Remember whose you are. Recall who sent you, more over, who has fought for you and whose love for you abounds. So then, do not turn from your Helper. But, in faith, wait patiently. For He who sent you is sure to provide.
Today I met a woman who’s husband recently suffered from a stroke. They’re in their late 30’s and were perfectly healthy and fine. There was not an indication or expectation of something so life altering. Her husband is now disabled. She began to cry as she shared her story with me in the parking lot of a public library. We talked about physical therapy and how their life is different than what she thought it would be. I asked if she had family in town. Yes, she has her parents and church family who help her with her two kids and work around the house. In the beginning, she had a lot of questions for God, but she can feel her faith growing and sees faith arising so strongly in her children. I thanked her for her story and told her that her strength was visible. That she was seen and heard. We hugged and breathed in deeply together. Sharing in the moment of humanity, our struggles, and the ebbs and flows within our faith.
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” – Psalm 27: 4
Standing in a high school gymnasium with low lights and rows of chairs, I felt a little nervous and unsure of what this experience would bring.
I was visiting a church in a city I recently moved to. While I have visited multiple churches over the last year (upon leaving my home church after 7 years), this time it was different because I knew I was looking for a place to call home again. I wasn’t just on vacation and simply stopping through. This was going to show me what I may commit myself to.
I had so many questions and, if I’m being honest, pre-conceived judgements. What would the leadership look like? Would the people be kind? Would they have whack theology? Would they have people who are like me?
I arrived after the worship team began to play, as planned so that I wouldn’t have to talk to a bunch of people asking me a load of questions. (Guys, this is cringing to write but it is true and where I was at). I was nervous and just totally unsure of how I would feel once inside! I quickly found a seat and began to slow my breathing. I closed my eyes as to not be distracted. I just wanted Jesus. Breathing in….breathing out… My shoulders began to relax and slide down. My breathing got deeper and my conversation with Him opened. I began speaking with Him (inside my head), sharing my thoughts about us and where we were at. Songs drummed on in the background. More sharing, more breathing. The team began to play a song familiar to me and, what felt involuntary, I began to nod my head and sing. My song began to faintly grow and all the while my awareness of my dialogue with Jesus swelled. My meditation and song wrapped within itself and I was staring at Him with a thankful heart that He met me.
As the music began to quiet down and trail off, I heard the voices around me. A diverse group, quiet and boisterous alike, beholding and giving worship to the reason why they too were here, Jesus. Tears began to roll down my cheeks.
Two things rose up in me: a wrapping of truth that my trust in the Lord is safe and secure. That wherever I go, wherever I make my bed, the Lord is near (this alone I could dwell on for eternity). And that whether it is God or the church that may confuse or anger me at times, they are one. And they each give us an understanding of the other. While I believe the Spirit is within me and the Lord has established His temple within me, I can feel His glory within the gathered people in His church.
While there is still a lot that I’m working through, I do repent, turn back to the Lord, and seek forgiveness for any way I knowingly or unknowingly have spoken against His bride.
Search the scriptures and there’s no shortage of people with evil in their hearts who contort the temple, pervert the teachings of the Lord, and abuse those who are within it. Yet, the Lord has still established His bride to be a place where His beloved gather and His glory dwells. The beauty of Christianity, what I believe in and have given my life to, is that each person is made in His image. Born anew, can share His teachings, His truth, His love with others. Let me not forget that while there will always be poor in the land, there should be no poor among us.
I will carry on and behold the Beloved and His Bride. For their marriage is bound. This mercy, grace and covenant is what I chose to live according to. Therefore, I will give my repentance, my thanks, worship, my bread, my voice, and again, my love to Him + to Her.
“OH! How I would have fainted had I not believed that I would look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” – Psalm 27:13
Find your sabbath. For its aim is to nurture you. Its desire is to speak kindly to you. Amen to its tenderness. Amen to its truth and revelation. Praise God for its renewal and my reward.
The things we say, the words we use, the context and meaning, the full body communication and tone is so very strong. So strong. They can be a tool for peace and unity or a weapon for destruction, disease and breaking down. A single sentence can overthrow a government, a single word can save a life. Language is unique to each of us and we try to share it with one another to understand and be understood.
I am saying all of this because I have thought about the context of this blog and how one receives (or rejects) these words.
I wanted to be clear about a couple of things. These writings are my personal experience and journey. Not all Christians relate to or agree with, what I write about. I chose to share my writings for those who may be in a similar place and hopefully find comfort or unity in them as well as shed light on what a relationship with Jesus looks like – at least what one example of a relationship with Him looks like. I also share what a relationship with the church looks like.
We all give off something to those around us, may we chose to take the time to search deep within and perhaps notice what we’re projecting. May our hearts find peace. May our search lead to love and joy. May we know ourselves more daily. May we give thanks to what knowledge or insight we may have, for it is a gift.
My hope for all who come across this blog is that you will take the time to absolutely love yourself. Love yourself right now, whatever you look like in this moment. To know that dignity and respect is for you and a voice with those around you. If righteousness is yours, pursue it hard every single day – and don’t be alarmed when it breaks you and you take a new shape. May your heart and mind and spirit be open. May you be open to see and to hear and to know what love may greet you.
May we remember: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”.
May the glory be yours, amen.
After leaving the church I spiritually grew up in, I felt like I didn’t have solid ground in a lot of ways. I was invited to join some women who were also seeking a place to gather for prayer and solace. I pulled up to this house in a nearby neighborhood and I was anxious. I was walking through some new things with Jesus and wasn’t sure how I felt about him, us, myself let alone this new “women’s group”.
I am very protective over my relationship with Jesus and what’s happening with us and I didn’t want anyone pushing me into something based on what they thought I needed. More than anything, I wanted to have a space for worship, processing thoughts, and praying alone but 1. I was so desperate to feel connected to Jesus and 2. I knew that community works in tandem with those practices, so I went in hopes to somehow awaken something new.
Y’all, THIS. This house, these mornings, became an incredibly safe, love saturated place. I watched as person after person showed the rawest expression of frustration, joy, hope, confusion, devastation, and wanting for Jesus. So many times the expression was so tangible that I felt it transfer to me and in one body I wept with those who were weeping. In testimonies of joy, we laughed with those who began to laugh. We took a seat in this living room and had no idea what to expect and then the almighty put His Spirit within each of us as we used our lips to say to one another, “I am so sorry for your grief”, “I am so delighted by who you are”, “I’m pissed with you”, “I will never leave you”, “Let me empower you right now”. It was legitimately, the kingdom of God up in this place.
Because of the next phase of my life, I am leaving this house, this group. In my final moments among them, they offered me this beautiful foot soak – full on with rose petals, chamomile, marigold, and lavender, they fed me, and once again embodied the Spirit. This, people, this is the church, what’s called “The Bride of Christ”. She’s beautiful, she’s present, she’s love. While I may not be with them, I feel them united with the Spirit saying to me, “I am yours and you are mine”.
A close friend asked me recently how I am currently doing today in my relationship with God. Does He still feel far? Am I still in the place I was when I wrote the initial Grey Line collection?
My answer is it’s complicated. Cliche? Maybe.
Mostly what I know is I have my faith and it’s evolving. I know me and Jesus are in it together. I’m loyal. I can’t quit Him, nor do I want or feel the need to (although, I never did in my despair). But, you know, we’re both changing. My questions are deeper and cause me more frustration as they do joy. There’s a lot of theologic sifting and undoing. I feel so small and withered some days and others I feel a warmth that expands within me, relaxing me, and growth occurs.
Our spirituality, or lack thereof, is the deepest part of us. Our values, our decisions, our driving force, our roadblocks, our passionate frustration, our deepest sadness, our widest questions. Working through that takes so much emotionally and physically and mentally.
Truth is TODAY, I don’t feel much either way. There’s no huge romance or war. No poems or laments. Sometimes faith is mundane and disciplined. It’s dry, it’s the same scriptures without revelation. It’s giving away my bread because I’ve learned to. It’s saying no to things because I’ve also learned to. Today, I live in the grey and you know what – it makes me a more loving person. It’s not easy. It’s messy and confusing and no rule books, no one path. But, it is a space dripping with grace. Freedom to believe in my choices and that I’m actually led by the Spirit of God for goodness and righteousness. There is a love that is wider than I’ve ever seen, it transcendental. So TODAY, yeah…I feel…thankful for this mundane, evolving, grey scale faith of mine.
To the One who gives without measure be the glory, Amen.
Let us not run from these times.
Times when I would rather draw the shades. Times when I would rather stay inside the cave. Times when I am nervous and afraid. Times when I feel confused and jaded.
Black and white won’t answer me now. Black and white leaving me without. I may have misunderstanding. I may have doubt. Fear could catch me. Anxiety could latch me. But, who would I be if I stayed?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Let me then lean on the everlasting.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of my Father in the land of the living”. Let me then cover my eyes with soot for then I may see. Let me then call out, Abba, Father, Oh God, do not abandon me. Let me offer my tested vows this day and walk through this grey. For, perhaps, this will walk me right on through to the mysteries you’ve left for me to pursue.
Glory to glory, might, just maybe, look less like golden beams and living streams and look more like ash to ash and a broken me.
“..falling on His face Jesus prayed ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”
M E D I T A T I O N / /
Yes, please! While it’s costly, it’s so important for me. Locked rooms, long walks, random benches. I can be busy with my hands and roam with my mind. Or sitting still and intensely searching within. I am very much still in the learning phases of this practice, but when I give the time it can be so transcending.
This practice really moves me from thinking about myself or those nearest to my mind and into deeper places. I’ll find myself thinking about times of old or times to come. I’ll see faces that are unfamiliar and ask for peace to be theirs. I’ll see geographic places and our beautiful Earth. I’ll feel the groans of a lover unmet. I’ll feel the ground open up in swells of tears of those forgotten and afraid or the reel and rock for those who are waiting on their justice. I’ll hear the voice of one bringing me back into focus, “I AM”.
Meditation. Simple, yet so intricate. It’s truly amazing. I ask that I may have eyes to see and ears to hear. For those who practice meditation, what’s your style? Do you listen to music? Are you in public or a more private location? How are you enjoying it?
• • •
“…let me meditate in my heart. Then my spirit made a diligent search..” – Psalm 77:6
“I just want Jesus.”
This is what I said to myself as I was sitting in a dimly lit church I was visiting this morning. Struggling with anxiety and anger as I looked around the room. Thinking to myself, will I ever feel safe and belong to a church again. I tried to be confident and just walk in, but I couldn’t find the entrance and was spotted as the newb. I was then introduced to about four people and heard the phrase, “She’s new here” said over and again as I got passed to each person along the route of being escorted to my seat. I hated the feeling in the room. I hated the lighting setup and (gasp) the smoke machine. I hated the banter between the teacher and the congregation before the sermon began. I definitely hated the slides with the stock images I’ve seen a thousand times. I hated it and in my anger, I began to cry. (I knew I would, so I came prepared with no mascara on.)
In this season of grey – let me tell you how aware I am of what’s real, like real real, and what’s manufactured. I think a lot about what’s just my experience of church, what’s just the south, what’s just American. Do we (the church) need all the things that are represented? Are we wasting time on stuff that doesn’t matter at all? Is this really where our collected money is going? The questions go on and on.
As I sat in the room I didn’t like, I looked around at the people. I heard the cute laugh of the granny next to me as she deeply inhaled and wiped her own tears away. I saw the man who stood alone visibly in concentration as he worshiped. I miss worshipping alongside others, I miss hearing the Word shared aloud. I actually enjoy the diverse relationships I make with people by gathering over our common companion, Jesus. I enjoy the unique testimonies I hear from old and young. I’m moved when hearing voices in unison as melody and harmonies intertwine, ascending to the one who says, “You are my people and I will not abandon my heritage”. This, this is the Kingdom of God.
The anger. The questions. The people. The mess of it all. Heaven help us. Guh. Working through the grey of the things I hate and the things I love existing on the same plane. Maybe one day I’ll find refuge in the church again. It may not be an institution. It may not look like it did before the grey began. But, I know the kingdom makes a broken heart to be renewed. And the generations of anger, muck, and mess have not stopped the bride from her gathering and her melody and harmonies ascending to the one who calls us His people and His heritage.