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First blog post

Cathartic: providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions

Fortitude: courage in pain or adversity

The above statements basically sum up the intention of this blog.  I have a deep need for relief… depths of emotions that spill forth and have no place to go.  My hope is this blog will leave me feeling cathartic while at the same time granting me fortitude in my spiritual journey.  Life is never  a cake walk. It never looks how we think it should and it is far from being a perfect fairy tale… free of pain, heartache or distress.  On the contrary, life is messy, heartbreaking, soul searching business that leaves a trail of emotions in its wake.  I can handle having a life that isn’t a fairy tale but I can’t handle living it without knowing who my God is in the process of it. So if I spend my days seeking everything but Him, what am I left with?

Featured post

The voice that beckons

Each day there is a question set before us.  One that will be answered whether we take the time to consciously address it or not.

“What voice are you listening to today?”

What I have learned is there will always be voices battling for my attention.  Whether they are duties to be completed, unfinished tasks plaguing me, unmet expectations lingering, false truths leading me off the path of life.  I find myself in a world of constant words.  Expectations and directives that lead me to a litany of complaints.  Complaints that will consume my soul if I don’t know where to turn.

Yet, there is one voice that speaks stronger than the others.  A name that is beyond all others.  Someone who has the last words.  His words finish all and lead to victory.  So when I find myself wavering in the desert, alone and full of hopelessness, there is a voice that will shatter the darkness if I will only take a moment to listen.

Sometimes this voice comes through the loveliness of worship or the wind on a breeze, the sweet laughter of children.  Today, may you find the voice that brings you life and fullness, the voice of Jesus- the one calling out to us in the desert… beckoning us onward into the fullness of victorious life.

 

 

Pursuit

When I examine the past, sit in the reality of all I have experienced in life, there is one thing that is undeniable… I have been pursued, fiercely, every step of the way.  There has not been a moment when my life existed solely for me.  Rather, I would say that every step of the journey has been a preparation for the fullness He has in store for me.  This has not meant an easy walk, perfect and exemplary, something desirable from the outside.  It has meant beauty, ashes, fullness, desolation, reality and dreaming.  More than anything it has been so much more than me.

My life.  Meant for me.  This is the message we are processing each day.  Told over and over again that life is meant to live and it is meant to live exactly how I want to live it.  To fulfill all my own desires and hopes.  What I have found though is God’s desires, His hopes, His plans for me are always, always, so much greater than the ones I have planned.  They are often mysterious, infuriatingly so sometimes… but that doesn’t diminish the depth or beauty of them.  If I can sit with His Spirit and find the faith to trust He is moving, He changes my reality, even when my circumstances remain the same.

The sitting with Jesus is the hardest part for me.  I want to move.  It makes me feel in control.  It gives me the illusion that I can change anything as long as I keep moving.  The reality though, is that I am just running.  I am running ahead, away, astray and HE is relentlessly pursuing me.  To sit with Jesus can be a challenging place but when I sit with Him I see HIM.  I allow the Spirit of the Living God to fill me up and His relentless pursuit is revealed.  A revelation that moves mountains… because the Creator of the Universe thought I was worthy enough to pursue.  There is no love more vibrant than this.

 

lonely

 

Have you ever noticed how lonely life can be? Like the light drizzle of a Spring rain that fills your soul with a quiet keening you can’t quite place. The depth of all you keep bottled up in the recesses of your mind, suddenly wailing at you in the most unexpected fashion.

Life is like that sometimes, a quiet, bitter emptiness that can’t seem to be filled. I think it is the longing that leaves us lonely. Longing for answers, longing for peace, longing for more, longing to fill and be filled.

There is a place waiting to be filled inside each of us. For some it manifests as a soft distant cry; for others, the loud blaring sirens of destruction.  In the process of filling we either find the answer to the longing or the reality of the emptiness.

Christ is full, deep, palpable love. He is rich and majestic… Filling in the very contents of existence.  Yet it is in the context of creation that we often see Him the least, credit Him the lowest and esteem Him for not. In this comes the lonely darkness. For if  I see Him in nothing then I will find longing in everything… In Christ alone comes all things, even the tender place of being known.

Lord, let me be known.

Finding “here”

I am burning with passion, love, desire, hope in the Lord.  I am empty, dry, overwhelmed, and devoid of the Lord.  Everything seems to contradict and spin itself around when I find myself here.  On one hand there is nothing I want more than Him… on the other, my reality shows how low He is on my list of wants.

The passion is real though.  This deep, vibrant, soul defining passion has never left me.  I can remember the most tender moments I have shared with Jesus and miss them so keenly but He is not calling me there.  He is calling me HERE, to the here and now and all that is in front of me.  He is not asking me to atone for my previous sins, nor is he expecting me to just sit around waiting in longing for His Kingdom to come.  Rather, His desire and hope and call for me is to find Him now.  For if I walk my life sitting in the past or waiting for the future then all that He has chosen for me in this moment is wasted.  HE is wasted…

So as I journey here, confused and broken… seeking answers and hoping for peace.  I am reminded that the journey doesn’t begin in the past or start in the future, it is new each day as I choose to walk alongside my Creator.

Climbing the Stairway

There are so many moments in life that you wish you could take away.  So much pain and hurt and heartache you can’t possibly begin to fathom or explain.  These are the things that break us and make us stronger.  The splintering of our being that leads to the composition of something more refined than what existed before.  There is something to be said about the period that follows devastation.  It is earth shattering.  Both in the realm of current and future existence.  It tears you down every ladder you have ever climbed… deteriorating the things you have built your life upon and drawing you deeper into the pit than you have ever been.  Yet at the bottom of the pit there is something new that arises.  A stairwell leading you higher than you ever dreamed or imagined you could climb.

This stairwell is rugged and carved from the stone of your soul-filled struggle.  Unlike the preformed, desirable, “perfect” staircase we dreamed of walking, this path leads us through the roughest patches of life we have ever trudged.  It is also a staircase that continues onward, never seeming to reach the summit and give us relief.  However, it is this stairway that produces endurance in us.  That place we walk that will inevitably solidify the strength and fortitude of our character.  Have you ever found that the struggles are the areas you see growth?  That the devastation of life is the place that lays you out but never leaves you stagnant?

It is a choice to walk this stairway… perhaps the most challenging decision that a person makes in life.  It requires the sacrifice of letting go; the humility of admitting you don’t know what is up ahead; the faith to trust God is moving you… even when all you see is the pit you are trying to climb out of.

The best and hardest part about this staircase is that every day you choose whether or not you will take another step up it.  It is not your staircase of worldly victory but your staircase to spiritual fortitude.  Our race is not won by reaching the top but by being brave enough to follow Him each step of the way.

 

 

Filling by Grace

There are times in life where the only words you can use to describe your state of being is empty.  As though every ounce of you has been poured out into others, your patience running thin and your spirit running low.  This is that week and also the moment of realization that I am seeking something to fill my empty.  Delicious treats, praise from others, time with friends, peace and quiet… the list goes on and on. The reality however, is that there will be no filling by these things.  No permanent filling at least.  For the more I seek worldly things to fill my empty, the deeper the black hole will go.

Only in the face of my Savior, in the presence of the only One who knows what I truly need can I find filling.  Only when I come to Him admitting my weakness and seeking His grace will my empty start to be filled.  Admittedly, even this process never fills me as quickly or fully as I desire.  I want it to be a simple exchange.  A moment in His presence to make up for the hundreds of hours out of His presence that drain me.  Today though, I am going to try to meet Him all throughout my empty.  To thank Him in the face of my ingratitude and hurt.  To praise Him when the furthest thing from my heart is praise… to let the truth of His grace become the filling of my empty.  All is grace

 

The Betrayer

Studying in John 13 this week I have been overwhelmed by Christ’s alarming example of servant hood.  Just before He goes to the cross to become the Passover Lamb for us, he kneels down in the lowest of positions to clean the filthy feet of His Disciples… All twelve of them.  That last bit is important.  Twelve disciples with filthy feet come out with clean feet… humbly washed by the hands of the One who created all things. The One worthy of all glory.  The One who knew Himself and how worthy He was, bent down as the humble servant instead of rising as the exalted King.  All to set an example for us.

Among the twelve was one who would betray Him.  One who walked with Him, saw His miracles, received His favor and love, one who because of pride and fear was going to hand Him over to His death.  Yet in the face of His betrayer, in the face of this knowledge, Jesus did not rebuke Him.  Jesus did not treat Him with cruelty, hatred or disgust… He loved Him… extravagantly.  He knelt down on the ground wrapped in a servant’s towel and washed his betrayers filthy feet.  Broke bread and offered it to Him as the final marriage covenant.  He poured Himself out lavishly for Him!

We all have a betrayer… sometimes more than one.  My current betrayer is this body.  This weak, human, fleshly, ever dying body that betrays me daily and does not function how I think it should.  It thwarts me and hurts me.  It abuses me and takes me ever lower.  It fails me.  In the face of this betrayer what is my response?  Certainly not to bend down and lavishly love it.

If I take the creator at His words though, believe in His example, that is exactly what I am  being called to do.  I am to  pour myself before the foot of the cross and ask the One who redeemed all betrayal to help me forgive my betrayer. To help me lavishly love my betrayer by the power of the Holy Spirit.   It is impossible in my human form to do this but with the King of the Universe on my side there is hope… and there is freedom.  For freedom comes in the face of a betrayer when we willingly place it in the Lord’s hands and receive the blessing He has for it.

Emptying

There are toxins inside of me.  Deep, threatening, deadly toxins that well up in the darkest hollows of my being.  It is here that all the questions, what ifs, unbelief and anger sit.  They churn around for what seems like a lifetime.  Seemingly unnoticed and yet ever spreading throughout the very essence of my existence.  To put it frankly, this toxin is sin… and it sits in the depths of each of us.  It lays there waiting for opportunity to spring forth and take over everything about us.

In my mind there is only one thing to do with toxin… with sin.  It is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  Of course that just means it crops up at unexpected moments when what is down in the bucket decides to come up out of the well.  When this happens my fight or flight response is to shove all of that yucky nastiness back down into the bucket it came from and screw a lid on tight!

Have you ever noticed though… the lid never holds.  It is never strong enough.  Powerful enough.  ENOUGH. To manage all that toxicity.

Some sweet revelation hit home today.  Delivered by a dear friend.  When we empty ourselves before the Lord of all our sins, all our toxic wanderings, there is a freeing that occurs.  We bow before the foot of the cross crying “Jesus, take this, I don’t want it”… and He responds with compassion saying “Yes my beloved, I already have.”  Here, in this moment of confession God pours out.  Into the emptiness of our being He pours out His attributes.  His love, His grace, His perfection, His joy, His peace… HE is enough!  Only when we are emptied can we be filled up again.  Empty me Lord that I may look more like you!

 

 

The Broken Way… Do I want this?

I am reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.  Two chapters in and I am already debating whether to go on.  I can sense it… this deep soul calling challenge that I know I need but I desperately don’t want to pursue. In essence, I lack the fortitude to move forward with it.  With this message I am not quite sure I am ready to embrace.

As I started reading today a tiny bug crawled on my table and I instantly squished it.  Reflex.  Of course in its resiliency to live it continued squirming amidst the pain, fighting for life.  So I ended it.  I took the pen cap and squished it with too much strength and force, willing it to submit to death so it wouldn’t have to suffer.  I am not cruel by nature… it is just that once I made him hurt, I couldn’t bear the suffering.  I assumed he would rather be dead than alive in pain… so I squished Him fully.

I kept glancing at his broken body while writing my thoughts on paper.  Thinking over it.  Afterward, I got up for coffee and returned to find his body missing.  I swear to you I am not making this up… who could possibly make this up?  I looked all over… surely my son touched it, surely I accidentally swept it onto the table, surely, surely.  Nothing.  It is gone.  I cannot find it.  This little broken bug body that I made sure to crush into oblivion for his own sake is now missing.  How can something that dead and crushed possibly come back to life?

And that is the question really… how can something so dead and broken come back to life?  How can God take this brokenness, this pain, the suffering  that we feel in our hearts and bodies and lives and breathe new life into it?  This is the question I need to answer and the one I want to avoid with all of my being.  I don’t want this pain.  I don’t want this suffering… but I want Him… and I want His fullness to come to pass.

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