Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" - My thoughts from the first chapter

This chapter has been hard for me to start writing my thoughts.  It was so emotionally charged with her experiences and it had one of the heaviest questions that all human kind has asked or is still asking about God..."Is God really Good?".  Both of these elements brought up within me a wellspring of emotion.  Emotions that I experienced with rawness and tenderness....they hurt.  But I then knew I needed to go back and read it again...and I even read it a third time.  Each time, I knew that God had been there in all my wounding...putting His arms around me and tenderly and sweetly comforting and healing me... emptying me out so that i could enjoy the fullness that only He can give for my life.   Sara at Riverside Reflections blog helped me understand this a bit more when she wrote: 

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” 

Eugene Peterson’s The Message makes it so clear, 

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. 
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” 

To feel the embrace, we just have to remember to mourn…" 

And here was my response: 
After reading the first chapter of Ann’s book, I wept because I too have experienced pain down deep. But your post made it clear to me as to why I love that chapter and went back and cried again. Why I allowed myself to be torn apart again. Because God takes me in His 
arms and comforts me as only He can. Do we accept God’s comfort or do we push him away? If only we would all say yes to the tenderness of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Father above. It has been a few days since the tender moments with God and my wounds. It is true, He has comforted, but He has has also started to heal me." 

So - In regards to the seed?  Yes, I believe there were many planted of God and His goodness while I was a child.  Unlike Ann, I saw 
rainbows and kittens and communed with God with an innocence of childhood.  In so many ways, I had a great childhood...God let me 
experience goodness and happiness and somehow I knew it was from God. I am so thankful for that.  Of course, that was when I thought I was good as well.  It took sin and its staining affects to make me realize how unclean and dirty my life was and how I soiled those people who came in contact with me.  To realize that I was actually evil and caused great harm to others?  Wow...that got my attention.  I had lost what was most dear to me...my own righteousness.  Without details...the hurt I have inflicted and the infliction I have received have really been the start of it all for me.  Crying out to God when I knew things weren't all rainbows and kittens was the time when I truly began to feel the embrace of God.  Yes - I thank Him for the pain...for without it, I would have never been comforted by the most powerful, loving, fulfilling, awe inspiring God of the universe.

My goal is to wake each morning and really give God the authority in my life.  To live with His Spirit guiding me.  His Spirit Gives 
life...while mine kills and brings destruction.  I must always remember.  Dear Lord Jesus help us all to turn to you...to give you 
all authority! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Our Dreams Aren't Dead


We all have them...some just tucked in your pocket for another day.  Sometimes we pull them out and gaze at them longingly...praying that they will someday be a reality.  However, as we get older, I would venture a guess that they have been tattered and torn...the picture fading.  It is too hard to make out the image...the image that you thought you were going to be.  So, instead of carrying them with us, we have put them in a storage box with the rest of our memories.  When we have time and are encouraged to clean house, we get the box out and open it to find the treasure.  However, it is now a relic, one to reminisce over just like the note from Chrisse, your best friend from 1st grade. "What a wonderful time we had together!  I wonder if we will ever meet again?"   We don't think we will ...but deep down we hope we do.

I have pulled out the box.  I look at the picture.  I wonder if I need to mourne the loss of my dreams like a friend of mine has said he has done.  I don't want to.  There is still a pulse. 

How do I reconcile the life I currently have and share with so many with a dream that I had when I as just a child?  A child with few worries, responsibilities, and attachments.  To be completely honest...when I became a NEW child of God, my dreams grew and took on more meaning.  They were intense and resulted in what some would call neurotic behavior.  I would do crazy things like get up a t 5:00 AM (I didn't have to be there until 9 AM) to meet a coworker that had a reputation for partying like a rock star...just so I could catch him alone to give him the Gospel of John.  I was courageous and not afraid to do things on my own....I would sign up for the prison ministry.  I would talk to everyone I knew about Jesus...even my family.... *gasp*!  But I wanted more...I wanted a radical life shaken up by the dangers of serving God...by trusting him for my bread...daily.  Trusting Him that he would save my life when I travelled to 3rd world countries.  For His wisdom when I spoke to teen girls who were giving themselves away for a night of love.  I would change the world.  

Here is an essay that was published in Francis Chan's Book, "Crazy Love".   I have included some of his comments as well:

“Since I Have My Life Before Me”
By Brooke Bronkowski
I’ll live my life to the fullest.  I’ll be happy.  I’ll brighten up.  I will be more joyful than I have ever been.  I will be kind to others.  I will loosen up.  I will tell others about Christ.  I will go on adventures and change the world.  I will be bold and not change who I really am.  I will have no  troubles but instead help others with their troubles.
You see, I’ll be one of those people who live to be history makers at a young age.  Oh, I’ll have moments, good and bad, but I’ll wipe away the bad and only remember the good.  In fact that’s all I remember, just good moments, nothing in between, just living my life to the fullest.  I’ll be one of those people who go somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan, and nothing will hold me back.  I’ll set an example for others, I will pray for direction.
I have my life before me.  I will give others the joy I have and God will give me more joy.  I will do everything God tells me to do.  I will follow the footsteps of God.  I will do my best!!!

Brooke Bronkowski was a beautiful fourteen-year-old girl who was in love with Jesus.  When she was in junior high she started a Bible study on her campus.  She spent her babysitting money on Bibles so she could give them to her unsaved friends.  Youth pastors who heard about this bought her boxes of Bibles to give away.  During her freshman year in high school, Brooke was in a car accident while driving to the movies.  Her life on earth ended when she was just fourteen, but her impact didn’t.  Nearly fifteen hundred people attended Brooke’s memorial service.  People from her public high school read poems she had written about her love for God. Everyone spoke of her example and joy.  I shared the gospel and invited those who wanted to know Jesus to come up and give their lives to Him.  There must have been at least two hundred students on their knees at the front of the church praying for salvation.  Ushers gave a Bible to each one of them.  They were Bibles that Brooke had kept in her garage, hoping to give out to all of her unsaved friends.  In one day, Brooke led more people to the Lord than most ever will.  In her brief fourteen years on earth, Brooke was faithful to Christ.  Her life was not wasted.  

I pray that I will not squander the time I have been given!

I have to be completely honest here...I am being biased and one sided as I write.  This life I currently have is wonderful.  I am so grateful for all that I have been given.  The Lord took a tattered and torn teenage love affair and turned it into a beautiful marriage.  One of trust and true love.  He took a heart of obedience and turned it to a insanely cute two year old daughter.  I have a nice and safe home with 2 cars in the garage and friends and family that most would be envious of.  I have a truly blessed life.  I have been given much.  The gratitude for all I have brings me to the place where I want to share it with others.  God calls us to this.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48)
The Lord is asking...am I willing?  Am I willing to break out from my everyday normal and dare to be the person i want to be...to look at my picture of my dreams daily and believe...no matter how tattered and torn they may get.

I am really interested to know if others have mourned their dreams and have moved on or if they too have found a pulse?  Please leave a comment:-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Am I Willing to Give Everything for One Thing?

It has been two weeks since I walked into that prison.

Two weeks since heaven brushed close against me.

I have been to the women's Franklin Pre-Release Center (FPRC) many times before with Epiphany Ministry, but this time I left with an uneasiness that has been by my side ever since.  My restless spirit that is trying to tell me something.  Something important.  This is the treasure found at the bottom of the ocean...the one that divers spend all of their time and resources to bring up.

It is important to know that this wasn't an ordinary weekend.  Epiphany (and all its name implies) never is.  Miracles of lives being resurrected from the dead happen here.  Broken hearts experience healing and restoration..desperation turns to hope...bitterness is overtaken by forgiveness.  Yes, this happens in the world around me all the time...but not in such a small concentrated period of time...not that I get to witness.  The power overwhelms me.  The power of Jesus Christ.   Which brings me to the point of the treasure.

It is a truth that I already know...that I have already found.  However, it will cost me something if I want to truly posses it fully.  It will cost me everything.  Just finding this truth, doesn't make it mine.    

A deep sea excavation is dangerous and costly.  Will it be worth it? 

I am usually not affraid to dive in and start exploring the depths of myself.  I want to make changes and knowing is half the battle.  However, this truth isn't that pretty and a little scary.    

You see....I think I am going to have to REALLY CHANGE!  I think God is showing me that I have been playing at being a Christian.  That I have talked the talk but have rarely walked the walk.  My husband and others would say that I am am being too hard on myself...that I am a perfectionist...one who is never enough.  

There might be some truth to that, However, I don't want to stop reaching for the Life that I am supposed to be living.  Especially when Jesus Christ gave all he was and had to reach for me.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.   Matthew 13:44-45
I am the treasure and Jesus is the man who sold everything.  Gave everything...His life on a cross.   Shouldn't I be willing to give all in return?  With Joy!!