Monday, December 11, 2006


I read a quote today by Lily Tomlin that I found fascinating:

"The best mind-altering drug is truth."

There is something so powerful about truth.... especially when truth has been concealed, and it is finally brought into the light.

One thing I pray regarding all of my relationships with the people I care about is that hidden things be brought into the light. And trust me, that is not always a fun thing to pray... I have landed some answers to that prayer that I never expected to hear.

But there is such a grace that comes with truth, even when it's painful. More truth has been exposed in my life lately than I care to say, but when it comes down to brass tacks.... I wouldn't have it any other way.

Truth can be painful... and that's why so many people choose to conceal it. We hide who we really are, what we really think about, our struggles and our fears... perhaps because we are afraid of what we might lose. We are afraid of what will happen if we expose the truth.

The illusion seems more liveable than reality.

Could it be, in essence, that we are lacking in our trust of God... that He is bigger than the pain our truth might reveal?

In the last several days, I have become so grateful for the light of God that has forced truth out of the darkness. I am grateful that God has shattered illusions, and that my eyes have been opened to something bigger... something honest.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the power of one choice

When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved. –Hosea 9:10

I stumbled upon this verse just over a year ago in the aftermath of a wave of destruction in my life. It really made me think about the power our choices have on the rest of our lives. As my eyes were being unveiled to the nature of deceit and manipulation I had fallen prey to, I was startled to realize that it all began with one choice. That’s all. It took one decision against my better judgment, and in the time frame of one year, my life was nearly destroyed. My sensitivity to the Holy Spirit had dwindled and my passion for ministry was barely visible through the fog of self-betrayal.

It pains me to think about what that one choice did to the heart of God… I imagine it was something like what we read in the above verse. I think God was full of grief to see the children of Israel—whom he had set apart, who were such a source of refreshment to his heart—take on the very nature of the thing they chased after. “Vile.” What a dramatic change from being an image of the glory of God, the one(s) to reveal Him to the nations.

And yet, in the messes we make, there is grace.

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. –2 Samuel 14:14

It really is that simple. It is a beautiful thing to step into an understanding of the incredible mercy that flows from the heart of God… He always seeks to restore us back to Himself.

Reposted from my original blog

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the dark

One of my least favorite memories is of the very first night I was left alone at home to babysit my little brother. I was petrified. I’m not even sure how old I was. All I knew was that it was getting dark outside and mom and dad were leaving… and every young child knows that the monsters come out when mom and dad aren’t around. It wasn’t until that lonely night that I realized the element of safety that my parents’ very presence could establish.

We lived in a 1900s remodeled Victorian style home, complete with its creaks and squeaks. The doorways were large, the ceilings were tall, and the stairway was endless. Oh yes, all the more room for the shadows of the night to haunt and the creaks to echo through my desperately ringing ears. Suddenly my home became my worst enemy—the source of my mental tantalization with its creaking and settling in the gusting night’s wind. It was me against my very own fear of the lonely night. In short, I was afraid of the dark.

I chuckle to myself now when I think about that night and all of the silly things I did in distressed attempts to overcome my fear. I laugh as I think about trying to comfort my little brother while I was shaking in my own boots. But as I reflected this morning on that fearful night so many years ago, something stopped me dead in my tracks. I am still afraid of the dark.

Yes. It is true. I still exhibit a panicked display of thoughts and behaviors when I come to a situation in which the light is dim. Although I say that I “rest in the shadow of the Almighty,” the creaks of the howling world seem to become louder and louder in their distraction, and my blood pressure rises when the fierce winds of uncertainty rattle the windows of my life.

There are a few things going on in my life right now in which I am distinctly seeking God’s direction. And yet, this seems to be one of those times where I am timidly walking the halls of my own faith… in the dark. There doesn’t seem to be any well-defined direction as to what to do or where to go next, and so I just keep walking. I could lie to you, but I won’t: I don’t like the dark. Darkness requires slow, careful movement. It demands patience. I’m not very good at any of those things!

As much as I don’t like the darkness, what I do love is the peace that comes with trusting God fully. When you’re in the dark, there’s not much else you can do. I suppose I could drive myself nuts with the endless questions of “How?” “Why?” and “What if?” But I’ve been down that road before… and I got so busy rattling off questions that God couldn’t get a word in edgewise! It’s amazing the peace that comes with learning to shut your mouth. Even in the dark.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

freedom found me

As I prepare for an evening of fun on this 4th of July holiday, I can’t help but think about the freedom I have found in my own life. I am so glad that I celebrate and step into new realms of freedom more than once a year on a blazing summer day.

Freedom may not always appear as booming displays of sparkling and radiant color lighting up the night sky, and it is not always choreographed to the tune of songs we wish to hear—but God alone is the author of true freedom, and I count it an honor to be a part of His story.

Freedom has found me like a hero in the night over and over again. It found me when I was hopeless; it found me when I had walked away from all things true; it found me on the lonely roads of destruction and uncertainty; and it even found me when I had settled for being a captive.

So, I celebrate today like I did yesterday. And I will celebrate again tomorrow. Freedom has found me.

Reposted from my original blog

Thursday, June 22, 2006

joy is not a moving target

Very recently, I led a discussion with a group of women about “Joy.” The one thing that these women had in common is a dark history of pain, hurt, and suffering. For this particular group, joy was a topic that compelled a myriad of thoughts, perspectives, and even confusion. When I asked them what joy might look like, here were some of their responses:

“Being really excited about something.”
“Maybe like winning the lottery.”
“It’s being so happy you can’t stand it.”
“Something really great happens that you really wanted.”

One lady, who was the last to speak, had a response that I found particularly disturbing. In almost a whisper, she said, “Joy doesn’t happen to everyone. Joy is for those people who have everything they want and they are smart enough to have not made the mistakes that I have made. I’m not sure I’ll ever know what joy feels like.”

After some discussion, I posed the following observation to the above answers:

“What if joy wasn’t contingent on any form of external circumstances? What if joy took the form of… Contentment? Feeling safe and secure? Knowing someone loves you unconditionally?”

My question was met with eyes the size of softballs and the most piercing silence I think I have ever experienced. It nearly cut my heart right in two. These were looks of shock, wonder, and perhaps a little bit of timid hope. No one spoke, and all 15 of them leaned forward to see what I would say next, as if wondering what the catch was.

You see, this is such a common dilemma. We substitute external situations and tangible expectations for true joy and peace in our hearts. I watch these women as they struggle and toil, thrashing about in a world that keeps throwing them curve balls. They swing high, they swing low. They maneuver about in desperation, hoping beyond hope for a hit, for a break. They try, they try, and they try harder—to no avail. It’s no wonder they are in despair. They are chasing a counterfeit form of joy, and every time they grasp it in their hands, it escapes them yet again. One wrong move, and it is gone; one mistake, and it vanishes.

How often do we chase after a person, a word, a look, a purse, a drink, a book, a dress, a sport, a show, a scent, a smile, a promise, a home, maybe even a sermon, a mentor, or a class… to give us the fulfillment that we so deeply desire? We set our eyes on moving targets and begin to engage in a sort of mental gymnastics as we chase these things down, demanding the “joy” they have promised us. The entire time that we are running the gauntlet of our own dissatisfaction, God is waiting on the sidelines for us to come to our senses and rest in Him. What usually happens is that we finally collapse under our own exhaustion, and He scoops us up in His arms and carries us off the playing field of the game we were never meant to play.

The joy of God is not a moving target. It is not something we must search and seek to attain. It is a place of the heart where we rest in the comfort of the One who created us, where the world is silenced and all is forgiven.

Reposted from my original blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

the revelation window

The other night I had a very interesting dream... The dream itself was nothing shockingly dramatic. In fact, this dream in particular was quite simple. What made it so powerful was the emotion and the thought it compelled in me.

It was dark. Very dark. I was fumbling around for something, anything, to tell me where I was and how I could get out of the darkness. The space I was trapped in was not very big at all. I felt suffocated by the darkness and fearful of what it could be hiding from me. I kept patting down the walls in a desperate attempt to find something that would give me a clue as to where I was and why I was there. Suddenly, as I made intense contact with one of the walls, I discovered that it was, in fact, a window, just shy of the length and width of the entire wall. As I forced all of my weight on the frame, it swung wide open, breaking free of the shutters that had provided a protective enclosure. Sunlight rushed in on me, and although it was a warm relief, its intensity was quite painful to my eyes, and it took me a few moments to see into the light.

Is it just me, or does it seem that this is often the story of life? The story of faith? There have been so many times that I have felt like I'm stumbling around in the darkness, timid and afraid, cursing the walls that trap me, when all along, my "entrapment" is actually encompassing a window that I simply cannot see-- a window of freedom, a window of light-- encased entirely by my misguided perception of imprisonment.

I find it not at all startling that the light that suddenly pours in on us during such moments of revelation is often more stinging than soothing. (Have you ever felt the burn in your eyes when you sit in a dark room for a period of time, and someone suddenly turns on the lights?) There is an initial shock that comes with revelation. No matter how much you want to see, it still takes a moment or two to adjust to the brutal exposure. The end result is, indeed, triumph... but those initial moments of adjustment are, without a doubt, bittersweet. The illumination of truth demands the dissolution of what had previously thrived in darkness, and somehow, in all of their somberness, we miss those things. We attach ourselves to our ideas, our words, and our ways, and the very nature of revelation shakes them to the ground.

In hindsight, it is all quite beautiful, but the destruction of all the things we had previously thought true is, in its time, devestating. Just like the blinding light that flooded in the window of my dream. It was a sign of freedom, a sign of hope, and a sign of life. And yet, for a moment, it was piercing, it was staggering. I have found myself often in these circumstances: either cursing the walls or cursing the throes of the light. It shouldn't be this way. The walls are embracing my window, and the sting in my eyes is merely a sign of new truth.

Yes, in hindsight, it is all quite beautiful. Perhaps in foresight, I can call it beautiful even before I am able to see it.

Reposted from my original blog

Sunday, May 21, 2006

cleansing mud

I was reading an interesting passage of scripture today... 2 Kings 5. It taught me a lot about myself.

Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, had leprosy. He had gotten his king to send him to Israel (Aram's enemy) in order to be healed by the prophet Elisha. Upon his arrival in Israel, Naaman received the order from Elisha's messenger that he would need to go and dip in the Jordan river in order to receive the healing. Naaman got a little upset. That's where he started to remind me of myself...

v. 11-12 read "But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage."

I practically tripped over myself in that passage. The first thing that I recognized was Naaman's frustration that his move from God wasn't coming in the manner HE expected it to. "What?! All I get is a stinkin' messenger?! Isn't the prophet going to speak to me? Aren't I going to feel something? Isn't this going to be a big deal?"

Second, Naaman was bothered by being told to wash seven times in the Jordan. The Jordan, from what I understand, isn't exactly a pristine river. It's murky. It can be downright muddy. "Are you kidding? You want me to dip myself SEVEN times in this nasty water? How can something this disgusting possibly cleanse me?" I get the feeling that this wasn't the grandiose healing experience that Naaman was hoping for.

And so, here I sit--guilty as charged. I too have thrown fits like Naaman. I have ventured off on desperate journeys in search of an act of God, only to find that He doesn't move in exactly the way I had expected Him to. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that I have expected God to turn a situation out a certain way, and not only does he NOT do it my way, but he also sends me to be cleansed in ways that aren't so pleasant at the time. And not only are they unpleasant, but sometimes it seems like what God asks me to do will take me in the opposite direction of where I'm trying to go!

There have been so many times that I have sought cleansing, and God has pointed me to muddy waters. How often do we expect our renewal to come as a nicely packaged, sweetly fragranced remedy for life, when in fact, what we need is a humble dipping in the mud of our own understanding. Ah, but yes... just as with Naaman in v. 14, obedience releases the grace of God for me to understand...

Somehow, every single time, it works. Every time, the muddy water that I try to avoid is exactly what carries me into the next sphere that God has for me. It washes away doubt, fear, pride, pain, and self-reliance, and it flushes me clean of my own expectations.

Reposted from my original blog


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