If God

I’m not doing well with words lately. Every time I’ve tried to speak it’s felt like pulling frozen taffy.

Yesterday morning I talked to a good friend of mine who is in Ireland. Somehow she said all of the things I’ve been trying (and failing) to say for the last few weeks. 

I’ve been asking God some big questions recently and while waiting to hear back from him, I’ve gotten trapped under a huge pile of words and emotions. It hasn’t been pretty. What I know about God speaking is that he usually does it quickly. Nevertheless, I have this sense of waiting on him.

There’s something of Romans 7-8 in all of my personal struggles. Usually, the first half of any hard time consists of me wrestling with myself and losing. At some point I remember the character of God and I’m encouraged to stop looking at myself and start looking at him. This is when I move into chapter 8 of Romans and I begin (again) to believe that he is good and that in my total weakness, he is strong and loving.

And Paul’s questions are the real thing, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

I also read yesterday, “The moment you realize that God wants good for you more than you want good for yourself, is the moment that you let go.” – Adam Smith

It’s not to say that everything will be easy, but there is real and solid peace involved in struggling with instead of against God. He is so good, so loving and so much bigger than everything we face… even when what we face is our own selves.

Let Down Your Nets

This weekend I was really wrestling with the feeling that I am not up for the job I’m doing. I had all kinds of questions about how much stress is healthy and leads to growth and how much is unhealthy and leads to deterioration. It’s not as straight forward as setting boundaries for when I work and when I rest because sometimes when it’s time for me to study my brain won’t engage… and sometimes when I feel like I need rest I do actually have to be at that meeting.

Often people will say that if God calls you to do something he will give you the strength to accomplish the job. Thinking along these lines, if I look back at the last school I staffed, I see that it took a while to get the swing of things and until I

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“got it,” I was really wrestling – similarly to how I am wrestling right now.
On one hand it gives me hope that there will be a tipping point when it stops feeling like there’s an ogre sitting on my chest. On the other hand because there is a lot more work with this school, it feels like maybe it’s just more than I would ever be able to handle… Continue reading “Let Down Your Nets”

Better Than I Deserve

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks, but I am not sure how to word it so that it conveys the joy, gratitude, elation, and shock I feel.

Last year while studying so constantly I went without a lot of things. In fact, there was one point when I didn’t have enough money to buy food and when I asked God what was up with this,

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he said, “I want you to be hungry.”
I was hungry most of last year. Hungry for a lot more than just food; hungry for a sense of home, for clothes (everything had holes), for technology that didn’t break down all of the time, for people to share what I was learning with…. there were a lot of things I was hungry for last year.

At the beginning of this year God began to teach me how to really receive his love. Maybe I should have known this already? Maybe it will take all of my life? Wherever you stand on this idea of receiving love, it seems to be something that I’m often learning, but this year it has been much more concentrated…. Continue reading “Better Than I Deserve”

Crisis of Faith

What is a crisis of faith? To me a crisis of faith is any time anything (circumstances, ideas, people, desires, etc) challenges my current beliefs. When my beliefs are challenged I must wrestle with all of it and either see how the challenge really does work inside of what I believe or I have to adjust my beliefs.

It sounds pretty basic, but it’s hardly ever a fun experience.

I remember once I was sitting in a shared room with my friend Jessica. We were on vacation, we were young and we were up super late talking about the mysteries of the Universe, or men, or both. At some point one of us suggested, “What if we don’t actually exist?” What followed was both frightening and hilarious (in retrospect). Both of us could almost feel the floor of the room slide away revealing a black, sucking chasm beneath us. Although it couldn’t have actually happened this way, my memory shows the situation to me like we were both actually hanging onto the beds for dear life as the room rocked back and forth and objects began to disappear…. Continue reading “Crisis of Faith”

Once More With Feeling

I used to write poetry and now I write to-do lists. I used to go with the flow and now I keep a calendar.

It’s not that I have lost my soul to the daily grind. Just the opposite, actually. I have discovered a motivation that surpasses my melancholy or my desire to always be comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not so fundamentally different that my desk is now always tidy. I still wrestle with life and try to take time to think about the why’s behind action and existence. I still feel like I’m in a foggy dream for at least an hour after I get out of bed, and I still get ideas stuck in my head that poke at my guts until I give them words. My identity as a daydreamer is intact…. Continue reading “Once More With Feeling”

They Shall See God

I am driven strongly by relationships, but no relationship more than my relationship with God. This used to express itself in a constant fear of failure… a vigilant weighing and measuring how “good” I was on any given day. But in recent years I’ve been able to let go of that more and more and begin to really enjoy God himself (realizing that He quite enjoys me).

Does that seem like a strange concept? Enjoying God? I used to wonder if it was a tail told by overemotional, super holy people. I am neither of those things. I have an interesting perspective because while I am a huge feeler and very expressive, I also have such a deep desire to know what is true. The way that this has worked itself out in my life is that I have LONGED to dive straight into the heart of God and be entirely lost, but I am also constantly testing things against reality, against the Bible, against the advice of people I deeply trust…. Continue reading “They Shall See God”

Withalittlehelp

Sometimes a bad evening happens and all you need is a person (or two) to hear you and sympathize. Nothing major, just friends who care.

Even friends like your own mom. (Thanks, mom!)

It’s a bit like shushing a frightened, crying toddler. Only a scrape… kiss the wet cheek, snuggle a moment.

Except today I was the toddler.

It was nothing. Really. Some crazy people, driving dangerously and flipping me off for not also driving dangerously (you know that strip between Co Springs and Denver where it’s narrow and curvy and everyone drives like maniacs!?). Then some technology issues, then running around and retracing steps because I did things wrong (without knowing the rules) to start…. Continue reading “Withalittlehelp”

Right Out Loud

God’s goodness and love keep breaking through to me.

This morning I was reading a book and several pages into one chapter I had to set the book down and pray for forgiveness because I realized how far I have been falling short.

Do you do that? Do you fall short? Do you spend much time thinking about this, feeling guilty?

I do that. But lately? When I realize I feel guilty about something and I take it to God do you know how he always responds?

“I love you, Peggy.”

Right out loud in my head… Continue reading “Right Out Loud”

As You Loved Me

Do you ever wonder what Paul was like in person? Until I actually studied the New Testament as a whole I pictured him so pious and judgmental. After reading all of his letters and really considering what his life looked like, it’s impossible to remember how I got to those assumptions about him.

I do remember being vastly comforted  by the book of 2 Corinthians. I felt he must have been writing to people like me. When I discovered that the Corinthians were actually super critical of Paul, the humility with which he wrote becomes a hundred times greater. Standing in the face of those who say you are weak and explaining how much deeper your weakness goes than they could ever know… Well.. it has shown me what a deep trust and love Paul had for Jesus; how much his identity was based not on what men thought of him, but based solely on what the Father had done for him…. Continue reading “As You Loved Me”

The Good Portion

Lately I’ve been thinking about this word, “intimacy.”

The official definitions I find don’t seem to convey much depth,

  1. Close familiarity or friendship; closeness.
  2. A private cozy atmosphere.

How would you define intimacy?

When I think about my closest friendships, I see intimacy with them in the same light that I see vulnerability. I can admit my faults and struggles to just about anyone (even to the world wide web), but how I feel right now is probably the most sensitive. What’s going on inside of me in the moment is the most vulnerable thing for me to share. I think this is because once I have thought through things, I can find a way to accept myself and communicate to others in a way that is more likely to ensure their acceptance of me. When I haven’t thought through something, I may discover that I don’t like myself and then it’s a danger that others might not like me, as well.  I’m not sure it’s the same for everyone, but I do know that when I choose to be vulnerable a kind of intimacy takes place with the person I’m sharing with. Especially if they aren’t horrified by what I’ve shared…. Continue reading “The Good Portion”

The Space Between

There is this space between confusion and understanding that is difficult to handle.

Yesterday I watched a fictionalized account of the end of the apostle Peter’s life. He’s telling a Roman soldier about the days before Jesus died and I was struck by the last supper in the upper room. First, Jesus tells them that someone is going to betray him. Matthew 24:22 says, “And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” This part always gets to me. In our deepest hearts we stand before God and know the treachery we are capable of committing. For some reason Jesus allows them this time of reflection as they wonder what he knows that they do not.

Then Jesus has the disciples drink the wine and eat the bread. He tells them that it symbolizes his blood and body. Then, this Messiah about to be king gets down and washes their feet…. Continue reading “The Space Between”

What it Takes

Last week I had my first meeting with a Life Coach. You know what that’s all about, right? Of course.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but it’s pretty awesome. Digging deep into the root of problems is one of my favorite things to do. No, really. I mean it. I also like to eat ice cream and lay near the ocean and listen to the surf come in and out. I won’t say they’re all equal, but since I’m not eating sugar and the beach is several hundred miles away, I’ll settle for poking at inward hurty places.

Here’s why; God shows up. He just barges right into these situations and speaks the truth…. Continue reading “What it Takes”

The Greatest of These

Obedience and disobedience.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend the other day that I realized something really good has shifted in my heart and mind concerning obedience. It goes along with the post I made about dancing or being a dog.

I went through this period of time last year when I felt like I kept hearing God telling me to do the most seemingly insignificant, in-the-moment things. While I had been longing to hear him constantly and obey him always, this almost felt like micro managing.

Typing that out it sounds like I’m complaining about God. The truth is… I felt annoyed. It seemed like being followed around by someone who was constantly correcting and judging me.

And I wrestled with this. I didn’t want to ask God to leave me alone! That’s the very last thing I want to ask God. And I didn’t want to tell God he was annoying me. Can you imagine?

Was it even God?… Continue reading “The Greatest of These”

The Chaos Theory

Just one more day left in the great state of Washington.

I could let my current state of broken exhaustion speak to whether the time here has been “successful,” but I’m not sure that it should. We’re big fans of simple summaries. “How was your trip?” “It was good, thanks for asking,” or “Oh man, it was bad, glad that’s over.”
It’s unkind to get mad at people for asking this very generic question as they pass you in the hallway but I have never found simple summaries easy. I need to talk to several people who are willing to listen to me ramble for a while as I figure out what just happened before I can feel comfortable with this one or two sentence response.

I had a good day of realization on Sunday. I had just spent several days doing nothing because of some intense neck pain and I had a “support raising lunch” to be a part of after church. During church the pastor talked about our false selves and how the goal is to lay those down, let God work on us and learn from him about our true selves. I hear that message with my life. I have always felt this sureness that no matter what the social standard is, I will likely not measure up, so the best thing I can do is combat my need for approval with total honesty and an appropriate level of vulnerability. It’s a bit like shock therapy for my false self and it keeps me trusting in God’s love and goodnessContinue reading “The Chaos Theory”

The Cycle of Surrender

There are predictable stages to my cycles of growth. Unfortunately several of these stages are so disorienting that each time they occur I feel like Alice sliding down the rabbit hole. And they are only predictable in retrospect. I guess that means they aren’t predictable, but identifiable.

I get lost in my head sometimes. Some places are dark and foreboding. Some thoughts are loud and overbearing and sometimes they lie.

I don’t mean that I “hear voices,” but my own voice, or the echoes in my memory of things other people have said- sometimes these become more vivid than the real world around me…. Continue reading “The Cycle of Surrender”