Seasons

Just this today…

Funny to hear your own heart from the mouth of another.

A crop is made by all the seasons and the only way to have it all — is not at the same time… but letting one season bring its yield into the next..”

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Still out on that limb

Not much today, just needing to hear and know and believe this…you too?

Still out on that limb, still in that mid-leap of faith.

Currently, hovering somewhere around #100 with only four days left to vote!

Also, though, it’s important to share this—the founder of Noonday’s heart behind this whole extra spot on this trip situation.

Really, just beautiful.

Because what we do in this life, it matters. How we spend our time and our energies and our resources, speak powerfully of the things we hold dear…give a window to the core of our very heart. The hidden, made visible.

Just a few things to ponder today, and everyday, in this stepping out of faith.

The Best Kind of Crisis

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been jokingly mentioning to friends that I’m going through a mid-life crisis.

And it’s funny really, because hopefully it’s more a crisis of the quarter-life nature. But also not funny, because in many ways it’s true.

 

So, my husband is in the military, right? Which equates to frequent moves and constantly uprooted lives and homes and friendships, to name a few. All of which is….not much fun.

And each move and transition brings for me a host of unexpected feelings, beyond all the obvious ones.

It leaves me a bit stuck.

Not sure who I am. Not sure how to go forward. Not sure how what’s behind connects with what’s now and all that lays ahead. Disjointed realities, always searching for the cohesiveness of God’s plans.

Always back again at the preverbal drawing board of my life, trying to understand what exactly I was created for and how exactly it intersects this specific space and season of life. Or really, just any piece of life.

Hard questions. Good questions.

Not questioning my worth and value in the eyes of my Creator, or my ultimate purpose in bringing Him glory. Just, what does that even really look like? And how do I even really begin to live that out?

So it’s been rather comical, in a not-so-amusing kind of way, to find myself right back there again. No move, no upheaval. Just a simple change of season.

Really, a change of chapter within a season. Part two of life here in Japan. Who would have thought it possible.

And this change of chapter is really great. Most days, it’s exciting to think about what’s ahead and dream with the Lord in what He has for me. To rest from what is behind, and prepare for whatever’s to come.

But some days, it feels a bit more like a crisis of the milestone variety.

You see, I’m still out there on that limb. Trusting God, without really fully knowing. And it’s true, I don’t know what He’s doing, but I do know who He is.

Whether it is this, or not, doesn’t change His good plans for me. It doesn’t change His pure and loving heart towards me.

And I thought today, that maybe these weeks of crisis….maybe they are more than I’m giving them credit for.

Maybe they are more like the best kind of crisis.

Restlessness and deep questions, bringing me to my knees before my Savior. Discontentment and frustration, drawing me to raw prayer. Heartache and hunger, calling me to the very Words of life.

Is it really a crisis if it ushers me to more intimacy with Christ?

There is meaning, in the before and in the after. But especially, there is deep meaning in this in-between of waiting. In this seemingly crisis-like, in-between of refining.

 

And the beauty of it?

Not only am I being refined, but what He has for me and who He’s made me to be is getting clearer as well. How all these dreams and passions and gifts and opportunities and needs align for such a time as this. All these desires and experiences He’s shaped, just may all fit together to create a story no one would ever believe, let alone even fathom.

He’s more than capable of that.

And if that takes crisis-inducing waiting to birth forth…

Then without a doubt, it’s the best kind of crisis. And one worth wrestling, all the way through.

 

“Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

 

A Weekend of Grace

I awake Sunday morning, and no…it’s not an early rising.

I’ve just enjoyed one of the last big “moments” in this season of leading a women’s ministry. And if you’ve ever served in women’s ministry, you know it’s a big one! We just had our annual women’s retreat, a weekend of fun and laughter and delight over the Word.

Now you understand the extended slumbering.

It was a weekend of joy in so many ways, but really, it’s been a weekend of Grace.

And the things we pondered, the words we lingered over, they are still floating on the forefront of my mind, settled in the corners of my heart, even in the not-so-early morning hours.

Words and thoughts and Grace to be shared.

We focused on the miracles of Jesus, the turning of water into wine, the healing of a paralyzed man, and His healing of Malcus’ ear as He headed to the cross. Grace for us, grace for our friends, and grace, even for our enemies.

But ultimately, and beautifully, we looked at the Grace of the cross. In the scoffing, scheming, blaspheming of the cross…Grace.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

What profound words. What scandalous love. What amazing and extravagant Grace.

 

 

Something struck me though, as we glanced at Christ’s miracle of turning water into wine. It’s recorded in John’s Gospel that six stone jars, holding twenty to thirty gallons of water were turned to wine. But some scholars have estimated that Christ didn’t just miraculously turn twenty or thirty gallons of water to wine, but upwards of a thousand.

And I was thinking, in amused wonderment, of course…

He doesn’t just give us enough to skim by, He gives us an overabundance of grace.

His grace doesn’t just meet the perceived quota, He lavishes it on us.

Not meager scraps, but amazing, extravagant Grace.

Jesus is telling us who He is here; He is God, He is over all things, He is perfectly faithful to provide.

Everything He does is not without the utmost intentionality; not without His best for us in mind.

We can depend on Him, because He is perfectly faithful to provide, even when we don’t understand. (1 Thessalonians 5)

We can trust in Him, because He works all things together for good, even when the sanctification is costly. (Romans 8)

We can believe Him, because of the measures He has taken to show us His great love, even when fear crouches in the dark. (Ephesians 2)

I need to be reminded of that, don’t you?

In this encroaching season of unknowns, counting the cost, and temptations to be ruled by fear, I need to remember this Jesus who is God, who is over all things, and who is perfectly faithful to provide exactly what He knows I need.

I’m still out on that limb, trusting Him and leaping forth in faith.

And honestly, most of the time I don’t like it one bit.

But then His reminders come, through His sweet Word; surfacing evidence of His miraculous and extravagant Grace.

And they come, through the most unexpected weekends of Grace.

 

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

A Leap of Faith

Friends, we don’t know the days ahead of us. And if we’re realistic, we don’t know what the next second holds.

All of it is a gift, and life is a process of learning how to receive with joy whatever it is the Lord desires to give.

I don’t know the plans He has for me, but He does.

So, out on a limb here, a bit of a leap of faith…

I applied to be a part of Noonday’s trip to collaborate with vulnerable individuals in Rwanda to promote justice and economic opportunities that break the cycle of poverty. There is quite a cast of inspirational ladies that are a part of this trip in July. One spot is open though, for anyone who wants to apply to join them. This person is chosen based on daily votes.

If you feel so compelled, jump over here to read my heart behind going on this trip and vote for me daily until May 28th. After that point, the crew will choose three individuals for a final round of voting before deciding on the ninth and final member of this incredible team.

Africa got right down deep in the crevices of my heart, that’s true.

And if I’m honest, I’m really tired of living in the paralysis of fear. Aren’t you?

Why not step right out on that limb, and see what good plans the Lord has for you. Why not take a leap of faith and trust in the God who weaves all things together into the beautiful tapestry of a purposeful life.

I’m learning that, albeit, slowly.

And no matter the outcome, God is still God, and His heart towards us is still very, very good.

A Psalm to share

You know those times when you think that life is just a bit not fair.

When the hurt and pain runs deep and dark and right ugly in this world.

How can anyone get a deep breath for all the brokenness? A lot of questions, most of them unanswered, are left hanging in the air. But the chief of all, Why?–

Why?


This, and others, are really good questions to ask. And it’s not surprising that the Lord has something to say in return.

Hence, my reading from this morning, worth sharing with you I think:

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Psalm 37: 1-11

It goes on…”Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.” (vs 16-19)

So I was reading that and thinking…how beautiful.

God Himself will break forth in justice, either here and now or in eternity to come. Thus, we don’t have to be fretting, scheming, angry, and wrathful people.

Instead, we can be patient, refrain from anger, forsake wrath, live in contentment, and trust God to provide, even in times of famine. We can befriend faithfulness, commit all our ways to the Lord, and just be still in His presence.

Don’t we want that?

It doesn’t mean it won’t be confusing and often painful to behold or endure. But God is offering us a better way. A way of abundant life, here and now, that bubbles up from a deep well of trust in our Sovereign Creator.

I think we do want that.

Life, even in death. Contentment, even in little. Utter abundance, even in famine. Stillness and peace deeply anchored, even amidst great evil and wickedness.

And my favorite…did you catch it?

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Not a gene poised to grant our every wish.

No, in our delighting He becomes our delight!

He becomes the deepest desire of our hearts.

And I want that too, don’t you? I need that.

There’s a better way, and I want to live it out, each day.

Long time no see

It’s true, it’s been quite a long while dear blog-reading world. And as clique as the above phrase is, it incapsulates a bit of what I’ve been up too.

Currently, I’m winding down a year long commitment to leading a women’s ministry. It’s been an incredible and all-encompassing kind of experience, much of which I’m sure will be unpacked a bit in this space. I’ve also found myself regularly teaching multiple English classes, to various students with various levels of expertise. One of my favorites is a class of eight ladies, most of whom could be my grandmother. It’s kind of amazing. Also, it’s there that Akemi begins each of her English discourses with ‘long time no see.’

Ah yes friend, it has been quite a long time.

There has been a void though, one that nagged at times, and numbed at others, but a void that nonetheless remained. A space that existed and still does; soul cravings to express and create through the use of words. Typed out, and strung together, these words hold more weight in my living than I sometimes know.

At times this past year the words burst forth. Sometimes in the hiddenness of prayer. Other times in the ink smeared scribbles of my journal. Not often in this space though, at least, not often enough. But other times, the words felt a bit blocked up. At best, just cloudy. At worst, dried right up. That’s honesty, and that was hard.

I’ve found, though, that I wasn’t meant to be without these words and their consequent expression. Irregardless of their final resting place, the words needed to be labored forth, birthed out, and released.

Friends, I haven’t done that well. Sometimes it was easier to just ignore the impulse. And you do that often enough and well…

But, it’s time to turn a new page on that story. Wherever this creative journey takes me, we’ll just start right back here again. I honestly do not know what lays ahead, but that truly is okay, even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

So, it’s good to be here again—because it certainly has been quite a long time.