An Introduction to 31 Days: The Fear of the Lord

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As described in my last post, I am excited to be discussing and growing in the fear of the Lord with you during the month of October. 31 days (and 32 if you count today). Links to each post during the month can be found at the bottom of this post. Here we go!

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “the fear of the Lord”. Or the command, “fear God”. Or a “God-fearing” man or woman. What in the world does that mean?

Why should we fear the Lord? And who is He anyway? Hopefully, some of the answers to these questions will be discovered by us in the coming weeks.

Well, first of all, I am referring to the God of the Bible. And obviously He’s pretty scary if the Bible refers to the fear of Him hundreds of times…right? “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13b). So my whole duty is to fear Him and do what He tells me to do? Hmm.

Yet, the Bible also says that “God is love” and “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:8, 15). So there is no fear in God and God actually casts out/expels fear – this is the same God we should supposedly fear? A bit confusing. I can’t count how many times I’ve had conversations, or overheard conversations, with people and friends who have this, and many other issues, with God and the Bible. Scriptural contradiction. A dictator-like god who just wants our obedience. A god who oppresses his followers. Watches while we suffer. Sucks the fun out of life. Lots more. I don’t want to take any reservations about Him or His Word lightly. I’ve had a great many of them myself.

But, over the past several years, I have found the answer to be yes. This is the same God – one worthy of our love and our fear.

The key to the validity of both of these ideas is found in the word “fear”.

If I am hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains and happen upon a black bear – a mama black bear, a large, aggressive-looking mama with some cubs nearby – the appropriate human response is fear. I know this bear is bigger, stronger, and ultimately more powerful than me. She could see me as a threat to her kids, or simply as a possibility for dinner (I honestly don’t know much about black bears or their diets, but just go with it.) If I don’t get out of her sight soon, an attack is very well likely.

Unless, of course, I knew the bear at all. Her personality, her desires, her thought processes. What if the bear likes humans and was delighted to see me, and had no intention of attacking me? Was on my side? Was good? What if I got to know the bear and we became such great friends that she considered me one of her own children? (I believe I feel you laughing at me now…).

Though Friend Bear retains her bigness, her strength, and her power, I am confident she has no intention of attacking me. I’ve spent time with her, I’ve talked with her. I know her. But like any good mom, she’s going to protect her children from any person, animal, or other force that will hurt them. A marvelous, admirable creature.

Having a friend like Friend Bear, you’re not afraid for your life anymore. You’re safe. And you’re in complete awe that you have a friend who has the power to end you with a strike of her paw and a grinding of her teeth. But she’s chosen not to. She’s good, she’s kind, and she ferociously loves you. She’s the Queen of the Smokies.

The “fear” I have for the Lord is a little like that.

Awe.

The 31 Days Library

Day 1: The First Artist: God the Creator

Day 2: The Wild Lover: God the Jealous

Day 3: The Keeper and the Revealer: God the Knowledgeable 

Day 4: The Shame Coverer: God the Gentle

Day 5: The Interruption Welcomer: God the Patient

Day 6: The Mighty Fighter: God the Strong

Day 7: The Toucher of Lepers: God the Compassionate

Day 8: The Darkness Expeller: God the Light

Day 9: The Abundant Provider: God the Rich

Day 10: A Perfect God, an Imperfect Girl, and the Grace that made them Friends, Part I

Day 11: A Perfect God, an Imperfect Girl, and the Grace that made them Friends, Part II

Day 12: A Perfect God, an Imperfect Girl, and the Grace that made them Friends, Part III

Day 13: The Ongoing Story

Day 14: What Will They Think?

Day 15: Half-way(ish) Through

Day 16: Self-forgetfulness

Day 17: Notes from My Pastor on God and Giants

Day 18: Fearing and Flying

Day 19: What Makes Us Cute

Day 20: Unite My Heart to Fear Your Name

Day 21: WWJD at a Wedding?

Day 22: A Chilling Idea and the Truth that Trumps It

Day 23: Cared For and Loved

Day 24: It’s Him

Day 25: The God Who Hears

Day 26: The Good Shepherd > The Thief

Day 27: Affections, Attachments, Loves

Day 28: God’s Grace for Jonah and a Miracle Along the Way

Day 29: That’s My King!

Day 30: One of My Favorite (Top 5, At Least) Jesus Stories

Day 31: Leads to Life

What a Car Wreck Taught Me

Three years ago today, I lived through a few moments that I was pretty sure would be my last.

I lost control of my car and it spun across an interstate. The car was totaled, colliding with the metal fence in the median, but escaping collision with any other vehicles on the road. I was not touched or hurt. Barely even sore. I was freaked out, haunted by the sound of my own scream that I let out mid-spin, one that sounded nothing like me, for the next month. Twas crazy.

Many people have experienced a similar “could have been horrible” wreck or situation, or much, much worse than this – serious injuries or fatalities. I don’t consider my story special or different. But it was nonetheless incredible to me, and it taught me a few things about who God is and how He takes care of His kids. It was honestly one of my favorite days yet.

First of all, it was a great reminder of how sovereign He is and how un-sovereign I am. I was quite literally out of control in those moments. God, who I believe is sovereign – having supreme power or authority – could have easily taken me then if it would have brought Him more glory. But He decided it was better for me to stay. Not because I’m better or more valuable than someone else who has not been saved from that kind of danger, but because His purposes are beyond our knowledge.

Second, His grace and His provision are real, and can be found in every situation. The Lord’s care for me that day (as it is every day if looked for) was beautifully displayed and very personal. Maybe two minutes after my car landed straightforward in the grassy median, one car pulled over on the other side of the road. Then another. The first was a man who saw that I was obviously in trouble and wanted to help. I still have the business card he gave me. The second was one of my best friends from college, who I had spent the weekend hanging out with in the town of our alma mater, and who was driving back to Louisiana with another guy we went to school with. From what I understand, they were supposed to leave earlier that morning to head back. I wrecked at 3:30ish pm. They had gotten off to a late start, and were apparently only a couple of minutes behind me. And thankfully she quickly recognized my car, with the letters of the sorority we both were in still affixed to my back windshield. I had been meaning to take those off for months. What a comfort to have friends in those moments. They helped me out of the car, waited with me while the police came, and eventually took me to the nearest town for dinner while we waited for my parents to meet me, who were a couple of hours away. He took care of me through them.

The third thing I learned is the value of alertness. The New Testament particularly is overflowing with exhortations about staying alert, sober-mindedness, readying your mind for action, keeping watch, and wakefulness (Acts 20:31, Ephesians 6:18, Galatians 6:1, and pretty much all of 1 Timothy and 1 Peter). If I’m honest, if I had been a wee bit more mindful of the road that day, the cars around me, and my speed, I probably wouldn’t have lost control of my car. My approach to driving since then, especially on major highways and interstates, is much more cautious (ahem…if you know me, you know I still have the occasional “close call”…). God intends for us to apply the same awareness and vigilance to our spiritual lives, our relationships, our studies, our work. If I were half as aware of potential dangers to my soul, spirit, and heart as I am to potential dangers on the road, I would avoid a great many more catastrophes of emotion and situation in my daily life.

This is one of many little stories in my life that has led me to fear the Lord. Fearing Him – reverencing Him, living in awe of Him – is the best adventure. Which is why I’m going to be blogging on this topic for the entire month of October, taking The Nester’s annual challenge.

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My goals in writing about the fear of the Lord using examples from Scripture, culture, and my own personal experiences are:

1) Growing in my understanding of God and why He is infinitely worthy to be feared.

2) Consequential to numero uno, lessening my fear of people.

3) Sharing my findings with you in hopes that you would grow in the fear of the Lord, too.

Day 1 is Monday, September 30th (it’s a time zone thing). I’m excited. And by the way, if you’d like to be a follower of my site and you aren’t a blogger, you can receive email updates by clicking the “Follow” link at the very bottom of the site and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Dreamer Town

I find it really funny and a little embarrassing that now that I have started blogging again, I hear phrases in my everyday conversations and I think, “Goodness, that would make a great blogpost title.” Even if I don’t exactly know what I would write about pertaining to the phrase. Some things people say though…I just think, there’s some meat there. Silly? Maybe. We’ll see. Because I’m doing it now and probably will again.

I joined a community group at the church I’m a part of here in Nash this past week. We had our first meeting Sunday evening. As we went around the room, each sharing the basics about ourselves – hometown, college, job, how long we’ve lived in the city – someone noticed how we all have very different interests and careers, and as many of us are new to town, the conversation also turned to commenting on the culture of the city itself and its inhabitants. Nashville is full of artists, writers, business people, filmmakers, non-profit pioneers, and of course, musicians. “It’s such a dreamer town”, one of the girls simply yet brilliantly summarized. “Everyone moves here to make it big, and they end up working at Whole Foods, but they are of course working on their *project* on the side”, she continued. She wasn’t being mean, or even belittling the dreamers. It’s just true. I know because I’m pretty much doing the same thing and know several others who are, too. It’s a fun place to be.

In our group, we are going to be reading through Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. It’s about idols of the heart and how we all have them. Even if you don’t know what that phrase means yet, I hate (actually, I’m glad) to break it to you…but you’ve got ’em. An idol is anything or anyone you’re tempted to love and serve more than God. Idolatry pretty much define fallen humanity.

Keller wrote the book in 2009, for a great many reasons I’m sure, but specifically in response to the economic crisis of 2008. The devastation for many businesses and individuals resulted in the suicides of several prominent men. Something, or the success of something, had obviously become more important than continuing the lives they were given to live. A dear dream, maybe – a dream that had more than likely become a basis for personal identity. An idol.

“Most people spend their lives trying to make their heart’s fondest dreams come true,” Keller writes in the first chapter. Whoa yeah. Maybe it’s not a “I WILL be Taylor Swift one day” dream (woops just gave mine away). It could be “my kids will have everything I didn’t have when I was growing up” or “I’ll be the top of my graduating class” or “My work will be published one day” or “this person will love me, this person has to love me”. Or, “I will make tons and tons of money on Wall Street.” Whatever it is, we invest time and energy into that thing, which is okay. The trouble is when we demand this thing and view ourselves as failures if we don’t get it. Or if we get it, and we lose it.

I am learning that we should be careful with our dreams. Our hearts are too sick and too easily allured by the thought of our own potential glory and success. The thought of writing something important, something that influences people in a really good way, makes me giddy. Careful now.

Because if or when we get our dreams, it won’t be enough. It may be good and it may even be necessary for others’ welfare, but don’t count on it fulfilling you completely. On the other hand, the fulfillment of our dreams could actually be toxic. It could destroy us, as it has done to too many celebrities to name, or people you know. Or the loss of a fulfilled dream could be our end, like those businessmen in 2008.

Set goals. Seek ways to use your gifts to serve others. Hold your dreams with open hands. Believe you are called to live for something, Someone, greater than yourself.

We just may live a dream we never even dreamed of. That sounds even better, actually.

Okay, all of this dream talk makes me think of one of the best movie scenes ever because this is one of the best songs ever. And it’s another illustration of a dream sadly turned toxic. Gosh, the despair is so real. Props to Anne. (I cannot promise I won’t talk about movies in every other post…it just may happen.)

In with the old, out with the new.

As I was folding my clean laundry tonight, I realized that I haven’t bought any new clothes in [almost] two months. Sadly, that is probably a record for me. I made the mental decision to not let myself buy ANY piece of clothing while looking for a job, even though technically I could have. It’s by God’s grace I haven’t given in.

I don’t know how many of you who know me would think of me as materialistic, but I would say I very much am. Maybe we all are in some way. For me, it’s clothes (and probably some other things too). I love ’em. The thing is, none of my clothes, shoes, or purses are too expensive. It’s a rare day when something on my person is not either from Target or Old Navy. It’s more about getting more. The newness of it all.

Here’s the surprise – I haven’t really missed shopping. Also, I like my clothes right now.* I have things to wear. And I’m wearing them in new ways. It has unleashed some creativity in me. As silly as it sounds, I have outfits I didn’t know I had, depending on how I pair my pieces. It’s fun, and I feel free of having to buy buy buy and keep up with everybody.

It honestly made me think about how I often do that – lose things I’m accustomed to, things I love…and finding myself delightfully surprised that I don’t really miss that thing so much.  A few more examples…

Going out to eat. I don’t do that much anymore. And I’m enjoying cooking more than I ever have. I’m learning. I feel better too, because I’m preeeetty sure I’m eating healthier.

Social Media. I took a Facebook, Twitter, and Insta hiatus for a month or so last spring when I found that I was spending most of my days clicking, scrolling, and being jealous. I also did that again this summer in Asia. It was so freeing. I honestly had more time to do things that mattered more. And I liked people more, because I wasn’t always comparing myself to their lives presented via the internet.

I’m sure there are other things.

I guess my conclusion somewhat lines up with the saying “necessity is the mother of invention” or “necessity breeds ingenuity”? But it’s a little different. I think our wants, or my wants anyway, have been mistaken for needs  and things I am entitled to and things that are normal. I don’t need new clothes or big meals out or to keep up with everyone on the internet. Those things are nice, but some space from them is also nice.

If any of this has struck a chord in you, I suggest looking into The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker. I kinda sorta did the experiment last spring with a group of women, but would like to try again. It definitely makes you think about your life more carefully.

*Males: contentedness in wardrobe is a very rare situation for females.

Side note that has no direct connection to this post:

And Emily P. Freeman has yet again, I am guessing, unknowingly put my heart in a book she wrote. This promo video largely explains the reason I am taking the time to write on the internet. To you. Whoever you are. Anyway, I can’t wait to read A Million Little Ways!

The Population of Nigeria

Guess what it is.

Just guess.

It’s 158,258,917. 158 MILLION 258 THOUSAND 917 people in Nigeria today. According to www.operationworld.org. Wikipedia says more (168 mil). It also says the President’s name is Goodluck Jonathan, which is obviously amazing. But I’d like to talk about something more amazing.

Learning the population, what I would consider a rather large population, of Nigeria today, a country (among many) I only think about when I happen to see the word in print on occasion, made me think about how many people there are inhabiting the planet. I have, indeed, thought about this before, and it has freaked me out.

Two years ago this fall, someone/the news/the world announced that the world population had reached 7 billion persons. I remember thinking, “Whoa, it’s been 6 billion(ish) for as long as I can remember. How’d we get a billion more?” Upon second thought, gradual growth seemed to make sense. Those billion didn’t come over night and all have the same birthday. But this isn’t the freaky part.

I began to think about how many people there had ever been EVER here on planet Earth. Since the beginning of time. Aiyiyi. I do not have the knowledge or wisdom to even guesstimate that number. Even freakier is the fact that…

Probably a lot of them have looked like you. Like maybe close to exactly. Who knows? No one could disprove it at this point. 10 people? 8,400 people? Your guess is as good as mine. And the freakiest fact and the point to which I am getting is…

No one has been or is or will ever be exactly like you. Your genetic makeup, at this time, at this place, in this situation, in 2013. It reminds me of this scene in Garden State:

Zach Braff! Funny every time.

Out of all the immeasurable amount of human beings that have ever breathed here, you get to employ the uniqueness of your own person and life at this moment. And hopefully for many, many more moments. So be encouraged today. I do think we’re each special. I would be denying the power and skill of my Creator otherwise (“knitted together”…”fearfully and wonderfully made”…”intricately woven” – Psalm 139…beautiful). I don’t think that’s cheesy or promoting self-absorption. It might be if we left out the next freaky fact…

You get to live life with those 6,999,999,999 (did I do that right?) uniquely crafted people. You get to know them! And learn about and celebrate the uniqueness of all the other ones that came before us, and appreciate the good they did for us. And with many, be sorry for the losses they brought about and learn from their mistakes and their involvement with evil.

Self-reflection is valid, and so is self-concern. But 1 vs. 6,999,999,999….if I’m honest with myself, it would probably do me good to occupy a much higher percentage of my thoughts with the souls that the latter number represents. And wrap all that in using our thoughts to consider the One that I believe made all of those people…well you will have material to chew on and wonder about for many lifetimes.

Quest For Love

I think and talk a lot about dating and marriage. Being a single, 20-something woman, this shouldn’t be too surprising. I have a deep desire for these things to be done well, in my life and in others’ lives. Obviously, life is messy, we are messy, and “done well” is a process, a combination of talking, listening, prayer, self-sacrifice, and a hundred other things that I don’t even have the wisdom to name. Relationships in general – friend/friend, parent/child, sibling/sibling, boss/employee, etc. – are complex. Relationships between the sexes, from my perspective, could be one of the most complex things in the world. I am a child when it comes to them, and I am not going to pretend to know a lot. Nevertheless, I have had the privilege of observing for a great number of years, and am endlessly fascinated (and perplexed) on the subject. I love these statements from C.S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves, about how men and women “see” one another:

They [women] laugh at us [men] a good deal. That is just as it should be. Where the sexes, having no real shared activities, can meet only in Affection and Eros – cannot be Friends – it is healthy that each should have a lively sense of the other’s absurdity. Indeed it is always healthy. No one ever really appreciated the other sex – just as no one really appreciates children or animals – without at times feeling them to be funny. For both sexes are. Humanity is tragi-comical; but the division into sexes enables each to see in the other the joke that often escapes it in itself – and the pathos too. 

Don’t you love that? To me, it is so true. I speak, think, and act differently when I am in the company of men rather than with just women. Even if I’ve known the dudes for forever, it is different. This is inevitable. There is a kind of whimsical humor in the air when guys and gals hang out. And it’s because we’re different from one another. Because men are men and they are not women and women are women and they are not men. This may seem obvious, but we were made to be different and distinct from one another. And that is a really good and beautiful thing. But it also makes relating to one another a wee bit tricky.

No one has spoken more wisdom into my life about celebrating these distinctions – men embracing their masculinity and women embracing their femininity – than Elisabeth Elliot. The woman has spent literally decades speaking, writing, and answering letters about how men and women should relate to one another in such a way that will lead to the joy and good of each. She is qualified because she has lived it, and she has seen multitudes of others live it too. She even compiled these stories – her own in Passion and Purity, and others’ spanning the last two centuries in Quest For Love, which is precisely the book I would like to recommend to you now.

This little gem will blow your mind and all you ever thought about dating and “how to find the one”.

First of all, I need to clarify that Elisabeth is writing from the perspective that dating (a rather new practice, actually) only exists to help lead to one thing – marriage. In fact, she often suggests in her book that dating could actually be an unnecessary evil and that maybe we should, “obviate dating altogether”.  You may be thinking, “Whoa whoa whoa. That’s crazy right? How are we supposed to get to know one another? I can’t marry someone I haven’t spent a good amount of time with!”. Yeah, I thought that way too. Until I read about 20 or so firsthand accounts of couples who seemed to barely know each other commit to marriages that lasted for a lifetime.

Elisabeth also includes real letters that men and women have sent her in the past – arguing with her, pleading with her, desperately seeking advice about what to do in X situation in regard to their love lives (or lack thereof). Her answers consistently align with a few simple principles about how to do our part as men or women in the quest for love – principles that may seem odd to our texting/sexting/keep it casual age, but have voluminous records of success that frankly cannot be argued with. Because these are real people.

There is no perfect way to do relationships, no perfect formula. Dating, courting, or not dating and not courting – all of them have worked or failed to work at some point. But we can begin, or begin again, with a sober mind that has the wisdom to seek counsel from those who have done it well.

The Wonder of Words

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“Our culture has made a radical shift in the last century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The media of our time are movies, television, and the Internet, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of just a few generations ago, we don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we’ve lost that art.” – Howard G. Hendricks

It would be hard not to agree with Hendricks’ statement at least somewhat. The fact that I’ve never heard of the word “forebears” is a small testament to it. Noun. Ancestors, forefathers. There we go.

I love to read. Books, articles, blogs, handwritten letters, whatever. I haven’t had a stack of less than six books at my bedside since 2007(ish). I am absolutely fascinated by words.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

I’ve always been a movie junkie. ALWAYS. My mother raised me on what I consider the good stuff. Shag. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The genius Trifecta mentioned in my previous post. Dad tried to get me into Top Gun and such. Didn’t quite take. Though there were the occasional surprises like the Jurassic Park movies that we enjoyed together. : )

Around high school, I began to take a little bit of interest in movies of the Jane Austen genre (an interest that would skyrocket a few years later). I was entertained, but I remember thinking, really each time I watched, “What did people really do back then? It had to be so booooring.” I knew what they did. I watched four straight hours of them socializing, going to balls, eating together, playing rather mild sports, taking strolls through meadows, and reading reading reading in the A&E/Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. What I meant was, though I was a little embarrassed to admit it to myself because it might mean I had an obsession with entertainment and no real hobbies of my own, “They didn’t have movies or TV! How did they survive?” I couldn’t bear to think of life without…you know…the little boxes we sit in front of ev.ery.day. Honestly, I was a little concerned that I considered the situation that horrific.

Since, I have indeed come to terms with the fact the every other generation since the beginning of time has survived, thrived even, without TV, movies, and the internet. It’s funny. Now I actually long for a “simpler” era when I would have seemingly endless time for my now-favorite activity.

Television, movies, and the internet are not bad things. They are great things! We get to see stories, stories that need to be shared, and shared visually and beautifully. We hear and see the news when it’s, like, actually very new. We can communicate with each other in a probably inestimable number of ways. My real-time face can see your real-time face when your real-time face is not physically in front of me. That’s crazy.

But. Back to Hendricks. Is it true? Have we let one art form, the one that has carried the history of God and man century after century, be squashed by a thousand others?

I don’t think it’s been squashed. But I do think it’s in need of serious attention.

I am so interested in bringing back the wonder of words.

Let’s cut Disney some slack, and look in the mirror

Sometime in the last year or so, a [rather long] buzz phrase began to surface on various social media sites: “I blame Disney for my high (or unrealistic) expectations of men.” I, and many other ladies, immediately resonated with the statement. “Yes! Prince Eric is so not real. This is the real world and we don’t just go marrying gorgeous, charming princes. My whole childhood was a lie!” Angsty.

I would like to offer some bigger players in this “blame game” of expectations vs. reality that make Disney characters and storylines look like small potatoes. Even as I’m thinking through the classics now, I don’t find the character of any of the guys too appealing. Most of them were pretty normal (maybe even a bit boring). Except for the fact that most were princes. And so, here are a few more examples that served to feed the young and impressionable female (ahem, my..) mind with dreams of Mr. Perf and the fact that I could most definitely nab him:

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Mary-Kate and Ashley. As cute as they were and as fun as their movies and shows were to watch, in retrospect, it was not too helpful for me to see them prance around Paris or the Bahamas with dos local hotties year after year. It also made me incessantly want a twin to be able to wear “alike but different” duds and to always have a friend to show up to parties with (again, in Paris or the Bahamas).

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The entire CW (in my day, called the WB) network. That Rory had the good guy and the bad boy after her. Naturally, this will happen to every smart and responsible high school girl. And let’s be honest, even though she lived in a consistent state of “nobody likes me and I’m not attractive…”, Joey Potter pretty much had her pick of the whole creek.

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The Molly Ringwald Trifecta: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. This one takes the cake (^^^!). I actually had a poster of the above hanging in my room at one point. I lived and breathed the aforementioned movies from 7th grade well through college. They are dear favorites. Why? Great writing, real(ish) characters, utterly hilarious, and the stories they depicted were feast-worthy. Aside from her character (named Claire of all things) in The Breakfast Club who was the coolest gal in school, Molly played the normal girl who got the guy that everybody wanted. John Hughes wrote the stuff that dreams are made of.

But wait…I barely mentioned a Mr. Perf in this spiel. Isn’t this about women’s unrealistic expectations of men based on what pop culture has fed us?

No, I don’t really think so. Really, the blame game is not about our “high expectations of men” and how guys just don’t seem to measure up these days.

It seems to be more about thinking we (ladies and gents) know what we want and what would be best for us. The problem is us. It’s about comparing ourselves to others’ lives and others’ stories, to their perfect looks or their dynamite personalities – whether it’s fictional Rory Gilmore or a best friend. If we were like that, or even just passively wished enough like Samantha or Andy, then we could get that person, or that thing, that will make us happy and give us the stamp of approval and significance. I think we’re more concerned with wanting to be Ariel or Belle or Jasmine, and having the happily ever after. I know I am.

The good news is we actually can have that “ever after”. If you have the daring willingness to believe that ultimate satisfaction and pleasure can be found outside of human relationship, then you will start to see those relationships or potential relationships as beautiful, undeserved gifts, not identity-makers…..and you will acknowledge that you still hunger for more. Something people, on their best day, can’t fully give you or me.

This is a hunger to be known.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” – Jeremiah 1:5

“And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” – Hosea 2:19-20

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.'” – John 7:37

“I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:14-15

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11

Sounds like someone who knows us, and wants to make the joy (which is so much better than happy, don’t you think?) ever after thing real. He’s the One and Only Mr. Perf.

(In all honesty, I enjoy Disney movies, MK and A, CW reruns, and those movies will never leave my favorites list. But if we overexpose ourselves to them, as I did as a teen, they can disillusion us  and can affect our actions, our inactions, and most importantly, our hearts. Be enamored first by the One who fashioned your heart, and forget about the Jake Ryans for a while. And I have no idea why I started abbreviating “perfect”.)

Relish

I was just thinking about going to bed, but how can I do that with Jon Foreman singing about life in my ear?

At the end of the day, I absolutely relish reflection time. Or chill time. I don’t know exactly what it should be called. But it’s my “settle down” time right before bed, and if I’m not careful, it can last for a few hours. This happened so many times in Hattie. Many of our ministry activities were at night – community groups, the weekly worship meeting, socials. Sometimes my heart would be so full after spending uninterrupted time with students and staff that I just couldn’t help but wrap it up in a little solo worship session at home – writing, reading, listening to music, praying, thanking God for things. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that to anyone before.  Well, here you go, world. And so that’s what I’m kind of in the middle of right now.

I had the privilege of meeting some well-known bloggers this weekend who I admire very much. They shared some great gems of blog advice. One of the most encouraging statements, to me, was something to this effect: “There is no better time to fail at writing than when hardly anyone reads your stuff.” That would be now for me. And it is oddly freeing. Another good one: “Always write the way you talk, as if you’re sitting across from the reader, enjoying coffee together.” This is a huge part of “finding your voice” and being authentic, being consistently yourself. I definitely need to remember that.

I also went camping this weekend. Like, actually slept outside in a tent, for the first time in thirteen years. And it was glorious. I hope to make it a fairly regular event. I am thankful to have made some friends here who are camping experts. : ) We hiked, read, eno-ed, sat for hours talking and being mesmerized by the fact that fire exists, and ate too much. And the weather was PERFECTION!

And now I’m thinking about the fear of the Lord, and how it’s the most freeing thing in the world. To fear (be in reverential awe of) Him, and nothing or no one else. Obviously, that needs to be unpacked, and I don’t have quite the energy for it now. But just relish the beauty of the thought.

That Day

Today is a sobering day, as it is every year since 2001. I can’t even begin to understand what it feels like to have been personally effected by what happened that day, and remain effected. To have lost family, friends, or acquaintances. Even just to have been there. It is worth intentional remembrance.

I wish I walked around with that same sobriety of mind and heart each day of the year. Not constantly dwelling on tragedies and things that hurt, but embracing the reality that people are of infinite value.

I was reminded of a beautiful symbol of hope in the wake of the events of September 11th, 2001 from Jeff Goins’ blog this morning: St. Paul’s Chapel. It unfathomably survived the attacks on the World Trade Center, right across the street. It’s a place of hope, not just a symbol, that served as a “place of rest and refuge for recovery workers” for months after that day.

The mental image gives me chills. The church standing its ground, literally facing evil.

I know there must be so many stories of hope and healing that have surfaced since that day. Those are worth remembering, and celebrating, too.

“‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” – Revelation 21:4-5