Another one of God’s surprising paradoxes: one’s hometown becomes more precious and magical after a visit to a foreign place.
Little Rock is my playground.
There are no places that are better, only places that are different.
Humans are naturally jealous and I must be one because I have wasted innumerous moments wishing I was somewhere else.
People talk trash of my city and my state, forcing me to wonder if they have ever been anywhere else. All these places are exquisite in their own way. No need to trash one in appreciation of another.
I will not be here forever and somehow that knowledge serves to endear more acutely to me the present time.
I take eighteen years of built up, worldly security for granted. There are small struggles here that I will not face anywhere else; the difficulties will be foreign and seem insurmountable when I leave.
There is celebration in the up and down of the yo-yo.
God enables me to love both sides of the pendulum and to rest when I swing in between.
We are not to give up the world, nor retreat from it-just the opposite. We are to reclaim and redeem the world for Christ’s kingdom.~Richard Stearns, The Hole in our Gospel
Childhood obesity is as much of a problem as parasites carried by muddy water.
But to not have the Gospel?
This is the greatest problem. It is a difficulty that leaves the rest behind. One can’t surmount it any more than a Gospel-less person can sense his or her need for a Savior.
I love my story and I love your story.
The parts where our dramas overlap enthrall me.
I find it difficult to walk away.
When his arm is around me I see no need to move forward.
Stagnation is a grand waste of time. My life is long but also short.
Form in me a heart of divine beauty.~Rend Collective Experiment
Waves of injustice, oppression, and opportunity carry us whether we know it or not. I follow the rip tide by choice for it I prefer to hopeless wishing and washing from open sea to sandy shore.
Beauty hides in the sky and in the homeless man behind me. He is frost bitten and senile but his rattling cough is a piece of humanness no physical anthropologist can truly digest.
At times it will seem as though I have wasted my life. The cause for which I sell myself is not one with clear accomplishments. Some people will not respect what I have done. I understand that. In those hard moments, far away from sweet, quaint Little Rock, (the place I once knew intimately,) the Light will shine as He always does.
This park is perfect. This sky is immaculate. Those children are unique and dear.
The warmth in my heart which is the presence of the holy, eternal, faithful God is…
Everyday I get happier.
Yet everyday the longing for every person of every nation to hear of Your glory grows more poignant within me. Will these two always walk hand in hand?
Use me to shelter your little (and big) children here until I am ready to go.
Allow me to be a member of the team who takes the Word to unreached brothers and sisters. May my spiritual offspring be extensive, not that I may be glorified, but that Heaven may be filled.
I submit it all to You.
Enable me in spite of my (sinful) disease.
You are the Father of mercies.
You are the God of all comfort.
Precious Lamb, receive the reward of Your suffering, and my gratitude for a perfect day.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.~St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:58
I did not know I had a problem. It was a situation that brought no attention to itself. Everyone does what I do…sometimes. It is normal and therefore healthy. Right?
Not my food addiction.
I habitually put far more hope, security, and time into food than I realize.
After my third fast ever-a sun-up to sundown purge-I see my tendencies more clearly. It’s painful. I actually sat down and watched a whole TV show without getting up. I sat down at the computer without first taking fifteen minutes to prepare a snack. The day went by faster (no thoughts of when the next meal would occur, perhaps?) though I seemed to have more time. Every time my stomach let its emptiness be known I turned my thoughts heavenward (general Christian fasting etiquette I suppose). I prayed that God would be my bread of life.
Guess what? It was not actually that hard. I am certain that the time I spent praying for the fast before I started had a lot to do with it. The reality is, though, I am not as dependent on food as I like to think I am. I eat for more than nutrition. It’s not about eating enough to survive. I eat all that I can without gaining weight (Vanity? you ask. Let’s save that conversation for another day.) because I love food. I love the way it makes me feel and I love the distraction. I like the way the taste takes me away and frees me from my human pangs. Time out. I am still a fan of food. Food is a gift from God to us. He feeds us spiritually and physically because He is that great. I just ate ice cream for Pete’s sake. Food good.
What I am talking about is the line that I have crossed between food as a gift and food as an obsession. It has become an obsession. I think about it constantly. Most moments you can find me either eating, preparing, or dreaming about food. I revel in the time and thought that feasting takes away from my duties and shortcomings. I am guilty of using food as an escape route from the reality that God has placed me in. I have a responsibility to know Him, to spend time at His feet learning. Instead of appreciating the time I have to spend with my Lord I bury my face in the pleasure of food. The delight of food is temporary. The delight of knowing God is eternal.
I thank God for leading me to fast today for the sake of illuminating my problem. I enjoyed the freedom of today. I like not being enslaved to my mortal body. I am also scared for the lengths to which He may take me. Hunger is not for sissies. But then neither is sanctification.
In Him I will find true delight!
Everyday I worship at the altars of comfort and control. But God’s powerful and patient grace is rescuing me.~Paul Tripp
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.~Romans 12:2
My thoughts follow each other in constant cycles; I would love to be in a place where there is good, close community. I would love to have friends who keep me accountable and spur me towards godliness. I would like to have time to spend with those friends.
What about right here?
Is there any part of you that would like to be here, Lydia?
This is where God has placed you. Do your continual wonderings* glorify Him?
Instead of thanking Him, you allow thoughts that question His methods to run circles around your mind.
In His will is the best place.
Be it dark, confusing, lonely…the place He has for you is the only place you will have peace.
Don’t ruin it.
Choose to love it
By choosing to love Him.
But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh~Galations 5:16
What was the best part of your trip to Mexico? They say. Oh, dear, I say.
Was it the all-night New Years Eve fiesta with confetti and balloons and dancing?
Was it standing on a dirt roof looking out over Cabo San Lucas as fireworks went off to illuminate a new year?
Perhaps it was napping lightly in the bright yellow sun on New Years Day.
There was also whale watching from the beach of the Pacific, sprawled on a blanket, the aftertaste of sweet white wine on my tongue. A new friend welcomed me by caressing my face and declaring severe jealousy for my eye color and skin tone.
Flying through the air and splashing hard into blue, chilly water, watching the fish flee: that may have been it.
There is, however, no blessing as real as sitting quietly before the Lord, praying, reading, and listening without the interruption of responsibilities.
The greatest blessing of the trip, truly, was being with people who are on the same road as I, only 30 years farther down it. Hanging our legs off the back of a truck, parked to overlook the city of La Paz (The Peace), they prayed and I received gifts beyond value. I was warmed by prayers for my renewal, my growth, and my future relationships. People who care on a deep level, for the yearnings and groanings of my spirit, are people whose feet I love to sit at and learn.
With a banished ego, (oh that it were deflated for good!)
With a greater love for my city,
With a corrected understanding of God’s grace,
With a deeper desire to know, rely on, and follow God,
Was the biggest blessing.
God uproots my heart time and again, for the sake of replanting it more deeply in Him.
For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.~Micah 4:5
I rang in the new year below the border. My 2014 was greeted with pops of confetti, 12 grapes, and music all in Spanish.
January 2nd: I’m grateful to the point of tears for this moment. For Your peace. I look out of the window and I see rolling hills, arid ground clothed in dusty shrubs. Baja, Mexico. I look inside myself and I see darkness being rolled away, even as old habits fight to stay. I see You making Your home in me. My story is such a great one. Lord, I am unworthy to have you near me.
We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord~Charles Spurgeon
Thank You for challenging me
Hold my feet to the fire
Put the right heart in me
Search the depths of my soul and know me
As no man ever could
Reveal my sin-the immensity of my depraved nature-
And comfort me with knowledge of Yourself
When I search the Scriptures
Seeking to find You
Let my heart be open and raw
Give me sight to see and understand the whole message
Answer me out of Your loving kindness
Or my whole life will be in vain.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you~Hosea 12:6
(Still January 3rd:) The weight of what God is calling me to do starts to sink in…My understanding of the cross-cultural life starts to be fleshed out. How immense the bridges to be crossed are. How alone I shall feel in a culture 100% different from my own. I ask God to strengthen me for the coming challenges and support me as my heart is heavy for the unreached, and for what I have to do. I ask Him not to let me turn tail and run, as is my first instinct.
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down~Psalm 145:14
January 4th: The world is too big. People are too blind, corrupt, selfish. And I am one of them.
January 6th: I want to move into another culture. I want to make my (small, concrete, dirt) home there. I want to marry the culture and have its children. I want to surmount the difficulties of living in another culture by time and trial. I want to die there. None of this because that culture is better, or because I grew tired of the U.S. I will be there because that is where God wants me. I will sew seeds of the Gospel where none have sown before. It will be the most difficult initiative of my life but God will guide me through all the tears, discouragement, and frustration. I will love people as my own family, and they will become my own.