Needing God

God I need You

Dear Friend,

I am on a new journey. Without going into great detail, simply know that I am encountering myself in a new way.

There are lessons to be learned. There is healing to be done.

Mostly, there’s a Savior to be reached, needed.

I have this issue with pride; I tend to believe I am better than other people because, in my mind, I love Jesus more than they do. Who knows why I think this way. And every day, it is a new battle to realize how very depraved I am, how I am no better than anyone else…how much I need to be redeemed by the only One Who can redeem.

To really get my emotion across, I want you to listen to something. The artist who calls herself Plumb has recently released a new song called “Need You Now (How Many Times).” It is incredibly relevant, and you can check it out in the following video.

 

My greatest hope in all of this is to find a better life. Mine is pretty great, but I hate reliving the past–something I do a little too much. I’d rather eagerly anticipate an incredible future made complete and possible by my Jesus.

Carolyn

Love

Dear Friend,

I have been in a teaching time lately, and fighting it. I truly feel the spiritual struggle occurring, as if Satan himself senses potential that he does not want fulfilled.

Today is a day of deep struggle, wondering about decisions and desires, praying for God to rid me of my anxiety. What a test. But somehow in the course of my morning, I found myself reading a familiar passage of Scripture in an unfamiliar translation. I’ve come to enjoy the Amplified Bible more because of its greater insight; I have always loved learning more about God’s Word, and this particular translation makes that a little easier.

Let’s check out this chapter together, shall we?

~

1 Corinthians 13

Amplified Bible (AMP)

13 If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).

Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned orin order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

Let’s pause for a second. Did you see that? Because it sure caught my attention when I was reading.
Love endures long. Long-suffering. Patience.
…I’m sorry, what?
That is not exactly what I picture when I talk about love. Isn’t love supposed to be this magical, crazy feeling that makes you float and sing? But I think that is where God turns our world upside-down. Love is a choice. And sometimes you just really don’t want to make that choice.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time loving people, even my closest friends and family. I’ll just say it outright: people annoy me. So this call to love, and endure long, is a challenge to me. A big one. I usually come to a place of wondering, “What’s in it for me?” And then I read the next section.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

…is not self-seeking. Shoot. I’m 0 for 2 so far. Praise God He gives us what we need to love as we ought!

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].

For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect).

10 But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

12 For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].

13 And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love.

In my arrogance (which is also not found in love; I am scoring no points today!), I like to think I have this all down fairly well. Then my experience tells me that I am way off base. And I am. None of these characteristics of love come easily to me, even on a good day.

My prayer lately has been for a change of heart, for the ability to accept others completely as they are, expecting nothing in return. I can’t say why the Lord is challenging me this way now, and some days, I do not feel ready for the challenge.

I can at least say that He is faithful, and He never changes. Today, I need that. I need His eternal presence to invade my space, redirect my thoughts and my heart, and help me love as He does.

Carolyn

Love, Remember, List, Repeat

Good morning, Dear Friend,

I got to enjoy using the internet this weekend! {Treasure the little things.}

And so here I am again. But I do not want to get into too much today; this is actually more of a celebration. No particular reason other than recognizing that our God is faithful and kind and so, so good!

Sometimes I get this desire to write lists. Usually that odd craving is satiated by the grocery list for the week, or the list of chores, but sometimes I like to write out things that I’ve learned about my Father, those around me, or myself. In the last few years, one such list was of things that I love, and why. It truly is a useful tool in learning more about oneself; I recommend it to anyone who needs a reminder about their identity and how the Creator has made them unique.

Today, I’ve decided to do that.

{Usually, too, thinking about things you love makes you smile, and who doesn’t like to do that?}

~

i love…………….because…………….

deep conversations with friends…..we learn more about each other.

coffee dates…..coffee is delicious and friends are delightful.

coffee…..it’s dark, warm, versatile goodness.

prayer walks…..I get to pour out my heart to my Creator, Who is also my Best Friend.

writing stories…..I get to share my thoughts and spiritual lessons with the world in the art form of the novel. Or novella. Or…fictional essay? Writing’s fun!

lounging on my couch after work…..what could be more relaxing?

hearing my niece’s little voices…..my heart melts. I’m in love.

sunrises…..it’s a rare treat for me to see the dawn, the day’s beginning that even smells new.

fog…..I’m not even sure on this one, but I love it. Especially on a chilly day with a hot coffee in hand.

hope for the future…..I know Who holds tomorrow, and He has reassured me time and again of His amazing plans.

emotional piano melodies…..my heart soars with each accelerando and crescendo. Goosebumps.

dressing up once in a while…..it’s good to let my feminine side out and enjoy the beauty God gave me.

laughter with family…..now that we’re grownups, the jokes and joy are deeper and more enjoyable. Precious, sarcasm-filled moments!

watching Pride & Prejudice while drinking tea…..I feel like I’m there, and that I’m pals with Elizabeth Bennet.

reading the red-type words of Jesus in the Gospels…..I feel privileged to know what He did and said while He walked on the earth.

sunny days with a cool breeze…..it’s just perfect.

rainy days…..it’s so refreshing and smells incredible. And they’re great days for baking.

chocolate…..well, who knows why, really? But I’m pretty sure I’m at least 50% chocolate by now.

crystal clear blue ocean…..it’s serenity defined.

good hair/makeup days…..it’s a huge self-esteem booster–so much energy on those days!

~

There is so much more, more than even I am aware of, in all likelihood. But taking time to do something like this–even if your list is just five things–is both refreshing and enjoyable.

Tell me about some of the things you love!

Carolyn

The Battle of Beauty and Grace

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
1 Peter 3:3-4

Church today. And if you’ve lived long among the traditional and conservative–which I have, and I’m not complaining–church means Sunday best. That has changed in definition for me over the years, but I do like to get dressed up. I tell myself it’s like getting ready for a date with Jesus.

I got to come enjoy time with my family at the last minute this weekend and was looking forward to seeing my church family as well. This morning I stood in front of my mom’s mirror, arranging bobby pins and applying mascara in my usual manner. Cosmetology doesn’t go very far for me; I’m pretty basic. But it still takes time. As I primped, I pondered. I thought about why I tried to look so nice for church.

My heart revealed more than I thought it would. I realized, deep down, it wasn’t just about looking nice for Jesus. I was trying to impress others, gain approval, make it seem like my life was put together well.

I wish I could throw in some amazing literary skill here and say things like, “The stark realization made me stop, eyeshadow brush in mid-stroke,” and then that my life is now changed because of this revelation.

But I’d be lying.

It happened more as follows: this verse, these thoughts, hit me, and I shrugged them off…for the moment.

They haunted. I kept looking at my reflection, breaking down every flaw, wishing to change nearly everything I looked at. I felt trapped between discontent and guilt.

I am at a crossroads in my life, truth be told. Each day I have to decide if I want to be approved of by my Lord or the world. More consistently of late, I choose the world. I am fighting the lies of beauty. I feel I am not good enough because I am far from tiny, or because my makeup is painfully simple, or because my wardrobe rarely sees an update. I’m not even close to being a model. Neither am I close to becoming an incredible scholar. Mediocrity has been my place.

So I do what many women do: try to make the ache go away by shopping, exercising, avoiding certain foods. You probably know the rest, though. So do I. Yet I persist because of the aching jealousy I have of the incredible women surrounding me.These lovely ladies of the Lord make it look so effortless to be both beautiful and gracious, and that’s what I realized this morning.

Beauty lies within.

God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

My heart is quite a mess right now. I am terrified of what the Lord might ask me to do; I can’t seem to let go of those things that keep me from growing. So I don’t grow. I remain complacent and afraid and jealous.

And I know I will continue to struggle with this for a very long time, as long as God wills. I hope it’s not very long, because this attempting to reconcile my faith with my feelings has made me so weary.

What do you think of the desire to be accepted by the world?

How do believers combat this?

Carolyn

Becoming the Bride

The wedding day is so critical in our culture and others. Full of tradition, commitment, and joy, it typically exudes romance and personality, reflecting the couple and their new bond. Families are brought together, new relationships upheld, and celebration is most definitely in order.

I can’t lie and say I’m not looking forward to my own wedding day, whenever it may be; and I am excited for my friends who are soon to participate in their own.

But even now, as I reflect on this desire of my heart, this longing to commit to a companion who understands me and who I understand so deeply, I find theological truth.
& I love that.

I was moved by an incredible revelation yesterday. Somehow, a song got caught in my mind. It’s one I rarely listen to, because it brings up memories of a teacher that I barely got to know before she was quickly taken from this world–my first encounter with death, and I felt so lost. At her memorial service, the school sang this song, her favorite. From that point on, it was stigmatized in my mind. I couldn’t listen to it.

Explanations for how it came to mind in that moment fail me. As usual, for fear of the emotions it could bring up, I went to push it away, but my train of thought quickly picked up speed and took me down a new path.

I realized I would see this teacher again. Someday, she and I will sing side by side in praise of El Elyon, the God we serve.
It will be the farthest thing from sad.
It will be a celebration.

In that day, we will be part of the most amazing wedding feast given in history or eternity past: the wedding of Christ and His Church (Revelation 19:6-9).

Can you imagine what that will be like?? We are all familiar with the radiance of a bride, her exquisite beauty and incredible delight as she approaches the altar. We also know the anticipation of the groom, his joy of being forever united to the woman he loves.

Take all that excitement, beauty, delight, anticipation, and multiply it by the largest number known to man…and then you might get close to what we as believers will experience in the presence of God one day!

I am trying so very hard to convey this image I have, this excitement, and I can’t. I tried to find an appropriate picture of a wedding to match what I am feeling, but I couldn’t! All I can pass along is this:

Just imagine singing this song when Christ returns, praising Him at the top of your lungs when He splits the sky, The Savior triumphant, The Groom, coming for us, His Bride

Goosebumps.

Moreover, I am inspired to live in light of this as a true woman of God. It helps to remember that, regardless of if/when I get married in this life, I will take part in this, the grandest of all celebrations to ever occur in all of creation!

Waiting

And we can prepare now, learning more about this King of Kings and Lord of Lords whom we serve and with whom we will spend eternity.

Preparing for The Groom,

Carolyn