He is the center. He is the ALL. | Just look.

Sweater weather has arrived. Scarves now wrap my neck with warmth. I love this time of year. Something about it makes me more contemplative. I desire to sit and think deeply, to paint a picture, or to write a story. I want to hold my warm coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to my face and talk with friends about the things that really matter. And this morning, I was able to do that with two of my Sisters. It was delightful.

Our conversation was centered on What Really Matters – Christ. We were reminded that He is the center, and the ALL. He is about Himself. And we are about Him too. We wondered what the world would be like if everyone knew from childhood that what they are about… is Him. It changes everything.

It’s all about Him. It’s all about Christ. And I don’t just mean that He is the only thing that matters. It’s bigger than that. Much bigger. I mean everything… EVERYTHING … is about Him. It all points to Him. It all comes from Him. It all exists in Him. He is the center. He is the ALL.

I came home and spent some time looking over a blog that is new to me called Modern Reject. I’m digging it so far. On it, I came across a post titled “True and Better Jesus” with a great video reminding us that all of Scripture is about Christ. All of it.

Watch…

I think I’ve “known” these things for a long time in my mind. But I’m now learning to KNOW it deeper, in my spirit — where I suppose I knew it already but I just didn’t know it. (This gets confusing.) Put a little more simply, I’m learning to see EVERYTHING through the lens of Christ. It’s a crazy beautiful world when you learn to see Christ in it ALL…

Just look.

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glory and romance | ways you would never imagine

Those 26 days have passed. So have 17 more. And WE’RE MARRIED!

A lot of people have asked me a lot of questions like, “How is married life so far?” I thought I’d publicly say, “It’s awesome! I love it!”

But it’s funny. It’s LIFE. And in some ways, it just feels like the natural flow of LIFE and like it’s always been like this. (We’ll write more on that later.)
In other ways though, I’m reminded that it’s new. Fresh. A land filled with new discoveries.

I was thinking today about how much and how long I’ve LONGED for a partner, for love like this, for marriage… It just sounded and looked so glorious and… well, romantic! And darn it!!! I wanted glorious and romantic – and all that comes with it!!!!

There were a few times in my life that I thought the opportunity was there. This glorious romantic relationship just might be in front of me. I’d think… “Oh… It could happen.” “It might happen.” “It SHOULD happen…” (…because I know what’s best!!!!) And then it didn’t. Every single time. It didn’t happen. Actually, Jon (my husband) and I had that story as the beginning of our story. I thought it could/might/should happen! And it failed. And we both had to choose to die to ourselves and pursue Christ. And then a new friendship blossomed between us that HE breathed life into, in ways we NEVER could have fashioned on our own or in our time. HE did it. We did not.

And now we’re married. The life Jon and I now share is glorious and romantic. But it isn’t because it’s “married life,” it’s because it’s Christ’s life and HE is glorious and romantic! We are together by Him, through Him, to Him, in Him. He is the center. He is the everything. And all TRUE GLORY and TRUE ROMANCE are found there, where He is.

So, I write today to encourage you… Whether you are single or married… Long for Christ! Lean into Him and HIS GLORY and HIS ROMANCE. He will provide it in ways you would never imagine.

to enjoy the next 26 days and all of their busyness

I’m getting married in 26 days. And there’s a lot to do in those days…

There are marriage certificates and licenses to obtain.
There are several crafty projects to work on.
There is my apartment that I can’t seem to find the right person to move into and takeover my lease.
There is moving into Jon’s apartment and attempting to make it feel like OURS.
There’s work to do and to figure out how exactly it will get done when I’m gone for two weeks.
There’s… a lot!

And there have been days when all that stresses me out, a lot. I’m still curious whether a recent day of mysterious hives covering my body was from stress or something else. I’m sure stress didn’t help.

It’s amazing though how much that stress begins to fade away when I stop and behold Christ… and I look at all he’s done to get Jon and I here, together, becoming ONE… and I think about our earthly marriage and how it is a beautiful shadow of the most beautiful reality of Christ and His Bride, the church… and I am honored to think that 26 days from now friends and family will gather from various corners of the country to celebrate and, with The Body we are a part of here, we will be able to paint a glorious picture of Christ.

And cake, pie, and cookies, flowers, smooth stones, fabric flags, ribbons, tree stumps… All these details that fill my mind… might be tasty and/or pretty… But they are not the reason we will gather or the things that we will celebrate. None of them make or break our marriage. None of them make or break a picture of Christ. And they will probably all come together and be lovely, but if they don’t we’ll still be married and Christ and His Love for His Bride will still be stunningly beautiful.

My goal is to enjoy the next 26 days and all of their busyness. And NOT to stress or worry over details. :)

Life is crazy. Jesus is amazing. I’m overwhelmed by His goodness. And my life is surreal. // and the proposal story

At the beginning of this month, I sat in a room with some of my Nashville sisters (in Christ) and we all tried to remember what we’d done last year for the 4th of July. I couldn’t remember and then realized that I had landed back in America on July 2nd after 13 months of living on the other side of the world. I don’t remember anything about the last 4th because I was most likely asleep for the majority of it. Or maybe I was just way too tired to form any memories. When I mentioned that to my sisters and someone said, “Wow! That was exactly a year ago? It’s been QUITE the year for you!”

It has.

Let’s review…

I moved to Asia June 1st, 2010 and I planned to live there indefinitely. At some point in the year, God made it clear to me that my “indefinite” amount of time there would have a definite end that was sooner than I planned. I said difficult goodbyes. I landed in CA and then a few weeks later flew to TX (my two American homes), not knowing which of these two places I’d choose to live. I ended up back in CA and looking for a job. Reverse culture shock messed me up and the job market in CA wasn’t helping me out much either. In the midst of hitting dead end after dead end in the job search, Jesus was rocking my world in the church search. And THAT, is what led me to Nashville.

I knew a guy here (in Nashville), who was part of a church here, that was EXACTLY what Jesus was teaching me about. I came to visit in December. I decided this beautiful expression of the body of Christ (like I had never seen or experienced or even known could exist before) was worth a move across the country. I didn’t have a car or a job or much money left in the bank, but it didn’t matter. This was Jesus and this is what He had for me. In Him, it was DONE before I even knew it was starting. A month and a half later, I drove to Tennessee to live. A month after I got here, I started a new job. About the same time, I started dating that guy.

Three months later, that guy (His name is Jon.) proposed to me. It might seem crazy and fast. And in a way, it is. Mostly though, it’s been a long and slow process that started between us two and a half years ago. It’s been full of adventure, fun, some disappointment and hurt, beautiful healing and trust, more fun, a lot of love, and an increasingly evident amount of Jesus.

{I know you detail lovers are dying. I’m still being vague. It’s a long story. Complicated and full. I’ll share more. Over time. In slices. With lessons of Truth along the way. It’ll be better shared that way. That is how we lived it.}

Life is crazy. Jesus is amazing. I’m overwhelmed by His goodness. And my/our life is surreal.

61 days from now, I’m marrying that guy! He’s incredible. I am so excited to be his wife and to have him as my husband.

And yes, I know the proposal story is long overdue… So here we go, with an extra long post…

It was a Tuesday. We had a date night planned. While I was still at work he sent me a text message that said, “Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find me at Sevier Park after work. And wear your flippidy flops.” [I often wear heals to work and keep flip-flops in my car.]

I accepted the mission and found him at the park, sitting on a blanket, reading his kindle. (I love a man who reads! … Actually … I love THIS man who reads.) When I got the text, I assumed he was going to have a picnic there for us. He’s sweet like that. But as I walked toward him, I saw no food. I was hungry and confused. I smiled, said hello, and began to sit down. He said, “NO! Don’t sit there…” and stood and unfolded the blanket. I hadn’t noticed there were lumps where I almost sat. He DID have a picnic, and my favorite flowers, all laid out.

We ate dinner and chatted about our days and then cleaned up our food and dishes. I was thrilled with the evening at that point and fully satisfied that he’d planned a picnic for me. He said that he wanted to tell me some ways that he sees Christ in me and went through a list, reminding me of the truth of my identity. It was wonderful and such a blessing to my spirit. He then went on to tell me reasons why he was thankful for me and ended the list with “and for these reasons, and many others, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And he held out a ring box.

The ring is a band with a vine on it. The vine is a reminder that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, abiding in Him. Before Jon would put the ring on my finger, he told me to look inside where it is engraved with “thành một,” which means “one life” in Vietnamese. This is a reminder of two things: 1. Our two lives will now become one life together, as husband and wife. 2. We live by One Life, the life of Christ. We have no life apart from Him. [He had it written in Vietnamese because Vietnam is a very special place to me. I grew up in a Vietnamese neighborhood.; I have two aunts from Vietnam; it is the first country I went to overseas, and it changed me forever.]

The night was perfect. Jesus even filled the park with an abnormal amount of fireflies. (I LOVE fireflies!)

And have I mentioned that I am marrying that guy, Jon, in 61 days? He is my favorite!

long slow mornings

Getting out of bed in the mornings seems to be one of the most difficult parts of the day for me. I always plan to get up early and then when the alarm goes off, I think of a long list of reasons why it’s okay for me to sleep more and NOT get up yet. Often, I give in to those excuses. That’s fine, really. I don’t HAVE to get up early and sometimes I probably really do need the sleep.

But today, I got up early – like I planned. It’s been a fantastic morning. Productive… and relaxing! I got ready for the day. I drank my coffee. I cleaned. I read. I talked to a friend in Asia. I’m blogging (which I NEVER do these days) and I still have 20 min before I have to leave for work. I guarantee, I’ll have a better day because of it.

And I keep thinking, “Man. I love long slow mornings! I hate feeling like I’m racing the clock to get out of the door on time! Why do I always do that to myself?” Yet, tomorrow – I’ll probably have the same struggle to get out of bed.

It reminds me of Paul. “For I do not understand my own actions. For xI do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Oh the flesh. It can be so frustrating.

I’ve been learning more about my spirit… and learning to live in the spirit rather than the flesh or the soul, is like actually taking the time to enjoy a long and slow morning. It’s just better that way.

… That’s my story for today. Now for a few more minutes of reading before I head to work!

FREEDOM

Oh my word. It’s April 22nd. Time has flown. And I have disappeared (from here).

Life has been busy with work, moving, relationships, and a variety of adventures.

And I’ve been LEARNING. A lot.

And I’ve learned that, sometimes, learning happens so deep within you that you can’t really express it – at least not in a neat and clean way that can be compiled into letters and words and sentences and paragraphs of blog posts.

But I’m having a fabulous time, living a stunningly beautiful mess of a life of learning that is filled with Jesus, His body, lots and lots of love, and lots of letting go of the old and embracing the new.

One of the NEW themes/realities of my life is… FREEDOM. I don’t mean the freedom that comes from living in America. That’s… ya know… whatever. I mean, the FREEDOM that comes from living in CHRIST! (He, Jesus Christ, IS Freedom – by the way. There is no freedom apart from Him.) It’s not just a concept or a fact. It’s something to be known and experienced. And it is an experience that just kinda makes you wanna dance (even if you aren’t “good” at it)! :)

And speaking of FREEDOM… This guy is in Nashville and I’m going to see him tonight…

If something’s on your mind

Say what you need to say

And if you need to make a change

Go on and walk away

If something’s in your heart

You gotta let it out

Go on and show the whole wide world

What you are all about

I didn’t take a break from blogging on purpose, but I think it was purposeful. Jesus knew. I didn’t. I had to learn to live in Freedom (Christ), and to rest in it (in Him), before I tried to express things… before I was ready to let the world know what I’m all about.

Talk to you soon. :)

Jesus worked it out – beautifully!

On January 1st, I wrote a list of things I wanted and needed to do during 2012. Two months in, I’m glad to report 3 of those things have now happened!

I bought a car.

I moved to Nashville.

And today

I got a job.

One of my friends said to me today, “Hey! Remember that one time that you wanted to move to Nashville but you didn’t know how… and Jesus totally worked it out!?” I laughed and said, “Yeah! I remember! And yes, Jesus worked it out – beautifully!”

I’ve been learning, increasingly – for a while now, about my identity. I’ve said for a really long time that my identity was found in Christ. But, if I’m honest, I was looking for my identity in Christ AND in my doing (for Him). That’s changed. I now know that my identity IS Christ and nothing else. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is my identity and my LIFE. (Colossians 1:27)

Throughout this process of moving and job hunting, this knowledge of identity has given me such freedom. It has reminded me that I am enough and that I don’t have to prove myself. I am free to BE as I am and whose I am, because Christ has placed His life in me and it is Him who brought me here, and He will provide for all of my needs in this new place, and always.

When Christ is everything, there is such rest and peace.  [He always is everything. We just need to recognize and live in that truth.] There is always provision and no reason for worry. (I have my moments of forgetting that, but it’s nonetheless true!)