Wednesday, October 31, 2012

promises.


THIS was what I saw out of my office window this morning at work. I couldn't capture it fully on my phone's camera, but from the window you could see the entire arch of the rainbow. It was beautifully stretched across the sky with the brightest colors at each end.

What a beautiful reminder of God's promises.. Genesis 9:8-16:

Then God spoke to Noah and his sons: “I’m setting up my covenant with you including your children who will come after you, along with everything alive around you—birds, farm animals, wild animals—that came out of the ship with you. I’m setting up my covenant with you that never again will everything living be destroyed by floodwaters; no, never again will a flood destroy the Earth.” God continued, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.”
This beautiful rainbow showed up in the perfect time with Hurricane Sandy just finishing up here in the Northeast. We get so scared about these natural disasters, as is understandable. We worry about our families, our homes, and our safety. God promised many years ago that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. The rain may pour, the waters may rise, but they will never destroy all of the earth, and THAT is a promise.

In our lives, the rains may pour, the waters may rise, but God has conquered the world. He has defeated death. He has made us promises that we know are true and will stand the test of time. We can trust in Him and know that our trials will never destroy us. We have victory in Christ already and we can know that promise and remember that it is forever.

The rainbow is a gift to us as a reminder of that promise and all the others He has made.

Monday, October 29, 2012

already all i need.

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore 

-Christy Nockels

Thursday, October 25, 2012

pushing you to Glory.

I just heard from the Lord and it was such a sweet, humbling, and moving moment that I had to get up from my desk, walk gracefully to the restroom, and then ungracefully sob for a moment.

"He is pushing you to Glory, Taylor."

I was reflecting on this journey that Harris and I are on that is ambiguous at best. There is some general goal of 'mission field' in the future, however, the steps it takes to get there, the timeframe it all happens in, and (especially) the details of the endeavor are all but clear. I tend to have a bratty, entitled, and resistant attitude in the whole process of becoming a missionary - attitudes I'm not proud of but cannot seem to surrender.

Harris graciously walks beside me, sweetly encourages me, and patiently listens to me as I process this journey we're on. I'll admit, there are times that I think, "This is his dream and something that I am deeply afraid of. This adventure scares me. I am not made for this." [Let me disclose the fact that we're not even doing anything yet, so that's just my overactive fears and apprehensions kicking in.] I do know, however, that there is much more to the story...

I have always prayed that the Lord would use me. I want my life to be completely used and I want to contibute to His mission in any way He sees fit. In my own mind, being a missionary was never an option for fulfilling that prayer due to fear and apprehension of my own abilities. The Lord knew that fear all too well and knew that it would criple me from truly living out what I had prayed so long and hard for - so He introduced me to Harris. Harris, if you know him, has few (if any) fears. He lives with abandon in full trust of his Savior. It is beautiful and inspiring, and one of the many reasons I adore him.

God knew that Harris has great passion and little fear. God knew that Harris would push me (I say that very cautiously because I by no means feel pushed, it is simply a beautiful dance of husband and wife seeking after our Lord together and wife allowing husband to be the lead - Harris leads me by challenging me to enjoy "life to the full" that Jesus offers us). I never and will never do it perfectly. Gosh, I look at the daily conversations we have and I'm nowhere close. I do, however, believe in the power that Christ has in me to guide me and teach me to follow Harris. I can willingly and, more importantly, joyfully, follow my husband because I know he intercedes on my behalf and has my best interest in his mind and in his prayers.

I do not know why the Lord chose this moment to speak to me (especially because it was in the middle of a work day), but that was what I heard, "He is pushing you to Glory, Taylor." When I stop to think about the fact that my God-fearing husband is encouraging me towards one of my biggest prayers and nudging me closer to the cross, I cannot help but sit back in complete awe of how the Lord works in and through Harris's willing heart. I cannot help but be grateful that where I fall short, the one whom my soul loves excels and carries me alongside.


Monday, October 15, 2012

comfort.

I have had a rough day. I promise there are many wonderful ones, but the rough ones usually teach me lessons, so that's when I share most of the time. I can't pin point one particular 'thing' that has made me down today, but there are multiple little things that add together to create what I'm feeling. It's a general feeling of hopelessness, but nowhere close to hopelessness - ha, now I sound crazy. If you understand what I mean, please continue to read. If not, stop now.

I decided that since it's a pretty day outside, the weather is wonderful, and I am in need of some endorphins, I would go on a post-work walk around my neighborhood. Well (as if it were some tragedy), I get dressed, grab my ipod and house key, and step out the door only to find that my ipod is dead. No battery. Boo! All I wanted to do was go on a walk, clear my head, and get the blood flowing to the happy side of my brain. I reluctantly resort to option B: grabbed the iphone and turned on Pandora.

I set out on my walk and instantly, the wind blew strong, the warm sun kissed my face, and the music on my Pandora station perfectly serenaded the dancing leaves I saw on my walk on this beautiful Fall afternoon. Peace. If that type of thing does not speak to your heart, then this whole post may not make sense. I was energized, completely at peace, and smiling in restful joy.

I walk in my door, sit down to untie my shoes, look up, and there's the poster we have up in our kitchen of Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." - Psalm 23:1-6
Let me now stop the story to say... the Lord is so good!  Who can comfort you better than the one who made you? That's where I'm going with this.. God is in the details. I may be wrong or crazy, but I know that the Lord was in the details of my ipod not working (thus directing me towards Pandora which had the perfect music) and in the details of me sitting down to untie my shoes in the exact spot to lead me to the poster (that has been up there since we moved but I never read). I shed tears of gratitude.

I don't know if the Lord has romanced you in that personal (so personal it seems weird and possibly like you're reading too much into it) way, but He totally can and does. We just have to be tuned in, listening and watching. Those moments are treasures to me and bring me closer to the heart of my Maker. So, at the risk of sounding weird, I wanted to share just one intimate moment to encourage you to tune in to find moments when He romances you.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

don't get comfortable.

One thing that has become very clear to me lately is that I have an extremely limited view of and poor definition of love.

There is an unspoken, 'average' level of love and acceptance that I think is somewhat the standard in our culture. We are expected to generally believe the best in others and treat each other with respect and care. As soon as someone (be it a friend, family member, coworker, or whomever) does something to hurt you or truly disappoint you, nobody blames you if you distance yourself. Heck, we might even encourage you to do so because it will likely make your life easier not to deal with someone like that.

The Lord has placed many wonderful examples in my life for me to observe. I believe He intentionally placed many examples of 'above-and-beyond lovers' for the reason that love is the concept I struggle with the most.

I had the thought yesterday, "What if I did the unexpected thing and loved someone even more despite the fact that they have hurt me or disappointed me?" Well, of course I should! It is the most simple yet complex theme throughout the Bible, in my opinion. There are SO many examples of love, especially of love shown in times when it would not be the easy choice of action. 

God has called us over and over in the Bible to go above and beyond the standard in loving others:
We are not only not to murder, but we are also not to be angry with one another.
We are not only not to hit back, but we are also to turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us.
We are not only not to steal, but we are also not to envy what others have.
It's just a higher standard.

We will, of course, never be able to live up to that standard perfectly. I constantly have to remind myself, however, that I don't need to settle in a comfortable love for others. It is comfortable to distance myself when I have been hurt, to suspend a friendship when the other person continues to live in lies and inauthenticity, and to scuff off at a frustrating and strained relationship. It might be comfortable, but it is not the full life I've been offered through Christ.

His rules, as radical as they may seem in the moment, were designed for me to have life to the full. I'm only settling when I choose to love half-heartedly. I hope that I remember that in the moments when it gets hard.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

not made for here.

I got a hard phone call yesterday morning. My dad called to tell me that my grandmother had passed away.

When you're in "the real world" (I was at work), and you receive news of the death of a loved one, you really just expect or maybe hope that everything and everyone else around you will somewhat just "fit" the mood that you're suddenly in. I took a moment to go to my car and cry and talk to Harris. When I came back, all I wanted was for everyone to speak calmly and to not be peppy or even cordial: "Good morning, how are you?" "Good, how are you?" "Good!" Nope. Not today. I don't want to answer that overused, yet doesn't really mean more than, "I'm acknowledging you respectfully"question today. I simply want to be left alone and to finish out my day.

It's hard when you're faced with loss. There are so many factors that play into the loss of a loved one. Nobody ever knows what to say to you. Nobody can relate to you because every relationship is different, so the loss of someone is extremely personal, just as personal as the relationship was. Nobody can ever know exactly what you lost. They get that it's "hard", but that's about it.

So I don't blame anyone for going about their day like any other routine day. Again, that's just one of the dynamics that nobody can understand. The world would be a sad place if everyone was sad when you are sad, if everyone went through life tiptoeing around the person who is suffering. Maybe that's a gift we've been given, that others distract us by going on with their mundane activities and being in a good mood.

I remembered the quote from a book I read, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
One of my (and I know many other people's) greatest desires would be that nobody that I love would suffer or ever have to be separated from one another forever. That is clearly what C.S. Lewis was writing about. I was made for Heaven. I was made for a place where I can never be separated from the souls of those I love or ever experience sadness or weeping. I don't even know the right words to comfort myself, let alone anyone else going through loss, but I do know that the peace that comes from knowing my final destination that includes my Savior and the others I love, is more than good enough for now.

When the Lord asks me to come home, I'll see you there, Grandma.