Allume, writing

How To Succeed

March 24, 2015

Keep your eyes on God_Allume

It’s 4:30 when the alarm goes off. Admittedly, I am a morning person but even at this hour, I groan at the thought of getting up. Most days it’s closer to 5 when I finally roll back the clovers to make my way to the coffee pot, and the couch for time in prayer, and the Word.

This is how most days begin partly because I like it this way, but mostly because I need it this way.

This time in the quiet with God, before the day stacks up around me is what helps me focus. This time of communion with my Maker is what centers me before my looming to-do list has time to knock me sideways. Any hope to succeed in my day starts here.

We live full lives. Most of us (ahem) don’t have a lot of margin in our day. There’s not enough whitespace and in the steady flow of things that need to be addressed, handled, managed, sorted and processed, it’s easy to lose our focus, to get distracted, to forget why we do what we do–and how we ought to do it.

Join me at the Allume blog for the rest of this article

 

Broken Body, Growth, Obedience

Get To Work (How To Beat Envy)

March 23, 2015

The crocus sprung up this past weekend while I was away. When I’d packed up the car Thursday morning I’d seen their tips peeking up, all green with promise. Sunday morning when I returned, in my rush out the door to go to church I saw them–blooming buttery soft against the dry, gray mulch. They are the one redeeming quality of our otherwise neglected front beds.

Our flower beds are not what I’d call beautiful. I’ve moaned for years about the various plants set deep in the soil there, right in front of the house. And Every spring as I clip and bag and mulch these overgrown shrubs, I wrestle envy over those perfectly groomed beds I see in the glossy gardening magazines.

But the truth is, when I could be working in the yard, I choose to write. When the house is quiet in the middle of the day for 2 short hours, I don’t run for my rake and trowel. I clamor instead, to my desk, to this space–to write. And so the front beds have looked that way for the 7 years we’ve lived here. I grumble about them, but all the while resist the work of making a change.

envy

Today, I read of another writer wrestling envy over the gifts of others and I immediately thought about my own green seasons, and how in the world I have been able to lay that down enough to be truly content.

The secret to beating envy is this: Stop looking around and get to work. (<–Tweet this)

There are a thousand other writers out there whose ability to weave words can easily be declared superior to my own wordsmithing. Sometimes, this fact has been paralyzing. I have nearly drowned in the waves of discontent and jealousy. When this happened recently, I prayed for deliverance from this unhealthy pattern–and God did bring me through it.

What He told me was simply, do the work–get about the tasks I’ve called you to.

It’s so obvious and yet I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see it, because envy is a malignant tumor over the eyes of the heart.

A heart at peace gives life to the body,

but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30 NIV)

Beat it back, friends. Get about your business and do the hard work. Admire those who are gifted, encourage them in their own art, and get on with yours. You’ve no doubt been called to a specific task in this season. Serve the Lord faithfully. Your unique gift is needed–your qualifier is Christ.

Set your eyes steadily upon the Lord.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5 NIV)

 

*edited from the archives

GraceTable, Obedience

Discovering Who Your Neighbors Are

March 2, 2015

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ~Fred Rogers

Moving every two years as a kid meant that besides changing homes, I changed communities too. New school, new neighborhood, new church, new friends–it was all foreign for a season, and then it became home.

And then we’d move again.

For most of my life I associated the word neighbor only with those in close proximity to my residence, namely, the people living in the houses to the left and right of my own–they were my neighbors. Occasionally, I’d extend this parameter across the street or down the block a house or two.

I’m the first to admit how narrow my scope has been.

It has only been in the last several years that relational and world events have forced me to consider what exactly Jesus meant when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Who is He talking about? And how on earth do I love a stranger, or harder still, someone I’ve deemed to be my enemy?

The short answer is, I don’t entirely know…

Today, I’m writing over at my second home, GraceTable.

Come sit by me at the table and finish reading this post.
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Lent

Ashes To Ashes

February 18, 2015

I sit in the back row, beneath the balcony where it’s always darker than the rest of the sanctuary. The church is full, but I  feel alone. Solitude, a welcome comfort at the end of a day run wild with kids and school work, and all of the other things that rise up demanding attention between dawn and dinner.

The service is too late for the little one who will be antsy and melting by 8PM, so my husband keeps the whole brood home and sends me to church. He knows me well, loves me generously.

I scratch a handful of notes during the service, but when I look down this is the one that stands out; “Ashes to Ashes”.

It’s been 2 years since I sat in the ashes of the Refiners fire. Stripped of my pride, I had wept for days, raw from the rubbing of the fullers soap. I’ve never felt so exposed, so utterly bare–and free.

I would go on to write that story, not by desire but out of sheer trembling obedience. By God’s grace, it continues to pass through so many hands. But I have not forgotten the burn, I remember the cost. All along I see it, “ashes to ashes”.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:4)

It’s dangerous living when you forget where you came from. Only a fool lives as if their days aren’t numbered, as if they aren’t shaped and molded out of the dust. I lived foolishly for so many years.

With my back pressed into the chair, in the dim of the hushed sanctuary, I remember this truth: Our days are just a breath, our lives, merely a wisp in the greater cosmos.

for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

This aching season calls me to remember what I am apt to forget–that I am ashes, that my life is not my own, that a price was paid, and apart from my Maker I am incapable of any good thing.

Ashes to ashes.

With the mark of remembrance swiped in oil and ash in the shape of a cross on my forehead, I step out into the bitter cold. The weight of glory pressing in, the cross of Christ.

Thy work alone, O Christ,
Can erase the weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine,
O Lord to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest,
And set my spirit free.

(Horatius Bonar, Not What My Hands Have Done)

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For a limited time, you can download both Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement and the Companion Workbook for FREE from Noisetrade books. My prayer is that somewhere between the pages, you would meet Christ, and enjoy a deeper communion with Him.

You are loved, friends. Let Him love you.

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Compassion, Dominican Republic

The Unexpected Reason For Change

January 21, 2015

“You’ll be changed by this,” That’s what they said.

“You’ll never be the same,” I heard repeatedly, as the time for departure grew closer.

“It’s going to be a hard trip”, People told me.

TOMS

The only other experience that even comes close to this adventure with Compassion International, was a trip I took at 18 years old, to a reservation in the middle of North Dakota. That was my first brush with third world level poverty, and a measure of spiritual oppression I’ve not seen before or since. The reservation was a dark, hopeless place.

And so in packing for the Dominican I tucked my North Dakota experience into the corner of my mind. This was not that. This place would be different, I felt sure of that–though, how different I could not yet know.

city street

I went as empty of expectations as humanly possible. I begged God to just make me open, so that I could fully experience the trip in the way that He intended for me. From the first day we set foot on the tile floor at Compassion Child development center 126, I knew already that I would be changed by this trip, but not for the reasons most people implied.

When you encounter extreme poverty, you gain a perspective that you otherwise cannot manufacture. Reading about it in books is one thing, but smelling it, facing it, and having a meal among those who truly have nothing, is an experience impossible to convey in writing. Words do not suffice. Standing in a 10 foot by 12 foot home, and realizing that this is all there is, does something to your heart and head for sure. I came home to abundance–or by many standards, excess, and I don’t know how to reconcile the haves and the have nots.

hanging jeans2

But the more we interacted with our Dominican brothers and sisters, the more I saw Jesus. I didn’t see their poverty the way I assumed I would because more than their lack I saw what they did have–

A.W. Tozer said, The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.

I saw a people that treasured Christ, and because their treasures are laid up in the One by whom all things were made, I saw an unspeakable joy and passion for God that lessened the lack of the physical things. I experienced a level of love and hope that superseded the notion that these are a destitute people. Physically, they live in a poverty most of us can barely fathom. Spiritually, their wealth exceeded most of my fellow American friends and colleagues.

josiah and baby

I continue to ask myself, which is the greater poverty? Is one worse off without food or without Christ? If one is starving, might they miss the opportunity to know Christ, should they die from physical starvation?

But the Word says that He is our portion, our daily bread–and so I wonder, can we not feast on Christ alone, and be filled? Is Christ enough?

Instinctively today, I want to say yes. But I have never been starving, or limited by income. I have never gone without in the way that my Dominican friends have, and so I wonder too, if that makes me unqualified to answer these questions. if my children went to bed hungry every night, would I still say Christ is enough? Every day we have to ask our selves, whatever happens today–is Christ enough?

sunset reflection

I hope that my answer is always a confident “yes”. C.S. Lewis said, in his book, The Weight Of Glory,”He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”

During Sunday morning worship with our friends a few steps down the street from center 126, the roof was absolutely raised by the heartfelt worship that unfolded. These people, the ones whom we say say lack everything, demonstrated a wealth of love for God that moved me to tears. I could not speak but to watch and be humbled by their outrageous joy for a God who allows them to live with limitations most of us would find unbearable.

I believed this trip would change me, but I didn’t realize it would be the unbridled joy that would turn me inside out.

DR

The people working alongside Compassion and the children at the center exhibited a passion for nurturing and giving like nothing I’ve ever seen. They say they are servant leaders, and refuse your compliments because they know it is by Him, and in Him and for Him that they live and move and have their being. The recognize in their physical poverty, that it is God who sustains them. And for this they rejoice continually.

I sit here now, with all of this in my lap. Picking through the definition of poverty, and combing slowly through the images of the beautiful people I had the opportunity to encounter. When I look at them, I see God. I see the beauty of the body of Christ in action. I see servitude towards one another that honors the dignity of humanity and the divinity of God.

sunset in the DR

I am changed because of joy. I am different because I realize now what Nehemiah meant when he said, “The Joy of the Lord is your strength”.  (Nehemiah 8:10)

I don’t ignore the magnitude of their physical need. I don’t pretend that living on less than $2 a day is acceptable. But I have seen the power of praise and the satisfaction of souls that hunger and thirst for righteousness, and I have seen a fullness that any measure of food or things can never achieve.

mid-air

God is enough–He is everything. The man who has God, has all things in One.

 

 

Compassion, Dominican Republic

When Your Hands Are Empty

January 18, 2015

The day before I boarded the plane for the Dominican, I wandered around Target gathering a few last minute things–bug spray (Malaria!), Hand sanitizer, baby wipes, a few boxes of snacks for the trip. I purchased stickers and crayons for the kids at the Compassion center. I bought dish towels and a small set of frying pans to present to the women during the home visits.

I left the store with my hands full. Prepared.

Gifts

At home, I added my purchases to the already mostly-full suitcase holding baby clothes, and construction paper, sticker books, and other recommended items. I planned to check the bag that would carry my gifts, and carry my clothes with me on the plane. The risk of losing my luggage has been a major source of anxiety for me when I travel.

Compassion

The next morning at the airport, I checked my giant gift bag and made my way to my gate. Weighing in at 47lbs, just below the limit for the higher bag fee, I smiled proudly at the baggage checker.

This first leg of my trip is when I heard God so specifically reminding me to open my eyes–to be open to this experience. No longer worrying about my suitcase, my thoughts shifted to what God wanted to show me on this trip.

Children

Compassion Children

I knew without a doubt that God himself had swung this door open for me. I never questioned this invitation to travel with my favorite ministry. Though I was slow coming around to Compassion, once I signed on 4 years ago as both a sponsor and an advocate, I knew this was the place for me.

God had every thread and detail of this trip in His loving hands. I knew it on the plane when he spoke to me at sunrise, and I would need to remember that when I landed in the Dominican without my bag of gifts.

Gifts

Somehow, instead of coming with us to Santo Domingo, my bag stayed behind in Miami.

My worst travel anxiety realized. It’s interesting to me that my personal fear when traveling is not that I will die, but that I will not have my things at the other end–

I think this is precisely part of the reason I ended up on the trip, without my things.

Compassion child

little boy

I made the necessary calls, filled the claims, and asked (repeatedly) for my bag to be forwarded on to the Dominican. For 4 days, my bag remained in Miami, for inexplicable reasons. When it becomes clear that my bag would not make it to me in the DR, I advised the airline to keep the bag, I would simply pick it up on my way home.

Juan Carlos

Every time we met with the children and their families at the Compassion center, gifts were presented.

I had nothing to give.

I was constantly reminded of how even as I had prepared and planned and spent, still, I arrived empty handed. The members of our team were generous givers. Multiple times people opened their own gift bags and offered me something to share with the children and their families. I gave out of what others had, rather than out of my own personal wealth. And it was humbling.

little boy

little boy

My struggle with pride is well documented. For me, giving is always easier than receiving. I am uncomfortable with empty hands. For 3 days, I received hospitality from people who had very little, knowing that comparatively, I had so much–but not really, because as I was there with them, I had in my possession 4 outfits. That’s it. In some ways, I feel like God leveled the playing field temporarily. I know that financially, and physically, I live with more than many of my Dominican Brothers and sisters. I know that I can’t even begin to compare my 3 days without luggage to their lifetime without basic provision, like steady food, clean water and safe shelter. I know that and so I don’t pretend the say that our poverty is the same. But I came with the intent of blessing others with things, and God allowed that opportunity to pass without my ability to rectify it in time.

I came empty handed to the Dominican, but left with a heart aching with the most unexpected and fullest measure of joy.

door

The people I shared time with on this trip continually gave to me. Right up until the last minute of our airport goodbye’s I was still in the position of receiving, as a new friend bought my lunch in between flights.

I am sure for all of my initial unpacking of this particular piece of my trip, I haven’t even begun to understand all that God is doing in this. The unbridled generosity of not only my trip mates, but the Compassion staff and community in the Dominican is only a foretaste of the generosity of God towards His children.

It is only when our hands are empty that He can fill them. Whatever our plans are, His ways are even better.

suitcase

I’m home now with my missing suitcase–it didn’t show up until 2 days after I got home from the Dominican. Slowly I’m unwrapping the gifts I received during my week traveling with Compassion. In time, I will share more stories with you. But for now, maybe it’s time you started your own journey by sponsoring a child through Compassion International. 

Open your hands, friends. Offer them for God’s kingdom. Let Him use you in the life of another in need.

It’s not about what you have to offer. Just be open–available, willing.

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Compassion, Dominican Republic

Food Is Love

January 14, 2015

It’s our last full day here in the Dominican. Tomorrow we fly home to our families, but we will bring what we have seen and heard and smelled and experienced home with us. We have been well cared for and blessed by the people we came to meet, by the ones Compassion serves here in the Dominican Republic. For people whom we would consider having so little, we are discovering that they give more generously than one might imagine possible.

blessed hands

The need here is great. Living on less than $2 a day does not keep food on the table for a family of any size. My Grandfather used to say that “food is love”. This statement is absolutely true. When we feed someone who is hungry, this simple act of meeting a most basic need tells them that they are worthy, that we recognize their hunger, and we understand. Feeding people opens the doors to conversation and a practice of hospitality that we can do easily because we recognize that the need for nourishment is a basic, universal part of humanity.

Part of the Child Sponsorship program at Compassion includes regular meals for the children. It’s a basic physical need that helps open the children up to hearing the Gospel.

I’m sharing today over at GraceTable.org Join me at the table for the rest of this post.

Compassion, Dominican Republic

One Way To Build A Future

January 13, 2015

We wind our way across roughly paved streets and uneven, disintegrating sidewalks, to even more unsteady ground, twisting between narrowing alley ways, to get to the home of Johani and Johan, seven year old twins who are significantly smaller than my 5 year old daughter back home.

walking

Their mother graciously invites the 7 of us in. Our translator and tutor step in also, as we all press in as far as we can in to a room that can’t be more than 10o square ft in size. Immediately, sweat pours down my back, my legs, my neck. We’re pressed against each other, as the twins climb from lap to chair to floor and lap again. In the doorway 4 more neighborhood children appear, and without invitation, they step into the patch of space that is left by the door.

window

The translator explains the family situation; Rudolpho, the twins father works selling bread to markets, but if he doesn’t sell, his family doesn’t eat. He stopped going to church with his family, in order to work more. Before we go, He asks us to pray that he would return to church. The tutor reminds him that it is important that he go and worship with his family. It provides a good example to his children, and promotes stability in the home.

He bows his head, nodding. I bow my head too and notice that the floor slopes towards the door, and towards the left side of the room. It’s made up of broken bits of tile, salvaged, I presume. None of it matches, and large gaps are filled with rough, uneven cement, or some kind of mortar.

The bare board walls feel flimsy, and the rain drips in through the separation of the sheet metal roof.

I tell Amy, I don’t know how you raise a child in such instability.

The next day we make our way again through the winding alley ways, climbing uneven steps, holding PVC pipes-turned railing. A handful of women sit on a ledge along our path, one of them exposed, nursing her baby in the middle of the filth. I smile weakly, and look away.

Children are everywhere, climbing around the uneven path with an agility that must be learned quickly in such an environment. I’m struggling to navigate the 2 foot step, over the steady trickle of gray wastewater that flows between our feet. It stinks of bodily waste and rotting garbage.

I’m afraid I will trip, or slip.

Alley

Alley way

walking

When we get to the home of Orquídea, my heart seizes for a moment as I size up her staircase. It’s barely wide enough for one person. The steps are narrow and short, with barely enough room for half of your foot to fit on each step. The rebar banister is clearly a poor option for stability, as it is hanging off at one end and wobbles terrible when you hold it. “Hold the wall” they tell us, as we scale the steps. But the wall is mostly flat and so there really isn’t anything to hold on to.

I press in against it as close as I can, holding my breath the entire way. Orquídea gabs my arm near the top of the steps and pulls me inside. I am grateful for her firm grip, and her warm smile. We both breathe a collective sigh. I chuckle nervously at the accomplishment of not having fallen off of her staircase.

Inside her home, we talk to her about her 7 children and her husband of 12 years. Her boys wait at the table until it’s time to leave for school. They remind me of my own boys, waiting for me at home. Another little boy appears at the top of the stairs and I feel my heart seizing again. He balances on the edge of the top concrete step, the majority of his flip flops bending over the cracking edge of the stair.

My palms start sweating. All I can see is the danger of this home. I keep praying he doesn’t fall. There is nothing to soften the blow at the bottom. I watch him nervously as he shifts his weight with his back to the staircase. I breath deeply and whisper to Amy that I’m afraid he is going to lose his balance. Moments later, a barefoot 3 year old girl appears behind him on the steps. My heart lurches into my throat. How on earth did she manage to climb these treacherous stairs?

I am relieved when she comes all the way inside.

Past Orquídea, outside of her front door, I watch a boy climbing on the sheet metal roof across the alleyway. I’m seized in these moments by the constant and undeniable instability of my surroundings. I wonder how often children are fatally injured in this community simply by the terrain in which they are forced to navigate from a very young age.

roof

But as I watch the children maneuver these difficult streets and alleys with shocking agility, I realize that the instability more threatening to them here is not physical but spiritual. They are born here, and learn to crawl, and walk and run on this challenging turf. They know it, and manage to move about with enviable speed and balance. But their emotional environment is rocky, and without proper training and infrastructure, the weight of extreme poverty can crush them.

cityDR

The beauty of what is gained through Child Sponsorship  is a relationship that serves as a foundation upon which a life of stability with hope for the future can be built. Physical acclimation to our environment is more easily accomplished than spiritual and emotional stability when hope is threatened by circumstances. Children in the Compassion sponsorship program are given a framework upon which they can climb from the crumbling steps of the alleyways into a future of hope, and promise.

When you sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic, you are helping to building a future for a child at risk.

Child sponsorship works because of the firm foundation that is laid through letter writing and communication with your sponsored child. Child sponsorship tells a child living in an environment of instability, that they are loved, they are important, and that they are worthy of the effort that it takes to help frame a life that can withstand the pressures of the world.

Lay a foundation. Sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic.  

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Compassion, Dominican Republic

Why We Can’t Afford To Close Our Eyes

January 12, 2015

airplane window

It’s 6AM by the time I board my first leg of my trip down to the Dominican Republic. It’s an early flight full of tired passengers, most of whom like myself, probably woke up well in advance of 6 and would do anything for a little more sleep. We are a quiet, groggy bunch.

It’s only minutes after we rise to cruising height, that the first hints of sunlight kiss the wing tips of the plane. We hang there, side by side in the sky.

But instead of growing brighter inside the cabin, as I’m straining across the aisle to see the pink bands of the sun rising, things begin to darken. One by one, stiff window shades are pulled down.

Just like that, the sunrise disappears.

Weary travelers recline with hats pulled down over their eyes, tucking chins to chests. Some trade the morning light for the harsh yellow of the overhead spotlight to read by, while others fight for sleep. And I understand it, I have done both. I too feel the inconvenience of a sunrise flight.

But in that moment I can’t ignore the gnawing voice that scratches at my heart as I mourn the opportunity I’m missing while strapped helplessly in my aisle seat with no access to the shades. This morning, an urgency swells. I want to fling the shades open.

How often do we get to see the sun rise from 30,000 feet?

Have we grown so bored with the majesty of the dawn breaking that the glorious has now become the lackluster mundane? When did we become too tired to appreciate the gift of the new day? Have we lost our sense of wonder at the marvel of creation that unfolds day after day without fail, even as we fail to pay attention?

Open your eyes. 

I hear this like a reverb in my soul.

Open your eyes.

I nod to myself. I expected this word, open.

As I prayed and packed and prepared to leave the word, “open” was the word that wrapped it’s arms around me, and shook me with desperate determination. In order to spend, we have to be willing–we have to be open.

I hear this in the dark of the cabin: Let the light in. BE overwhelmed by the majesty of this moment. FEEL the beauty and humility of your smallness. Let the pinky-white glow of the sunrise envelope you, renewing your appreciation for the magnitude and generosity of God. Let the light TRANSFORM you.

But there’s more. We aren’t just called to open our eyes to the light–but to actually become it.

You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

I lived for 15 years with the shades down. I knew about Compassion International for 15 years before I ever considered child sponsorship. 

15 years.

Comfortable in the dark, I shielded my eyes from what I could not bear to see–from what I was too tired to observe–until I could no longer hold back the light. What I saw then, I could not un-see.

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8)

Dawn is breaking. God’s kingdom is coming, on earth as it is in heaven. We can’t afford to close our eyes anymore.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. (Romans 13:11-12)

Child sponsorship is life-giving. It is light bearing. I have seen the luminance in the eyes of these children and in the words of David Jr. who pulled at my sleeve and told me, “I am crazy for Jesus!”

Compassion DR

With the adorable David Jr. (12 years old)

Be a light for a child living in extreme poverty. Sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)

Let your light rise in the darkness. 

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Growth, One Word

One Word To Change Everything

January 5, 2015

When I discovered the One Word concept in place of New years resolutions, I think my soul took a deep breath. I have a long track record of broken resolutions in my past and so choosing only one word in the new year felt like a more manageable option–at the very least, I felt like I had less opportunity to fail.

But when I started this whole one word thing, I quickly discovered that it’s not me who chooses my words. I’m not sure I even have a say in it. The first word God gave me 4 years ago, was obedience. It’s safe to say that I would never have chosen that word.

The following year, he gave me the word, “trust”–again, not a word I would ever have selected.

succulent

Following trust, He whispered the word “heal”. I argued long with Him over that one, but in the end He won, because He’s God and 2 years prior He taught me difficult lessons about obedience and then led me to a place of trusting Him, and so of course, I surrendered to His healing. It was so hard (as I feared it would be). And so good (as I hoped it would be).

2014 was a year named “release” and all I could think of for weeks was that overplayed song from the movie, Frozen, “Let it go”. For weeks I wondered if God had given me the word, or if it was imbedded in my brain by the clever music writers at Disney. Eventually, I resized that it didn’t actually matter if God had chosen the word, (which I am now certain He did), because He uses all things for His purposes.

Aloe

And so in 2014 I let go of some baggage. I let go of dreams, fears, plans, draining relationships, and so many faulty expectations. I learned the gift of creating art and releasing it into the world. I learned to let go of Sunday’s as another day in my week to get things done, as I walked more intentionally beside my sisters and mentor in the Sabbath Society.

Release turned out to be a good year, despite some particularly dark seasons.  I hosted a retreat, took a new (unexpected) job, and founded GraceTable. All of these things came about because of God. The 3 years leading up to 2014, God used to prepare and equip me for what would come next. All of my words are connected and He has graciously been connecting some of the dots for me, like mapping the stars. While I don’t yet see the whole picture, I know I don’t need to. I know that what comes next is a new word, with new lessons, and new opportunities to explore what it is to live fully surrendered to God.

My history with generosity is less than impressive. In the earlier years of my faith, I begrudged tithing and giving because I suffered from a scarcity mentality. I believed if I gave things away, then I would be lacking. This is utter nonsense, though, if you read what God says about giving (and fasting):

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:7-9)

God has shown me throughout the last year, that by releasing what actually belongs to Him, and sharing it with others and those in need, we find the greater blessing. I have seen this. Repeatedly. And it is astounding. So many times, my willingness to let go of something for the benefit of another soul has been met with the reward of deep joy in Christ. I have never missed a single dollar that I’ve parted with as I have learned to let God guide my giving.

There is always enough when we have Christ in us. He is enough.

wild plants

As I leaned in to ask Him about 2015, and what word he would choose to name this year, I shook my head in amazement at how perfectly my journey has been woven by His intentions. Reading again in Isaiah, these words kept out at me, and convicted my heart:

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-12)

Spend. That’s the word he chose for me this year. I checked and double checked with Him, I asked for confirmation numerous times, and just this morning, as I was pleading with Hm over the words I would write here, He led me back to the passage He’s been whispering to me for weeks.

Spend, Kris Camealy

I don’t think my word is about spending money (my husband will be relieved!) at least, not entirely. Isaiah 58 is about how we spend our life. This is it. We get a few turns around the globe and then we pass like a mist into the next world. This word, spend is an invitation.

I hear God asking me,

what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? (Mary Oliver)

Mary Oliver

I already know the answer, I want to spend it for His glory. This year, I believe, He’s going to show me more of what that looks like.

Saturday morning, while most of you are still in your beds, I will be making my way to the airport, and eventually to the Dominican Republic. I have the privilege of traveling with Compassion International and 3 other bloggers on a Sponsor Tour, and will be writing about Child Sponsorship from there. I would love it if you would follow along, pray for me, for the team going, and for the children and families we will meet. Subscribe the the blog, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook to keep up.

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What have you named 2015? What is your One Word?

 

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