands and knees barreling towards a nearby toy without a clue as to what was going on just above me. My focus would have been on whatever was in front of me on the floor or the oblong view that would've come if I were to tilt my head back and scan my immediate surroundings.

While a child, crawling my way through my life I would've been limited to the knowledge of the things only in the room I was crawl/patrolling and if there was a large obstacle, like a couch between rooms, then I would have been limited to the things on this side of the couch, my side. I would not have known of anything outside of the places where I travelled myself or was carried. There were no snow capped mountains or oceans or deserts or rain-forests or stars or planets or galaxies in my little mind. Those would come later, their knowledge would follow my standing, walking, running, swimming, bicycling, driving, snowboarding, and flying (airplane folks) yet there is still something that is too much for me to comprehend, too great for me to grasp. My brain is still too finite to wrap it's arms around the vastness of it. So I crawl through this life happy to hear the whispering of something that is beyond me, smiling as I catch a glimmer of that which is above me, longing and eager to one day find myself no longer a child but fully grown in knowledge, finding myself upright staring face to face with He who has created me.

Him, Love.

Him, Justice.

Him, Perfection.

Him, Holiness.

Him, Savior.

Him, Hope.

Him, the Beginning and End.

I cannot grasp it today,

but I will.

Yaaaaaa!

"For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect).

But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].

And so faith, hope, love abide [faith--conviction and belief respecting man's relation to God and divine things; hope--joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love--true affection for God and man, growing out of God's love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love." -1 Corinthians 13:9-13

Posted on June 9, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Knots That Bind---.