The beauty of brokenness

The Lord speaks in simple ways. 
If I paid attention and became more sensitive to His Spirit within me, I think I would learn a lot about the Lord in the mundane tasks of the daily grind. 

Here’s where the story begins…
My husband and I just moved into a cozy, dreamy cottage. The story of how it found us is quite a blessing to begin with: we stumbled upon it in one of our drives to and fro across the city and spontaneously decided to give it a shot, even though we were SURE it was nothing we could afford. And again, after calling, we were SURE it was far too small to be practical and nothing we would want, but we spontaneously decided to view it just for “fun”. Long story short, here we are living in this hideaway and thanking the Lord that His plans are more SURE than our ideas of certainty 🙂 
So…we have made the move, unpacked the boxes, and gone through the exhilarating process of reorganizing and repurchasing to make the puzzle pieces all fit together in this particular space. But no move goes without a few hiccups, right? So aside from the three week long dilemma of getting our Internet set up, and patching holes to keep mice out of our basement, and having an electrician fix our patio outlets, we discovered that our dryer was also broken. At first, it led to sighs of frustration. There had to be something else, right? Nothing could just be easy (and my handyman I-can-fix-anything father has to live across the country, right?). But then I found some joy in living life a little more old fashioned and feeling the cool breeze as I hung clothes outside. And then I found some joy in having a challenge to conquer in the midst of voices saying “I wouldn’t put money into that old thing–just buy a new one!”  So we walked down that path and set out to fix this brokenness. And after a few phone calls with dad, a few online part orders, and some handy dissection by my fabulous husband, this dryer is functioning! It has been made right. And in light of this beautiful redemption of a simple dryer, my heart has been doing some reflecting…

I think that, sometimes, we all need to relish in the beauty of brokenness. And not because the break is a wonderful thing, but because it leads us to praise and glorification as we see redemption come. I never rejoiced over my already functioning dryer at our last place in the same way I have rejoiced in this dryer, as I’ve seen redemption come and realize what a glorious gift it is to simply function for the intended purpose! And isn’t that really the story of my life? Isn’t His glory most evident and my praise most joyful as I realize the utter brokenness and messiness of my own heart, and witness the way He redeems it to a beauty that’s beautiful because it’s how He intended it to be all along? 

I might venture to say that the more broken we are, the more beautiful His healing becomes, as we realize all the grace and mercy and love required to seal those broken parts and make them whole and shape them into a wonderful masterpiece that we never even knew was possible–because all we see is this zoomed in version of a shattered piece of glass that makes no sense on its own. So in my brokenness, may I always seek to see His greater vision that can reveal to me how that shattered piece actually completes a magnificent work of art that is not only beautiful to look at, but is also useful and practical and able to bring glory to His name through living out its purpose–through being a vessel that overflows His love and grace to the world.
I’m thankful for being broken. The pain of those moments and realization that I’m incomplete only draws me to the healing hand of the Father who completes me with His Spirit and the sacrifice of His Son. I realize suddenly that my brokenness has a purpose–that it is all a part of the process of being made new–and you can’t be made new without surrendering the old. In light of that, I’d rather be broken for the purpose of being reformed than be comfortable in old skin.
 
I’m thankful for the simple blessings: for the restoration of a dryer that pointed me toward restoration of my heart. Thank you, Lord, for making broken beautiful.
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A New Song

Sometimes I’m not very good at finishing…and sometimes I’m not very good at beginning, either. I get ideas and I let them brew in my head and never put them to action…or I get an idea and start the action and do not follow it to completion. I start something and then I become fearful or overwhelmed with what it might take to continue, and suddenly I’m already pulling away. So it has been with this blog. But–I want to sing a new song. I have stories to share, struggles to reveal, and truths to be heard. And right now, I have a new song to sing. A beautiful song of redemption in my life.

I am a married woman. I am a wife, a lover, a continual best friend to someone who has vowed never to get rid of me, and not only that, but vowed to continue to pursue me, refine me, encourage me, and wash me with the love and truth of Christ.

This is a new song to sing! And a tale of wonderful redemption and reconciliation in the hands of Christ. This man I now call husband–he’s the one I used to love to think I could hate. And in the end…the thing I hated most was the fact that I could not remove him from my heart no matter how crazy he made me. 10 Things I Hate About You, anyone? The words to that poem come to mind when I think of Todd & I’s story and journey: “I hate the way I don’t hate you…not even close…not even a little bit…not even at all.” I built up walls around my heart to protect me from feeling, to keep from getting too close, to block out some of the pain. The Lord has a funny way of breaking us down, right?  The Lord started breaking down those walls of fear and teaching me about His way of protecting me with His love. He opened up the doors for Todd & I to journey together on this path of breaking down walls of fear and bitterness, and allowed us to re-start a relationship built on a firm foundation of Christ’s love and glory, focused on His plan for our lives. What a humbling walk it has been! It has not been easy to admit to myself all the ways I was guarding myself from really relying on Christ to fill me and bring me what I need most. I’m a bit of a control freak, and what an attack that can have on my trust in the Lord! All the self-built walls of protection and selfishness were actually hurting me–keeping me from experiencing all the Lord wanted to teach me and place in my life. It took someone as stubborn and persistent as Todd to be the pounding hammer to bust down some of those walls. We have walked through fire and been burned, but every leg of this journey has developed character traits that make us better lovers and better disciples. The Lord has used those scars to remind us of His higher ways, and to teach us what He can do if we allow Him in. He has used those broken, dark places to show us how he can turn them around into something beautiful and allow us to write an astounding story of renewal and rebirth–what He offers to each one of us. All the humility I’ve been learning, the sacrifices I make, the long paths I tread to experience the lessons he has for me–these are the things he willingly and lovingly chose to endure for me–a hundredfold. Seeing what it takes to love someone consistently and receive their love has opened my eyes to the true love and sacrifice of Christ. I am constantly humbled by what He has offered to me, by what I get the chance to partake of, by what I get the chance to extend to others. What a song! What a story!

As I’ve been thinking on this journey, and writing the words to this new song, I’ve realized that Todd is the man who has been revealing to me so much of the character of Christ. Sometimes the traits aren’t in the holiest of places, but they stem from the holy character of God, just waiting to be properly placed. His stubbornness is what pushes him to continue on the toughest of journeys–including his pursuit of Christ and ministry and now…me! He can keep his eyes set on what matters most to him and the beautiful goal at the end of all the mess–this is what assures me that His stubborn focus on Christ and His glory will guide us into the most beautiful places in life. His jealousy of my attention and desire has reminded me of the jealousy of Christ in the moments I pursue goals less worthy. It’s shown me how often I choose myself or some other idol to fill my life with rather than the Higher calling and mission of being Christ to the nations. Todd’s sacrifice and service has been the hands and feet of Christ in my life, and reminded me how much I need to rely on His strength in my life. It has opened my eyes to all the sacrifice and service of Christ that enables a righteousness in me and a love to be poured out of my soul because Christ made a sacrifice to replace my sin with his holiness. Todd’s gentleness has been the hands and comfort of Christ to my heart. He has shown me how tender a lover our Saviour is and given Him credit the whole way. Our preparation for this journey of marriage has taught us both what it takes to truly prepare our hearts for our bridegroom, Christ.

How much work we still have to do! So many more hikes and trails to explore…but what a journey it will be with Christ as our guide and centerpiece. What a majestic view we have along the way as we look back at the art He is creating and look forward to the music He will make with our lives. Praise the Lord for His new song in my life! Thank you for these songs of redemption.

Praying for the grace to begin well…and continue with a passion…

songbird

Coming Home…

Every time you move into a new place, a new season, a new city, a new job you start to re-evaluate what “home” really means. Will this new place really feel as much like home as the last place? Will the adventure be exciting enough? Will you feel the warmth of love on your heart? Will you feel useful, passionate, creative, intentional–will life have the purpose you want it to?

I feel like I walk through this struggle with every goodbye and every new beginning (and those seem to happen a lot lately). I find myself longing for the life of another time, the home that’s away from my physical home, the purpose, passion, and comfort I once felt. I find myself restless, confused, and questioning. Am I doing something wrong? Did I follow the wrong path, Lord? Am I walking away from Your plans for me? What is this yearning inside of me I can’t seem to fill?

Every time…through my constant selfishness and stubborness…he somehow whispers “It’s me. I’m the water you thirst for. I’m the well that never runs dry. I’m the adventure. I’m the comfort. I’m the love, the community, the passion. I AM.”

And suddenly I always realize what I’ve been missing all along…He is my home. I can run in every direction and never be satisfied until I find myself fully in Him. No matter what new adventure I seek, what new country I explore, what new friends I make, what new food I taste, it will never be enough unless He is in it. And the good news? He can be in all of it…because He is in me.

This is how I want to live with eternal purpose–storing up treasures in heaven rather than treasures, comfort, and luxury on Earth. Thank you, Lord, for the groanings in my soul that remind me I’m never truly at home until I’m fully with you. So moving to a new place that’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable can actually be the most beautiful thing…a realization that all my comfort is found in Christ, and not in my surroundings. HE is my strength and my song. HE is everywhere. HE is my purpose.

As my eyes continue to gaze upon Him and ONLY Him…everything will find rest and peace in its proper place. It may not look beautiful to the world, but they always say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. May I always remember who My Beholder is. May my eyes recognize the beauty of Him in everything.

“…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. (this is where you life your hands and spin around) Once you had no identity as a people, now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy, now you have received God’s mercy. Dear friends, I warn you, as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” 1 Pet 2:9-11

“But we are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Saviour.” Phil. 3:20

new birth

After celebrating Christmas yesterday I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of new birth. We spend our time celebrating the birth of Jesus, and I took some more time to dwell on the overall meaning of his birth. I think Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate the all-encompassing act of God sending His son–not just the fact that He was born into this earth, but also His life on earth to teach us how to love, His death as a sacrifice for us, and His resurrection to allow us to taste our own new birth and dwell with Him forever. What a beautiful time of year to celebrate the one day that birthed our intimate relationship with our Father and essentially the rest of eternity with Him!

The past few days the verse in 2 Corinthians keeps coming to mind: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” I LOVE this verse and the whole concept of receiving His life from His death. What a new birth to celebrate! We can live with His Spirit reflecting His glory for His fame, and our history can’t tarnish it. It makes me think of getting a total makeover, moving to a new place, starting a new profession, and being surrounded by people who have never known you and totally creating a new name for yourself. No one there will know if you’ve never been one to work out and now you’re doing yoga three times a day—they won’t know that your hair used to be black and now it’s red–they won’t know that you used to hate health food and now you only settle for market fresh organic…a chance for new beginnings. Now do I think that’s the healthiest thing to do with your life? Eh…not necessarily. However, the wonderful thing about Jesus is that you don’t have to wipe away your past to become a new creation. He takes every piece of us, fills us with His Spirit, and somehow makes it into a beautiful new creation. He takes each old experience and shapes it into something original, refreshing, life-giving. Death brings life. I will quote the Gungor song “Beautiful Things” because the whole idea of that song fits perfectly. (Thank you, Evans family, for bringing that song to light in my mind.) Please, friends, check out the album artwork as well.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new

So today, as I have been reflecting on the birth of Jesus I also celebrate the new birth I have in Him. And I thank him for every new beginning; each beginning is a chance to grow, to gain new knowledge, to be stretched beyond our comfort, and to seek Him to sustain us and fulfill us. I have just begun another new journey touring with the African Children’s Choir–new faces, new personalities, new duties, new gifts, new opportunities, new schedules, new challenges and constantly new homes. May my true home be found in my Abba. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Him in new ways and in new places. Changes can be hard. Being a beginner can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and belittling, but I will choose to see it as an opportunity for a new beautiful thing–another chorus in my songs of redemption.

 

See pictures below to check out some of the beautiful things I enjoyed on Christmas in Oregon with our 13 gems.

Viola, Gloria

Reagan, Percy, Bob, Joshua, & Bright

Auntie Mary, Auntie Laura, Auntie me

 

Hope you all had a blessed Christmas celebrating our Lord. If you haven’t fallen in love with these kids yet–check your pulse.