Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Falling Down

It's a brand new year!  I've read so many blog entries about "to be or not to be" a resolution maker. So this entry will not be about resolutions, but about what I pray takes place MORE in my life in the year 2015.

 As I was reading through the Christmas story this year something caught my attention and caused me to ponder and look further.  I was reading from all the gospels the story of how God wrapped Himself in human flesh to dwell among us and came to the part about the wise men.  They traveled far, following a star, believing it was directing them to the King of the Jews.  When they found Him, in the place that the star directed, they came into the house and saw the Child.  This Child, the one that they had been seeking, was with His mommy because He was only a toddling two year old or younger.  Scripture says when they saw Him, they fell down and worshiped.  Fell down!  When one bows, falls down, places themselves lower, it is because there is recognition of one who is greater, one who is in authority, one who deserves more attention and respect than self.

The wise men didn't just fall down and worship, they left something on the floor that day.  They left their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Falling down requires leaving something on the floor.  On the floor and at the feet of Jesus.

Over and over in scripture Jesus encountered those who were broken, sin ridden, and self saturated.  When they saw Him and recognized Him, they fell down, they left something on the floor, and they were changed.  Recognition is the key isn't it?  So many saw and heard but only a few recognized.

The wise men fell down and left their earthly treasures on the floor, their wealth, and their prized possessions. A leper came to Jesus, fell down, and left his disease and the loneliness that the disease inflicted on the floor.  A demoniac came to Jesus, fell down and left his demons and bondage on the floor.  Jarius, a synagogue official, came and fell down and left religious trappings on the floor. A woman with an issue of blood came and fell down and left her affliction and exhaustion on the floor.  Mary of Bethany came and fell down three times and left on the floor what other's thought, her own expectations, cultural norms, and what the world says is of worth.  The woman at the well fell down when she submitted and served a drink of water to Jesus, she left her hiding, relational idols, and her identity on the floor.

They recognized Him as King, Healer, and Sovereign.  They saw Him as the One who fills.  They saw Him as the One who is worth leaving worldly possessions, other's opinions and acceptance, and religious and cultural norms for.  Because they recognized Him it compelled them to come and then to fall down.  Do I? Do you?

Asking for eyes to see and recognize more of Him, for more falling down, and for much more to be left on the floor in this coming year.

Happy 2015!  I pray your year is filled with More of Him!

Still learning,

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Living life day by day

The house is decorated, complete with the red JOY sign on the front porch.  It reminds me that joy is not based upon the situations of life, but upon the inner joy that only Jesus can give.  It was good that I hung the sign first before I hung the stockings. The stockings are so cheery, dressed in their red and white complete with tags and the names of those I love written.  Only half of the stockings are hung this year and yet...there is joy.  The tree is up, filled with the hand-painted ornaments of Asia, as we hung each one I thought of the Asian faces that I hold so dear; those of India, China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, and Indonesia.  Many facing hardship...and yet there is joy.

The decorating and the baking bring out a very sentimental part of me...ok sappy part of me.  And, those who know me well would probably say, that side is out on most days!  I always save the cards, pictures, and letters that were sent from the year before and I read them while I'm decorating.  I think about the family and friends both near and far and whisper a prayer.  I remember Christmases of the past as a child and Christmases when my own children were little.  I remember last Christmas with all my chicks around one table, possibly not to happen again for three years to come...and there is joy. This time of year causes me to pause and to count the blessings that have been graciously granted.  I'm constantly asking to be taught to focus on what has been given instead of what I think I'm lacking.  A lesson learn much at this time of year...and there is joy.

This will be our third Christmas in Oklahoma.  When we stepped out to make the move we had only a restlessness in our hearts that He had something different for us and His word in our hand.  Ezekiel 3:22 to be exact; "And the hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, "Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you." A verse that was not looked for, but given on the day Jim was going to share what we believed the Lord was telling us, to people we love and served alongside. If you know anything about Oklahoma, especially the part we live in, it IS the plains.  In fact, the high school mascot is called the Plainsmen, representing the American Indians that occupied this land. The Lord has been faithful to speak here on the plains, just as He said He would.  He has spoke to us about Kingdom life, church, ministry, mission, community, family, and marriage. He has allowed us to be apart of a community of believers that has been a true gift.  Jim is a "tent-maker" pastor, much like in our early days of ministry and is a part of a plurality of pastors serving Sojourn of Enid.  I spend my days taking care of Jim and home, and teaching and spending time with women. Graciously, Father allowed us 3 months on foreign soil this year. Only He could have orchestrated this season....and there is joy.

This year has been filled with some glorious highs and some dark lows.  As I believe every year and every life is.  But it has been filled with another constant; the faithfulness of our God.  He has been faithful to speak, guide, teach, provide, catch tears, and be near to the brokenhearted.  As we celebrate this Christmas season we are celebrating that God showed, in visible form, His faithfulness towards us by coming near.  He came near to us by wrapping Himself in flesh as a baby to ultimately show His faithful love through providing redemption.  And....there is JOY.

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!

Wishing you His JOY this holiday season from our family to yours.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Soup and Bread

What is it about a bowl of soup and homemade bread?

 I pulled three loaves of sourdough out of the oven while a pot of chicken and wild rice soup was simmering on the stove, and a warm glow seemed to come over me.  The smell was intoxicating and I wanted to stop time for a while.  Of course this is all while Doris Day was singing in the living room and  my favorite red apron with the embroidered birds was tied securely around my waist.

Comfort...that it's it, isn't it?  There is something so comforting to me about the scene that just took place in my kitchen.

To find ultimate comfort in things or others, rather than in Christ is idolatry.  But, I believe God gives us moments like smelling hot bread in an oven to recognize and experience the desire of comfort.  The smell of bread draws us doesn't it?  My family is reaching for the knives and butter before it even comes out of the oven.  Cool...what does that mean?  We don't let it cool!  We slice it and butter it and let the butter drip all over our fingers and chin just for the first taste, straight out of the oven! Bread is the sustainer of life.  Bread fills us and nourishes us.  So much of this is in the imagery  of Jesus telling us He is the Bread of life.(John 6:32-35)  He wants us to desire Him, to fill up on Him, to find our nourishment in Him.  Do we run to Him, like running for the knives and butter, with totally anticipation of the goodness we will experience in Him?

I have invited people to come and sit around my table to enjoy this soup and bread.  The invitation to come, sit, breath, and enjoy.  That's part of it too, isn't it?  The comfort part is the actual partaking and enjoyment.  Jesus invites us to come to Him, to find our rest in Him. (Matthew 11:28) But, we too often overlook that He wants us to find enjoyment in Him. We list off all of the things we think He wants from us; read, study, memorize....   There is a joy in sitting long and often at the table with our Lord and letting Him fill us, sustain us with His word, and His very presence.  Sometimes worship and enjoyment looks like sitting down at the table with a bowl of soup and bread dripping with butter.

Simple words....
Simple imagery on this sky blue, crisp, fall day.

Learning to enjoy and delight in the table again.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Cover and boil 5 chicken breast
I let these simmer for about  1 hour

While chicken breast are cooking I melt 1 stick of butter and add 
1 chopped onion
3 stalks of  chopped celery
4 carrots chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
Let these really cook and get some color on them. De-glaze the pan with a little chicken broth to get all the yummy browness on the pan.

Shred chicken breast.  Clean broth that was made when you boiled the breast.  Remove any fat or that chicken skummy stuff that floats around! 

Add Chicken back to broth and add the veggies
Also add 3 cups of chicken broth

Taste and add salt and pepper as you like it.

Bring to a boil and add two boxes of wild rice mix. Or 1 1/2 cups of wild rice.  Cook until rice is done. Many make a creamy version of this.  But there is something about the simplicity of this soup that causes me to breath deep.  I have delivered it to many who are sick, one man and woman said that they thought it healed them!!  I think that it just brought them comfort and they rested. Breath, Rest, Worship, and Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Being a Prodigal and Loving a Prodigal

It was 3 am, I think I was awake.  You know that place that is kind of in between dreaming and being fully awake?  The story of the prodigal son playing out like a movie in my head. (Luke 15).  I  could see all the players.  The prodigal, the older brother, and the father....

A prodigal like the son in the story,  is one who has chosen to walk away.  Walk or run away from God, relationships, and ultimately truth.  Most prodigals justify their walking away with statements like; "it's my choice", "it's my life", or "it's my path".  What prodigals are trying to say is I'm looking for my own brand of truth.  Some even stamp God's name on it, in an effort to justify and make it palatable from themselves and others they know are watching.  The problem is with the word, "my".  Prodigals believe a lie that life can be all about them.  They can say they belong to the family and yet have no signs of belonging in their lives.  We have perpetuated this thinking because we are such a self-serving people. And then self becomes our god. When God said, "you shall not have any other gods before you."  I'm pretty sure He wasn't just talking about statues made of gold.  Because He could see Kim Day's heart even then.  I have spent the last three years cleaning out idols in my life and will spend the rest of my life doing so.  As I clear away a bunch of little ones there usually seems to be one big one taking center stage, SELF!  And, I find myself in the position of a prodigal.  Saying to God, " I will be god for awhile and I will choose."  I will choose whether to engage in relationship.  I will choose how to spend my time.  I will choose where I go.  Dislodging this idol is hard and painful.  It will require a lifetime of awareness and desire to live under the protective authority of our loving Father.  We are all prodigals.  Learning to recognize being a prodigal in our hearts, minds,and behavior more quickly and running home to our Father, our source, more swiftly are the marks of maturity in this life of following.

The words on all of our prodigal lips should be;
 O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Often when I don't recognize my own prodigal heart I take on the persona of the older brother in the house.  Looking at other prodigals and thinking, how they need to get it together or pointing out all the things in their lives that I see that are wrong.  A clear indicator to me that I probably have a log sticking out of my eye! (Matthew 7:3)

Recognizing a prodigal is not wrong though.  I think that's where some want to take it.  As if to say if you recognize a prodigal that you are judging.  The fact is I can recognize prodigals because I am one.  In the words of John Bradford; "but for the grace of God, there go I."  As long as we don't take on the role of judge over someone else's life.(Only God is big enough for that!)  Fragile line to be sure with our idol serving selfies. It's so much easier to say, "they are getting what they deserve", or "they have made their bed now let them sleep in it." with an air of self righteousness.  Or what about the non ability to rejoice or be happy when something good happens? Can anyone say, big brother syndrome!  I wish it was a syndrome. Unfortunately, it is not a syndrome it is sin and my heart knows it all too well.

Loving a prodigal is hard, the father in the story constantly going out to the road so that he could see the son from afar is an action that many of us need to learn.  The action of being willing to go and look with anticipation of their return.  I think about how many days the father went to the end of the road, only to be disappointed, his hope dashed once again. You see it is still up to a prodigal to recognize their need and return to relationship.  I've been there countless times.  I say; just be done, just stop going to the end of the road.  It's hard work, it cost me, it doesn't seem fair, I can't bear being disappointed one more time, protect yourself and just don't go....all words that have played over and over in my head.  But in my heart, the place that I'm asking to be constantly aligned with my Father's heart and for Him to then bring my thoughts in line with His, it's there that He speaks to me and says; "go to the end of the road."  I'm prompted again to put myself out there.  I also recognize the truth that my heart seeks rightness instead of restoration, and I am humbled once again by my own heart's darkness and self-righteousness.  I remember how many times Father has been waiting for my return at the end of the road because of my own wandering feet/heart.  The motivating factor to road watching must be restoration, It's my Father's purpose every time. (Nehemiah 9:17)

Putting on my tennis shoes and going to the end of the road....

Still learning,

Friday, September 19, 2014

What is truth?

I've crossed this bridge before....
   I've felt these hot tears before...
     I've seen the pieces laying on the floor before...

Hope rises and everyone holds their breath.  Prayers are lifted. Love is offered in word and deed.
Then you hear it, you see it, you feel it....yet another explosion. Another time that you are standing there not knowing what to think or what to say. And you are left with the questions.
And, the doubts.

It's part of the human experience.  Family, relationships, and our world knows it.  It's painful.  It's crushing.  It's sin.  It effects all of us. Like a pebble thrown into water, it's ripples are felt by all in it's path.

Today has been a day of questions and of doubts.  Feeling the shrapnel of sin hit, I came running to Him.  Him who I tell others, holds all things together.  I sat before Him and I poured out my heart. What came out; a spilling of questions, doubts, anger, and pieces mixed with tears.  I held them up to Him with shaking hands and shaking theology.  He didn't yell, He didn't condemn...He whispered.

I said; This is burned up, nothing but a ash heap, and utterly wasted.
   And He whispered, "I make beauty out of ashes." Isaiah 61:3
I said; This is a deep dark hole, how can anyone get out?
   And He whispered, "I bring people up out of the pit of  destruction." Psalm 40:2
I said; This is so big.
   And He whispered. "I measured the water of the world in the hollow of my hand, I'm bigger."                                                Isaiah 40:12
I said; This is impossible.
   And He whispered, "Nothing is impossible with Me." Matthew 19:26
I said; What about the injustice and unrighteousness?
   And He whispered, "I exercise and delight in  justice, and righteousness." Jeremiah 9:24
I said; I'm so afraid.
  And He whispered, "Do not fear, I am with you." Isaiah 41:10
I said; My heart is crushed.
   And he whispered, "I'm near to the brokenhearted." Psalm 34:18
I said; I can't stop my tears.
   And He whispered. "I put them in a bottle." Psalm 56:8

Clinging to the truth whispered to my heart this afternoon.  Because I know of many asking the same questions and having the same thoughts, I thought I would share my wrestling.

Still learning,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where Red Lanterns Sway

We have just returned from a land far away, a land where roads are named after silk, a land where my feet love to walk, and a land where red lanterns sway in doorways, alleyways, and storefronts.

Once again I left pieces of my heart on Asian soil.  And I wonder, will there be a day when no piece remains? Could I even hope and dream that the sum total of the the pieces of my heart would be torn and spent?  I have again returned with less than what I left with, but somehow more. This is a great mystery to me.

This is the third time we have been asked to enter into the discussion of marriage and family.  The daily workings of living gospel centered and how that works itself and it's power in to our daily lives, marriages, families, and churches.  The invitation always causes us to tremble and the actual conversation makes us keenly aware that we are nothing and have nothing to bring to this table but Him, His word, and two messed up vessels that long to be clean and usable.  And two vessels that are trying desperately to understand this truth daily also.

So we speak His truth.  We wait.  We wait on Him and we watch.  We watch Him.  We watch Him take His word and apply it to lives.  And, there is where the beauty is.  In the midst of this unfolding story we are certain most days we don't have what it takes.  We find ourselves uncomfortable, sitting in the dirt of our own selves and plagued with "first world" inconveniences.  And even there He doesn't shy away from us,  He gently says; "will you trust Me?".

I have heard their stories.  Stories of hardship, trials, and persecution.  And my soul is embarrassed and ashamed of my discontentment.  I have heard the declaration of joy of having been found worthy to suffer for their Lord.  We teach some days six to eight hours.  They think we have come to teach them, but we always leave knowing we came so that He could teach us.  Teach us more about Himself, His power, His sufficiency, and His faithfulness.  And, He did.....

We watched Him change hearts and minds as they considered the gospel being the reason for all.  We watched Him open up the ears and mouths of translators.  We watched Him bring conviction and repentance to husbands and wives.  We watched Him bring brokenness. We watched Him answer prayer.  We watched Him change marriages, families, and churches.  We watched Him provide opportunity  to share the story with those who had never heard it or the Name that is above every name! We watched....He worked....

In one testimony a man shared that he had despised his wife their entire 20 plus year marriage.  He saw her as a detriment and holding him back.  He told of how God had convicted him.  He publicly confessed and repented in front of everyone.  He said that he wanted to receive his wife as a gift that God had given him and together he desired for them to live, letting God write His story using their lives and marriage.  He said that he had asked God to forgive him.  He then turned to his wife, who was dripping tears, put his arm around her and asked her to forgive him in front of a crowded, watchful room.  He reached in his pocket and removed his handkerchief, gently he wiped her tears as he spoke words of love to her.  From pain and hardness because of confession and repentance, flowed a beautiful brokenness.  We could all almost smell the sweet aroma in the air.

We watched....He worked...

He worked on me as well, as He continues to teach me that pieces of heart invested  in others and a willingness to be torn is really what surrender looks like.  Keeping no pieces for self.

We began our journey in the early hours of a July morning watching the sun rise and we ended our journey on an August evening watching the sun set like a giant red lantern in the sky.  Father displaying His majesty and faithfulness.  He opened the door to this journey and He closed the door.

Pieces of my heart forever torn and left in the land where red lanterns sway.

Empty yet full....

Still learning,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Very Old Friend

She doesn't have a name, she's a woman, she's a widow,  she's a mother,  she's a neighbor,she's a woman in need, she's a woman with a crisis, and she's woman who can't fix or change her current situation.  With that being said I guess she does have a name.  Her name could be Sue, Linda, or my name for that matter, Kim.  Because we as women can or will be able to identify with most of those descriptive words.

On this day, this woman feels like a very old friend to me.  We have been spending time together for over a year.  Oh her story is just that, a story to most of us, tucked away in seven short verses in 2 Kings chapter 4.  Seven verses that over the course of a year the Lord has been pressing into my heart.  Principles and responses that He desires for me to learn.  This woman and I spent time together as I told her story to a group of women here in Oklahoman and again twice as I have spent time with woman on foreign soil in the past few months.  In each gathering we were asking; what does it look like to trust, and what does it look like to be a woman who responds out of what we know to be true about our God?  

Her story teaches me about posture.  Posture is intentionally placing ourselves in a position.  Her posture was to run to the man of God and to cry out to him regarding her life.  My posture? The intentional position I am to place myself in?  Running to God alone, crying out to Him in my need.  She teaches me the principle of participation.  She was willing to be obedient no matter what it looked like to those around her.  Often God ask us to participate with Him in His plan for our lives, that at the moment make no sense to us, let alone those observing our lives.  She doesn't argue, she doesn't ask for clarification.  She does what is asked of her even though it may make her look foolish.  Something I have learned from this truth? My obedience doesn't look like yours and yours doesn't have to look like mine! No one gets to tell me what obedience looks like except the One asking. This woman and her short story has once again pressed into me the importance of the shut door.  Crazy God things happen behind shut doors!  What happens behind shut doors is the sitting at His feet, Him speaking, the confession, the wrestling, the learning.  and the real filling.  We all want to be filled but often we don't want to do the work required to be emptied.  So when we come to Him we are so full of things that consume us there isn't much room.  The word fill in scripture means to satisfy something.  You can't satisfy something that is already half filled with something else.  No, getting really empty is behind the shut door stuff!  It's hard work....and...it's life work.  Work that goes on everyday behind shut doors with our Lord pointing out the stuff that needs to be emptied so He can fill...satisfy us. What happens behind the shut door isn't for the masses, it's for you, it's for me, it's for Him to teach us and show us what it means to be satisfied.  And when we are those satisfied and filled vessels, then it is the overflow,the splashes that hit and dance off of those around us like sweet rain on dry ground. Those are the splashes for the masses, because they are Him. The oil flowed, it flowed freely, it flowed to it's fullest...until... "she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." and he said to her, "there is not one vessel more." And the oil stopped."  When there ceased to be an empty vessel the oil stopped. Those are sad words to me, and yet all that had been poured into her and those vessels were God's abundant provision.  Lessons to learn and to keep on learning.

While teaching, one very creative woman wrote down these poetic words.

My cup was emptied; I lifted it up.
None could ever fill it just quite enough.

I met Him - the flowing, living water.
did I find for my soul fountains like no other.

For my part I can choose to thirst no more.
For His part He reminds me that's what empty vessels are for.

And what remains? Splashes for the masses.
Sprinkles of grace.
To make them thirsty - deeper waters await.

My very old friend from 2 Kings 4, her life and story is still speaking and teaching.  What are our lives speaking and teaching?  It's His story and He uses your life and my life to write a few sentences of His continuing and amazing story of grace.

Still learning,