Monthly Archives: June 2010

To Love Well

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, mind and strength…”

Your love is consistent. Unwavering. Unchangeable. You are love.

My love is circumstantial. Limited. Fallible. I am sinful.

You ask for my love, my undivided attention. I offer You half my heart, thinking something is better than nothing. You ask why I hold back. I answer: Because I don’t trust you. You tug at my heart softly, woo-ing me to You. I resist, but slowly move forward. Why must we have this battle You ask me. I wonder the same thing.

You are pursuing me, aching to embrace me in Your compassionate arms. You desire to bless. You are the One who lavishes love, grace and mercy. You delight, oh how you delight! When my wandering heart acknowledges you, even if only for a brief moment. You whisper my name, so soft, so sweet. You remind me of your faithfulness.

Speak Lord. You have my attention.

My Child, why do you run after others? Do you not remember that I am the one that satisfies? Did you forget that I, only I, have loved you with an unfailing and everlasting love? Do you not remember that I am only good. That I desire to prosper you!? My Child, My Child, come back into my presence. Let me restore your heart that has been wounded once again. Let me love you.

But Lord, I am so unworthy. I don’t deserve your love. And really, can a perfect love exist? I know you are faithful and unchanging, but my heart is still wary. Lord, I am human, I cannot conceive this idea of pure and true love. It’s beyond my grasp. Help my unbelief.

My Child, Do not wait until your heart is certain before stepping into my love. My perfect love will cast out fear. I want you where you are, not when you feel you are ready. If you waited until you felt ready to receive my love, would you ever be? You desire faith, then stay close My Child, stay close. Read my love letter to you, hunger after my words. Talk to me like i’m your best friend, tell me your fears, your dreams, your goals. Draw near to me, and I will pull you close.

Lord, you abound in patience. Your well of life never runs dry. I deeply desire to drink from it again. You are love. You are good. Your light will cast out my fear. I am sinful Lord, even though I desire to do these things, I cannot carry them out on my own. Help me to love you. Teach me to love you well.

Kenyan Reflections (Part 3)- Life Abundant

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“Let MY thoughts burst freely upon your consciousness, stimulating abundant life….”

1 Peter 1:2-9 “…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood: grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, through now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-maybe be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

2 Peter 1:1-4 ” To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Luke 12:31 & 34 ” But seek His kingdom and these things will be added unto you….For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

John 12:8a “You will always have the poor among you…”

Abundant: more than adequate; oversufficient; richly supplied; plentiful; abounding; overflowing

Life Abundant….something I thought I had. I have more than enough, I am richly blessed, I am to the point of overflowing. My stomach is full, my closet has more shoes than I have feet, and I have pretty much everything I desire. But when I walked through the slums of Nairobi, I realized I had it all wrong. I had confused life with stuff, which so many of us easily do.

So what is an abundant life? To me, an abundant life is one not controlled by the material world. Where joy and hope are not circumstantial. Where peace rules over worry. Where love is a rushing ardent overflow. Where faith is strong even in the most advert circumstance. Where knowledge and wisdom are highly valued and fervently sought after. Where giving comes naturally, laughing is heard, and singing and dancing are normal day-to-day occurences.

How in the world do you have that kind of life abundant? 2 Peter 1:2 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Life comes from knowing Jesus, from seeking Him, thirsting for Him. I was always confused by the passage Psalm 37:4  stating “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” But really, it makes sense. When you find your delight in Jesus, when you find your satisfaction in Him, when you fervently thirst and hunger for more of Him, your desires change from sinful and flesh pleasing, to desires that are God honoring. The more you learn about Jesus, the more you passionately pursue Him, the harder it is to lust after the things of this world. The more you allow yourself to grow in your faith, the more your desires are going to be after God’s heart. The knowledge of the Lord will put things back in perspective, completely rearrange your priorities, and will give you a sense of fulfillment and contentment that will make you wonder why you waited so long.

I walked through the slums of Nairobi, I held babies who have no parents, I danced and sang with children who didn’t know where their next meal was going to come from, I talked with mothers who didn’t know where their husband was or if he was ever coming back. I’ve seen abject poverty around these people, but saw in them an abundance of life, hope and joy.

I’ve walked through the isles of my local grocery store, I’ve sat in the local coffee shop people watching, I’ve been to the mall, the ice skating rink, the best ice cream stop in town. I’ve been to my home church. I meet different people everyday. I see people with an overflow of physical belongings but destitute hearts.

John 12:8a “The poor will always be among you…” I truly believe that Jesus was not just talking about those who live in physical poverty. I believe He was also talking about those who are poor in spirit. You don’t have to travel halfway across the world to find poverty. It’s up to you if you will let yourself see the poor all around you. It’s much easier for me to ignore the poor in heart than those in physical poverty. I think because the heart that is destitute is easy to hide. We have gotten good at masking the void that we are desperately trying to fill. I challenge you and myself to seek out people who are hiding their empty heart behind all the stuff they have. And give them the knowledge of how to have the life abundant they so desperately desire.

There’s a reason Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”

Kenyan Reflections (Part 2) – Anticipation As It Should Be

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Anticipate: to foretaste or foresee; to expect, look forward to, to be sure of

The people we met in Kenya had been awaiting our arrival for two years. You can imagine the excitement of the parents, workers, and children when they first caught the glimpse of that bus rolling down the driveway. The yelling, screaming, jumping, shouting, clapping, singing, dancing, and beaming smiles were overwhelming. How could they be that excited to see us? It was so humbling, but yet I got a profound lesson from it, having really nothing to do with greeting people.

These people were anticipating our arrival…they were looking forward us coming, they had knowledge that we were arriving, they knew the date and the time. They had two years to build up that joy, that expectant heart, that excitement just waiting to be unleashed. They had two years to practice songs, practice plays and memory verses to perform for us. They didn’t settle into an idle stage, they kept their anticipation fresh on a day to day basis, refusing to be disheartened, because someday “the mzungu’s were coming”.

And through this, all I can think about is the coming of Jesus. We have the opportunity to build up joy and hope. To practice songs and dances. To not grown disheartened because someday “Jesus is coming”.

We have been given a foretaste of what is to come! Streets of gold, a place of no more sorrows, pain or tears, a place of joyus singing, a place that has been designed and is being designed for each one of us! A place where we no longer need the sun, where we no longer need the moon. To be able to be in perfect unity. The list goes on and on and on!

How could we not be highly anticipating His return!?!? We know not the time or the hour, which should make us even more excited! We get to wake up each day and think “today could be the day”!

But yet the world has such a strong pull on us. We have it so good here in America, that I think we forget that this is only temporary. I’m just as guilty as anyone else, I let my things be a distraction from what I should really be looking foward too.

The Kenyan people have reminded me where the real party is going to be, and I am reminded to live a life of anticipation as it should be.

Kenyan Reflections (Part 1) – Matters of the Heart

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I sing a love song over you, come and join the melody…..

I wont lie, I’ve been putting this off for quite a while, but it’s time to sift through some of the lessons that I have gleaned from this trip. I want to first write about what God has personally showed me on this trip. How He has both healed and challenged my heart. Before I left, I knew God was going to teach me about love; mainly about recieving love.

Challenge #1: How do you survive a trip halfway around the world, with people you don’t know, and not once let your guard down? Simple…..you survive. You face the struggle daily of masking the massive mess of emotions inside of you. You daily build another layer around your heart, so that no one can see that your heart is breaking. Before I left on this trip, I was faced with the choice to survive or to thrive. While I was in Kenya, I daily was faced with that choice. Today am I going to survive or thrive? I won’t lie, I often bounced between the two.

You cannot have an emotionally healthy experience on a trip like this if you merely choose to survive. Allowing myself to thrive was one of the most terrifying experiences, but I would have been such a mess by the time I came home had I not done so. I didn’t unfold to everyone, which is good, but God placed some amazing people in my life on that trip who were able to see me unguarded and open. For the first time (in a very long time) I was able to be vulnerable and feel safe doing so. To have my feelings validated and not dismissed was wonderful. To have someone simply listen and not try to fix you is a beautiful and most healing thing.

Now that I’m home, I’m still faced with the choice to survive or thrive. We all are daily faced with that choice. What will you choose?

Challenge #2: When you’ve been abused there is a process that will happen in your heart. It’s more or less put like this: Everyone has a fence with gates around their heart. During the abuse, the inflow and outflow looks like such: good is kept out, bad is let in. Once you begin the healing process you lock all gates, and nothing good or bad goes in or out. You are empty. Then, as you gradually begin to heal, you start to let the good in. That is a very shortened and un-detailed version of the process, but it’s enough to get an idea.

Before this trip I was majorly stuck between having all gates locked and letting in the good. I was sitting outside at Joy CDC, my 2nd day in Malindi, and heard God say, “Heather, It’s time to open the gate. I’m not asking you to fling it wide open, I just want you to crack it open today, and let me love you, let one person today love you.” I opened the gate, not very far, but it left me forever changed.

Oh how I had depraved myself of so much life! How I had let myself become so poor in spirit by neglecting my need for relationships (See other post “Tempted to Love”). But I truly believe I had to let myself be depraved before I could truly see the beauty of what a God-honoring and God-centered friendship looks like. Before I could see the beauty of what it’s like when someone loves you out of the overflow of God’s love for them. So I could truly start to embrace the love that God has for me.

The last day I was able to sit poolside under the Kenyan sunrsie, my devotional had my verse from recovery in it. Jeremiah 31:3 &4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love, with unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, O Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.” It’s my time to be happy and dance again. To go out and be among the joyful. To no longer deprave myself of the longings for relationships. To not be afraid to love and be loved. To once again be able to bless others from the overflow that comes from being loved by Jesus. It’s time to finally sing along with the love song that has been sung over me from the beginning of time.

My voice has joined the melody……will yours?

Tempted To Love…

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Here it is, straight from my journal, what God has taught me today, and it’s only 10:45am =)

6/3/2010

God, I don’t know what I want to hear from you right now. I just know I need you.

“There is no fear in my love. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving me.”

God, that’s what I wrote about last night. I’m petrified to love you and trust you completely. That devo really spoke to me. I just don’t know if I’m ready. I want to be, and I’ve given you pieces of my heart and life. I just don’t know if I can right now. Everything inside of me is screaming to do it, but something is holding me back.

Temptation is an underlying theme in my bible devo today and in the chapter of 1 Thes. I read. Not sure how it plays a part in what I’ll learn today, but I’ll keep my eyes open for the lesson.

(5 hrs later)

Found out what the reason was behind temptation and how it ties in to what I wrote about last night about wanting to be known, but yet not wanting to be, and how there are really only a select few people who I let my guard down with.

I was picking out books for my flight and grabbed a few books for entertainment purposes, and then grabbed one for learning/studying, which ended up being “The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender” I’ve skimmed through the book before, but now I think it’s actually time to go through it. I “coincidentally” found myself at page 137. “Loss of the Hope of Intimacy”. The whole section really spoke to me, and I’d like to write out the whole thing, but it’s too long. But here is the quote that tied the loose ends together:

“The defensive loss of hope is the heart’s refusal to be tempted again to love or enjoy.”

It goes on to say:

“The person who has been betrayed fears her own longings for connection with others, because her longings tempt her to move out of isolation and want something from others, which will surely destroy her. The best solution is to kill her longings…If the heart has been crushed by betrayal, at least future pain can be minimized if one abandons the prospect of oneness. Yet all modes of giving up hope, however reasonable and understandable, lead to greater alienation and isolation.”

This sums me up perfectly right now. Not only am I having good temptations to have those deep relationships that I desire, I am also fighting the temptation to kill those desires and stay isolated. To be honest, it’s SO much easier to kill the longing and keep everyone at arm’s length, pretending to be content.

I’ve been burned so many times in my life, not just in ‘romantic’ relationships either. I’ve had a Christian friend who questioned my salvation because I was having a hard time understanding my bible. I’ve been used as a bridge for the ‘unpopular’ kids to become ‘popular’ just because I was friends with everyone. When I was 9 years old I had my first taste of having your physical boundaries destroyed. (and forgive my bluntness in the next sentence.) I was involved in intense abusive mind games for 2 years before he got me drunk, had his way, and never talked to me again. I’ve been burned

And now I’m called to love. Receive love. Give love. Receiving love, harder for me than giving. You’d think that I’d all but given up on love, and at one point and time I had. But I believe in love. I believe in true and complete forgiveness (different from reconciliation). I believe in oneness. I believe that there are such things as healthy relationships. I believe that complete healing can happen. I believe my God is greater than the challenges that lie ahead. I believe that my God is faithful to restore. I believe that someday I will no longer have to think about receiving and giving love. I believe that my God will never hurt me, challenge me yes, hurt me no. I believe that my God is greater than my broken heart. I believe in love.

But just because I believe, doesn’t mean that I’m there. It doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all together. Believing something doesn’t do you any good until you put it into practice. It doesn’t mean that I don’t resort to the victim mentality every now and then. Just because I believe, doesn’t mean that I don’t have ups and downs.

I’m being tempted to love. Tempted to give love. Tempted to receive love. Tempted to fall into a love that will never leave me or forsake me. Tempted to fall into a love where there is no fear. Tempted to fall in love with the creator of the universe. Tempted to be completely satisfied, completely known, forever cherished. Who could resist such temptation?

Right now I am….but it won’t be long Jesus. It won’t be long before I’m completely in love with you. It won’t be long before I am unafraid to let down the walls and enjoy true and beautiful fellowship. It won’t be long……I can feel it…..

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear…”