Little Bits of God

Working as a counselor at summer camp this week I got a card from my sister. It did not say much but it contained a piece of construction paper shaped like a heart. On it were words I wrote months ago: God’s powerful and patient grace is rescuing us all.
I had given my sister a jar full of hearts with truths written on them. This week, as a way to encourage me, she sent one back. What a blessing. What an example of how we are supposed to operate, passing on the Truths that we encounter. The little bits of God that we stumble upon are meant to be treasured first, and then shared.
How tightly I feel His arms wrap around me even as I trudge through trials and confusions.

…You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)

Is there any Scripture sweeter than this?

It is the Lord’s house that I work to fill up with worshipers.
I can write their names in my book a thousand times and it will do no good.
In His arms is the book of life. And I pray that these names are written there.

PIC

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What the Tornado Took

He bolstered me for a trial of which there was no foreshadowing.
God was so near. In the blue lights, His Spirit took hold and spoke through me, when my shock was great.
Those are moments that I ask for the strength and memory to hold in my head and heart as pillars of faith in a living God.
Selfishness, frustration, and lack of faith bares its ugly teeth,
All while I seek to enter the pain again and again, to be rid of it.
It hurts now to laugh as family and friends seek to cheer me up;
Their support is invaluable.
May Jesus’ people be mobilized to support those with no (loving or living) family.
I had forgotten how physical the pain of a broken heart is.
There is a a heavy rawness in my chest
That wells to the forefront of my emotions when I see the wreckage, see the swathe of destruction.
My mind takes me to the place where the curtain was torn in two;
How much worse was Christ’s pain?
I could have washed my friend’s feet many times over with the tears that I have shed for her.
Let me live in such a way as to be washing the feet of those I love
(everyone)
Daily by my actions and sincerity of heart.

He takes our transgressions away, as far as the East is to the West.
He loves us to the sky and back.
(Psalm 103)

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning
more than the watchmen for the morning.~Psalm 130:3-6

Hot Cheetos

Upon entering the supermarket in North Little Rock, you will see shiny bags of chips. These salty snacks boast vibrant colors and grab-able cellophane packaging. They rustle loudly as shoppers rush by, turning the heads of men, women, and children. All alike are motivated by the color, and by their bellies.

Rumor has said that these chips are made out of potatoes, sometimes corn. But emphasis is not put on the content of these products. Focus is on the instant gratification that comes to the eye when shoppers see that bag and on the tongue when it tastes those savory treats.That temptation is strong and giving into it…tasty.

Human devices and inventions echo these well-dressed bags of chips. Both look so appealing. Both leave emptiness behind. Potato chips leave snackers greasy and unsatisfied. Purely human ideals—thoughts with no intentional hints toward God—leave the world threadbare and unfulfilled.

I find myself consistently drawn to the things of the world. It all charms me cruelly: addictions that spring from abused relationships, goals, foods, and lifestyles.

Imagine spending the night with a guy just once, and feeling no guilt over refusing his calls the next day.

Consider how good it would feel to free my mind, just once…

Imagine living all for me, carrying no burden for the poor, and harboring no guilt over the apathy of my heart.

Imagine guiltlessly chasing my own dreams.

 

But a human without guilt has yet to be found.

And I want no part in a dream that isn’t Christ’s. 

A shiny bags of potato chips,

The world rustles as I walk by.

 

People reach out and

I do not know if they are propelled by darkness or drawn to Light within me.

That confusion makes it difficult, this engagement with the people around me.

I love every one (imperfectly),

And it is alright for my grammar to disintegrate,

But it is a grave issue to see my morals weakened by the pressures of this fluid society.

 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…~Philippians 3:18-20

Tarnished grammar might matter.

Really, communicatively and professionally, it might.

Like that missed payment on my credit account might matter.

Like that broken mirror on my truck might matter.

Like that check list I never get to might matter.

The genuinely important thing to do is to

Start seeing “problems” as opportunities (like Jesus did, when he spontaneously fed 5, 000+ people).

The urgent question is, does what I say coincide with what I do?

 

Mother Teresa, tell me you had doubts while you walked the straight and narrow.

Martin Luthers (both of you), tell me you were not completely certain in the actions you took.

 

I have found happiness and I seek no other way.

My body is weak that I may learn to rely on Him.

His strength is sublime in my shortcomings.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.~1 John 4:15

Perfect weather

People to love

Prince who saved me

Great God who raised me

Sisters I would die for

Grandmother who I cry for

Children I have hope for

 

Delicious potato chips that (eaten in moderation) probably won’t split my soul.

Wildsmolder

There is a taste of what is coming in the diet of my week.

A foreshadowing lurks between
the moments when I am admiring how high the women hold their heads and eyebrows
and the moments spent wondering why hot funjuns for breakfast?

The small sacrifice of spare moments and 10% has turned into a portion of my earnings and the precious commodity of the American Sunday Afternoon. I wish I could be with my family. I wish on a grey day that I could be in PJs watching Drake & Josh with my sister. Where is the pleasure in exiting my parent’s warm house to traverse a dreary, thirsty city?
Could he ask of me any smaller task? Is there anything so precious that requires less effort?
That which I lay on the altar now is like a goat compared to Isaac under his father Abraham’s blade. (Genesis 22)
I give up hours;
He has called me to give up a lifetime.

My thoughts are cast forward to when my call will be demonstrated:
I’ll move overseas,
I’ll follow God farther than I’ve followed before.
Farther than Yakama, Washington
Much farther than Jamaica
Or Mexico.

I’ll say goodbye to home and heartland until my visa is due to expire.
I will doubt and question my decision and He will remain faithful
Amidst a myriad of scenarios beyond my most wild imaginings.

I can no more imagine the barrier of a sea between my family and I
Than I can fathom the barrier of a language between my heart and my neighbor’s.

My faith is small.
It’s a rock balancing on the tip of a formation lost in the desert. In the sun and wind it is strong and balanced. But the slightest rain, a little drizzle, and the rock falls down down, breaking into pieces of red slate.
That’s me.

Perched happily (precariously) atop my savings, my network, my job, my school,
Until the rain comes. The slightest trickle:
A hydroplaning incident (including my reaction to said incident) that may cost me my dream vehicle, a portion of my college savings, and a precious relationship.
How many of those things matter?
I would venture to say only the third.
Which of those things do I have control over?
In this scenario, only the third.
Sin is the destroyer. Not rain on the road or a swerving semi-truck, or insurance fraud or an unjust system. Sin makes the things that matter topple. My sin causes real issues. Yelling because my trust is gone. Crying because I am tired of trying (we call that a pity party). These are the problems.

Money is secondary.
Higher education is tertiary at best.
The Father’s love is primary. The Father’s glory is on level with his love.

My faith is smaller than a mustard seed, and not nearly as powerful.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the hearts of the contrite.”~Isaiah 57:15-16

Poem, II

Much of my time is joy, is light
I won’t deny: there too is despair, there is night.
Though rare, there are times
When-a vine-angst climbs.

I am worried about going,
I am worried about throwing
All I have down a funnel,
Down a labyrinth tunnel.

Suddenly cigarettes and sex
Ashes blowing in my face, legs braced
Shine their neon lights, croon a hex
Put in reverse, the Highway to Hell now trace.

The road to Heaven: paved with negative emotions
Then they wash away: holy oceans.
By His breath, now I see
Often I choose death, though for life I am free.

Despite my natural tilt, He
Takes the wickedness away;
He soothes empty guilt, it won’t
Come into play.

He may not stop me
But he lets me decide:
Who will I be?
Which way will I ride?

I am not a romantic, but
Tears of my eyes against Him I can’t hide,
In the midst of my frantic He
Is there by my side.

Food Good

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

Divine Days

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

*Not actually a word. Until now.

Glory Bound and Growing

Right now is the best moment, the blessed moment.
*corny, but I kind of like it*
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine here, in a place called “Dark Hollow.” In mid-America? Yep.
I swing on a swing-set with my two best friends (both under the age of 11). I love knowing that if not for me, they would not be at the park. And if they did not love me (even when I’m late and my truck is so messy there is barely room for them!), I would not have these sweet relationships. (Who would I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe too?!) They show me Jesus every week. The body of Christ is interconnected in a dazzling way. Praise to the Lamb!

Men sit on the park benches, dirty, next to their glitzy new cars. The skin on my legs that is exposed tingles unpleasantly as I walk by, not because of anything they have done or said, but because society has branded the word “rapist” on their foreheads. My preliminary judgment rests not on the content of their character but on their location and the way they wear their clothes. What if we look past their brands, Martin Luther King Jr. style, and invite them in to the Kingdom to worship beside us? What could people do if they were empowered by a friend who has everything (the Gospel) to offer?

I close my eyes. No guilt in life, no fear in death.

I know I’m spending my life in the right place. I am selling myself for the cause of righteousness, investing in a market with eternal dividends. Her smile, set off by the gap between her over-sized front teeth reminds me that darkness cannot hold back the light. Even when it seems we have the time and resources to undo only a fraction of the evil that exists, we know that there is hope. No soul is beyond redemption. Maybe if we take them gently by the hands, if we bid every other broken person come and worship Jesus with us, the lightness can push away the darkness. The church will grow, because we will grow. We’ll dance and sing and eagerly await the happy day when the Jesus who bids us be children comes to redeem this unimaginative world.

Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society,~Jacques Elliot

I ask the good Lord to cure me of my dry skin and my disobedience.

Let my actions speak loud enough to drown out my faulty words.

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.~Isaiah 30:19b-21

Ardent Audacity

It’s funny that we tell each other…
And we actually believe…
“I deserve a break,” or
“I’ve earned this vacation.”
I’m entitled to these pancakes soaked in syrup and bananas.
Wrong again;
We give to ourselves the credit due God alone.
We lose track of how merciful He is because we ascribe to ourselves the thanks He alone warrants.

My ingratitude constantly draws a rift between He and I.
I love Him, I do. He knows that I try, and He knows that I often try halfheartedly. He sees me running down rabbit trails of self-pity day following day, yet He blesses me and continues to use me for His purposes.

How big, how great, how perfect He is! I curse Him by ingratitude, and He offers me tangible, over-the-top blessings like a trip to Mexico! (When I said over-the-top, I meant it).
How small, how dependent, how worthless I am in avoidance of Him.
He puts bigness in me.
He makes my dependency feel like freedom.
He opens my eyes to the way things truly are.

All to Him I owe.

I have not earned Him. I have no right to know God. His love is just that: love. There is nothing in this for Him.
He draws me gently, close to Him.
He holds me because He loves me,
Gives me everything and more because that is who He is.
I am angered when He is distant, though I am the one who Has run away.
I ignore His hand even when He is at work directly before me.
My sin overcomes me
And He rushes to my aid.
No longer will darkness capture me,
Even when I foolishly seek it out.
He is my guardian, my flawless companion,
My shalom.
In Him, I am okay.

We are ocean, we are mist
Brilliant fools who ruled and kiss
There’s beauty in the dirt
Wandering in skin and soul
Searching, longing for a whole.~Gungor, I am Mountain

Day 24: Cue Confession(s)

Whose cup of tea is that? Sure looks like it’s hanging out with your algebra homework, Lydia.
Cheater.
Yeah, basically.
It’s raining! I haven’t felt my toes since eight this morning! It’s my first visit to Mugs Cafe! (http://www.mugscafe.org/)
Go ahead, throw stones. This tea is perfect. I’ll sit here trying to muster an acceptable level of guilt.
I call myself “cheap” but this month has been trickier than I expected! Even with multiple sets of “parents” across town who feed me, and a full schedule, I’ve had to shut down trips to Chick-Fil-A and the movie theater. I’ve tried to sit nonchalantly at restaurants with friends without ordering anything, but, truth be told, a gluten free pizza was bought just for me last Friday night. I haven’t had time to be as creative as I wanted to be. Oh well, I’ve learned a lot, and that’s the point anyway.

Confession: I have plans to buy some stuff (T-shirt, music, redbox, etc.) on October 1st. I hate myself.

You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.~Colossians 2:13-14