Wednesday, February 29, 2012

strength in numbers

This last weekend I was blessed to take part in the women's conference for my church!  I was able to see it shaped, molded, and formed into a different type of conference for the women this year.  We assessed the conferences from years past and felt the Lord directing us to simplify things.  We used to have 5 speakers, this year we had 3, we used to have maybe 20 minutes for personal time this year we had 30-40.  All of it was geared toward us, as women in the body of Christ, coming together and sharing our struggles and triumphs in  order to become a more cohesive unit in the church. 

I'll admit to being slightly wary of what this weekend was going to look like.  I'm a planner, a HUGE organizer, and a weekend where a lot of aspects were left up to "the Holy Spirits leading" was admittedly a bit frightening.  I say this now with regret because, looking back, I see how there was no way in which I could have planned it better and, because of our flexibility, I was able to spend valuable time discussing what the next session would look like right before we started.  It gave me a fresh perspective, anticipation, and immense peace.  We knew that God would be leading us, which meant undoubtedly it would be to His glory, not ours. 

As the conference came to a close on Sunday, we introduced  a 90 program (for lack of a better word) that is to help instill a habit of discipleship and personal time with the Lord.  The Aletheia (as we are calling it) falls on the heels of the men's version, The Alliance, and we use The City, a web-based communication system similar to Facedbook for our church, to keep in touch as women through these 90 days. 

We're only on day 3 but already I know I have personally been so encouraged.  The other women have also mentioned they feel the same way.  There is a daily scripture passage to read and then we are able to reflect on what the Lord is teaching us through that passage, struggles, triumphs, or just encouragements and prayer requests to each other every day.  It's a lot of posts to read through, but they are the second best thing (to the scripture reading that is). 

As I read through this morning (and again this afternoon to catch posts I hadn't yet seen) it hit me how truly amazing and unique this is.  I'm not saying that we've found something better than any other church, or that we are better at community because we're doing this program, but I have noticed a few things.  First, I've noticed the urge to pray more!  To pray immediately when a sister shares a struggle, or when there is a triumph mentioned, to praise God for it.  Secondly, I have noticed a lot of struggles and trials - persecution if you will.  It is hard and painful, but at the same time encouraging in a way because the devil doesn't attack someone who's not a threat.  I wouldn't wish the hardships we are facing on anyone, but I do choose to be encouraged by it and strengthened by the fact that God is right there with us, facing the hard times and, most importantly, giving us strength to make it through! 

I am so thankful to the women who are vulnerable and open, who struggle yet turn to Christ, who see the blessings and thank God for them.  I know I am not alone in my walk, and God has provided a way for me to tangibly see that!  Praise Him :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

cheap imitation

Today at church it really hit me that Jesus, showing His humanity, asked God if the cup (God's wrath) could pass from Him but Jesus made it very clear that it wasn't what He wanted but rather what God wanted.  "Yet not what I will, but what you will."  (Mark 14:36b)  That hit so close to my heart for some reason this morning.  I wrote down the question: How many times do I say, "Not what You will but what I will."  Instead of getting it the other way around I ask for my will, not God's.  


That breaks my heart because I know it's not just something that I struggle with - it's something humanity struggles with.  Our perspective is off.  We view the world around us in such a limited way.  We say "this is what I want and this is what will make me happy" but we choose the wrong thing(s).  Instead of lasting happiness and security, we pick things like wealth which diminishes, beauty which fades, and momentary pleasure which stops satisfying much to quickly to be of any good.   Sure, these things seem like the answer at the time, but they are quickly exposed for what they truly are - a cover up.  A band-aid.  A cheap imitation.

We have to re-focus; adjust our perspective to put Christ at the center.

I love photography and when you take a picture, what you focus on is so important.  In fact, it shapes the entire point and purpose of the photo.  When I look at a portrait I've taken and notice that the eyes aren't in focus it pretty much ruins the while picture.  What good is it if the ear is in focus but the eyes aren't?  The same is true with our walk with God.  What good is it if we have only one aspect of our relationship with God in focus while everything else is left blurry?  


I want to sharpen my focus on the important things, the things that make up the picture.  It wont help me to hone in on certain aspects of my life if Jesus and the cross are out of focus.  I hope that my passion for taking photos will help me to remember where my focus needs to be.  Every time I got to take a shot I want to be reminded that the same idea will be helpful in my own life.   Focusing on Him will lead me to put everything else into focus.


 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

hope.

Things turn our differently than you think they will.  Our grand ideas of the world usually dissolve into reality like salt in water.  We don't realize what we used to think until we taste it and the saltiness comes out in full force. 
I think back to high school which seems like a mere moment ago and realize how much has changed.  Now is real but so was then.  How do I reconcile what I thought was going to happen with what did?  Do I make excuses for what I've done or didn't do?  For who I've become from who I was - the good and the bad?
Why do some moments come back so clear?  The pain.  The joy.  The confusion.  The excitement. The loss.  All with equal force and yet unequal in their importance.  I want so much to remember the good in volumes and yet the bad often out weighs it.
The faces of the past loom before me.  Was it my job to do more and I didn't?  Does that question even help the situation?  Probably not.  It just mocks me as I stare into the distance...wondering.
Things come in shades for me.
Dusty beige for parts of my past faded and gone.
Yellow and shining for the things I remember with fondness.
Hazy blue and grey for the sad times I know I needed but wish I could have evaded.
Green for the future.  For what could and can be.  In a word, hope.
Hope.
I see lots of green these days.
There are shadows and hints of grey and blue but they usually entice me to find the green that's to be held in His hands.
How can I dwell in the past and keep my gaze on what was when that will never change?  Only the future holds treasures to be found and joy to be uncovered.  The future, trapped only by the present, holds true reward.
I choose to place my focus in His hands.  To see the green when the blue and grey threaten to choke it out. 
I choose to live in hope.