September 26, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Volume 115

Hey y'all! Happy Weekend!

I don't know about where YOU are... but around my little corner of the world - Fall is arrived --inside and outside, this week! It's got me all swoony and romantic feeling!

Grab yourself something yummy to sip on and curl up to read this Gathering of Awesome, hand picked from the interwebs this week... purely for your enjoyment and encouragement!

Featured posts by Morgan Strehlow, Lori Harris, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Shelly Miller, Lore Ferguson, Annie F. Downs, Erika Morrison,  plus a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

* This post by Morgan Strehlow over at Amber Haines' blog with IN BETWEEN: WHEN KINGDOM COMES TO UNLIKELY PLACES – A WILD IN THE HOLLOW GUEST POST...
"Very good.


Not ashamed.

We do not know much about Eve, but we do know this much of the first woman created by God and in the image of God. I have never been able to identify with this good woman, Eve in Eden, naked and not ashamed.

Good – I have been good. But never good enough. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not clothed in shame or guilt. I cannot remember a time where I was wildly care free and more full of life than I was fear. I always did what was expected of me, and for the most part I was good at meeting or even exceeding expectation, eventually becoming an addict of achievement and accolades. If I was not achieving, what was I really worth? I feared not being worthy, not being great, not being perfect. I have spent a lifetime trying to be good enough.

Perfectionism is my forbidden fruit. Perfectionism has always been my forbidden fruit. Perfect control over my body and over my mind – this is my desire.

Perfectionism as my great weakness? It might seem like an easy way out of a hard question to those who suffer from a different kind of brokenness, but perfectionism is a paralyzing demon that is reliant on both physical and intellectual performance. Enter anxiety. Enter shame.

I most identify with the Eve on her knees outside of the garden gate, desperately grasping for Eden, unknowingly striving for something she will never again touch or taste.

Think about how Eve must have felt in those moments. I wonder how long she might have lingered there at the gate of the garden begging God for all to be made good again, to be made innocent again, to be made perfect. I wonder what it might have felt like to no longer feel good enough, and to feel pain and regret and sadness and fear and failure for the very first time."

* This post by Lori Harris with What If I Get Contact Burns? 
"As I sat there trying to put thoughts on paper while my man crooned his little heart out, my mind kept going back to a few questions several of you have asked over the last couple of weeks:
How do I love my neighbors, right where they are, without being hurt? How do I not go down with the ship when my neighbors are self-destructing? How do I stand in the lowly places where the hard to love stand without becoming unlovely myself? How do I protect my children?  How do I love well without getting burned?
I thought about last week’s episode with Elli’s phone and the pictures that showed up in her Instagram feed because she was in our yard with the wrong kids.

I thought about the paint on our front porch because the boys across the street wanted to show us that we’d invaded their neighborhood.

I thought about the kid who peed all over my bathroom because I let him to go during one of our Sunday night meals and he was angry that our bathroom was cleaner than the one at his house. {his words, not mine.}

I thought about the stolen bikes and the keyed truck and the crushed plants in the flower beds.

I thought about the girl from around the corner who made strides towards making better choices only to reject us when we wouldn’t give her just one more thing.

I thought about the 45 minute scream fest over the phone with a neighbor three streets over because I used the word crazy in a status update and she had gotten offended. She’d been called crazy and didn’t I know that?

I thought about the little baby who filled up my house only to lose her to an ex-felon who held the mama to nothing.

I thought about the attitudes of our own kids and the constant push against our rules on dress, hair and language.

I thought about our poor schools and the way our kids use science textbooks 15 years old and wade through water on rainy days to get to their next classes and have zero the opportunities that other kids in our same county have.

And I thought that if I could sum up all your questions into one it would be this: How can I love my hard to love neighbors and not get burned?

But here’s the whole truth: If you choose to love and live with those whom Jesus would have loved and lived, you will get burned."

* This post from Jennifer Dukes Lee with If Life Has Thrown You a Curveball, Read This... 
"In the back of the chapel, on Saturday night, I was meditating on our unchanging God. He’s the steady Rock underneath all the shifting sands.

We watched and sang as an artist on the stage painted a picture with delicate strokes.

What emerged was an exquisite butterfly, with wings open wide, stretching from frame to frame.

Watching the artist, I imagined how — even before the world began — God stood before some great canvas, carefully crafting every detail of every one of us.

Before He painted the Grand Canyon or the most stunning sunset or the blush of trees in autumn, He painted you.
“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love.” Ephesians 1:4 (The Message) 

But because we live in a broken and busted-up world, life gets messy. We lose sight of the beauty.

To make her point, the artist grabbed a can of black spray paint. And then she started spraying all over the masterpiece she had created. The audience gasped. I wanted to run up to her and grab her arm, to make her stop. I was so sad to see her wreck such beauty.

I imagined that’s how God feels when I try to cover up the beauty He’s made. When I cover the beauty up with the masks I wear, with my try-hard efforts to get it right, with my feeble attempts at impression management, with my stubborn refusal to obey, with my own sin, with my unwillingness to surrender to Him during the inevitable changes in my life.

I imagined God wanting to stop us when we cover up the beauty. But He doesn’t stop us. Furthermore, none of this surprises Him. He is not shocked by the mess in the masterpiece.

Because underneath it all, He is still working.  No matter what season we are in, God is at work."

This post by Shelly Miller over at GraceTable with EMBRACING THE ART OF CONSIDERING…
“On the bus ride home, a bouquet of buxom white camellias lie on my lap and my emotions vacillate between humility and thankfulness for those couple of hours.

I have often approached the gift of welcome in hospitality like eating lunch at my kitchen counter.  Filling an empty slot on the calendar, I overlook the art of considering others.I have often approached the gift of welcome in hospitality like eating lunch at my kitchen counter.  Filling an empty slot on the calendar, I overlook the art of considering others.

What cheese do you like? What color of flowers are your favorites? Is your garden sunny or shady? Do you like the taste of elderflower? Would you like the recipe for your family? Would you like to take some of these camellias home with you?

How can I bless you instead of how can I impress you? This question transforms acquaintances into deep friendships.

When I arrived back home, I put those flowers in a vase of water and enjoyed capturing them in photos. It was the first time someone gave me camellias and I wanted to remember the beauty.

The art of considering unleashes a wellspring of creativity.

What resonates most with people of all cultures isn’t a tidy home, a flaky croissant served on your best china, a freshly weeded garden or the carefully selected font on a lunch invitation.  All are impressive but not memorable.

This post by Lore Ferguson over at Sayable with The Nearness of God was Enoch’s Good...
This morning in staff prayer we read Psalm 73 which ends with the words, “But as for me it is good to be near to God.” Another translation, which I love, reads, “The nearness of God is my good.” I always remember Enoch when I read this verse, Enoch who “walked with God and then was no more for God took him.”

What must it be like to walk with God, and walk so near to him that God did not have an earthly end for him, but simply took him? How God took him, we don’t know but historians have their hypotheses. What is important, though, is that the nearness of God was Enoch’s good and so he walked with Him.

I want that kind of walk.”  

* This post from Annie F. Downs over at Incourage with My Shabbat Question... 
"I went to Israel two weeks ago with 32 amazing people and the Israel Collective.

On Friday night, while staying in Jerusalem, we were invited to a family’s home for the Shabbat meal. Seriously. ALL 32 OF US.

Unlike anything we do here in America, the entire city of Jerusalem shuts down for Shabbat, or the Sabbath. Stores are closed, home and shop lights are turned off, people are around the table with their family for dinner. No computer, no phone, no technology for 24 hours.

We massively overran their living room and dining room, but somehow this lovely family was skilled and prepared and cooked for all of us, serving many traditional Shabbat dishes. We learned songs that are sang weekly around the table, and we laughed and talked and told stories. The whole thing was absolutely lovely, including our host family and the matzah ball soup.

No phones. No interruptions. No FOMO (fear of missing out) because when an entire town is shut down, you aren’t missing much. There isn’t a better option — where you are is the best option. We were all right where we wanted to be.

It was just beautiful how everyone stopped and everyone looked inward.

I felt connected with God and with my “family” around that table. Something about the quiet of the city added a reverence to the night. It felt like God enjoyed our time around the table as much, if not more, than we did." 

This post by Erika Morrison with A LETTER TO THE EXILES...
"To the refugees in exile everywhere:

I’m trying to imagine what I would say to you if we were face to face, what I would do with my hands and this one thumping organ I’ve learned to call a heart.

(Does yours still beat, but barely? Or have you tasted darkness and come out with a wild and terrible sort of joy seasoning your insides?)

If you’d let me, I would touch my forehead to yours and just absorb. I would absorb the heave of your chest, the sorrow of your story, the texture of your skin. I would take in the unique hue of your irises, the fear of your flight and your survivor’s strength. I’d stay for days and go through every one of your emotions and motions; learning your language and ways and rhythms.

My fervor and feeling might be too much for you or not enough, I don’t know. I’ve never walked a mile in your life. But I would share my light, my love, my food, my energy, my shelter–everything I am and have. I’d bleed beside you if it was that time of the month and I would gladly do so without the necessary supplies just to know what it must’ve been like for some of you to flee while on your flow.

I don’t know how to give myself in little pieces. Here I am, all of messy me.

During the demands and beautiful jungle of everyday life I still find myself distracted and thinking of you. Sometimes I lay in bed and find one of your families standing behind my eyes, haunting me with that silent plea I see. I have a strange condition called connection. I can’t think of me and my comfort and food and the mattress I sleep on without thinking of you and wondering what nook–what patch of earth–you place your head on at night; what kind of sustenance is keeping you just enough alive..."

* This one from right HERE with Seasons of Change...
"I was one who resisted change... who ran from it...
who hunkered down as if I had a say.

And then there were the days (months, years) of accepting change... of leaning in, just enough to still not lose my balance.

And then the times I dove straight off and out into the great unknown, simply because He beckoned me and really, what choice did I have? 

He's  IT  for me!

Where He goes, I will follow... know, eventually!
(It's just that sometimes I am dragging behind...)

Where He goes, I will follow... yeah, that sounds good and it's oh so easy to say when He is headed somewhere Bright and Shiny... full of Glitter and All Things Joy-Filled.

It's even doable when He is headed somewhere Dark and Unsure, as long as you know that you know that He is with you, right by your side.

It's harder when He is going where you see clearly but it is somewhere you clearly do. not. want to go.  Though He promises that the trail will lead us up to the top, where His glory will be on display, all I can see is a steep decline and my heart just wants to stop. I need a nap and maybe a little convincing (again) that this upside down Kingdom that keeps leading me lower, really will eventually end up high above the clouds and His Light will shine and His Love will cover... and all this up and down will be worth it in the end.

Sometimes - even as we walk lower... steeper... with switchbacks galore... sometimes we just want a breaky and maybe a snack.  Am I right?

But He is clear and He whispers it loud, 
"My ways are higher than your ways..."
You know the drill.

And so we pick up and get back to the business at hand:

Living this great adventure that takes us through... always through..."

Lastly, we close This Thing up with a video each week and sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is worship... this time it's another new song from Amanda Cooks upcoming new release, Brave New World... enjoy!

Happy Weekend, my friends! 

1 comment :

  1. Another great list! I loved Annie's post so much and Jennifer Dukes Lees too!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

Blog Archive