A Desperate Pursuit

Have you ever felt desperate?

Desperate for something?

For something to change. For something to happen.

Desperate.

I have. In fact, it’s how I feel right now.

Desperate for a dream to take shape.

Desperate to discover my passion, my purpose, the direction I’m meant to travel.

Desperate for change.

Desperate for something that I cannot put words to, if that makes sense.

As I have reflected on and meditated on this deep sense of desperation, I have come to realize that what I am desperate for is something more than any of these things.

I am desperate for God.

a reminderAs I have pursued living a life of abandon in which I surrender all of me to all of God, I have realized what an incredible and seemingly difficult challenge it is to surrender. To give up control and to give in to God.

My efforts to surrender are too often interrupted by my desires for the things of this world, the things I can see, hear, touch and experience. I am too often fueled by my need to create something, prove something, accomplish something. And while those are not bad things, they become a stumbling block if they overshadow God in my life.

In other words, I have realized how desperate I am for Him. For the One who created me. For the Author of my story and my faith and my dreams. This journey of surrender reminds me how much I need Jesus and how little I need the things that I tend to yearn for, that I tend to long for, that I tend to pour my time and energy and strength into.

Maybe that’s why I feel like I am not moving forward on my dreams or my vision.

Because lately I’ve found that when I focus on my dream, on trying to discern the specifics of my dream, I feel desperate. I feel behind. I feel like I am losing ground, not building my dream.

I feel desperate so much of the time.

Except.

Except when I spend time with Jesus.

Except when I read His Word.

Except when I soak in His presence and His promises and His thoughts.

Except when I delight in Him.

Except when I sit at His feet.

Except when I trade being Martha busy in the kitchen for being Mary who sits rapt in His life-giving Truths.

And then, I can breathe.

And then, I experience that peace that passes all understanding. Really experience it, deep into my soul and to the center of my bones.

And I am reluctant to lose that peace.

I am reluctant to leave His presence and lose myself in the busy and the building and the chasing and the world.

Does that make sense?

It’s starting to for me.

When I hold His Word in my hands and hide it in my heart, my desperation begins to fade, to lessen.

And I find that I crave Jesus. I yearn for Him in a way that I tend to yearn for accolades or attention or success.

And so I am thankful that I’ve been feeling desperate lately.

Because I’m finally learning the difference between desperation that comes from living in the world and desperation that comes from pursuing surrender and pursuing Jesus.

A Change of Reflection

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Kate Motaung’s site, Heading Home}

Today’s word: Change

{Go}

She stands in front of the mirror taking in her reflection.

She is a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a writer.

She is flawed. She is broken. She is beautiful.

But is that what she sees?

mirrorAs she looks at her reflection, she catalogs her flaws, her weaknesses, the things she needs to change.

You are my masterpiece.

She sees yesterday’s mistakes, the things she wishes she’d done better.

My mercies are new every morning.

She sees a mother who got angry and yelled at her children.

My grace is sufficient.

She sees a wife who struggles to trust and to forgive at times.

You can do all things through me and my strength.

She sees a woman without a passion or a purpose and wonders if she’ll ever do anything that matters.

I created good works for you and you alone to do long before I created the world.

She sees lies, she sees a distorted reflection. She sees through tears and struggles and worry and comparisons and lies; so many lies.

I see your heart, your purpose, your passion. I see my plans for you, my purpose, my Son’s redeeming blood that covers you.

She stares at her reflection, yearning to change so many things.

You are a new creation in me. You are becoming all that I created you to be.

The reflection in the mirror is not her, not who she thinks she is or will be.

The reflection in the mirror is Him. His Truth.

Trust me. Follow me. Seek me.

And so she does. For this day. For this moment. She surrenders all she is to all He is.

{stop}

 

What five-minute friday is all about: We are a community of bloggers who write on one word for five minutes and link up their posts and it is a lot of fun. No editing. Just writing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how it works are here.}

Never Surrender…to Life’s Struggles

Life is kicking me in the teeth, but I refuse to give in.

My God is bigger than this life.

enjoying the beachWe just enjoyed six days and five nights at Folly Beach in South Carolina that were paid for long before we arrived and it was beautiful and joy-filled and moment-making. I got to watch my girls laugh and splash and exude joy. In fact, I got to watch my youngest, the four-and-a-half-year-old, see the ocean for the first time and drink in their wonder.

Because my God creates incredible wonders to behold.

It was a time away and it was blissful because our regular life was on hold, you know?

Today, we arrived back home and I count that as a blessing, too, because we returned to a house that is clean and dry and provides clean water at the turn of a knob. Even so, our life with all its struggles and sucker punches is still here.

But my God is bigger than these things.

And so I am breathing deeply the presence of God. I am surrendering all of me to all of Him.

Because my God is bigger than my worries or my struggles or life’s sucker punches or my abilities or attempts to figure it all out.

Yes, life is kicking us in the teeth but I refuse to give in to its oppressive weight.

I choose instead to trust God.

I choose instead to believe God’s promises.

I choose instead to surrender all of me, my worries, my struggles, my life, to all of Jesus.

I choose instead to believe in miracles and in wonder and in Jesus.

sea gullI choose instead to know that God is bigger than all of it.

Vacations are incredible blessings; but life is what we do every day. Life is what we face in the kitchen filled with dirty dishes and incomplete meal planning. Life is what we face with littles who require our time, attention and energy. Life is what we face at the computer when we pay bills or hope to see numbers on a blog post or our recent creative writing effort. Life is what overwhelms us when we seek to embrace joy and peace and delight.

And that’s where God meets us, isn’t it?

That’s where God shows up and whispers to our hearts that we can trust Him.

Then, it’s up to us.

Really.

It’s up to us whether or not we choose to listen to the whisper of his voice or whether we choose to trust Him or whether we choose to surrender to Him.

Well, today, on this first day home, I choose to trust Him.

I choose to surrender to Him.

I choose Him.

Because He is so much more than any of this.

Because He loves me.

Because I am His and I am His masterpiece.

Because I surrender not weakly and with fear, but I surrender with strength and with expectation and anticipation.

Because He is a God of strength, a God of provision, a God of awe, a God of miracles.

Because He is God.

Writing Sprint: Oh, No!

Writing Wednesdays & A Writing Sprint link up

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my creative writing. I am currently working through the revision of The Dream Quest, a story about a young man named Daniel who embarks on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he has involving people he’s never met but am not ready to post anything new at this point.

So, I’m playing along on the Writing Sprint Prompt this week.

As always, the Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. No inner critics. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for at least one other writer who’s included their link. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

{oh, and a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Oh, no!

before I get started, I will say that in order to maintain the 15-minute rule, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together three or four songs that come close to 15 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.

{start}

Gabby rushes through the door of The Seaside Grille & Pub flush with excitement and spots Marcus almost immediately. He sits at a table near the bar sipping a local craft beer and alternately looking at the big-screen television and the door. Gabby can barely contain herself as she arrives at the table.

Before starting her tale, she flags down the bartender and orders a Miller Lite, much to Marcus’ chagrin. She ignores his obvious eye roll and grins broadly at him.

“So, guess what?” she says. “You’ll never guess, but guess. Guess, guess, guess what happened today.”

Marcus takes a long drink of his beer taking her in, the way her cheeks flush when she’s excited, the few stray curls that seem to have a mind of their own, curling against the rest of her hair, the color of her eyes and he wonders again why he introduced her to his best friend, Frank.

“Do you want me to tell you?” Gabby asks. “I should just tell you because you’ll never guess.”

“Does this have anything to do with Frank?” Marcus asks.

“Frank?”

Marcus stares at her and notices a slight change in her, as if the mention of Frank’s name has deflated her a little. He takes another long drink of his beer and when the bartender drops Gabby’s Miller, he orders another.

“Maybe you should just tell me,” Marcus says.

Gabby takes a breath and digs through her bag. “Hold on, it’s in here,” she says. As she rummages through her seemingly bottomless bag, she pulls out bits of paper and other trinkets and begins piling them up on the table between them. “Seriously,” she says, “it’s in here. You are not going to believe it.” Her smile widens as she plunges her hand into her bag again.

Marcus scans the growing pile as he lifts his beer. Suddenly, he freezes, his eyes glued to a single piece of paper in the growing pile between them.

“Finally! Here it is,” Gabby says. She thrusts an envelope toward him.

Without taking his eyes off the piece of paper at the bottom of papers and trinkets between them, Marcus takes the envelope. “What’s this?”

“Open it,” she says. “Open it, open it, open it. Hurry. You’re not going to believe it.” She takes a dainty sip of her Miller Lite and waits with wide eyes.

Marcus pushes back the urge to kiss her.

He places the envelope on the table, near the pile between them and lifts the flap, slowly and carefully pulling out the paper and photo inside. As he slides the contents out, he takes a glance at the television at the bar. “The Red Sox lost to the Yankees? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Gabby turns toward the television for a brief moment, giving Marcus the opportunity to slip the crinkled blue paper out from the bottom of the pile and conceal it in the palm of his hand as he takes a long look at the photo in his hand.

“Where was this taken?” Marcus asks hoping to hide his disappointment.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Oh, no!

Create a scene between two characters who matter to each other {significant others, mother & daughter, other significant relationships…} who are having a pretty intense conversation when one of them notices something or someone in their peripheral vision and that they feel compelled to hide from the other person. What does he see? Why is it important to him? Does he manage to hide it successfully?

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 minutes. And most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!

The Storm of Surrender

My family is on vacation at the beach and it is both wonderful and extremely stressful.

crashing wavesIt is wonderful because the ocean takes my breath away every time I see it. And, every time I see it, I drink it in like it is new to me. Because it feels that way and in those moments I cannot help but whisper, Thank you to God for his incredible creativity when he called this world into being.

It is stressful because my girls are 4.5 and 6.5 and they require grace and patience that saps even the reserves I hope to have ready. There are meltdowns and tears and whining and the need for things to happen in an instant. And that is when I am sorely pierced, you know? Because I am watching myself. I am watching myself as I converse with God, which is not exactly a conversing but a complaining and a demanding and a temper tantrum based on ill-perceived wants that masquerade as needs.

And tonight, as everyone sleeps from a long day of playing hard in the waves and the fresh salt air, I sit on the screened in porch watching heat lightening flicker like Morse Code on the night sky and I wonder what message God is sending me. With the rumble of thunder finally echoing in the distance, I know that a storm is coming, and I cannot help but wonder if God is giving me fair warning about the approaching storm.

And, even as I ponder that idea, I wonder how often God has tried to provide me warning of an impending storm that I have not heeded. That I have missed entirely, until it is upon me. Until the rain is pouring down and the thunder is sounding with barely a breath between rolls and the lightening in flashing with only a beat or two in between.

And then, I am paralyzed by its ferocity. Caught in its midst. Helpless in the moment.

Watching the night sky flicker and flash around me, I realize that the storms in which I have been caught surprise me because I have not sought my Savior’s presence. I have not started my day with Him. I have not taken time to be still or taken time to listen for His still small voice. Instead, I have rushed into my day. I have run headlong into the busyness of my To Do list and my ideas of what needs my attention.

And then, the storm.

And the questions. How did this happen? How did I not see this coming? Why didn’t God give me some kind of warning? A heads up?

running to the waterAnd there before me are my children. On the beach. Running towards the waves, excited and full of their own ideas and the joy of the moment. Running toward the waves and not heeding my words, my warnings.

I am watching myself. I am watching the relationship I have with my Father in heaven. Hearing, but not heeding. Running ahead of Him, heading for the waves and the joy and the moment because that’s all i can see in front of me.

Until the wave I didn’t see crashes over me. Until I lose my footing on the uneven sand beneath the water that I cannot see; the hole that catches my foot and sends me falling. Until I am splayed out in the sea with saltwater in my eyes and in my nose and in my mouth.

And I turn, seeking the One who loves me and who can comfort me and who will wipe the stinging water from my eyes and soothe me with whispers in my ear that everything’s okay. That it will be okay.

And I let Him make it better.

And wish that I had hear His warning so that I wasn’t awash in the stinging salt of my pain and my tears.

Even so, He doesn’t withhold his care because His ways are not my ways and His Love is not my love.

Despite my lack of surrender. In spite of my need to keep control. No matter my failed attempt to do things my way. He is there. He is there to wipe away my tears and to whisper assurance to my heart. He is there to love me, to comfort me, to guide me. To forgive me. To wash me whiter than snow.

He is there, tonight, in the lightening flashing behind the darkened clouds, to remind me to tune in to His words, to His presence, to His promises.

Every flash, every flicker, every illuminating moment surrounds me like his Love. A message of Truth. A reminder to trust and to surrender and to heed.

So, tell me, friend, how is your journey of surrender going so far?

A Peace-filled Surrender

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Kate Motaung’s site, Heading Home}

Today’s word: Tell…

{Go}

Nothing makes me want to steal back my surrender from Jesus than money worries. I can cast many a care on His shoulders. But when it comes to our finances? I’m a bigger control freak than my usual control freak-ness {that has to be a word}.

You know, I spend a lot of time these days reading through God’s promises and I am storing them in my heart for sure. But that doesn’t change my natural inclination. Not yet anyway.

Yes, I am a new creation.

Yes, greater is He who lives in me than he who lives in the world.

Yes, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

God's beautyYes, I do not have to worry about anything; just look at the beauty of the flowers and just check out the birds who have everything they need.

Yes, I know these things.

Yes, Jesus tells me so.

And, yes, I even tell others; I remind them to lean on Jesus, to trust him, to surrender all of themselves to all of Him.

These are things I know and believe and practice. Most of the time.

And then, finances become too tight, strained; emergencies crop up and car repairs lay claim to money intended for other things.

And I find myself telling Jesus, if I can just….

I tell him, I’ll figure this out….

I tell him, don’t worry about it….

But, really?

I can’t figure it out.

And even more, I don’t want to. My attempts to figure it out haven’t worked to this point. My attempts to control my life have led consistently to mediocrity and disappointment and a lack of peace.

But when I stop and remind myself of the Truth. When I listen to the promises He whispers to my heart. When I tell myself that God’s faithful in spite of all of my mistakes and attempts to control things. Peace. His peace.

tranquilityHis peace invades my heart and my mind and my strength in ways words cannot capture.

His peace takes away the pressure in my chest, the furrow in my brow, the worry that weighs me down.

His peace. Peace I cannot explain and do not understand but accept completely.

His Peace. His Promises. His Strength.

Mine for the asking. Mine when I tell him, I surrender all. Mine right now.

{Stop}

 

What five-minute friday is all about: We are a community of bloggers who write on one word for five minutes and link up their posts and it is a lot of fun. No editing. Just writing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how it works are here.}

The Power of Surrender

Today is a day when I feel like I need control and the idea of surrendering my life to Jesus, all of me to all of Him, is a struggle. {okay, so this is probably every day and not just today.} But the incredible irony remains: I already know that my control and my efforts don’t provide lasting solutions. In the moment, they make me feel better because I am doing something, but the reality is that my efforts bring limited relief to my circumstances.

I’ve been led to believe at times in my life that trusting God, relying fully on Him, is a fruitless endeavor. Faith is fine, people advised me, but God helps those who help themselves. And another time, Do you think God’s going to pay your rent? And still other times, Faith, trusting God, is a crutch for people who are too weak to stand on their own two feet. I was younger then, in age and in faith, and such words seemed true to me.

flutterbyIt’s only recently that I no longer take insult at this last statement, that faith is for people who are weak. I am too weak sometimes {perhaps all the time}; and that tends to be when I am more likely to surrender all of me to all of Jesus. And that tends to be when I am made strong in God’s mighty strength. And that tends to be where miracles happen. Where the God of the Universe provides means when I cannot. Like the friend who paypal-ed me $300 when our bank account was in the single digits. Or the gift of vegetables from a friend’s garden. Or the phone call that comes when you feel alone. Or the text message that speaks the Truth your heart needs to hear.

And, so, today, despite my strong desire to wrest control from Jesus, I choose to surrender it again and again and again. I choose it from one moment to the next. I choose to abandon all of me to all of Him. To let His strength be mine. To let His peace spread through me. To let His ways guide me. Because His ways are not my ways.

They are better.

And as I choose it again and again and again, I’m also realizing that the desire to surrender grows stronger in me.

Because it’s not just about the surrendering, you know? It’s about the knowing. About knowing Jesus more. About knowing His ways. About knowing what matters to Him. About knowing what His plans are for me. The only way that I will make any real difference in this world is if I embody all of Jesus in my small parts of the world. In my family, in my community, in the places I go and with the people I meet.

What are the plans you have for me?

In a world that is struggling. In a world that is being torn apart by hate and hurt and persecution and evil. In a world that is spiraling out of control.

What are the plans you have for me? What can I do today to make a difference in the world? In Your world?

When I first decided to pray this prayer, I counted it as dangerous. But in just the few days since then, I’ve begun to realize that the danger is not in the surrendering control but in the self control. I’ve come to realize that the danger is in not knowing Jesus intimately rather than in the knowing Him more.

I had no idea that surrender would bring power and strength and peace. And that, really, is where the irony lies, isn’t it?