Today’s post is just a free-flow, unedited rambling prayer in my heart from a writing night on the deck under the stars last night. Enjoy, and don’t take anything too seriously. I barely know what it means.
Where you’ve taken me these one thousand years of a thirty-three year old soul has been nothing short of heart-rending, not that that’s a bad thing, and I’ve been unassumingly following all these days. Certain you were leading me to those gold nuggets so beautifully prophesied over me that long ago New Year’s Eve as I combed my fingers through the fresh loose dirt at the bottom of my feet after each and every step. Digging for you and your heart, you and your soul, you and your words in the ground where you led my feet to trod and when at times upon realizing you were not there, I shook it off just like you said. If in the bending over I somehow dropped my smile I dug down deep and found it once again, for your good pleasure, because you were worthy. And you still are.
What we don’t know is that we don’t know until we find what breaks our soul. And then we know but words are inadequate, experiences truly inexplicable, non-transferable tender from my heart to another. When you come to the other side you realize it’s not for sale. This journey is not for sale. An observers’ logic travels another dimension inaccessible by the journeymen. The onlookers they can see but they can’t walk with dirt and feet. We use the same words but we speak different languages and oh, for joy to know, we think, and for tragic loss this pane glass between… we wave and sometimes smile and motion to explain in efforts to persuade but this is One Man’s door to ultimately unlock… to not know what makes these faith wings fly, and fly again, even when Icarus ambition leads us astray, far too far away, far too out of place. We rejoice though we ache! We stand steady though we quake, certain of what not a man could explain but only a girl could believe. Oh yes all men can make themselves little girls if they try, lay aside the pride but not the strength because oh, strength is definitely required to be a little girl these days. And all days, for always, strength is required to be a little girl. But yes you can achieve this too, I know these things for I was a little girl who made herself man to get by to the other side, at least for a time. If you put it down, lay it down, force it down, suspend all reason which gives way to fear and sadness in exchange for faith which leads upwards toward hope. Over that glass you go. Hope, even when they reject, hope, even when you deflect, hope, even when no one sees what brings you to your knees. If you do this you can know. All the men with toes tossing dirt on this road will tell you they became little girls for a moment, in a fashion, too, to become a member of the Bride, an advocate for being alive.
Where you’ve taken me all these one thousand years of a thirty-three year old soul has been nothing short of mystery-making pattern-betraying amazing beauty pageant that only you can weave through this otherwise caustic bazaar of men and women selling goods which perish when the earth someday shakes.
When not a single soul holds the recipe for eternal peace within themselves but when you stitch us together with a hope and a promise that if we keep forgiving and if we keep reliving even in the painful space with grace as lenses we will, eventually, ascend.
You make big promises but you add fire to the dust, yes, wait, make that gunpowder humanity is constructed from. You add breath and fire to these bones of clay and somehow, when properly positioned, rather than exploding in destruction in the way we are all capable of, we effervesce into life full on, a candle burning strong, someday maybe many stronger. We live a front porch view of heavenly partakings in these earth skins we fight against, scratch against, climb against. When you said a righteous man would fall seven times but still arise I took that to heart and decided to let you make my failure art…. I hope that’s ok because you, dear Friend, are the bomb I choose to wear in this non-terroristic threat that I will again, someday, against my will, fail at my parade, but maybe not if you keep me in rhythm with your ticking, ticking, ticking… I just had to get that out of my head because you are not a violent God toward the children who call your name… and I’ve been in some sense of denial myself of late, but there is a fear, yes a really proverbially fear that feeds my sense of rhythm. A fear you said would make me wise, help me fall in line, give me keys to the wisdom of heaven’s breed… a fear about which most are shy and want to ignore, pretend, invent against… but tonight I take comfort, and I rather like the idea that you are there in every way, not just in the poetry and liturgy for which I thank you very much. Yes you are presently fearsome in an orderly way, a louder way, an inward demand which truly all creation begs to acquiesce but bends against. Sometimes I think I can hear you laugh upon your throne, in that mocking kind of way… it says that too, but I don’t think too long on that because it may be about me. Thank you for that beauty, too, sometimes disagreeable, always lion of Judah, purposeful call to duty. Every believable lover takes a turn in serious words, and for these reasons I believe you want more than my candle wax and ashes spread after the wine’s been poured and we’ve broken bread.
Where you’ve taken me all these one thousand years of a thirty-three year old soul.
December 19, 2012 4 Comments
I don’t have very many words today, but the few I do have, I want you to hear.
With all your heart.
We are all focused on children today, protecting them, preserving their innocence, and holding them just a little closer. Most of us feel a bit helpless in the face of a tragedy. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about the evils that children in the world today face.
Sometimes there is something you can do.
Before I turned on the news today to hear of the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, my heart was already being unlocked to a new dimension of awareness: the need to add my voice to the growing protective chorus of activists doing something about child trafficking.
I live in Austin, and since a Formula 1 track was recently built, we in the prayer movement have been hearing about the issue of sex trafficking and how it’s been making its way to our front door with the draw of an international audience to our city. I confess, I’ve been simultaneously skeptical and grieved at the idea.
Before that, in May of 2012 I was in Salem, OR. I was shaken to my core when I visited a prayer room that had once been a sex trafficking location — complete with a sign on the red back door that read “Young Girls Here” in an Asian language. I saw with my own two eyes the room the new owners found where girls had been locked up in the past… in the basement, through a tunnel, behind a door hidden by a bookcase, in the previous owner’s office… The new owners had found hypodermic needles and a portable toilet in this room when they bought the bar that was already suspected of trafficking. My stomach turned and my spirit lurched and cried “something must be done!”
How gratefully I walked away after that night of prayer was over… but how heavily and graphically the image lingered…
I’ve been seeing the links for The Exodus Road start to pop up on my Facebook over the last month, resurrecting those images. I’d accidentally read a few statistics. I deleted a few emails from the Austin prayer network about the Formula 1 risks & associations. I’d asked a few hysterical questions to my husband, who has a layman’s knowledge of the operation of the trade, after it had been mentioned in a meeting we were in, hoping I could rest my mind and feel better with his answers.
But in the words of William Wilberforce, I find this to be my present truth: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
The Spirit of God has been knocking, beckoning, asking, prompting, whispering… and today I said yes.
Yes… to the responsibility to use my pen as a sword in this war.
Yes… to my role in changing the fact that slavery is a stronger, more vibrant trade than at any other time in human history so far.
Yes… to my inwardly blossoming mama’s heart, agreeing to call these lost and abused… my children.
Yes… to the least of these, and to the organization of brave men who are, right now, on the street, doing something about this.
Yes… to doing something… when the news makes me feel like I can do nothing.
Today I joined The Exodus Road blogging team.
The Exodus Road is a network of surveillance teams and individuals, committed to fight trafficking, one legal court case at a time. Currently, we are working with 15 operatives, representing seven different investigative organizations. Collectively, our team’s past experience has played a role in the rescue of over 600 victims and the prosecution of nearly 350 legal cases. Most are current or former police or military men.
I’ll be telling you more about the organization at least monthly here on this blog.
I’ll be giving you opportunities to fund searches, raids, and purchase surveillance equipment.
I’ll perhaps be joining their blogging team on mission in SouthEast Asia, Lord willing, sometime in 2013.
But for now, today, I’m just asking you to visit the site, find hope in the stories of rescue, and determine your role in defending our children from evil. Even if it’s just to say a prayer over them and hold them tightly tonight.
God bless all the little children.
December 14, 2012 6 Comments
Today’s post is part of a link-up sponsored by Prodigal Magazine and SheLoves Magazine. So often we know our cracks; we’re familiar with the brokenness. On this journey, by writing through our stories, we hope to let in more of the light and find more of the Hallelujah. Add your story or read the broken hallelujahs of others here.
It was three years ago this season, in the space between Giving Thanks and Giving Gifts, when I nearly drowned.
The Bible says God gave us the sun, moon, and stars as signs to us of what season it is. It seemed to me, at this time, the lesser light whose responsibility it is to illuminate the night was falling down on his job… and the Sun was nowhere to be found.
Planetary-grade depression pulled on the orbital patterns of my heart and I found myself wearying against relentless tidal waves of loneliness and shame that came crashing against me in a series of failed friendships, ministry relationships, and business ideas. The memories that accompanied each loss were accusations against my character and worth as a friend, a creative, an entrepreneur, a daughter of God.
I was undone, seasonally speechless, isolated… depressed.
I remember laying on my back in bed many nights in my large and empty apartment with my phone above my head as I scrolled through my Facebook feed. In an attempt to do something constructive with my insomnia I had friended several pastors from Africa who were awake during these hours and “overshared” about joy and the journey of spreading the gospel in their nations. For me it was life, and it helped tune out the lesbian neighbors who lived upstairs and fought very physically and very often many nights as their relationship wound slowly down to its bitter end. I wished I couldn’t relate so well to their pain, to both sides of their fights, and to desperately clinging to someone, anyone, no matter who, because life is just so damn hard to face when you’re alone.
At this place in my life, I was sure of God’s goodness, but I was yet unconvinced of my own. I had a primary story of victory, but I doubted its power because of all these satellite chapters being written — some in which I was the villain and others in which I was the victim.
Have you been there? Victorious, final story in hand, but questioning this because of that?
I’d even whispered in hopeful trust a few lines of my story to a friend and, like a rookie, lost my legs in the maelstrom of comparison that always comes when you hold something truly great in your hands. And with everything else falling down around me who would listen anyway? It was the final wave that pulled me into the undertow.
Drowning people are at the mercy of those above them; those who have better footing and can see their peril from a different angle. A drowning person can’t help themselves. In fact, without help, they are going to die. I’m normally a resourceful, energetic person with a decent amount of ideas. But at this place in my life, I was out of steam. Entirely. I think I was supposed to feel this helpless. I think God designed a mostly friendless season for me on purpose. I think it was good for me to be emptied of my own source of energy and be forced to let go of the strength of my mind in business. I think God wanted to end the pride-based charisma that had drawn many of my friends for me.
He had to kill my need to be liked and loved by everyone who knows me so He and I could both know my heart was really His. He wanted me alone with my story for a season, wrestling the angels for the blessing of believing it myself. He wanted to extract my voice from the cohesion of my friends’ approval and let me find my words, sans applause.
It’s all theory until we live it for ourselves, but: the drowning was designed to be a baptism.
When God is taking away He is always giving at the same time. When I was physically baptized at age eleven, the preacher said this as he guided me under the water: “Buried with Christ in baptism…” And this when he brought me up: “…raised to walk in newness of life.”
In my season of drowning, a lot of things were buried with Christ in baptism, and I mourned them solidly. What I didn’t understand then but can clearly see now is that many aspects of my story were being graced with the newness of life.
Because of my depression, I moved from Austin to San Angelo for a year. It was right between Thanksgiving and Christmas when that happened, and it was so sovereign how He provided someone to sublease my apartment and purchase my furniture just at the right time. As I was leaving Austin, He highlighted for me Isaiah 9, the prophecy of Christ’s coming that also promised no more gloom for those in distress. It was a gift of revelation that keeps lighting my way.
Through the move, mercy reached down and put the final touches on healing for our family and set the stage for us to minister together to other people who share our story. Also during this time, I had an opportunity to take care of a medical situation I was unaware of that could have rendered me infertile. God’s providence arranged several new business connections who reached out to me when I had no hope… and set the next phase of my career in motion in a successful way that eventually brought me back to Austin in a financially stable way. And when I arrived, mercy again reached down and introduced me to my husband — the man I have always wanted and, in God’s perfect and swift timing, also very much needed.
This year, in the space between Giving Thanks and Giving Gifts, as I reflect on seasons past, I offer up a broken hallelujah to the God who is worthy and wise — the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
I celebrate his advent into the human story… into my story… with gratitude and expectancy for even greater things than we have so far seen.
Won’t you raise a glass with me?
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
December 10, 2012 13 Comments
Dan and I are in the middle of some big life moments. Boxes are piled up in our loft and we’re moving into our first house on Monday. Dan quit his job, enrolled in college, and came home to help run our business this week. I launched my first book this week and I’ve been trying to write/pitch companion articles for it. Thanksgiving week and travel are coming up Tuesday right after the move.
I sat down this morning at my desk, Portland mug in hand, preparing to dive into a day full of design work so I can tie up loose ends before the madness begins next week, and that unsettled feeling that comes over you (oh it’s only me?) when my spirit isn’t at rest and God needs to speak wouldn’t leave me. Instead of immediately recognizing it, normally the unrest comes in the form of a million mental checks before it overplays its hand. Today was no different:
“Have I done enough to market the book?”
“Have I done too much?”
“Am I being lazy?”
“Am I stewarding this opportunity well?”
“Do I not trust God put the message in me?”
“Have I taken over and not kept it in God’s hands?”
“Am I being too aggressive?”
“Is Dan getting enough attention?”
“Is he going to get the classes he wants so he won’t be bored to death?”
“Am I doing enough to help him live his dreams, too?”
“Have we covered all the bases with the move?”
“Are we sure we have all our finances set for moving?”
“Have I hurt people’s feelings with our Thanksgiving plans?”
“Am I a generous enough person?”
“Will ________ ever forgive me?”
“Who else am I hurting without knowing it?”
I could go on. I did go on.
In truth, I both DO and DON’T know the answers to those questions, simultaneously. What’s even more true, and what either of my two kittens could tell me is that this is a giant hairball of insecurity stuck in my throat and I should cough it up and keep playing. Quickly.
I love what Bill Johnson, senior leader at Bethel Church in Redding, California, says:
“Sometimes you just have to open your Bible and read until He speaks.”
Somehow Bill’s voice interjected itself like a giant Snoopy floating above this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade of questions in my mind. It seemed like a good idea to listen to his voice because mine was quickly winding in circles down a spiral staircase to Hades. So I reached for my Bible and plopped it open to Psalms and started reading. In His faithfulness, it wasn’t long before God began to speak to me.
“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” —Psalm 138:8
Did I just read that?
“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me?”
I don’t know if you’re like me, but sometimes I get all suspicious on the Bible translators so I check another version. I shoved aside my New King James Version and…
“The Lord will accomplish what concerns me.” —New American Standard Bible
“The Lord will vindicate me.” —New International Version
“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” —King James Version
“Lord, you do everything for me.” —New Century Version
Ok. Fine. Let me dig up a more obscure version. Just to be sure.
“My purposes thou will yet speed.”—Knox Translation
Well Heaven’s bells. I did not know that. I mean, I did. But I didn’t. I know the verses about worry not adding a moment to my life, and the birds of the air being taken care of, and God being faithful to complete the good work in me. But I really like this verse. I needed to hear it said this way. It just sounded like a direct answer to all my questions, not a parable intended to help me deduce this. And it’s really gratifying when the Bible is that alive. I love it for all it’s complexity and poetry, but today is a day for bottom lines, and I needed it to sound this way and not skip a beat before it hit my heart.
So thank you, Bill, and thank you, God, for the sound advice and the sound mind, respectively.
I will chill now, and let God speed my purposes.
[Photo credit Asterix611]
November 16, 2012 10 Comments
“You will never take the mic in this church again.”
And with these ten words spoken by the pastor of my church, the harsh boundaries of the quasi-patriarchal world I’d been naively growing up in were manifested, and I found myself on the outside looking in at who I thought I was becoming.
It was the summer before my senior year in high school and I had been elected by my youth group to give a report covering our time at summer camp. Like so many times before, I took the opportunity to speak very seriously. I didn’t want to give just a simple report, bore the congregation and waste the moment. So I studied. I made note cards. I wrote down Scripture references. I went the extra mile by relating our camp experiences to active issues in our church body, certain I was doing my part to help our church succeed.
In short, I preached.
Only this time, instead of only speaking to my youth group, grown men were present. And I was a girl. And this was a problem.
After the service I found myself in my pastor’s office learning that godly women don’t preach. All the Scriptures and my pastor’s interpretations were read to me as I sat there, crestfallen and ashamed.
Today at Prodigal Magazine I am sharing how gender confusion in the Church added its weight to my own gender confusion in my battle against homosexuality.
I would be honored if you would read it and share your thoughts, experiences, and questions. I invite you to ask the kind of questions we’re normally afraid to ask – the kind Truth Himself came to answer. I don’t have all the answers, but I know it’s a conversation we need to be having. So please, jump in the conversation over at Prodigal.
November 12, 2012 Comments Off
Yesterday, we the people, of the United States of America…
…were privileged to speak up about who we want to serve us as President for the next four years. It’s a process not many nations enjoy the freedom to do, and we’ve paid a dear price over the generations to have our voices heard. As votes were cast throughout the day, we inhaled deeply, with patriotic hope and righteous faith for our great nation’s future. We prayed, rightfully so, that our best efforts at utilizing our freedoms of speech and religion during the campaign process may have brought enough votes into the column of our persuasions.
The returns are not what we hoped for.
To the Church I love so dearly… to those especially in the apostolic/prophetic portion of the Church who have personally paid an abnormally high price in prayer, time, money, travel, energy, comfort and now perhaps tears… I’d like to encourage and strengthen your heart today: All is not lost. What we did was not for nothing. We have no reason to be ashamed. Our prayers have been counted and weighed, and they will have their effect in due season. We will not be intimidated. We will press on. We will not let our vision for a godly America fade. We will not come off this wall.
May the Lord comfort you in your grief and sustain your hope this day. You’ve served mightily and with great heart and it is not to be taken lightly.
I remember being in Washington, D.C., the day of the 2008 election. I was there with many of my praying friends on a last minute prayer surge. The trip was the culmination of a great number of trips we took around the nation all throughout 2008 on a Capitol Cities Tour led by Hope Taylor of International Leadership Embassy. This initiative visited nearly twenty-five capitols to pray and prophesy, to meet with intercessors, and to awaken the Church to a fresh understanding of her role in interacting with the civil government. I personally went on many of those trips. And at this journey’s end, on Election Day 2008, I remember witnessing the returns in the DFW Airport on the way home, and seeing Obama’s swift victory as it came down heavily on our labors of the past year. I remember crying the entire flight home… and into the night… and into the next day. A grief settled on me. I was shaken. How could we have prayed and paid and invested so heavily for our prayers to now seem so sweepingly ineffective?
As I was sorting through the emotional aftermath — something I think I’m still doing to some extent — I began to understand that the war we’re in over the soul of our nation is a two-front war.
God started stirring understanding in me, and I began to see that we not only need to continue in the prophetic prayer/spiritual warfare vein we are in, but we also have to marry those purposes with new and greater engagement in wise, winsome, and effective evangelistic strategies.
On one front: Like any nation, America has principalities and spiritual powers at work, empowering cultural institutions which work to produce deceptive movements in our culture. Much of the Church has come to identify the seven mountains of culture, making it easier to see the sources from which most principality-level influence comes: Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government, Media, and Religion. While strategies are in place to equip Christians to “ascend these mountains” and gain influence, the primary objective of the principality-level front of the war for our nation’s godliness is always largely going to be achieved through intangible means such as spiritual warfare, spiritual decrees and declaration, and prophetic acts. Without this kind of spiritual warfare and its continual engagement, Christians’ faces rarely look the same upon their ascent of these mountains and their influence is often inhibited or changed entirely when held hostage by the principalities which rule.
On the second front: We also have the common man — everyday people, who, on a grassroots level are generally interested in aligning with what seems most fair and right when it comes to political persuasions. Their hearts and minds are often subject to the constant influx of deception from the powers that be in the cultural spheres they walk in, and these deceptions work toward the aim of achieving personal loyalty to anti-Christ ideas. The objective on the second front of our war is to captivate the attention of this audience with Truth, help them to meet Jesus, to know the Father’s love, and to live by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Its methods are largely tangible expressions of conversation, humanitarianism, and hospitality empowered by the type of love and compassion Jesus demonstrated in His most miraculous encounters.
Biblically speaking, I think most would agree it’s obvious in many passages of Scripture that Christ’s Great Commission upon our lives is two-fold: to make disciples of nations, and to be fishers of men. But it has been in the years following the ’08 election when the application and often seemingly conflicting overlap of those aspects of the Commission became most apparent to me. These years and our turmoil-filled conflict inside the Church over how to handle the goal we share of reaching our culture has made it clear to me that the Great Commission is much more easily decreed than applied.
We cannot afford for either front’s efforts in this war to be suspended, but sometimes it seems like we get in each others’ way. Have you noticed that?
I propose the next phase of growth the Church will be called to is a marrying of the apostolic & prophetic offices with the evangelistic office. Many have been projecting that for a long time… but I think the time has truly, finally come. A close look at Ephesians 4:9-13 shows us that Christ ascended until (verse 13) we attain maturity in the five ascension gifts he gave the Church to build Herself with in verse 11. I get the sense He’s camping out in Heaven until we learn how to wage this war together as leaders.
We know this in our personal lives, but it bears repeating in this context: Marriage requires undeterred respect, constant over-communication, understanding where you overlap and preferring one another, coming to joint decisions through trust, and mutual support during difficult times.
Since today, it is our prophetic prayer warriors who have sacrificed and suffer the greatest sense of loss, I encourage those in the evangelistic/evangelical spheres today to walk in greater than usual compassion. To those who are facebooking and tweeting things like, “God is my King, my hope is not in a President,” etc. If you’re doing it out of the least bit of spite, just stop. Because in the end you are really kind of gloating, and for what? If you would not treat your spouse that way, don’t treat your Church that way. (Despite what it may have seemed from your perspective of their passion, not very many honest Christians are truly putting their hope in a President.) Instead, let’s dig deeper. Let’s start again today to embrace our fellow leaders, looking not only to our own interest, but to theirs.
Let’s remember that, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Let us take hope today in the opportunity put before us: a new dimension of unity the Church has not yet experienced.
I don’t propose we’ll all get along without disagreement. That’s not even possible. But we can, and we will have to, align and function together as a whole. God arranged this marriage and there is no escape.
So let’s dig deep.
Let’s find honor for all men.
The American system lends itself beautifully to the fruit of a unified, functioning church.
Let’s get shoulder to shoulder about this nation again. Let’s have honest conversations. Let’s seek each others’ hearts, because God put the desires therein. Let’s examine what we do that helps — and hurts — each others’ assignments in culture. We have the same end goal, so let’s find methods that successfully attack principalities while winning hearts. We can do this — much, much better than this — if we trust each other, and talk to each other, and want it with all of our hearts, minds, and strengths. Start with reaching out and asking a question. Be earnest. “How can I help your goals? How do I hurt your goals? Here’s why I do this.” That type of stuff.
God does not issue commands He does not empower us to keep, and one of those is to disciple this nation. Our political system is designed in such a way that when the majority of Americans understand freedom, our local, state, and national governments will reflect it. To get at the real meaning of liberty, when Americans once again throw off the exaltation of the creature over the Creator and pursue His interests as primary to our own, the orphan spirit which causes partisanism must be broken from our nation. That will only happen when the orphans in the Church embrace their role as part of the Bride and, seeking maturity, value union over partisan alliances around the causes of these two fronts in war. When this division ends in the Church, and we come together over each others’ concerns, our nation will see hope and change like it has never imagined.
Here’s to believing we’ll come together, and that next time around, things will look a lot different.
Let’s get started today. Here are some resources if you need some help on the road to understanding:
For the evangelists/evangelicals, understanding your prophetic warfare friends:
For the apostolic/prophetic, where the evangelical people are coming from:
November 7, 2012 10 Comments
Today we all inhale
breathe in deep
swallow up rhetoric and prayer alike
who’ve paid their dues
and sown their fruit.
It’s hope’s turn now
it’s all on the inside now.
While the republic —
she is who
she is —
I go inside my head
Oh beautiful for spacious skies
so much room to think;
for amber waves of grain
I pledge my allegiance
all over again.
The world watches
what she’ll do
what freedom, to her, seems…
for purple mountains majesty
from her heights what does she see?
A rising sun
or a setting one,
above the fruited plain?
Ripe with possibilities,
God mend thine every flaw;
confirm thy soul in self-control —
thy liberty in law!
But if she stumbles
when tomorrow comes
still the one King will reign;
the people will plot in vain
in pursuit of the happiness
found only in one Man,
yet with liberty and justice for all
we will exhale
while hope remains.
God shed your grace,
let freedom ring…
And crown our good
About the Photo:
Benjamin Franklin is said to have wept when he signed the Constitution. He remarked:
“I have often in the course of Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
November 6, 2012 2 Comments
Well, the first year’s up! They always say the first one’s a doozy. It had its moments, but overall, it has been the best year of our lives!
To celebrate that night a year ago today when Dan and I decorated our apartment with lace and lights, took off our shoes, and made our vows in the presence of only our immediate family, we’re sharing the top sixteen things we’ve learned in our first year of marriage.
Here’s my list, and Dan’s is down below.
1. Inward contentment goes a long way toward marital peace.
Recognizing that I’m solely responsible for my own contentment means that I require less energy from my husband. I am able to find fewer problems when I’m content. Because of that, Dan gets to spend his energy on creative, positive aspects of relating to me that build our vision as a couple rather than spending it on maintenance-level work that can drain a relationship.
2. Planning ahead for the things that matter to you prevents most last-minute conflicts in personal priorities.
One of the best things we did for ourselves in the beginning was set up a shared Google calendar where we plan all of our family, social, and business events. When we first find out about an important date, we go put it down and we see conflicts that might arise well ahead of time. This gives us time to come up with contingency plans and evaluate our true priorities. There are several things we did this year that would have caused big fights if they had come up at the last minute.
3. Asking more questions than feels necessary helps prevent miscommunication.
Sometimes you think you know what a person means, but you’re using your own filters, not theirs. Taking the time to slow down, suspend forgone conclusions, and prompt a free-flowing monologue from your spouse can be highly revelatory and create greater intimacy. You never know someone fully, but you can always know them better.
4. Making room for spontaneity can be a life-saver.
Our weekends: I like to do crazy things “right now!” Dan wants to sit on the couch and contemplate or veg out. Early on we learned that we have to plan for the fact that I get stir crazy after too much of the same thing, and a lot of the same thing is relaxing to Dan. So we have flexible weekends where on Saturdays it’s fair game for me to say “Let’s go do this!” and he agrees. This makes it all the more important to me that I respect his need for quiet down time on Sundays and not ask anything of him.
5. Continually discussing the “State of Your Dreams” with each other provides context for decisions that might otherwise seem strange.
Because I’m socially spontaneous, there are other parts of my life that can seem that way too, even though they aren’t. I learned that it’s important for me to discuss with Dan the ongoing developments that fit into the bigger picture of where I’m aiming to go with my writing, design, travel, etc., so that when something comes up that fits that trajectory and might cost some money, he understands where it’s coming from if I engage it. Some things that seem spontaneous from one perspective are simply moments when you’ve been long-prepared for opportunity to knock and it’s an easy yes. Communicating along the way gives your spouse the chance to understand the process you’re in.
6. Giving each other creative space and time alone is oxygen that fuels the fire.
Every Monday, Dan goes to his brother’s house to play board games with a bunch of guys from 6pm to midnight. Every Tuesday, he has a business meeting from 7pm to 11pm. At first, I didn’t know how to feel about that amount of time apart. But I noticed that Dan always comes home refreshed and energized from the activities he attends. Then, I started getting serious about writing. I realized that if I was ever going to write anything of substance, this was my window, because I can’t write when he’s home (we’re moving out of our apartment so that will change). I feel fired up and, after a year of writing in this window, I am actually releasing my first book this month! It’s been so life-giving to us to make time for ourselves and allow each other’s needs to create discipline in our own lives.
7. Celebrating diversity actually adds freshness and strength to your own perspectives.
When we met, we were both very well-developed in our ideas and perspectives, and we knew we would encounter differences. We’ve chosen to allow our different viewpoints to strengthen and challenge each other, rather than being a source of conflict or strife. Most of our differences are not that pronounced, but they are wide enough apart to create a greater field of vision for both of us. I respect the way Dan views the world, and because of that, I respect an even greater number of people outside my viewpoint. That has enabled me to enlarge my sphere of friends and acquaintances with people I might have otherwise not engaged.
8. Don’t waste time fighting about toilet lids, making the bed, doing the dishes, and cat litter.
If you like something a certain way, do it. If it bothers you, fix it. We have no chore charts or rules. We just seek to out-serve each other, and it honestly works pretty well for us. (And I look before I sit down. How hard is that, really!? I don’t understand why women get so bent out of shape about that.)
9. Ask if you are meeting your spouse’s needs and how you can improve.
Instead of riding the tides of insecurity, Dan and I both sometimes just ask each other — am I doing this right for you? Once you have the answer, trust it. Don’t get defensive, just be thankful for the honesty and work to improve where you can. It’s so much easier than letting doubt and fear take over.
10. Take time to celebrate every small achievement in some way.
I’m a big fan of making Dan feel special for everything he does that can be even slightly construed to be a success. He works hard, and even if it’s just his coworkers going out of their way to say nice things to me about him, I will make sure that doesn’t get overlooked. It builds momentum toward greatness, and each time you breathe life into your spouse, you get life right back. These are the opportunities we have to make the most of our marriage.
11. “Spiritual leadership” can mean a lot of things, and it’s not for men only.
Dan leads me. He leads me spiritually. He may not pray at the dinner table or conduct a Bible study with me in a purposeful way to stand in his role as “my spiritual leader,” but he teaches me by his life what servanthood, sacrifice, love, joy, purpose, conviction, honesty are all about. He is a master at justice and fairness. He is wise beyond his years, holds his tongue, does not shame me for my faults, and builds me up in my faith by his excitement about my goals. He leads me. And I think he’d say I lead him, too, in some ways.
When I told Dan I was writing this post, I asked him if he had anything he wanted to share. Here are his top 5 things.
And I have to say, I think Dan’s list is better than mine.
1. Forgive everything.
No personal habit, thought, or action is more important than your relationship. If it is, you probably shouldn’t have married in the first place.
2. The other person will change – it’s guaranteed. Be ready to accept that change gracefully.
I had to ask Dan, “Ope! Did I change?!”
His answer: “From the person I said my vows with? Absolutely, in entirely positive ways. You’re happier, more stable, more confident, closer to achieving your dreams, not on medications, closer to your folks…”
Life is change, no matter what direction, and if you get married expecting things to stay the same forever after that, you’ll waste a lot of energy replacing old wineskins which burst.
3. Recognize that you’re one of the few people who will see your spouse at their worst.
Allow them to have bad moments, and always be ready to help them back up when they fall.
(Dan is so good about this. He never makes me feel ashamed or tries to redirect me in the heat of the moment. He just sort of watches me until I come back to my senses, and we usually have a bit of a laugh over it later.)
4. On the flip side of that, do things for your spouse that you won’t do for other people.
This is about having something special in common, so you might have to stop doing things (like opening doors or cooking special meals) for anyone but your spouse.
5. Keep divorce or separation off the table.
Don’t even joke about it. If it’s ever an option for your relationship, especially in today’s culture, the temptation to use that option will likely become too great.
Well, that’s it! We don’t know it all, but we’ve learned a lot, and here’s to many more years of building on these ideas.
If you’re married, what do you think we’ll learn next?
November 1, 2012 6 Comments