a place of rootedness

Written 2/23/14

I’m sitting on the floor in the hall of our new house. My husband is doing some painting touch-ups in our son’s bedroom.

Those two sentences BLOW my mind.

I spent nearly 3 decades of my life husbandless and have had this amazing husband for 1 year and 4 months. I still am amazed that the Lord saw fit to bring us together, and make us one.

Now, this short time later, I’ve got a baby in my womb. [I think womb is a funny word and am determined to say it as much as possible while I have the excuse. You are welcome.] He will make his appearance into our world probably sometime between 3 and 4 months from now. That’s nuts. I have a child, a son. He’s making me huge, and kicking around at my insides this very moment. And I love him, though I don’t yet KNOW him.

And… we have a house! And it’s OURS [and the bank’s… but whatever].

When Jon and I got married, I moved into his apartment. So, we made space to fit me in and we/I changed and added to the décor to make it OURS and not just HIS. This feels so different than that. That was temporary and we constantly considered the temporal aspects of it. This feels like a HOME for our family to dwell in and to grow in, not forever, but for a good while.

This is a place of rootedness… and I think it’s a physical symptom of a spiritual reality.

Jon and I (separately and together) have never dreamed of being home-owners. In fact, we dreaded the thought. We’ve been mobile people who love the ability to get up and go when and where opportunities open up.  “Putting down roots” somewhere sounded lovely, but mostly for other people. When we began talking about the possibility of purchasing a home, it made us feel a bit claustrophobic. {Though I will admit, there has been a part of me that has always longed to settle somewhere.}

We also knew we didn’t want to stay in our two bedroom townhome apartment for too much longer and that buying a house made sense for us financially, much more so than renting a house would. I’m certain, however, that the reason home-ownership began to be less claustrophobia causing was actually spiritual.

Rootedness has been a theme in our lives and marriage. It’s not a rootedness in Nashville, and it’s not even a rootedness in each other. This rootedness is one that can only be in Christ and by Christ.

I know I don’t fully comprehend what He has done, is doing and will do, as our roots grow deep into Him. I know that a large part of it is happening through the Body He has placed us in here in Nashville. I guarantee you that if it wasn’t for the expression of Christ in our brothers and sisters here, we wouldn’t have bought this house and we probably wouldn’t be here at all.

It’s because of our local expression of the Body of Christ that we no longer feel claustrophobic in taking this step. I’d even go as far as to say that I am personally experiencing a deeper sense of Freedom as we take these steps, that once felt heavy and constraining.

Here’s to new seasons, and a beautiful Family to share them with. Happy 2014!

He will show me. // what we are doing and why

When I came back from living in China, I knew the Lord was calling me OUT of church as I’d known it, but I had no idea what that would mean, until one day…

I was sitting outside of one of my favorite coffee shops in San Diego, reading a book on my kindle, called “Reimagining Church” by Frank Viola. I was reading “Chapter 2: Reimagining the Church Meeting.” At the end of the chapter there is a section titled, “What Does it Look Like Today?” As I clicked through those pages, something was happening in my spirit. I wiped a drop of water off of my kindle screen, and then another. I looked up into the sky. There were no clouds. “Where did those drops come from?” I thought to myself, and then I felt them. Tears, streaming down my face.

Have you ever done that? Cried without being conscious of doing so? It was an overwhelming experience. I had to put my kindle down and close my eyes.

This.
This is it, isn’t it?
This is why I’m back?
This is what You have for me?

Yes, my child.
This – my bride – is my passion.
It is why you live.
It is why you are back.
It is what I have for you.
It is what you have for me.

How?
How will I find it?
Where?
Is it really POSSIBLE?

In Me, everything is possible, my dear.
I will show you.
Just trust me.
Walk with me.
I will take you there.

I kept my eyes closed for a while, just soaking in the glory of the moment.

He will show me.
He will show me.

And He has. Ohh, He has.

Today, I sit in a coffee shop 2,030 miles away from where I was that day. {Yes, I did actually just google map it.} I moved here 1.5 years ago to be part of an “organic church” body.

It is more glorious than I dreamed and I’d like to start telling you more about it here. My goal in sharing is really not to convince you that “organic church” is what you need to be doing, nor is my goal to convince you that what you are currently doing is not what the Lord has for you. That’s not for me to decide. Christ is more than able to move our minds and hearts when and how He desires, and I’m learning more and more to trust Him to do so. I simply desire to express Christ, and to share how I have experienced/am experiencing Him here.

A while back, a dear friend of mine sent me a list of questions about what we are doing and why. I meant to answer sooner, but I suppose it just wasn’t time. I’m going to start using her questions as springboards for conversation here. Along the way, if you have questions, feel free to ask them and I’ll do what I can to answer.

not as wasted time, but as an investment

The artist in me is being re-awakened, and awakened to NEW lifeSudden in ways, slow but sure in others.

I really believe that humans were created to create. We ARE creative beings. Really, it’s true. In one way or another, we’ve all got it in us. A reservoir of creativity is just waiting to be tapped into and expressed. It’s natural and it’s spiritual. {It’s probably MORE spiritual than natural – depending on how you look at it.} 

I’m learning many things as I allow this part of me to return to the surface, to come out and play.

Yesterday, I painted for several hours. I then removed almost all of the paint I had put on the canvas and painted over areas that I had painted previously so that I could re-paint them differently. I ended my painting session with less completed than when I started it. The weird part is that I felt successful by doing so.

I’d been frustrated with certain parts of this painting for a while. They just weren’t turning out the way that I wanted them to, but I didn’t actually know what I wanted them to be or how to find it. Over the course of painting yesterday, I stumbled on it. What I wanted started just spilling out of my paint brush and onto the canvas. It didn’t belong parts I’d already done. So, I removed most of the fresh paint and painted over some areas so that I could start fresh, now that I knew what I wanted to do.

This has happened to me numerous times, in numerous ways, with numerous paintings – and some writing too, for that matter. I’m learning that one step forward, two steps back is sometimes a uniquely beautiful and valuable part of the creative process.

I’m learning that the process doesn’t have to go smoothly, nor does it have to end perfectly, for it to be right and true and art.

I recently read that errors reveal themselves as valuable insights.

When I paint or write for hours and then I wipe off the canvas or wrinkle up the word filled page… I’m learning to view it not as wasted time, but as an investment —a time of exploring and shedding off what I’m not looking for, in order to find what I am looking for.

It boils down to grace. I’m learning to give my inner artist grace to be and to explore and to be perfectly imperfect. And that is spilling into the rest of my life. I feel FREE to be whatever it is I am, and to not try to be the things I am not, and to allow others to be whatever it is they are, without expecting them to be the things they are not.

 It’s rather delightful.

as I learn to recognize the Lord

My temporomandibular joint has a lot of issues. [A.K.A. I have TMD or what most people call TMJ, problems with my jaw and the surrounding facial muscles.] For many years now, it’s caused me various types of pain and discomfort. It ebbs and flows in intensity, but it is always there.

I’m used to it, but I’d rather not beya know?

So, I have an awesome husband who encouraged me to go to an awesome friend who is a very experienced and skilled massage therapist. So I did. Her name is Jill. She’s our sister (you know, in Christ). She also has the same TMD problems. She knows the pain and it’s repercussions first hand. She also knows how helpful certain massage techniques can be and she knows how to use those techniques. I now go see her now every 2 or 3 weeks for a massage. I know that sounds all luxurious and relaxing, and there is a bit of that involved sometimes… but, mostly, I lay there and she inflicts intense pain on my face. But it helps. 

Recently, she tried the most intense treatment she’s done on me so far. I laid on her massage table thinking…

This. HURTS!!!!

If Jill was some random stranger who I came to for help, I’d peace out of here real quick saying… 
“Sorry but this is not helping. This is hurting! Thanks, but no thanks!”

But because I know that Jill understands my pain and has been in this position herself,
and because I know that she cares about me and is doing this to help me,
and because I know that she does actually know what she’s doing…

I can rest in this pain, knowing it’s a good and helpful pain that will make it better later. 

Does that sound familiar? It reminds me of the Lord. He is good and He is the Giver of Good Gifts. He knows our pain. He’s felt it Himself. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us in pain but there are times that, because of His desire to heal and free us, He walks us through some painful things, knowing they are essential in taking us to the better/BEST He desires for us.

The pain I feel during massages is “good pain.” I easily recognize that now. It is not always as easy to recognize growing pains in walking with the Lord, or living in the Body, as “good pain” but it is getting easier more natural to see it as such as I learn to recognize the Lord.

How much longer? // rest

I love when Christ reveals Himself through everyday stories. So, here’s one for you…

— — —

I have pink-eye. More accurately, I have bacterial conjunctivitis.
It’s awesome.
So awesome, I tell you, that I woke up EARLY in the morning and said in a semi-panicky voice, “I can’t open my eyes!!!” My husband said, “It’s okay. We’ll take care of it later. But right now, you don’t need to open your eyes. Just sleep.” I said, “BUT, it hurts!” And he said, “It won’t hurt if you just sleep.” I said, “okaaay…” and rolled over. He reached over and rubbed my back for a moment and soon, we both dozed back to sleep.
When the alarm to get up went off, still pretty early in the morning, he went and got me a wet cloth so that I could clean my eyes, open them, and see.

— — —

I’ve been thinking about this early morning incident all day and I see such a picture of Christ in Jon’s response to my panic…

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I like to be able to look at a clock so I can  know how much longer I have to sleep. I don’t know why I find that so important. It doesn’t actually matter. It’s time to sleep, not time to worry about or dwell on how much longer I have to sleep.

I’ve been reminded today of the many times I am like this with the Lord about life, plans, or spiritual understanding. I’ve definitely asked the Lord in a panicky way “How much longer until ___________?” once or twice (or a lot more than that) before because I was wanting to see something I could not see. 

I think we probably all spend time wondering the answers to questions like: How much longer will I struggle with this issue? How much longer will I feel this disappointment or shame? How much longer will things keep going well? How much longer will it take for me to learn that you’ve got this? How much longer am I going to be single? How much longer until I’ll have children? How much longer until I’ll be able to have a job that I really love? How much longer will the Lord have me stay where I am? How much longer until I can retire? How much longer? How much longer?!?!?!

In those moments of wondering “How much longer?” the Lord is often gently telling us, “It’s not time. You don’t need to see. Just rest.” (Like Jon did for me this morning.) And our response is often something like my,”BUT it hurts,” But, as Jon told me… “It won’t hurt if you just sleep.” He was right. It only hurt because I was trying to open my eyes and see. When I chose to rest, I was fine. And when it was time to get up, Jon brought me what I needed to help me see.

When we REST in the Lord, there is no need to dwell on the “How much longer” questionsWhen it is time to see, the Lord will provide what we need to open our eyes.

remembering // light changes what’s around it

1 year ago, I wrote this:

Yes folks. That’s the latest news in my life. I have decided to move to Nashville. The details are still very much in the process. I’m applying for jobs and looking for ways to “make it work.” Mostly I’m just saying, “YES!” to where Jesus is taking me and I’m rather excited about the adventures that await… (and sometimes also a little freaked out by the number of unknowns involved… but that’s living, right?)

Since then, I got a car. I moved to Nashville and became a part of the most amazing body of believers! I got a job. I started dating and fell in love. I got my own apartment and lived alone (after having 20 roommates in the past 10 years). I got engaged. I quit my job. I got married. I got rid of my apartment and moved into his. And I turned 30 (a couple of weeks ago).

Yes folks. It’s been a crazy year –  an amazing CRAZY year. Whirlwindish in the best way.

Now, I’m really excited about THIS season. It seems as though I’m settling in – not just to Nashville, to Body Life (living in community with members of His body), or to married life… although that is happening too… But a more significant settling in is occurring when it comes to my identity in Christ.

You may have caught this above but, if you didn’t, I’m not working at the moment. Right before we got married, it became clear that I needed to quit my job. Quitting was honestly quite hard, even though I really didn’t want to be in the position I was working in. [It’s a long story.] Jon and I made the choice because we wanted more LIFE (read: Christ) and less of what isn’t LIFE. And I haven’t looked for another job yet. I will, when the Lord tells me it’s time. For now, He’s told me that it is a time to REMEMBER.

I don’t know what all this journey of remembering entails. So far, it’s included re-awakening a part of me that has been in hibernation for many years.

When I was in middle school, I did stuff like this with oil paints…

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I used to think of it as just a hobby, a talent, or maybe sometimes a passion… It filled my time and I wanted to be social instead, so I quit, because I found life with people. I didn’t find it sitting in a room painting. And yet, ever since I quit – so many years ago, I’ve wanted to start again. It’s like a part of me was trapped and needed to find it’s way out. But painting takes time, and I never had enough of it.

I’ve only just started back up and haven’t done much yet, but it’s been so fun. I don’t paint like I used to. It’s very different now (and so am I). And unlike before, it’s so life-giving to me. I now realize that painting isn’t just a hobby, a skill, or a passion… It’s a way that Christ has given me to express Him… And as I am REMEMBERING that (because while my head didn’t know before, my spirit always did), I’m excited to discover Him through it and to find LIFE in the expression of Him.

Here’s what I’ve worked on this week. It’s not done yet, but you can see part of the process of painting/creating/remembering/expressing below. I’m thankful to have the time and the means to wake up this part of me that’s been asleep for so long. I’m not sure what all it will entail but I’m thankful for this season, and for my husband and a body of believers here in Nashville who have encouraged me to explore it…

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… I love the way that light changes what’s around it.

Are you missing the forest for the trees?

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” John 5:39-40, MSG

Are you missing the forest for the trees? There is a big picture to see. And that picture is CHRIST.

I recently read a quote by N. T. Wright…

Part of the difficulty is that Jesus was and is much, much more than people imagine. Not just people in general, but practicing Christians, the churches themselves.

I’ve noticed that a natural human tendency is to assume that we are the exception. He’s not talking about ME! But what if he is? What if these statements are true of you and me? I’m not trying to beat us up! That’s quite the opposite of my intention… I’m learning that with Christ, there’s ALWAYS more of him to see!!! So, let’s look!!!! He’s more than just the individual “trees” (or stories) seen on pages of Scripture. He’s given us His life to EXPERIENCE.

A couple months ago, I got to experience something AWESOME. Jon and I zip lined above and through the Costa Rican rain forest. It was SO fun. We had hiked through some of the rainforest, which was awesome. I loved looking at each of the unique trees and seeing various forms of life. But it’s an entirely different experience to look down from above at the vastness and fullness of the forest. I was SO glad that we did both. We were able to get such a fuller picture of its beauty.

Let’s let him take us zip lining above the forest! I’m certain we will all be amazed at his FULLNESS and beauty!

We can find him anywhere, everywhere, anytime, and all the time. He reveals Himself in Scripture, yes. But watch for Him to reveal himself to you in your neighbor, in the sunset, in your favorite tv show, or the dew on the grass in the morning. He reveals himself in the cry of a newborn, the changing of the seasons, and the feeling of hunger when you wait too long to eat. He even reveals Himself in YOU as you live by His life. When our expectation is always Christ and when the Christ we expect is not limited to a box we’ve learned to place Him in… Our vision of Him continually GROWS.

I’ve been STUNNED by the more I’ve seen of Him over the past 2 years. I’m HUMBLED to know that the forest is still MUCH bigger than I know. The reality is much fuller than my mind can expect. There is so much more of His life to receive, not by my efforts, but by His giving.