Thursday, June 30, 2016

my soul is overwhelmed

My soul is overwhelmed.

I use the word overwhelmed because it's the only word that I feel accurately describes what is going on inside of my heart. It's the good kind of overwhelmed – the kind that you feel when there's too much love, affection, or goodness. In this case it's all of those.

Today marks the end of my week with my little ones... true, I've only been filling in the position of full-time nanny while their real nanny has been on a missions trip, but in the past three weeks Jesus has done such a miraculous work in my heart. He taught me how to trust. How to love. How to abide. I walked into this job knowing what my natural tendencies are. I knew that if I didn't start off right I was going to be in a mess... wether the day went badly or not. Because I get frustrated easily, and ticked off easily, and after the second time of me asking you to do something you better be doing it. ;)

No, but really, I was fully aware that even though the littles would be trying at times, my soul would be the real issue. Because that's who I am apart from Jesus. It's an ugly mess.

But in the past three weeks Jesus has done nothing but be faithful. He is so good. When I cry out to Him, He answers me. When I am physically weak, He strengthens me. When I need help with a little guy, He helps. I ask Him almost every day to help me discipline like He disciplines me. Gently, in love. He doesn't raise His voice at me the first time. He speaks in love. And He's teaching me how to walk by the Spirit in every moment. Wether I'm running out the door saying goodbye to my family for the day, or telling a child for the sixtieth time (slightly exaggerated) to not do ____.  I have conversations with Him all the time. It's not weird. It's definitely not being "religious". I've met Jesus on such a real, intimate, moment-by-moment level that I don't ever want to be taken from this place. I want to live the rest of my life like this.

Because it doesn't just affect my babysitting. It's affected my joy (in the best way possible). My prayer times (don't even get me started on how wonderful prayer has been lately!). My relationship with my parents and my siblings. My friendships. My thought process. Living life with Jesus is changing me from the inside out. And it's wonderful. Why did I wait until I had a "real reason" to start?

And so, my soul is overwhelmed. By the goodness of my God. By His faithfulness (so much so I sing it to my littles to get them to take their naps). By His love.

Quick insert that popped into my head the other day: no matter how much I love Him, it will never amount to the love He has for me. He poured out all of His love to save someone that will never be able to give Him that much in return. Yet... He did it. *insert heart eye emoji and bawling your eyes out emoji*

I was reading in Psalm 105 this morning, and I couldn't help but shout 'AMEN!' in my Spirit. Because it so resonates with what I'm feeling. Oh, my Jesus. How I love You!

"Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 
 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 
 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 
 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 
 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 
 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob."
Psalm 105: 1-6

Monday, June 27, 2016

grabbing grace

camping on palisade mountain this past weekend.

Being a Christian is hard.

Really hard.

I'm talking about living the Impossible Life every day. In every moment, being surrendered to Jesus and having a soft heart to His Spirit. Speaking the words that He would. Loving the people around you because that's your mission as a follower. Living as the righteousness of Christ. Abiding 100% of the time.

It's not easy. And I'm feeling it today. The spiritual attack, that nagging voice of the enemy whispering lies of defeat, exhaustion, and inadequacy. That I really am too tired to serve with everything I have in me. That the time I spend with these kiddos is never going to amount to anything. That I should let my mind wander and my heart sink. Because it's one of those days. Seems justifiable.

It's hard. When I try to live out this life in my own strength.

Until I remember Grace.

The grace of God has been one of the most amazing things to ever utilize. I know I don't all the time, and I'm sorry for that. But when I do... it's like the entire world is depressed and dark and I'm standing in the Light. It's like I can do what I never could before. And it's simply making the choice to grab it. 

But you can't grab grace with one hand.

Grabbing ahold of grace – the power of God to live the Christian life – is an adventure that requires letting go of your self. Your flesh has to die if you want to experience the grace of God in your life. So I have to let go of what I feel like to get what my reality is in Heaven. 

It's simple. It's hard, too, to deny your flesh. But it's so very worth it. And so today I am going to walk in that grace. I'm going to leap for joy and smile even when the day tells me to do otherwise. I'm going to live the way I'm supposed to because my God LOVES me. And I love Him.

I'm going to let go of what is easy to grab grace. 

So much can happen if I do that.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

alive to Christ: abiding

Oh, to know your God.

It’s a thought I’ve been mesmerized by the past few weeks…the thought of actually knowing the One who created you. Who breathed life into everything living. Who formed the stars and knows them by name. That God. The One so infinitely amazing and creative that He not only made things big and beautiful, but small and spectacular. 

I can know Him. Like, know Him. Intimately know. Personally know. ‘Talking to face-to-face’ kind of know. The real kind of knowing.

Where it’s not just head knowledge, but the heartbeat of your life.

The past weeks have been full of that. Full of abiding. Learning how to abide. Being taught, moment by moment, how to press in and obtain that which is mine in Christ. In Psalms 16 the Psalmist declares, “In Your presence is fullness of joy!” and in John 15 (been stuck there for two solid weeks, people!) Jesus tells us, “These things [discussing abiding] have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” The idea that abiding is being in the presence of Jesus 100% of the time, every day, is amazing. But it’s not boring. It’s full of joy. Real, lasting, satisfying joy.

I love laughing. I love all things pertaining to smiling. I love joy. The fact that the real deal is found in Jesus makes me… curious. Mystified. Can something that seems so real here on earth, fabricated by human emotions, be even more real in heavenly places? I believe that it is. And that it is available 24/7. 

It’s abiding.

To know my God is be real with Him. To walk and talk with Him. To be His friend, to be His child. To know my God is to live in a position of being loved. It’s living plugged in to the Life source. It’s being in the Vine (John 15). This is what I want.

I’ve tasted of it. The past two weeks, I’ve tasted of it – this abiding. Being a part-time full-time nanny (yes, I know that sounded interesting) has tried and tested me like never before. But it hasn’t been hard. Because I’ve purposefully been giving each day to Jesus. Starting it off with Him, praying over the times of the day where I expect to need grace (nap time, we’re looking at you), and walking moment by moment in a conversation with Jesus. It’s been extraordinary. I am not in a season of life where I am very physically well, yet I have seen strength rise up in me that I know is not my own. Even just this morning I felt ready to pass out in the kitchen, and I had only been watching the littles for forty-five minutes. I held onto the kitchen counter and closed my eyes, whispering, “Jesus, grace. You give grace, and You promised Your strength when I’m weak. Jesus, please.” He gave it. Just like He promised. I made it through the day… and I mean made it. Not survived. I lived. I laughed and played with little kids. I drove them to the library and chased them around the house. I cooked dinner and cleaned. I didn’t pass out. It’s because of Jesus. And it’s because He cares.

I am a child of God that isn’t perfect. I don’t know how to stay inside the Life source 100% of the time… but heck, how I want to. I’m learning. Giving myself over to the work of the Holy Spirit more and more every day, because I see how faithful He is (sidenote: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” has been a life song lately!). He continues to do what He does, if only we let Him. If only we ask Him. 

I’m learning how to be conversational with Jesus.

Because He’s a conversational God.

He’s the one that tells His disciples, “Turn left on the road to Damascus.” He’s the one that spins dreams for men, so that they might know Him. He is the one that whispered into my ear just this afternoon, “Hold him. He needs to be held,” as the little guy was screaming at me. Yes, I held him. I asked him if I could pick him up, and when I did, he melted. Right into my arms. And whispered, “I’m sorry, Miss Kate.” 

Jesus works like that. I have never experienced it like this before, but all it is is abiding. Knowing the One who knows you. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it. He’s so, so good.

So, from all that, I want to encourage you to press into Jesus. Ask Him something to do something big in your life. It might be changing a thought pattern, to saving a lost family member, to teaching you how to abide. But ask. Talk to Him. Get to know your God. He’s the One that knows you. He’s faithful to keep His promises, and He doesn’t ever stop loving you. Communicating with Jesus isn’t a religious experience, it’s a life changing habit that we all desperately need. It’s the reason He came. To walk with us again. To talk to us. With us. That’s two sided.

Let’s start to abide.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

alive to Christ: freedom

“Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.”

This verse. It’s been on my mind the last few days, along with a few others. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around freedom. Oddly enough, freedom in Christ is not something that gives you license to do whatever you want. Like Paul says, just because grace abounds doesn’t mean that you’re good to go live a life of sin.

In all honesty, the past few months have marked a season of intense spiritual battle. That’s part of the reason I haven’t written in, well, forever (the other part is because I’ve been lazy with this blog haha).  But it is hard to write about victory and living life in Christ when you struggle with your own flesh and your sin and your mental junk on a daily basis, and let it beat you to pieces. It’s been a season of failing. Miserably. But also of getting back up and seeking Jesus. Which is where the verse above comes in.

How can you live in freedom if the Spirit isn’t there? How can your life look like Christ’s if He’s not in the every action — the every thought? If you want freedom, you have to give up yourself. You need to let go of you. What you think is irrelevant; the Word of God is the ultimate authority. If you are unwilling to give up your habits, your mindsets, your flesh… there’s no freedom there. Because how can the Spirit of God and your flesh dually reside in your heart? Only one wins out, and which one that is is up to you. 

I can sorrowfully say that it’s easy to ignore the Spirit. I’ve done it more than enough times. But the thing is, when you ignore Jesus’ voice — His whispers to let go of what you want — too often, He grows quiet. Not because He stops communicating, but because tuning Him out (in reality it’s simply disobedience) has because a habit. And that’s a scary thought. It terrifies me, actually. To think that I could become immune to the voice of God because I chose to walk or think or act in my flesh? Lord, say it isn’t so!

Freedom comes when you lay down your self and choose to love Jesus with everything. Because when self is out of the way, there is room for the Spirit to move.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there you are free to live life to the fullest. I got to thinking earlier what this means, and as I meditated on what the Spirit is, I became baffled. I have these things [see list below] available to me, and in abundance, if only I let go of me? What kind of joke is this? My pitiful excuse for a life in exchange for Heaven?

It’s not a joke! It’s real. And it’s mine.

In the Spirit of God, I am free to
  • love unconditionally
  • serve like Jesus
  • walk boldly into the throne room of Grace
  • leap for joy (even when circumstances suggest not to!)
  • speak with the language of Heaven
  • call upon the name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer
  • live & act as a child of God
  • say NO to sin…and live as righteous
  • live as alive to Christ
  • walk with the authority of Jesus
  • etc
Isn’t that amazing?! How I desire for this to be what hallmarks my life! I confess, I’m not perfect, and I fall ( a lot ), but by the grace of God I will get back up and continue this race. I am free to do that. So, I choose to say no to what I know is wrong, and what I know hinders me from my calling as a daughter of God, even if it is hard. Because I get Him. Why would I ever settle for less than that?