a love that overtakes me

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Almost 20 weeks ago now, this fellow came into the world and changed my life – forever. I became a mama and I fell in love in a way I could never have imagined. It’s a love that overtakes me when I’m beyond exhausted and my little dude wakes me up, again, needing some snuggles and a paci or a middle of the night snack. It’s a love that makes it so very natural (even though it’s so very hard) to sacrifice my own desires/needs and take care of his first. It’s a love that delights in every little thing that he does and every part of who he is. I’m smitten and there’s no amount of his scream crying or my sleep deprivation that could change that. It doesn’t matter that I’ve tried to write this post 5 different times and I always have to stop because my baby needs me. I miss having time to write and create different things, but I know it is just a season. I also know that when this season is over, I’ll miss the little baby cuddles more than I currently miss having a clean kitchen or sitting as long as I’d like in a coffee shop with my journal and a good book.

This love has taught me so much about my Jesus and the way He has forever loved me and you. My love for my baby is big, but it is so tiny in comparison. (People say these things all the time, but now I get it…)

This love has taught me that true sacrifice always flows from true love, and that you can’t have true love without true sacrifice. (I feel like I should have so much more to say about this, but I just can not find the words. Could be the sleep deprivation, could be that it’s just too big for words.)

Now, this sweet boy needs some attention… But hopefully, I’ll be back soon (even if I have to write on my iphone while nursing my boy, like now. The multitasking mama life.).

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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. :)

this grace in which WE stand

A month or two ago, I quietly changed the name of my blog. It was just a slight change. I don’t think anyone has even noticed. I changed one little word. But it’s an important word.

I started my blog in 2007 on a day that I had spent some time reading through Romans. I was inspired by chapter 5.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

Beautiful.

So, I took the name of my blog from verse two which says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” But I changed it slightly. This is MY blog. This is not OUR blog. Right? So, “this grace in which WE stand” didn’t seem to fit. I made it MY OWN. And so, for the past 4 years and some months my blog has been “… this grace in which I stand …”

But I’ve learned better. I’ve seen more fully. I’m a part of a WE. When Paul wrote Romans 5, he didn’t say WE on accident.

For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.

(I Corinthians 12:12)

So also is the Christ? What does that mean?

Christ is the head. We know that. We read that in scripture. We say we believe that. We are Christ’s body. We know that. We read that in scripture. But I think that, in reality, we have no REAL comprehension of what that means and because we don’t understand we end up living like Christ’s head and body are two separate entities. I know that I have, if no one else. I just didn’t get it. If we are, together, Christ’s body that means… we are a part of Christ. It has to mean that. You can not separate a head and a body. You just can’t.

Let’s look at this verse again…

For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.

(I Corinthians 12:12)

Do you see it? We, who are in Christ, have TOGETHER become a part of him. We are not individual little Jesus-people running around. We have become ONE, with each other – as with Him.

But why have we (in our minds) chopped off his head and separated it from his body? Why do we think of Christ as being divided? Why can’t we wrap our minds around the oneness of Christ? It is because of the fall. When Adam fell we inherited a fallen mind which divides and seperates everything. It is very difficult for us to think in terms of wholeness and oneness. Our minds want to dissect and seperate everything into neat little cattegories and compartments. Oneness doesn’t fit into that agenda.

(The Butterfly in You, Milt Rodriguez)

THAT, my friends and fellow members, makes this grace in which WE stand so very very stunningly beautiful!!!

P.S. If you haven’t read the post I mentioned last week, “Community life in the body of Christ: Viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him,” you should. ;) The truths shared there have a lot to do with the significance of the word “we.”

P.P.S. I highly recommend the book The Butterfly in You. If any of this is resonating with you, go order it! :)

Excerpt: “Community life in the body of Christ: Viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him”

The following is an excerpt from a post co-authored by Jon Scherdin and myself. We published it today at his blog Hands Wide Open.

If we are built for community and the Christian life is supposed to be corporate, then why don’t we live in a way that reflects that? The reason is surprisingly simple. We don’t believe we are worthy. We don’t know the truth of who Christ is, and who we are in Him. And without knowing our true identity we live in the fear that we are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, and so on. We believe the lie of the evil one, that we should feel shame about who we are and what we have done, that there may be something about us that if seen by others, would deem us unworthy of connection. These feelings, these fears, are extremely powerful. We want to be known, loved, and accepted, but we don’t believe we will be if we are fully seen. We live in fear of vulnerability and believe that the shame it may bring us will break us, when in fact, it is when we do not embrace vulnerability that we are hindered from living fully.

The post was inspired by an incredible TED Talk by Brene Brown. We were amazed at how the truths she expressed in it relate to the body of Christ. We believe that growing in our connection and vulnerability is vital for the church today and thus we think this is a very important discussion.

Please click here to read the rest of our post: Community life in the body of Christ: Viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him.

The person of Christ–God himself, alive.

I’m currently reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve always been inspired by that man and today is no different.

In this lecture, Bonhoeffer tipped one sacred cow after the other. Having dealt with the idea of Christ as no mere great ethicist, he proceeded to explain the similarity of the Christian religion to other religions. Then he came to his main point: the essence of Christianity is not about religion at all, but about the person of Christ. He expanded on the theme learned from Karl Barth that would occupy so much of his thinking and writing in the years to come: religion was a dead, man-made thing, and at the heart of Christianity was something else entirely—God himself, alive. “Factually speaking,” he said, “Christ has given scarcely any ethical prescriptions that were not to be found already with the contemporary Jewish rabbis or in pagan literature.” Christianity was not about a new and better set of behavioral rules or about moral accomplishment. He must have shocked some of his listeners, but his logic was undeniably compelling. He then aggressively attacked the idea of “religion” and moral performance as the very enemies of Christianity and of Christ because they present the false idea that somehow we can reach God through our moral efforts. This led to hubris and spiritual pride, the sworn enemies of Christianity. “Thus,” he said, “the Christian message is basically amoral and irreligious, paradoxical as that may sound.”

Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (p. 83). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

The person of Christ–God himself, alive. That is ALL we need. ALL. Because He is ALL. Jesus is ALL.

May we see Him as He is and see ourselves as He sees us today! {Humming… Oh, How I love Jesus…}

Happy Tuesday!

worth their salty tears

As a {short} season in my life of being in So Cal again is wrapping up, it’s reminding me of all the other “wrapping up” times in my life. There have been so many moves and transitions and, with them, lots of adventures, life-shaping experiences, and people to love.

Life has never ceased to be full of changing of seasons and, with them, goodbyes. I remember realizing how much I hated goodbyes around the 5th grade. They’ve not necessarily gotten easier but… I have learned to see the beauty [which, I suppose, does make it easier – in a sense].

I was thinking today about Jesus and the 12. They didn’t want to face the “end.” They wanted to keep Jesus with them and to see His face and touch His hands. It’s just easier that way, right? Because how can you follow someone you can’t see? But what they didn’t understand yet was that the “end” was only the beginning. Jesus explained bits and pieces of that to them before he went to the cross.

But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

(John 16:4-15 ESV)

Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension changed things. They didn’t just bring us salvation. It was the start of a new season. When Jesus went away the Helper/the Spirit of truth came to guide us into ALL truth! And what is that truth? That Jesus didn’t LEAVE. He is here on the earth, and bigger than ever. Why? Because His body is growing. And we are His body through whom He expresses and displays His Life. [But that’s another post, for another day. Today my point is…]

When we’re in Christ and He brings about a season change, it’s always for the better… It always comes with MORE of Him… and that makes all the goodbyes and see-ya-laters worth their salty tears and more.

I’m so thankful for the MORE of Him that is ahead.

He is the reason. He is the way.

Four months ago, I wrote a post called “new lenses | giving it time.” I’d been back in America for 2 months. Now, it’s been 6. In some ways, time has FLOWN by. In other ways, it has  c r a w l e d   b y   s o o o o  v e r y   s l o w l y   ! ! !  When I wrote that post, God was telling me to STOP and WAIT until I could see more clearly. “Don’t force yourself to move when you can’t see. It is not a waste of time to wait.” 

Now, I’m moving – in a more literal sense than I thought when I heard that from the Lord. I understand now WHY I had to stop and wait. If anything I was trying to do then had worked out, I wouldn’t have been free to do thisto pick up and start over. There was so much I needed to see. I was already seeing some things I had never seen before, but it was all still fuzzy… Over time, it’s become more and more clear…

5 days from now, I’ll be getting in my [new and shiny red] car with the few belongings I have left. I’ll drive for 11 hours and stay for a night in New Mexico (sometimes you have to go through places you don’t like to get to places you do), then I’ll drive another 11 hours to Dallas. I’ll visit with friends there for 2 days and then drive 10 more hours to Nashville, where I will stay.

I’m going because of Jesus. He is the reason. He is the way. I wish I could show you how much He has done in this… I can’t really. But I’ll tell you a little.

It first came up for me in September. I was in the living room of a stranger with a longtime friend and mentor who, at 1am, said to me: “Shanda. Why don’t you just move to Nashville?” I thought she was crazy. Really. And I argued. But I also listened and, in the end, I agreed to pray about it. At that point, even praying about it kind of terrified me. But the more I prayed, the more I saw Jesus moving and putting life into this crazy thought.

Now, my stuff is mostly packed and I’m 9 days away from being there. 9 days! And when I get there, I will join a group of people who have learned/are learning the same things I’ve learned/am learning about Jesus and His body. I’m moving to be a part of a church (an organic church), not a church like most of us often think of church… It’s a people (not a place). It’s a living spiritual organism (not an institution). It’s people joined together in Christ, expressing together the life of Christ, and seeking together Christ as the Head.

I’m excited. And I’m so ready. And I’m occasionally a bit nervous. But I know it’s gonna be good, because it’s so very FULL of Jesus! And HE is always GOOD.