whiteflowersandelephants


Kindness
September 12, 2012, 4:13 pm
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I asked: What is kindness?

He said: Kindness is understanding that each person you meet is an un-iced cake. Something beautiful, good and pleasing that stands before you unfinished. They see the crumbs and the pock marks from the pan and do not understand that all the places they focus on were made to be covered in soft sweetness. Kindness is then taking whatever opportunity you get, and icing them. Covering their holes and weaknesses. Kindness covers and completes. It sees from God’s perspective. It sees with Heaven’s perfection in mind. Kindness is a touch, a salve, sweetness. Kindness brings the receiver closer to the intent of his creator. Kindness says “you were made to receive goodness and love- and here is some of you inheritance.”

 

In my natural, fleshy heart, I can be hard. I have a tendency to love LOVE my friends, and have little grace for others. I used to see tremendous value in being everything to my friends, and very little/no value at all in being pleasant or even cordial to those who did not merit an invitation into my inner circle. It is not hard to believe that I left high school on speaking terms with somewhere around one person. So coming to college, this was my point of view.

Needless to say, during my college experience God had a revolution of kindness and love in my heart. I learned a lot of stuff, and became a much sweeter person. But, I still had a hard time really valuing the one-time interaction. I mean, why exert the effort of being nice to someone I am never going to see again, and opening myself up to a possibly negative interaction? I had developed a greater capacity for friendship without standards others had to meet in order to work their way into my heart, but I hadn’t encountered kindness.

Kindness is different than the interaction you would have with a BFF. I would call that love. Being kind is just part of love when you see someone every day or you share considerable history. You have this soft spot in your heart for them and sweetness just comes out. Humans are just like that. But this kindness is the love for a stranger that is welling up straight from His heart.  Love and sweetness just well up in Him! I didn’t have occasion to encounter this fruit of the spirit, until I met the Lindsey family.

Robin Coss and I were spending a weekend together in the summer, and she wanted me to meet her cousins. Robin has these cousins…They will melt your face off. They have seven kids, they LOVE Jesus, they live in the forest. Anyway, Robin wanted me to meet them, so we drove up to their beautiful house in the middle of the woods, and we got out of the car to walk up to the door.

As we walked up to the house Aunt Robin came out. She was on her way to the store I think. I was ready for the Bible Belt interaction. Huge smile, hand shake, smile and stand there, answer questions. But no, Aunt Robin walked right up to me and wrapped me up in her arms. She hugged me. Like a mom hug, not a college ministry side hug. She looked at me with the same love as if she was looking at Robin. She asked me questions, but her face and her posture helped me to feel like we were on the very same side, and my answers to these questions were going to inform her prayers for me. She told me how glad she was that I was at her house, and it sounded like she had been waiting for me to get there for years. She had to go, so we went on into the house. I was legitimately flabbergasted.

In the house I met seven kids who were a perfect reflection of their mom. They were so loving and kind. They received me as a brand new sister, not as a guest. I just kind of sat back and watched them interact with Robin and fell in love with them all. Then I met Terry Lindsey. It is difficult to describe what it is like to meet Terry Lindsey. I would say that most humans are looking for the feeling we had when mom and dad put us to bed, and just held us close, and sang night-night songs, and read goodnight books to us, and stayed until we were sleeping. We love the Father heart of God, because this kind of safety and love and approval is what were made for. Meeting Terry Lindsey is like encountering this part of the heart of God.  A hug from Terry Lindsey fixes something you didn’t even know was broken. It makes you want to go home and visit mom and dad and force them to tuck you in again. Terry Lindsey is anointed with the Father heart of God. Just like his wife, he receives you as if he has been waiting for you. He falls in love with you while you talk to him. He is so glad to have you in his home. He claims you as one of his own from them moment he meets you.

After my weekend with the Lindsey family, something was broken off of me. I suddenly understood the outrageous value in loving, accepting, approving of the person in front of me who I may never see again! I had the most ridiculous smile on my face for literally two weeks. I wanted to hug everyone the way Aunt Robin had hugged me. I wanted to receive people into my heart immediately the way that the whole family had received me. I realized that when we love people ridiculously, without regard for A) whether or not they will receive us back or B) whether I will profit anything from this love I give them, we can release Heaven into people’s lives. The Lindsey family didn’t do anything to/for me. They just loved me and accepted me in a pure way. Receiving love like that frees me to be my Father’s daughter and severs all ties with the lies my accuser is trying to make me believe.  



Patience
August 22, 2012, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I first came to college I was interested in church, so of course it wasn’t strange for me to find myself in this thing called ‘lifegroup’ the second week of school. I was in a roving pack of girls, so together the six of us found ourselves in this house where cool older people lived and we sat and talked about Jesus as if He really was God and really was alive, or something…

We were 18, and connected at the hip. But in the ‘lifegroup’ we met this other girl who was our age, really cool, really cute, and happened to have a 1.5 year old son in tow. She obviously didn’t live in the dorm with us. Throughout that year we became friends, and we ended up staying in lifegroup together for the next four years.

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Abbey and I were discipled together for much of the time we knew each other, which meant that we got to be best friends, walking through life together, sharing the deeper stuff and pursuing Jesus together. I got to be a sideline spectator as she was a full time student and single mom of the most BOY boy I have ever met. I got to see the way she handled the pressure of it all. And in her life I saw what God later defined for me as patience.

He said: Patience is death. It is declaring that my needs are not my god, but that I trust in the Lord, in His ways and His timing. It is taking my ‘self’ and putting it in the backseat. Patience is the work of loving. As I look to another’s highest good and my Father’s timing and process, I die- becoming less so that He might rise within me. Patience is being ok with His process. Patience is trust. Patience is stepping out of the prison of time, and agreeing with God about my priorities, which means disagreeing with my schedule, my aspirations and the expectations of men.

Sometime later in college we started talking about, not so much a husband, but a father for Matthew. We heard a teaching about identity and it stressed the change that happened between the 3 and 5 and the need for an awesome man to be present in Matthew’s life. Before Abbey came to college she had been talking with God about Matthew, and his need for a father.  God assured her that HE would provide for them and be Matthew’s father. He said that lifegroup was going to occupy that place in Matthew’s life as well.  Abbey spoke with a few men in our community, and invited them to be in Matthew’s life in a greater capacity. They started having man dates.

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Sometime around then, Abbey agreed with the Lord and went on a dating fast, where she didn’t even allow her heart to pay attention to crushes, or wonder about guys. She was so faithful to that. Looking back, the idea of a young single mother in college choosing to completely take herself out of the running for marriage was outrageous. As my father has often said, “You’ll never be around this many single men again.” She died to herself, and allowed God to be in charge of her timing and her life. She accepted his provision for Matthew, even though it didn’t look exactly like what she would have imagined.

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In our senior year, God spoke to Abbey and released her to begin to hope for a husband. She asked each of her close friends to claim a day and pray for her husband to come soon! We prayed like that for six months. Then, Abbey went on a mission trip with the church to Haiti, and saw the fruit of her prayers. There was this amazing man on that trip! That same summer Matt Larsen began to pursue her in a dating relationship. You can ask any of us here in Waco, and we’ll tell you, you’re not going to find a better man than Matthew Larsen. And at their engagement party, Matt told us that as he had prayed about Abbey, God told him he had been made ‘for such a time as this,’ to step up and be a father to Matthew.

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Abbey did not fear, fret or worry. She trusted God, and lived her life as a slave to righteousness and not a slave to Matthew’s need for a father or her need for a husband. She trusted God to take care of that need.  She stepped out of the timeline of ‘ring by spring’ and disagreed with ‘common sense’ about the expectations for her life; and in return she was given a journey with God that speaks to the testimony of His faithfulness and a great treasure in Matt Larsen.

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what is PEACE
August 6, 2012, 3:47 pm
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I don’t think I could have truly understood peace until I had experienced a panic attack. As a generally calm and confident person, I could not have imagined the vulnerability and terror of not being in control of your body. A few months ago, God allowed me to experience this reaction for the first time. It was awful. I called my friend Emily and asked her to pray for me. Once she began to pray, I felt total peace in my spirit and I knew that God really was with me. But, my body didn’t seem to get the message. I could not stop hyperventilating. I could not regain feeling in my extremities or my lips. The feeling that I was going to pass out did not go away, even though I knew my panic had left me. The message needed to be communicated to my nervous system.

My spirit had received Heavenly peace. In order for my body to receive it, I had to make a choice. If I didn’t choose to accept the peace in my spirit as the truth, I would continue the cycle of terror looping through my body and lose the peace I had been given.  I had to be brave, and trust Him to take care of my body. A sweet woman at work, CiCi, had been through many panic attacks, and took her lunch break sitting on the floor next to me, telling me to breathe through a paper bag. I had to trust God, and know He was with me, even though I couldn’t feel it in my body yet. And as I sat there on the floor, little by little, peace rested in my body and I knew I was going to be ok.

That morning in the courting room, God defined the fruit of the spirit peace this way: Peace is eye contact with the Creator. Peace is twofold: it’s the physical overflow of a spiritual reality. As I become aware of the intimate presence of the loving and powerful Maker of my body, my nervous system quiets down from its shaky chatter and begins to sing a sweet lullaby- communicating to my body and my brain that all is well, and He is here. Peace has nothing to do with the noise level or activity level. Peace is not a quiet room- peace is the King of Kings overcoming my body and spirit, taking hold of my hand, staring into my eyes and releasing me to partake of Heavenly Truth: It is well.

Thinking of an example of this fruit, my friend Taryn came to mind. Taryn is peaceful. She is at rest in her spirit. She does not allow circumstances to throw her. This attribute was exemplified to me the other day on the phone with her.

My mother called me one Saturday to inform me that Colorado Springs was on fire. I of course knew this already. She wanted me to make sure Taryn was alright. I told her Taryn was fine. She reiterated that Colorado Springs was on fire. I told my mother that Taryn had recently been live on facebook, so I knew she was fine. Maybe I wasn’t understanding, Colorado Springs was ON FIRE. I told my mom I would check.  I called Taryn, and told her to get on facebook and post something so my mom could breathe again. We got to talking about the fires and how close they were to her house and her upcoming trip to New Orleans. She casually told me that her parent’s old house we had visited every summer of college was probably going to burn later in the week. She told me that she and Tom had planned to begin a week long mission trip to New Orleans the next day. She said, “And if the house burns while we’re

gone I guess that would be ok.”

Taryn doesn’t value safety, or things, or security or life above Christ. In fact, she counts it all loss. A constant of Taryn’s life has been a cool head when things go wrong. She has this constant peace from Heaven, no matter what happens. She knows that she will survive, and God will provide for her. And if she dies, then she will be in glory with Jesus, and that would be better anyhow.



The Fruits Begin
August 1, 2012, 10:47 am
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One morning, I sat in the courting room of the Beulah house, waiting for Jesus. I was on the green couch, looking out the window, and listening. I was asking Him about how to be a good follower. Is discipleship doing everything? Like sharing the gospel loudly in public places every day? Is it worshipping in a dark room all night long? Is it going to Uzbekistan for the gospel? I realized I needed Him to define the goal of discipleship for me, because I was under a lot of pressure from human definitions of Christian success. What He told me was good news.

He said that He was proud of me. That He accepts me, right now. I don’t need to work harder, or do more. I don’t need to rack up Christian points, like this is 1st grade. I am done. I am accepted, approved of, beloved.

And then He said, but I am AMBITIOUS for you.

The Lord has ambitions for me. The same as parents love their children, but are ambitious for them to grow and accomplish things. Children don’t lose the love of their parents if they never progress. But the parents know that if the child doesn’t progress, he is hurting himself, and he is robbed of all the hope and possibility that young lives hold.

He knows there is more for me, and I can grow for my benefit, and for the church’s benefit. He doesn’t need me to do more. He did it all on the cross. But He is ambitious for me to grow.

He told me that He is ambitious for me to lay hold of the fruits of the Spirit. Growing up to embody those qualities is life-long discipleship. I opened my Bible to refresh myself. If these are the important things for me to grow into, better look at them.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I read that, and told Him, “I don’t know what this means.”

He said, “I’ll tell you.”

What followed was more than an hour on that couch of Him explaining the fruits of the Spirit. And none of what He said was intuitive, or what I previously thought. I got so excited, and felt like picking up my phone and calling so many people to tell them what He was saying! He told me to chill out and keep writing; that what He was telling me was for everyone.

I’ve kind of been sitting on this since May, because there are a stinking lot of fruits to cover. I could just type up exactly what He said that day, but that’s not nearly fun enough. Probably better to write a series of blogs. I’m not going to go in order. Be warned.



Freedom and Bedtimes
July 26, 2012, 11:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been feeling tired. I began my new work schedule, working 8-5, and have been enjoying friend time and exercise every day after work. But, this week I have just been tired and run down. Last night I was downright cranky.

I have been keeping a personal accountability chart, keeping track of my habits and my success or failure at living up to my goals. One item on that list is to be in bed before 11pm. Another item is to be up before 6:45. Another is to spend time with Jesus in the morning, before work. I have not had more than one day a week of success in those areas. I have had tremendous success with my diet, and spending intentional time with friends, and exercising. To me, that seems like I have neglected the base of the hierarchy of needs, and I am excelling at the peak. What good is it if I make sure I am getting great time with the friends I want to love and serve, if I am not allowing the King of Heaven to love and serve me first? What good is eating well and exercising, if I am not resting my body adequately? Tired people eat what they crave, not what they planned. Tired people choose Netflix over zumba. I can build a beautiful life with my own hands, but I will not maintain it if I don’t sleep and come daily before my King. He is my goal. I never want my goal to be forming habits. Forming healthy habits are tools I can use to reach my goal.

So, this morning I got to work early and had some eye contact time with Jesus. I knew I couldn’t simply sit down and determine a course of action- because that’s what I’ve been doing. I asked Him to come in and sift through my heart, and order my days.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to read Romans 6, and it, again, is changing my life. I did a short blog about how having order and structure is like freedom for me. And then I read something like that in Romans 6. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. This passage rocked my world. I am a slave, and I always have been. I chose slavery. I chose slavery to this world, this country, this culture. I chose slavery to food and my body. I chose slavery to friends and TV and my own notions of morality. Choosing that slavery left me free in regard to righteousness. The bonds of righteousness were not on me. I chose other bonds. BUT THANKS BE TO GOD! I have transferred my servitude into the household of the Good Father. I am now a slave of righteousness! I belong to righteousness! My actions are dictated by righteousness! My identity is found in righteousness!

I define righteousness as the intangible way that belongs to God. He is good. He is higher than I know. He imparts His beautiful, kind, lovely, and perfect way to me. Webster defines righteousness as morality. I know morality, and it is not of God. His love is offensive, and it is unjust. He loves me, even though I am a wretched sinner. Righteousness here is higher, better, confoundingly more kind than morality ever thought about being. By comparison, morality is a wickedness.

For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification…But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Wow, wow, wow! Everything I gave myself to when I was a slave to impurity and lawlessness bought me the rights to death. But now, everything that I do unto God, under the bonds of righteousness, buys me the rights to eternal life and friendship with the Good King. That’s awesome, guys.

So, this morning, as I met with Jesus, I asked Him to come in and give me some rules. Romans 6 says, more powerfully than I said yesterday, that rules ARE freedom. If I am a slave to lawlessness (having my own way), I am still a slave. And that kind of slavery leads to destruction. But if I present myself to God as His slave, and come under His rule, THEN I am free. Because though we are God’s slaves, He does not call us slaves, but sons. Slavery to the Good Father is true freedom from the impurity and lawlessness that leads to death. I need laws. I need parameters. I need rules to follow and be faithful to, so that I can experience freedom with Jesus. I can be in charge and make sure I do all the things I want to do in life. But I am so fortunate to have learned at such a young age, that no matter what I chase, or do, or what good things I amass for myself, I will be left empty, wanting, and useless unless I let the Servant serve me. I must be loved by Him, or I have no love. It is worth more to come to Him as a broken sheep than it is to be king of this rock, which is passing away.

So my Master told me I’m gonna be in my bed, without a screen of any kind in my hands, but 10:00. In order to ensure that, I’m going to leave whatever social gathering or fun activity I am taking part in, by 9:45. I’m gonna get up by 6 every day. I’m going to be at work by 7, so that I can get alone time with Jesus, and not accidentally get good alone time with a roommate who I want to catch up with in the morning. This is intense. This is rules, you know? But, guys, His rules are FREEDOM! I’m going to be free from the slavery of NEEDING to be with friends every second, even if it means I’m useless at work the next day. I’m going to be free from the slavery of watching some TV show or movie past my bed time. I’m going to choose to be filled with Jesus in the morning over being filled with media in the moment! I’m going to choose to capitalize on the gift of being a morning person who doesn’t need caffeine, by narrowing my life and saying goodbye to the all-night hangouts. I am who He made me, and I don’t have to be like anyone else. I’m going to be outrageously awake and active from 6am to 1030pm, benefitting from daily relationship with my King, able to love and serve my friends in the daylight hours because of the living waters welling up from within. That’s freedom.

                Romans 6:5-23 ESV

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

                Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

                What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

                For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

               

 



New Place New Pace
July 25, 2012, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I haven’t posted in ages. How many blogs have I read where that is the first line? Cliche.

Since I posted last, I have finished up Elevate, been to India, moved to a room downstairs, said goodbye to Abbey soon-to-be-Larsen and her sweet family, said hello to Robin lately-Coss, and a couple of new roommates who make my huge mansion family fuller, louder and happier. I finished my sentence at Jimmy John’s. I was let out for good behavior and hopeful prospects. I began a new job with BearBills working 8-5 in an office downtown. Life in an office with no windows and a strict 8-5 work week feels like absolute freedom after living week to week never knowing what hours I might be at liberty to use or not use in the week to come. Schedule and regularity agrees with me.

I have coffee dates and lunches with my friends daily. I zumba twice a week, and walk twice a week, both with friends. I have scheduled time for chores and laundry that, thus far, I have been faithful to. This kind of dependability is freedom for me!

I am very excited about the posts to come. God has been revealing a very helpful spin on the fruits of the spirit to me since mid-May. I plan on doing a post for each fruit! This is exciting for me because, lately, God has been aliviating the pressure so many of us feel to be excellent followers. He tells me that it is not His supreme desire for me to have an A+ on my Christian report card. He accepts me completely today, is pleased with me, and is in love with me today. He is AMBITIOUS for me that I might grow in the fruits of the spirit. He wants me to look more like His son, and be in agreement with the truth of the Kingdom of Heaven. There is so much freedom in the things He has been saying to me, and He told me from he beginning I was going to write about it. Truthfully I have been a little intimidated to begin. There are a LOT of fruits to cover, and starting a new job while moving and making new friends makes it hard to focus. I want to tackle one fruit a week. Get excited!



Hair
April 30, 2012, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been on a fun and wild ride over the past couple of months. Some of you may have heard of the “no poo” movement going on among Coloradans, and other women who look for strange ways to avoid bathing.

No Poo is a shift in cleansing one’s hair away from the norm of shampoo and conditioner, in favor of non-chemical methods. We take in chemicals and toxins though the scalp, many of which are present in traditional hair care. So, by mixing baking soda with water, one may cleanse the scalp. This does not strip the hair of its natural oils, as shampoo does. Once our hair is used to this method, it is not greasy or oily, but naturally shiny and soft. For my outrageously curly and frizzy hair, I use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to tame the mane.

I had no idea if this experiment would work or not, but I thought it would be a good try at reducing cost and chemicals in my daily life. I decided to embark upon this venture, while keeping a photo diary. I was warned that I would encounter nasty greasy days on my way to hair oil balance (which really was not as dire as was communicated) so I chose to take photos of the wash day only, as opposed to the gross days in between. After all, I’m doing this to see how my clean hair looks without shampoo, not to see how oily my hair can get in between. Here is my experiment- these pictures are taken, usually right before bed, on the day I washed my hair with the weird hippy mixtures.

My last shampoo ever!

After the first hippy mix

My hair looked much better this day than the photo communicates. Still bitter.

My hair fully adapted to the new regimen. It looks like this most days now. Shiny all over, not frizzy, tight curls.

I’ve also been going through a change of personal style, of late. Development of personal style, I should say. I’ll give you two inspiration photos, and then a few pictures of my hair right now. I love the 30’s and 40’s so much. If I lived in Austin, I would probably be a swing dancin fool, or a rockabilly singer, with amazing style, but sans tattoos. Let’s not get too crazy.

I just love both of these ideas, and its been evident on my hair of late. Once I begin buying clothes again, it will become evident on my body!

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