Saturday, June 28, 2014

Broken Yokes

I've been on several trips over the last couple years, and each one has taught me and changed me. Each one a stepping stone to greater trust and greater love, in God, in others and even in myself. But this last trip was extra special. There are so many reasons why it was an amazing trip, yet there was something more that I've struggled to put into words, a giant leap into greater contentment and feeling more alive.

I finally realized heaviness was broken off me in South Africa.

Lev 26:13 ...I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

When I arrived in South Africa, I was still carrying around the charred remains of things I knew were dead and gone, but wouldn't leave behind due to pride, perhaps? Feeling the need to continually suffer the consequences, my own version of a scarlet letter? Whatever the reason, by the time I left, the yoke had been broken, and I didn't even know it was happening.

That is, until I felt the lightness of freedom!

Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Looking back I see God's hand at work, gently lifting the weights off. Being able to share my story without motive and be  validated and accepted the way I was, caused guilt and shame to crumble to ashes. They're gone. There is less need to have people in my life and more enjoying of those that choose to be. Friendship is a fine art and not everyone is an artist. Even my longing for a sense of family feels less acute and is shifting into something new and bigger. A knowing that as a child of God, he will always provide the right family members at the right time. They might not always be the same people, but He is always the same God.

God came to break us free.

Isaiah 9:4 have shattered the yoke that burdens them...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Please God let him be good looking

With my hopes and dreams going through a re-awakening lately. I've also reopened the door to the dreaded idea of dating. But again and again I run into the same wall it seems. And I admit, I'm a little frustrated.

Last weekend I had the strangest conversation with my granny. She has dementia, but there are moments of clarity. I haven't decided yet on which side this falls.

Granny:  You don't have any kids?
Me:  Nope. No kids
G: Well, we all know how you feel about marriage and about kids. It's okay, it's not for everyone. (huh? what are you getting at granny?) But you could adopt. If you wanted to have kids you'd have to get married first.
Me: God hasn't provided anyone for me to marry.
G: Yes, He has (when was this?)
Me: Well then I must have missed it because I've been looking, Granny.
G: Yep, you missed it.
Me: Okay (thanks for the pep talk granny)

I've been "on the market" (who came up with that term anyway?) for what we will call an extended period of time. I haven't gone from one guy to the next. In fact, I've had fewer relationships than some people have had marriages. Perhaps my standards are high, but there are just a few basics I require.

1. A Godly man. Not just someone who says they are but who's actions and life reflect trust in God, knowledge of His word and prayer.

2. The ability to carry-on a conversation. The kind where both people take turns talking and listening. 

3. The ability to write sentences in correct English. This may not be important to many, but as a writer and administrator it is to me. There are enough things in relationships that can be irritating to work through. 

4. That I find him attractive. No one else has to think he is, but I do. Looks aren't the most important thing, and I know that as we get to know people our perception of how they look does change, but when I look at him I shouldn't feel disappointed. Right?

That doesn't seem to be like a lot to ask for. Does it?

Instead I typically find myself in the following scenarios:

An attractive guy, solid christian, very easy to talk to with a lot in common. Looks hopeful?  Nope... he's not interested. (and either was the other cute one, or the other... you get the idea)

Or a guy who looks good on paper, but when questioned deeper doesn't really have the faith he professes. The latest example said he desired to keep sex for marriage, but would agree to whatever his partner wanted. Somehow that doesn't really scream good leadership or conviction for that matter.

And then there is the guy who I enjoy emailing with (he writes well in English - check! carries on a conversation - check! demonstrates genuine faith - check!) but I don't know what he looks like. And so I ask for a photo and then begin to pray.... Please God, let him be attractive. I open the photo and ...

Now what? 

I am left thinking. Am I just shallow? I learned in a college class that people tend to marry those about the same "attractiveness" level. Am I as equally unattractive? I know I'm not the only one who thinks these things, but it doesn't really make me feel any better about it.

 What's a girl to do?

(disclaimer: please take this post in the tongue-and-cheek manner of which it was intended)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I.D. Please

IDENTITY: Who someone is.

TRUE IDENTITY: What God sees I am.

I attended a conference over the last two days where I was reminded and challenged to live out my true identity. There is an inheritance of promise and provision for who God created me to be. Everything God has for me (he has everything and is for me!) is to make me see past the distortion to the truth. To see and more importantly know my true identity.

ImageChef Word Mosaic -
(present and future identity)
I sat down and asked God to help me come up with 50 characteristics of my identity. The first half came in a gentle rolling wave. Then a couple more. The last 10 came painfully slow. Occasionally, a negative would pop into my head like "selfish" or I would disagree with the word I had thought of, "Humble... yeah humble sounds nice. God wants me to be humble. But if I type that then I'll have to remove honest..." The point is - the negative isn't my identity, but it does point to parts where there is a disharmony between what I see and God sees in me.

As each negative arose, I thought of its opposite and metaphorically set it ahead of me. This is the identity I am headed towards.

Identity is defined as who someone IS... not WAS. I am sooooo glad about that. Somewhere along the way I started believing that certain things had become a permanent part of my identity, like a branding that scarred me for life. Guess what!?! It isn't part of my identity anymore. Instead of looking back and seeing "soiled", God said to look ahead and I saw "pure". Where it once said "fearful", now says "trusting".

So many new features it was time to get a new id card - the old one didn't look anything like me anymore!
I'm still heading towards the finish line, but I know what He's promised and that He will be the provision.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Morning Psalm

Your beauty amazes me.
Your stars shine by the tens of thousands.
You care for all the birds and flowers. 
And yet...
Oh what a joy to my heart!
and yet you care, nay love, 
with a love beyond measure someone like me.
In your presence, I would've crumbled from my shame
but just as I thought it would take me down you removed it
and instead I crumbled with gratitude.
Only you, God.
I worship You and praise You for all your beauty in the heavens 
and your handiwork in my heart.

(written while watching a Monday morning African sunrise)