Perspective

Recently I was home flipping through the channels and found a movie that I had missed at the box office, Trouble with the Curve.

(Please know that (1) I am not endorsing Clint Eastwood or his movies; (2) Yes, I watch way too many movies and TV, but I am married to a man, therefore I have seen a lot of Clint Eastwood movies;  and (3) I took a film class at UNC Chapel Hill what feels like a hundred years ago, and it was the worst grade I got in my entire school career – so I am no expert! How’s that for a disclaimer?) 

I enjoyed the movie which was about an aging baseball scout struggling with poor health and a distant relationship with his only daughter.  It’s a story about love, restoration, and reconciliation.

It made me think about another Eastwood film a few years ago, Gran Torino.  That movie was about an aging Korean War veteran struggling with prejudice and a changing world around him.  The movie chronicles a transformation in his character so dramatic that he ultimately sacrifices his own life in order to save two Asian teenagers, in a very powerful, and if I may, Messianic-type scene.

The point I’d like to make is simply that Clint Eastwood is now 83 years old.  If I had to guess based on my mere 44 years, he probably has to be pretty selective about the type of projects he puts his energy into.  Two of those projects in the last few years have been about love, reconciliation, redemption, and even salvation in a thematic sense.

It appears that as he has gotten older some important messages have become a priority to him and are surfacing in his work.

My thought is simply this, what if we didn’t wait until we were in our 70’s and 80’s for the important messages to become a priority?

What if right now, wherever we are on life’s journey, we laid aside our ideas of the perfect outcomes (perfect marriage, great job, financial success, big house, perfect kids, retirement accounts) and prioritized our lives and where we put our energy based on the ultimate important message, “God loves me and God loves you”?

What if we focused on relationships and not goals?

What if it wasn’t about what we achieve or accomplish, but Whose we are?

What would change in your life?

This too is reigning in life.

Luke 10:39, 42“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching…but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

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Free Indeed

English: Blooming rose

English: Blooming rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel I owe anyone who read my last post a bit of an update.  In Another Transition I shared the mental picture I had of leaving rehab my eight month discipleship course and my concern I might de-rail the grace train and have to return to the facility shortly after leaving because I don’t know how to live in the wild (better known as real life).

In the interest of full disclosure, I did in fact have a momentary departure from grace to my coping mechanisms the DAY AFTER our commencement from rehab the course.  But a fellow sojourner through this process quickly got on the phone and talked me down off of the proverbial ledge and helped me land safely in the arms of Jesus.  The upside of this is that I had a fresh reminder that my flesh is alive and well and still wants to have its own way.  So I have to daily choose Life.  It’s not a one-time decision, it is a moment by moment choice to be led by the Spirit.

In other words, the eight month course did EXACTLY what it was designed to do – equip us to go out into the world, led by the Spirit in community to live in intimate, dependent communion with the Father.  And when we see our sister, or brother, starting to tank, we grab them by the hand and love them back onto the path.  We don’t pretend to have any or all the answers, we simply point them back to the ONE who always does, without judgment or pretense.

I know you are all astounded that it only took me eight months…after 44 years of bondage…but all I can say is “(S)he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

This too is abundant life.  Not trying to get it perfect every time, but looking at everything, whether it appears good or bad, as an opportunity for fellowship with the Father.

Amen.

Another Transition

ADT

Speaking of transitions, I am getting ready for a big one…I think I may have mentioned a couple of times in this space that I’ve been in an eight-month advanced discipleship training course (or ADT for short) since last October.

(Just between you and me, they should really drop the advanced part from the title.  I think that was just to make over-achievers like me feel better about the fact that we are really just beginners when it comes to the gospel and the truth of the grace of God.  You just don’t realize it until about a month into the course.  It should probably be titled “Do Over for Slow People Who Missed Some of the Most Important Parts of the Gospel the First Time and Have Tried to Live in Their Own Strength.”  I realize there are drawbacks…like that title won’t fit on a t-shirt or a tote bag, but I think it will catch on.)

This post will go live less than 12-hours after our last ADT class.  I started to get nervous today and I kept picturing that Sandra Bullock movie “28 Days” where her character goes to rehab for an alcohol addiction.  While she is in rehab other patients graduate, but when they get back out in real life they immediately do drugs again and wind up back in rehab.  Eight months ago I entered the ADT program for a flesh addiction, I guess I am subconsciously worried that after I leave ADT (my spiritual version of rehab) I am going to crash and burn, do flesh-crack and wind up back at the facility.

Things I learned in ADT that I pray God will never let me forget (and when I do, I pray He reminds me quickly!):

  • First and foremost, there’s good flesh and bad flesh and it all profits nothing and bears the fruit of death in our lives, no matter how good it looks.  You can dress it up, you can even bedazzle it, but flesh is still flesh.  It stinks and it’s dead.  The Pharisees had a lot of really good, really religious flesh, but Jesus was harder on them than He was the prostitutes and tax collectors.
  • Jesus died not just to save us from our sins, but so that we could LIVE.  He wants us to live abundant, full lives unencumbered by sin, free from the shackles of religion, and from our union with Him.  We no longer live by simply a moral code.  It’s about relationship with God and that relationship can’t be reduced to a list of do’s and don’ts.  We are united in Spirit with the Creator of the universe.  We are one with Christ.  He is in us and we are in Him.  We are to live, here and now, from that union. (Just to connect the first two items – God’s not looking to strengthen our good flesh or help us be good or live better lives.  He wants us to live in relationship with Him, in moment by moment dependence on Him).
  • Living from our union in Christ is uniquely expressed in every single one of us.  Christ expresses Himself differently through me than He does anyone else on the planet.  I am free to be myself and God doesn’t expect me to be like anyone else.  Even more good news is that you are free to be yourself too and I get to enjoy how Jesus expresses Himself through you.
  • Because of Jesus, and absolutely NOTHING else, I am loved, accepted, valued, and totally secure.  It’s not based on what I do or don’t do.  In Christ, these things are true, ALL. THE. TIME.
  • In spite of my best efforts (that’s code for Kim’s flesh), I am never going to fully understand all of this.  After eight months, I am really comfortable knowing I will never understand it all.  In fact, it’s been very freeing to say there are things I don’t know and things I will never know.  It’s not my job to figure it all out.  I just need to receive what God chooses to reveal to me.
  • Being real and vulnerable is the only way to have true relationship with God and with others.  Hiding and wearing masks is deadly in all kinds of ways.
  • Expectations kill relationships.  When we tell people what we expect of them, it places limits on how real and open they can be with us.  It keeps them from sharing their hearts with us and erects walls and barriers.  Enjoy who God created them to be and allow Him to transform them.
  • Finally, Jesus is enough.  It’s not Jesus plus anything else.  It is only Jesus.  Which is why I realize that while I may feel like an underdone cake, in Christ I am complete.  I don’t need to go to ADT every week to finish baking.  I need to walk in total dependence on Christ.  He is the Author and Finisher of my faith (not me and not ADT) and until I see Him face-to-face, I will probably feel like an underdone cake, and that is perfectly ok.

I apologize for the length of my list, but after all it was the most transforming eight months of my life.  And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

I would also like to say thank you to everyone in our class who so openly and vulnerably shared their lives.  It took me a while to understand, but I finally got it.  The ugly parts and the struggles are where we really see our flesh for what it is and learn to live as Christ.

Finally, thank you to my family for freeing me up one night a week to make this happen.  And thank you for loving me and my brand of crazy, I am a blessed woman.  I love you all and love how God created each one of you to uniquely express Himself to the world through.

Transitions

So, I way underestimated how long it would take me to gain traction and stop spinning my wheels as our household has once again transitioned from the day-in-day-out grind of a busy school year to the much more loose routine of SUMMER!

In theory this should be seamless for me, right?  I don’t go to school.  I don’t have homework every night.  I don’t have to sit in six classes a day, take the right books to each class, and (gasp) remember my locker combination under the pressure of a five-minute class change.  But in reality, I am floundering.

What I forget every single year, for about 16 years now (if you count pre-school – and I do), is the impact of having everyone home, all the time.  No kidding, every year I forget, as if I’ve never done this before.  So it takes me a while to adjust.

Just like going into a dark building after being outside in broad day light.  It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lack of light and you feel lost.  You fumble around in the darkness for a few seconds, as if blind.  That’s me, the stumbling, summer-blind woman.

Generally it takes me longer to transition from one thing to the next than most other, more normal people.  In fact, when it comes to summer it takes me just about all summer to relax and figure it out and then it’s time for school to start back.  Then it takes me until Christmas to gear up and transition back into the school routine.

All I can say is I am slow.

The truth is, I don’t handle any transitions well, not just the annual, seasonal ones.  Some of the other poorly handled transitions in my life:

  • When I was a kid we moved a lot or at least to me it seemed like a lot.  There are so many places to go with this my mind is in a whirlwind, but suffice it to say I think I was the last person to know when we were going to move each time because it was so hard for me no one wanted to be the one to tell me.  Every time I started a new school I ate alone for months and it would take me the entire school year to make my first friend.  Yes I was that kid.
  • My husband and I helped start a new church within a few weeks of getting married.  We attended that church the first 12 years of our life together.  When it ended we joined another church and have been there over 10 years now.  It took about seven years for it to start to feel like my church.  It still feels like my new church.
  • Speaking of being married 22 years…after all this time I actually am starting to feel like I have some idea of how to be married.  I’ve been looking for a formula for how to do it right all these years and I finally found it…Jesus is the formula.  Everything else is worthless.  Again, I am slow and I am sorry.
  • When our first daughter was born, I think I spent the entire first year of her life sitting in our recliner rocking her because I had not thought one minute about what to do with babies once you have them.  The truth is I still feel like I am transitioning into parenthood.  Again, I wasted time looking for the formula.  Again, Jesus is the formula – period, end of story, amen.

All this to say, I had grand dreams of what I could get accomplished this summer without being hemmed in by the parameters of three different schools on three different schedules.  But between dentist appointments, sleep overs, vacations, and summer jobs, well…we’ll see.

To my family and friends, I can only apologize and remind you that there are other reasons you love me.  I am trusting in God’s grace and that He knows me better than I know myself.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

It’s Official – It’s No Longer A Series, It’s Graduated To A Theme

A couple of weekends ago I was chattin’ with the Lord about some things on my heart:  family, grace, love, vacation, the grocery store, making dinner, Bible study, writing.  You know the usual stuff.  I took a lot of notes about our conversation.

I keep several small notebooks around all the time because you just never know where you are going to be when inspiration hits and you’ve got to jot it down.  I am apparently at that age when inspiration hits you better get it down fast or it’s gone, quick.  And I mean like lightning.  Sometimes it’s gone before I can even uncap my pen!

I’m just going with the flow though.  It’s a season of life and Jesus is enough.  I just try to laugh… A LOT!

Sometimes when I am chattin’ with the Lord He answers questions for me.  Sometimes He just tells me things I wasn’t even thinking about.  He often speaks to me in the shower or when I first wake up and haven’t gotten distracted yet.  Sometimes, our conversation is more of a regular dialogue and less of a question answer session.  You know, like a regular relationship.  So as we’re chattin’, I jot down notes.

In case it’s not obvious, I have spent quite a while talking to Him about grace, love, The Resurrection, abundant life and reigning.  The more we talk about it, the more He reveals and I have begun to realize that it is truly a never-ending topic.  And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

So back to a couple of weekends ago, as we were talking, I heard a question in the back of my mind, “What would you write if you thought it wasn’t for public consumption?”

I thought about what that meant.  Honestly for a while I wasn’t sure I even understood the question.  But what I finally came around to was, if I wasn’t concerned about audience, format, topic, length, voice, marketability, etc., what would I write?

Once I understood the question I had to admit that I wasn’t sure I knew the answer.

So I sat down to find out.

I started doing some regular, spontaneous free-writing (I am sure there is some technical writing jargon for this process, but I am learning as I go and someone can tell me in the comments what it is called) just to see what would happen. So I’ve been sitting down with a blank Word document, praying and then I just start writing and see what happens.

 

Writing Desk

 

And you know what inevitably happens? Every single time no matter how I start at the beginning I end up dialoguing with God on paper instead of out loud or in my head.

And you know what we talk about?  Grace, love, Jesus, abundant life, reigning, Bible study.

I guess my point is, even when I sit down in a completely unstructured environment with no expectations or planned outcomes, this is still what’s coming out of me.  Therefore, I think it’s safe to assume for the foreseeable future it’s going to be a theme around here in this space.  My series on abundant living and reigning in life has graduated to a theme.

I would also like to take this opportunity (or should I say risk) to invite you to share your thoughts here.  Maybe you have some examples to share or ideas about what it means to walk free in Christ, to live abundantly and to reign in life.  Maybe you even disagree with my ideas.  Adventures are so much more fun when we share them together.

Play

chocolate bar milk shakes

chocolate bar milk shakes (Photo credit: twobobswerver)

Pressing the Play button after a Pause is a little daunting.

Just needed to sit on some thoughts and ideas for a bit to let them become more clear before spinning them back out in this space.

Picture making a chocolate milkshake.  You grab your blender, put in different ingredients – chocolate ice cream, milk, chocolate syrup – and then you blend them together.  If you don’t put the lid on the machine while it’s blending you’ll just be scraping a mess of ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup off the ceiling, you and the floor instead of enjoying the end product.

Sometimes keeping the lid on things for a bit produces a more enjoyable, well-blended treat.  It might still be messy in the end and it will NEVER be perfect, but at least it will be poured out and presented in a more attractive manner instead of splattered everywhere.  🙂