Delivered

Joshua received land, food and vineyards. He was delivered from the hand of Balaam.

Deliverance.  It is a theme of the Old Testament.

Battles were fought.  People lost their lives so God’s beloved could receive their inheritance.  It wasn’t pretty, often.  Blood was spilled. Cities destroyed. Rulers brought down.

I don’t understand His ways.  There were many of faith who struggled with His ways.  Sarah and Abraham.  The list goes on.  They even took matters into their own hands.  Just like I do.  But there was still deliverance.  Grace.  It didn’t stop Plans.

All of this…leading up to Divinity taking on human flesh to deliver.  To make the way, through blood, beating, and death, to bring people, like me who can be stuck in my own ways, to Vineyards that weren’t mine. The ultimate Ruler was brought down on the cross.

He is the Vineyard.

He is the land that I don’t deserve to live in.

What will I do with this? His unsettling Grace that brings deliverance?

I didn’t work in those fields that are now mine.  Through Jesus, I am invited in this moment, with gigantic circumstances looming over my head, to be delivered.

To Feast.

To Bounty.

To Home.

(Joshua 24, ESV)

1/28

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep. Psalm 36 (NIV)

Justice goes deep.  Interesting that it didn’t say righteousness is like the great deep, but justice.

In other translations, it says judgement.

Judgement and justice.  Plunging the depths of darkness of the shaky mysteries of deep oceans.

Isn’t this true, too, of our suffering?  There’s mystery.  We can’t explain it.  It hits the core of our soul. There are deep places of darkness in it.  Injustices that we can’t figure out.

His justice is like the great deep. Read it again.

His justice goes there.  To the mysterious deep pain.  And He’s a fighter.

He fights for the injustices that have been committed against us. And the injustice that we commit against ourselves and others, offering us wholeness regardless of our position.

And for the depths that His justice plunges, searching the deep, searching the darkness, He equips us with light within as we feel like we’re drowning in darkness. He gives us navigation as we wrestle with the anger and pain of injustice.  His rod and His staff, they comfort, as His justice plunges and heals.  Equips and mends.

Then His righteousness. It’s like the highest mountain, lifting us to where He is.  Out of the muck, out of the deep pain of injustice, into the high places of righteousness.  We are seated in the heavens, with Him, where He calls us brother and sister and mother and friend.

Today, I’m encouraged by the fact, that simply, He goes there.  He’s in it with us, in our pain and in our joy. Constantly calling out the light that is within us that shines in our own dark places, lighting our own way and the way for others.  It is knowing our light in the darkness, that we often discover that we have great light.

Smile Lines

I was boiling mad all weekend.  The sun set on my anger, three days in a row.  

Little things would tip it off…it was brimming, constantly, under the surface.  I knew in part what it was.  I was seeing some unhealthy patterns in my own life and I wanted to do everything but own it.  I wanted to blame Wes, blame my circumstances, my children, anything that had breath could be responsible.  This all ended in a pile of rage and tears right before we were supposed to go to our friend’s house for dinner.

I could feel the Spirit telling me to let it go.  You know, do my visual thing of throwing all my crap on an imaginary cross in the corner of the room.  I did it, but I was still pissy.

————————–

So I sulked in the car all the way over to my friend’s house.  

In a conversation she said something that I have been thinking about ever since.  “Grace makes you mad.”

It’s more natural for me to punish myself at times, or be mad at someone else than to receive Grace.  I had thrown my stuff on the cross, but I had not received anything.  That can be the hardest part.  We don’t just get to lay our burdens down.  We have to receive what the cross means.

And it means: (I’m talking myself out of my anger and into Grace as I write these things.)

That the sunlight coming through the window right now is for me.

That this jazz is like laughter.  With me.

The pattern the sunlight made on the wall was an acceptance letter.

And paraphrasing Robert Farrar Capon, that all of these things come to us, as priests, for our enjoyment.

 It’s not just the thing in itself that does the trick.  It is the Love behind the thing.  The wink in the eye behind the things.  They are the deep ancient smile lines of God.

My New Year’s Improvements

I do love a new year.  In my mind, the color “white” pops into it when I think of the words “new year.”  I don’t know why.  Maybe because there’s a bit of a freshness there.  Like sleeping on real linens air dried and pressed.  Or maybe it’s because I hate New Year’s Eve so much that I can’t wait for the new year to actually get started.  I digress.

I have always hated New Year’s Resolutions.  Probably because I fail at them and then, well, have to deal with the fallout of crappy thinking that comes.

So I’ve swung to the opposite extreme of never making them and scoffing at the whole idea.  There’s a bad plan too.

So, I’m sitting here, listening to Coltrane because if the new year seems white, Coltrane seems like laughter.  Which puts me in a mood to make improvements.  Which is my answer to the polarizing feeling I get if I make a resolution, or don’t make a resolution.

Improvements seem less daunting.  Like painting a room instead of redoing a whole house. They seem little.  Resolutions seem big.  Like they need legal stamps or something.  Now, I won’t judge all you resolvers out there.  I think you are pretty amazing, actually. Those who make resolutions and follow through.  Wow.  The thought of a full on resolution makes me want to throw up.  Just where I am.

So here is my list of improvements.  It’s probably a semantics thing but the word is better for me. ha.

1.  My ability to walk in the woods without getting in a bad mood.  Like if I could walk for 10 minutes, through the woods, and enjoy it and be in the moment, that would be good.

2.  My ability to keep a calendar.  I would like to see improvement in this seriously lacking area of my life.

3.  Writing a schedule for myself.  Here’s the clincher…not making it too hard, intense, with CRAY CRAY expectations.

4.  My health.  I would like to see an overall improvement.  Like I want to START exercising again.

5.  Presence with my own family.  You know, baby steps.  I think this can be done by both making a home’s environment comfortable and by working on being comfortable with myself enough to be present  For the environment it might be lighting some candles at dinner, cooking dinner from time to time.  Then of course, seeing improvement with peace with myself.  Feeling joy and being ok.  Sadness and being ok, etc.

Ok that’s enough.

I’m feeling the temptation to make resolutions. :)

Happy New Year.

Less Numbing in the New Year

I don’t know why I’ve never read Brene Brown.

Because she is undoing me with her amazing ability to combine research with story.

Here are her thoughts on numbing.  (from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection)

1.  Most of us engage in behaviors (consciously or not) that help us to numb and take the edge off vulnerability, pain and discomfort.

2.  Addiction can be described as chronically and compulsively numbing and taking the edge off feelings.

3.  We cannot selectively numb emotions.  When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. (pgs.69 and 70)

So, she’s got me thinking.  I’ve been through trauma in my life.  Pain.  I often run from the very vulnerability that will be the path to my healing.  Like actually feeling pain and taking that to God.  Talking to God about my pain and not medicating it with the answers that often religion offers.  But instead wrestling with mystery. Being ok in the midst of the unknown.  I think this is where faith comes in.

In the new year, I am going to make a conscious effort not to numb.  I like to smoke.  I’m going to try and not rely on this to deal with my vulnerability.  But I need to get ready.  Ready to feel pain and vulnerability and be ok.  And to also feel joy and be ok. 

We can numb with all kinds of things.  Boredom.  Addictions.  Shopping.  The Internet.  Work. Blogging.  Etc.  Join me in the Less Numbing in the New Year plan.  I’m going to just try and numb less. And let myself feel the emotions that come along with that.  For me, it’s smoking cigs.  I’m not going to say “no numbing.”  I want to get there.  For now, it just may look like smoking way less.  What will it be for you?  Get ready.

I’ll want to hear from you…if you decide to do this too.  It’s best done in numbers so we can support each other. I would love to even have guest bloggers.  For you to write about your journey too.

Think about it! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Less Numbing New Year.  I’ll be here again in January.

With Love and Thankfulness,

Natalee

A Modern Confession

I left my class tonight early to wander through Barnes and Noble. 

I didn’t know why I was going there…other than the fact that something in my soul was hungry.  I got rid of my smart phone (again) and I’ve come face to face with my restlessness that used to manifest itself in obsessively checking my phone.  You know, like the stats on my blog, how book sales are going, what you are saying on Facebook, etc.

I wandered to the psychology aisle, of course.  Appropriate.

Nestled in between the bi-polar books was a book by Brene Brown.  It was as if it was the meat in between two slices of bread.  I read the back and craved it. 

It’s her book on being imperfect.  Embracing imperfection, I have decided to not go into the living room and find the exact title. 

She talks about hustling to fit in.

As I hungrily combed through the pages, I realized that I’m what she calls a hustler.  The light dawned on me that what I’ve done for years is hustle.  Hustle for approval and perfectionism, like a salesman trying to close a deal. In parenting, wife-ing, writing, friendships, and doing crazy things like being PTA president.  I’m so not a PTA president.  It also occurred to me that hustling has played a huge part in my mental illness.  I had to go outside on my front porch and stare at the hood and tell God that I was sorry for not loving myself in the way that He loves me.  I think He liked it because I felt chills come over my entire body. I probably should have been confessing this all along, instead of obsessively confessing that I don’t love Him.

There should be a confession that we read in church that goes something like this.

Forgive us, Lord, that we don’t see the Glory in ourselves that you see.  Forgive us, that out of our shame and not seeing our own dignity that we don’t see dignity in those around us.
Forgive us, Lord, that we check Twitter and Facebook too much because we aren’t satisfied with our true selves. 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/2

Hebrews 12:2

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. NLT

A contemplation:

Jesus disregarded the shame of the cross.  For years, I have carried shame…mainly from mental illness.  Is it possible, though, that carrying shame is actually sin?  Because we are the joy set before Him? Confess your shame.  Don’t carry it anymore.  Leave it.  There’s so much beauty in the people that Jesus bought for Himself. Taking it even further, because we are in Christ, we are now seated in the heavens with Him.  In a place of honor. Where there is no shame.

Shame trumps intimacy.  When we have shame, we hide from God.

The good news is that Jesus took all of our guilt and shame on the cross. He still does it in the present.  He is waiting to exchange our heavy yokes for His light one.  We are seated with Him. In the heavens.  The old has been crucified.  We are new. There is no striving in trying to figure this out.  It is up to Him, the author and perfecter of our faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit to speak into existence our new selves.  He tells us who we are, when we listen to His voice.  All other negative voices can be cast off.  Like on a conveyor belt.  They will come, but they must not take root. Visualize the voices/thoughts just passing right over your brain. You have authority to take back your mind, in Jesus.

Sometimes I feel so heavy with shame that I can’t function.  All He requires is a weak glance in His direction, a whisper or a thought asking for help.

11/17

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

Breathe:  Inhale the whole fullness of the deity of Christ that resides in you.  Exhale any fragmentation

Read:  Read the Scripture.

Meditate:  Speak, out loud, the Scripture three times.

Pray:  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what He is saying to you through this verse.

Contemplate:  How does this verse give you power in your weakness?

My contemplation:

Whole fullness

I have the whole fullness of the deity of Christ living inside of me.  This flows, like a healing balm, into all the places that are cracked and broken inside of me.  This is the paradox of the cross.  Strength in weakness.  Wholeness for what is broken.  Fullness for what is empty.  This is mine.  Christ paid the high price of betrayal, loneliness, pain, and being an outcast in order to give this to me.

 

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