Thursday, December 13, 2012


I feel in writing today its sort of like I'm calling a friend I was supposed to have called a few months ago and totally forgot about...and now its kind of awkward and there are somethings to be explained.

Like how I was planning on writing daily for the 30 days of May. and I did. Twice.  It's so typical me. Big ideas, poor execution.

I like to think maybe my excuse is a little bit valid. I started that blog in the throws of the first trimester of pregnancy. And unlike my rather uneventful pregnancy with Eden, this baby has made his presence known and felt in every month. The first few months, I dreamt about what it felt like before nausea became a constant companion. Thus, an unsuccessful attempt to blog every day in the month of May.

But now it's December and May was almost eight months ago. And this baby is allowed to be born any day now. In fact, if he were like Eden, he'd be making his debut tomorrow. At four. Oh how I wish he would.

And during these past eight months, my mind and heart have been in a different season than ever before. I could list the various circumstances that caused it, but truly I feel like I'm just now surfacing from months of searching. Not searching in the sense of wandering away from Truth, but finding out that the Truth looks and acts and moves without consulting me. It's like that verse in Psalm 115 that says, "Our God is in Heaven and He does whatever He pleases."

Over the past 3 years of marriage, I feel almost like all I've been learning is the goodness, the kindness, the enduring love and faithfulness of God. How faithful He is to all of His promises, and about what those promises are-- I have been learning so much about how to hang my hat on the character of God as revealed through His word. And I think part of me began to think that if I continue to love Jesus, my life will look and feel the way I perceive safety, protection and hope. The kind of thoughts that Job's counselors and friends had, that if bad is happening in your life, it's basically your sin, or your fault. In my search for the truth about God and His character, I began to think I understood Him perfectly. And, like the countless before me, I have learned these past few months that God will not be summed up. He will not be forced into the confines of my understanding. Bill Johnson says it this way, "You get the peace that passes understanding when you give up your right to understand." But who among us is brave enough to follow what we cannot understand?

Trying to reconcile the tragedy, brevity, reality of this world with the image of God as a loving, faithful Father isn't always easy. In fact, I'm learning its rarely easy. And over the past months, despite how safe my life has been from dark and depressing things, I've watched people I love and care about exposed to various caustic and hostile elements of life. And it left me reeling.

Where is God when a four-year-old is fighting stage four cancer despite the millions of passionate, faithful people praying on her behalf? Where is God when a perfectly healthy, godly couple loses a baby? Where is God when a man is wrongly accused, and still pays the punishment for something he didn't do? Where is God when a woman who lives her life solely to please Him is plunged into the depths of tragedy in losing a father, a friend, a love, and in them the substance of her dreams?

I was sleepless one night after hearing a few of these real life stories from people I love, and I could feel my heart putting up fortresses. When you start realizing how little control you have over your own life, your own health, not to mention the lives and health of friends and family, it is so terrifying. What is more terrifying is that I never will be in control. I felt like for a few months I was holding God at a distance, afraid that if I left Eden, Chad, my family, my life, in His court, they'd be tossed to the four corners of creation and I'd be left alone. And for some reason I thought if I cocooned them in my heart, they'd be safe.

I've seen friends' faith shipwrecked by tragedy. By unexplainable, unreasonable sadness and injustice that exists in the world because the enemy of our souls exists. They lose heart, they think that a good God would not allow evil. And so they walk away from Him. During these months of wrestling over these issues, I know I cannot abandon faith. I know that's not the answer, because most of those friends' lives are even more miserable now than ever. I know God exists, I know He is good because His word says He is good, but there is a gap between my knowledge of God and my knowledge of the world. During that night, I felt the Lord wake up my heart to this:

"Charis, you are spending your energy trying to understand who I am. But you're gathering all the evidence from outside circumstances, trying to fit together an image that isn't a just representation. I never intended for you to discover my character based on what's going on in the world around you, but to have FAITH in my character despite what it is going on around you. I have given you the Word to describe and explain me."

 It reminds me of that verse in Proverbs 25 that says, "It is the privilege of God to conceal a matter, and the privilege of kings to search it out." And Jesus, according to Hebrews 1, "is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature." So we get a bearing on the character of God not just throughout Scripture in His promises, but in the very life of Jesus. And when Jesus encountered human tragedy, loss, death, and decay, He didn't respond as a stoic, He didn't respond as uncaring, He didn't respond as if it's what we deserved. He wept.

Why did Jesus weep when He saw Lazarus' tomb? He knew He was able and was going to raise his friend back up from the dead. I don't think anything Jesus did was haphazard; He says it Himself in John 5:19, "Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." So why is Jesus, who can literally ONLY do what He sees God doing, crying at a funeral of a man He will raise from the dead in just a few seconds? I think the answer is that it's His nature to have a broken heart over the brokenness in our world.

Life isn't predictable. Even when we know God, some might say especially when we know God. We can't formulate how healing works, how to avoid death, how to avoid sorrow, how to avoid loss. We can bank on the fact that despite anything, despite the fact that Jesus guarantees in John 16 that in this world we will have trouble, we can take heart. He has overcome the world. And at the end of every one of my fears, even if all of them were to come to life today and be lived out on the giant screen of my heart, I have a home in the heart of God. And He is an ever present help in times of trouble, His grace is sufficient for me, and when I awake, I will be satisfied for I will see His likeness. The truth is, there isn't any other option but to trust God. David is so wise, in Psalm 34 to say, "I sought the Lord and He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him will be radiant, no shadow of shame will darken their faces."

Graham Cooke says, "Sometimes the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening, and at other times, the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening."

I was talking with one of my friends who is in the midst of a "perfect storm" of events in her life, who has suffered so much in the past few months and I was stunned at her words. "I wish I could go back and tell myself not to be so afraid," she confided to me. "I have spent years being so afraid of these things happening. But its nothing like I thought....I still cry, I feel loss, but I have never felt more enveloped in the tangible presence of God as I have lately. For every realized moment of sorrow, He has been nearer and better than I could have ever imagined." Standing on the outside of her grief, her personal loss, her heart ache, I can't fully appreciate her pain. But I can be convinced that God is being faithful, right now, to her. And He will be for each of us, in whatever season we are in. God cannot deny Himself, and He calls Himself our comfort, our helper, our strong tower.

psalm 57:1 "in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by."

Just like cold is the absence of warmth, and darkness is the absence of light, death and decay is the absence of God. From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, death and destruction entered into the world. But also from that moment, we see God already had a plan in place for mankind to be reconciled-- put in right standing again with Him. Even in the midst of the first of millions of acts of rebellion on the part of our hearts towards God, God orchestrates a way for us to get back into a right relationship with Him. He refused to let us live without hope, even for a moment. And its so appropriate that this season is the advent season-- the expectation and celebration of the birth of the One who is reconciling the world to God, and the one who is our Hope.

It's been really amazing to be pregnant this month and realize that (even if our calenders are wrong) Mary was pretty much just as pregnant as I am. And she was carrying that Hope, the Messiah, the anticipated One, in her womb. If only we could understand fully the gift of Jesus, the promise of His hope, the way He loves us so perfectly. We wouldn't be afraid. 

I love how John 1 explains Jesus:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

I think its interesting that the word for comprehend in the Greek is katalambano, which means to lay hold of (in the mind as well, which is where we get the translated word comprehend)...because even now, in the darkness of the world, it can be hard to understand the Light. But I refuse to let go of Jesus just because I cannot explain or understand perfectly the what and how about the pain the present moment. I do not want to keep in the dark, when there has been an invitation to walk in the Light. I will lay hold of Him, because He has already fastened an iron grip on me, and nothing can take me out of His hand.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.





Friday, August 10, 2012

Becoming Aware

Some days I go to spend time with God and I think I am doing it more for His sake than for mine. I have this idea that God will be more gracious to me, more kind to me, more satiated if I just give Him my attention. It's usually on those days that I end up realizing that He never needs me. He doesn't need my flattery, my flighty attentions, my patronizing. And during those times I never walk away without the realization of how desperately, painfully, and deeply I need Him. You see, I was made to spend time with God. Each of us were. It doesn't look the same on any of us, but we were made for encounter with Jesus. From the very first man ever created to the very last man who will be born, we were made in the image of God with the purpose of walking with God in that perfect, unspoiled intimacy that Adam enjoyed with the Lord in the cool of the day.

Today I purposed to come up to our computer room and stay here with the Lord until I got some things settled in my heart. I've been wrestling over an issue in my mind, and I keep having all of these thoughts that are related to it that I know I can't carry any more. I was telling Chad the other day about how often I own thoughts in my head that I shouldn't be owning. I've heard so many times about how you can't help what you think, but you can always help what you do with the thoughts that land in your mind.

For example, one of my pet peeves is when people (and the Lord knows I do this a ton) use this sort of excuse for a sin pattern: "I'm just wired this way...I just am a depressed person...I just am more sensitive than most people...I just get worn out easier..." etc. Do I think we need to know our own personal limitations and have a keen awareness of what makes us fall apart? Of course. We need to own up to our faults, our failures, our unique temperaments so that we can work on what stinks...and then we need to do the hard work of asking the Lord to uproot the crud and leave the good. We need to be willing to put ourselves in the position of saying, "I'm not right. I'm in process. I'm not perfect yet. But I'm not willing to sit around and do nothing about this glaring issue in my life." I've never told someone that they have a booger in their nose and they regretfully respond, "Well I'm just a snotty person." People want to take care of their boogers. And junk in their teeth. Why aren't we just as eager to take care of the flaws in our inner person?

But back to my owning thoughts that aren't mine to own...So often the enemy-- who is called the father of LIES-- spits a lie at my feet, still steaming from its time macerating in his nasty belly, and I purposefully pick up the lie and think, "I must have dropped this." And soon I'm walking around holding this nasty lie and thinking it came off my person. But it didn't. It's not mine because I'm not the daughter of a liar. I'm the daughter of THE TRUTH.

You know, holding a lie is kind of like picking up a wasps' nest. It's a bad idea on multiple levels. First, it's a nest, full of furious wasps, and I'm carrying it like a baby. No matter how gentle I am with it, it's going to erupt all over me. And one lie, just like one nest, carries a billion potential injurers. A lie doesn't stay contained. It stings me all over. And if I don't get rid of that thing and RUN the opposite direction, I could end up a swollen, puffy, poisoned, potentially hospitalized mess of flesh for a while.

So anyway, I came up to this room today thinking I wasn't going to leave until I could walk of the room without the lie attached. I don't want it. I'm leaving it here. Usually I assume that when I'm believing a lie, or thinking about a lie, God is super far away from me. And I opened to Psalm 139. So I read it. And I was struck again at the nearness of God. Even when I'm believing/thinking/acting on a lie. He's close.

I've been wondering lately what the secret to intimacy with God is. Is it more discipline? More hunger? More trials? But in Psalm 139 I think I found the answer: AWARENESS. Awareness of God's presence, and the LOVE that emanates from Him to me.

I started writing out all of the verses from the chapter that talked about God's proximity to us. It's pretty staggering:
"O Lord, you have searched me and known me"
"[You] are intimately acquainted with all my ways"
"You have laid Your hand upon me"
"even there, Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me..."
"for You formed my inward parts, You woven me together in my mother's womb"
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made"
"and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
"how precious are Your thoughts toward me O God! How vast is the sum of them, were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand"
"when I am awake, I am still with You"

It's hard to not want to be with someone who really wants to be with you. Someone who really just loves and adores you. And when I became aware today of God's nearness, despite my struggling mind, I suddenly felt peace. It doesn't matter to Him that I have this glaring issue, because He's the only one who can fix it anyhow. And He still wants to be with me. So the lie loses its hold.

That's the thing about walking WITH God. If I were walking with Kate Middleton (oh a girl can dream), I would walk differently than if I were walking by myself. I wouldn't look bored or insecure, I'd feel honored by her presence. That's just a girl. If I'm walking with God, and I have an awareness of Him, I'm not going to pick up the lie Satan throws. Because I won't think it's mine. It won't look or smell or seem like anything that should belong in the company of someone who walks besides a good, loving God.

The secret to living free from sin is living with Jesus. And Jesus isn't like a task master holding a bunch of rules over my head. He loves us. He loves me. I love this quote from Brennan Manning, and it came into my mind today while I was thinking about all of this, and trying to believe the verses in Psalm 139 applied to me, and that God really wants to be with me, and is truly acquainted with all of my ways:

"In the 48 years since I was first ambushed by Jesus in a little chapel in the mountains  of upper Pennsylvania, and in literally the thousands of hours of prayer and meditation, silence and solitude over those years I am now utterly convinced that on judgement day the Lord Jesus will ask each of us one question and only one question:
'Did you believe that I loved you?

That I desired you?

That I waited for you day after day?

That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?'

The real believers there will answer,'Yes Jesus, I believed in your love and I gladly shape my life in response to it. But many of us, who are so faithful in our ministry, our practice, our church going, are going to have to reply: "Well, frankly, no sir, I mean I never really believed it. I heard a lot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. But I always thought that was a way of speaking. A kindly lie, some Christians' pious pattern.'
And there is the real difference between the real Christians, and the nominal ones.  
No one can measure like a believer the depths and intensity of God's love. And no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self esteem, self hatred and despair that block God's way to us.
Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you are only going to be as big as your own concept of God. Remember the line of the French philosopher Pascal, 'God made man in his own image, and man has returned the compliment.' 
We often make God in our own image: just as fussy, rude, judgemental, unloving and impatient as we are.  The God of so many Christians I meet is a god who is too small for me, because He is not the God of the Word, He is not the God revealed by Jesus Christ... who in this moment comes right to your seat and says,
'I have a word for you. I know your whole life story, I know every skeleton in your closet, I know every moment of sin, shame, degraded love that has darkened your past; right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, and your inconsistent discipleship..and my word to you is this, I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are."
When you're grumpy, unloving, bitter, angry, selfish, shamed by have just as much right to access God's presence as when you're feeling pious, successful at discipline, qualified for the Kingdom, decorated by good deeds and good thoughts.
I've always wondered why James 4:7 says to, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Why is the enemy so eager to leave if all I've done is just stand up to him in my puny flesh? The answer lies in the very next verse. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Satan flees when we resist, because resistance towards him means we are pushing towards God- and God's response time must be pretty quick. After watching the Olympic track events the other night, Chad and I practiced getting down in the blocks and bouncing up to run as quickly as we could. (Yes, that's what we do in our free time.)  But maybe the Lord is kind of like those Olympic runners, who are constantly working on coming out of the blocks as quickly as possible so they can get to their goal. When we resist a lie, and we resist the father of lies, it's like that gun going off at the starting line of an Olympic race, and God's coming.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 2nd: A God Beyond Time

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire[a]

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.”

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

5 He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 “I have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain. ”

7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;

today I have become your father.

8 Ask me,

and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You will break them with a rod of iron[b];

you will dash them to pieces like pottery. ”

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the Lord with fear

and celebrate his rule with trembling.

12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry

and your way will lead to your destruction,

for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

I never turn on the news. For good reason, I can't handle all the bad news. I feel like I take it with me, after the TV is off, and it just sits in my heart and starts festering all this worry. The other day it was the one year memorial to when Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden, and of course that was the one day that I happened to turn on the news and hear how now there are threats of new terrorist attacks and bombs in intestines. I spent the rest of the day trying not to think about it, and praying that whoever was flying today was safe. And naturally, I dreamt about it when I went to sleep that night and woke up in a fright. I love this Psalm because it shows me that God hears the ragings, the threats, the conflicts of the nations, and it doesn't cause Him alarm. He's not pulling His hair, trying to decide who to protect and who to forget. This Psalm says He laughs at them, and the final verse is that blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

I wonder if sometimes God isn't laughing at me either. Especially when lesser worries start strangling my mind and threatening to errupt all over. Fear of aging, recently, has really been getting me. I wonder if God chuckles at me, kind of like I have to laugh at Eden when she gets herself wrapped up in my earphone wires, and she's standing there screaming and so distressed. She doesn't realize that a couple of spins means she's free, and so she can't see the humor. Maybe God has a similar reaction when I fear things like age, which can only mean that I'm getting closer to going Home.

I have a terrible memory. Most of my life is fuzzy, with a few pictures here and there of pleasant times and places and people, but for the most part, I feel like I've lost half of my life and its wandering around somewhere in my brain waiting to be recovered. I have to call some of my friends to remember what I did in junior high, high school, and I am starting to realize college is slowly fading too. (With that said, I have been researching how to jumpstart your memory on the internet lately and may or may not be looking at a few books at the library later on the subject.) The point is, the few memories that do stand out are usually pretty monumental--- the day i single-handedly killed my sister's favorite pet birds, for example, is one I am not sure I will ever get rid of. But lately watching Eden has been jogging my memory, and bringing back pieces of my past that I'd thought were long gone.

Since about 13 months, Eden has started to mimick almost everything I do. I know I posted a picture of it on facebook the other day, but she's unalterably obsessed with lipstick. I didn't know she'd ever seen me put it on until I caught her one day with the tube, puckering up and smearing it all over herself. Chad and I recently had a big scare where we thought she'd eaten some terrible product, only to realize she had mistaken my concealer tube for the lipstick, and her mouth, chin, cheeks, were painted white. Moms who don't wear much makeup, and are naturally beautiful, probably don't deal with this. I have to go searching for my brush every stinking day because one of her new favorite tricks is hairstyling, and nearly every time I get ready I find her sitting near my drawers, wearing every single one of my clean underwear as a stack of necklaces. She walks around wearing every bag she can find on her shoulder as a purse, and naturally, she loves to pull out my leapord flats and attempt to strut her stuff in front of our tv. Which normally is featuring Sesame Street.

At first I thought it was so amazing that she picked up on so many of my habits, and that she instinctively was copying me instead of Chad. Then I progressed from feeling like it was funny to feeling slightly intimidated by it, realizing that if she watches me so closely, I'm going to have be more careful to live in a way that is worth her mirroring. And finally, I've reached a point of wishing I could sit down with her and tell her to not spend her childhood wishing she could be older. Now, I get that its totally normal and healthy and so good for her to show all of these signs of recognizing me and life and the fact that she wants to be a big girl already, and wants to do what Mommy does. But somewhere in my heart is this realization that I spent most of my life trying to get to the next phase.

Maybe it's because I had an older sister who was doing the "next" thing all the time that I wanted to be where she was. I always knew what the road ahead looked like, roughly, at least. I can remember being so sad when it was week days because it meant Lindsay was in school, and I'd be sitting on our steps waiting for her to get home from elementary so I wouldn't be lonely anymore. And watching her play sports in junior high and wishing I were old enough to be on a sports team, and watching her go to prom and be part of FCA in high school and wishing I could be part of that when I was in junior high, and then when I was finally in high school visiting her at Baylor and realizing high school had nothing on college. And then when I was in college she was married and I realized how great it seemed to have the huge question of life resolved, "who will I love?" Somehow, in a strange twist, I ended up have a baby first. But that's about the only thing I've ever done before she's done it.

The point is, I wish I could go back and tell myself to just calm down. Just enjoy being too little to go to school. Enjoy the chalk and the barbies and the glasses of whole milk--cuz the good Lord knows I don't get to drink that anymore. And enjoy junior high and the lack of freedom and the protective wing of my parents. Enjoy high school and the non-seriousness of life, the pulse of going from school event to school event and just learning as much as I can. To enjoy college, its apparent freedoms, its failures, its pretend grown-up life that really is nothing like a real grown-up life. Life's not worth rushing.

Side note: One of my biggest pet peeves is when people talk about a certain season of life (I'm guilty of this, I'm sure) like it was the pinnacle of their entire career as a human. Like people who graduate college but keep talking about their glory days, wishing they could be back inside of the dorm, or the frat house, or at the tailgate or the function or whatever it is. People who spend all of their time telling everyone else to enjoy college because they wish they could go back to it. Before Chad and I graduated, I told him I never wanted us to pine for college. It was great. It was a season of life that I so loved and appreciated and met so many AMAZING people in. But it's over now. And I still love those people and that place and the season. But we're all on to new things.

Lately that anticipation of the future has suddenly shifted to a desire to put on the brakes. To avoid birthdays. To stop the clock. I don't want to turn 25. I don't want to think about getting closer to 30. I have had this profound sympathy for Jack Sparrow looking for the fountain of youth. I understand. If he finds it, I want to know. And I don't like this new fear any better than I liked the old rushing around eagerness. I think both grieve God's heart.

I keep thinking of that verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18: " but we all with unveiled faces beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into that same image, from glory to glory." Aren't I supposed to be going from glory to glory? And Proverbs 31, talking about the virtuous woman, and how she laughs at the days to come; her description is missing any cues about botox, age-defying creams, etc.

I love that the Lord IS. He was, of this we have TONS of evidence. He will be, of this we have equally as convincing evidence. But the fact that He IS, is what affects me most today. When I was 12 wishing I could be 17 so I could sing that song with Tim McGraw, He was sitting next to me wishing I would look at Him and learn about who He made me to be in that very season. When I was 17 wondering how my heart would heal after losing someone I'd cared about and wondering if I'd ever find a man equal to the image in my mind, He was walking with me trying to teach me about the beauty of a heart 'stayed on Jehovah'. When I turned 21 and wanted so badly to rush the next 11 months so I could finally be Mrs. Chad Freije, He was urging me to draw even closer in the last few days and weeks I had as single woman. It makes me so sad to think of all the time I spent longing for the future, and it also sheds new light on the fact that it's so terrible to sit here and dread the process of getting older. It's inevitable. It's going to happen. And I'd rather do it gracefully and with peace than irritably and with anxiety. And the secret to the future is that God will be there too. He will still be faithful. And the point is, He is right here. I don't need to look out there because He is right with me in this present moment.

I have a yoga video where the instructor says at one point, "Your power is in this present moment." Now, alot of the stuff she says is kind of bizarre. But this one phrase caught my attention. I stopped down-ward facing dogging and sat up and looked at Mandy Ingber and said, "Good word." My grace, my hope, my joy, isn't somewhere lodged in the memories of Bluebird Lane or Sky Ranch or Baylor or Tyler, Texas...and it isn't in the years when I'm past the child-raising age and I get to rediscover my passions that exist besides being a parent...its right now. God's right here, right now, and this moment is the one of to sieze and live and squeeze all of the proverbial juice out of.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Devotional: The Word and The Tree

I thought for the month of May, tentatively, I'd maybe do a little bit of a daily devotional. More for my own practice of expression, and also to invite whoever wants to join me, to do so. Every day in May, I'll be reading the Psalm that correlates with the date. I'd love if you did it with me, and if you left some yummy thoughts at the bottom for me to meditate on, and that way we can have a little interchange that will hopefully be encouraging and somewhat consistent. So, feel free to follow every day. Or just one day. Or decide this sounds terrible. Whatever floats your boat.

Psalm 1: Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Sometimes when I go to read the Bible I get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it. It seems like the New Testament oftentimes is just filled with these terribly long sentences with all of these divine mysteries and my brain is just too small to think about it. I can't handle even one verse in Ephesians. I feel this way about the Psalms too, and I guess that's the part that I love about it. David was a man who poured out his heart like water before the Lord. So there's a lot to be poured out. I tend to do this, and I can appreciate his lack of brevity sometimes.

Psalm 1 has a special place in my heart. I can remember my mom trying to get me to memorize it from when I was really little and I was discouraged then, even at the age of 7, that I might not be able to meditate on God's law day and night. It seems like such a daunting task. But reading it this morning got me thinking that maybe its just that David means he would wake up thinking about God's word. That encourages me because I do that sometimes. Like last night, when I could have sworn I heard voices right outside of our window, and I woke up in one of those paralyzed frights, and so I tried to pray my way out of the fear and back to sleep. I called up every verse I knew about the Lord being a shield about me, and me not having to fear the terror at night. After about five minutes of that, I am pretty sure I konked back out. So, robbers, have your way if you're out there. At least I've been edified in my brain with the Word of God.

Sometimes I forget too, that the Word of God, the law that this Psalm calls me to meditate on, comes in the flesh in John 1. That the Word of God is no longer just the physical, written words, but the Person. The One who gave Himself up for me and lives to make intercession for me, and the One who is my advocate in Heaven. The past week, I've had skimpy quiet times. I've not felt 100%, so I've laid in bed instead of getting up to read. Which usually means I'm half-sleeping through some of it. And that leaves me feeling shamed the rest of the day. It's so funny how if I don't do what I consider my part in trying to sit down and listen for the Lord, I assume He's angry and hurt, and He won't talk with me the rest of the day. So I spend the next 12 hours limping around, trying to seem good and act good and speak good, but all the while my heart is testifying against me that I feel guilty. I forget that the work was finished on the cross, and that the work of abiding is multi-faceted, all day long experience, and not just left to a morning quiet time.

I forget that the Word of God isn't just on my Bible app or in the leaves of my New Testament. The Word of God is also the Spirit within me, the one who testifies that I am a child of God, and a coheir with Christ. And that even if I've not spent the alotted time I wanted to at seven, I can still meet with Him while I'm fixing Eden's chocolate milk or on a run, or in the shower, or while I get ready. He still wants to talk. He's not the muteness-of-God-unless-you-have-your-Bible. He 's the Living Word of God. And He is that sharp, double-edged sword that can pierce and divide bone and marrow with just one word in my heart. He knows me.

I love how this Psalm talks about how the man who meditates on the Word of God will be like a tree planted by streams of water, and that this tree is amazingly fruitful, verdant, un-withering, and that in all things, prosperous. I don't always feel prosperous, I don't always feel like what I'm doing will produce results. When I'm trying to rub out the stains on Eden's white shirt for the 90th time this month, I feel a little bit less than productive. But if I'm doing it and talking with the Word of God, then in everything I do, I prosper. I gain. I grow.

If I go back over my life, I see that the Word of God as in the Bible and the Word of God as in the impressions and encouragements on my heart have both spoken to me in equal proportions. I've had radical encounters, at just the moment I've needed it, with both the Bible, and with just the words I hear Him speak to my heart. Of course, that spontaneous word to my heart is always tested and tried with the Bible, and if it's not consistent with it then I can count on my hearing wrong. But that spontaneous Word of God that comes from the Person of the Holy Spirit contains the same amount of healing, promise and hope that the physical Word of God does.

Someone at church on Sunday compared the written word of God to water for our souls, and the spoken "power" word to our spirits as the light of God. If we only have the written word without listening for the Person speaking to our hearts, we get water-logged. If we only have our ears pinned to heaven and don't open the Bible, we get dried up from trying to look just at the light. But if we marry the two, and value the two, the written Word and the heart-Word, then we find two elements that are intrinsic to the growth of ourself as that tree planted by the streams of water.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sabbath Mind

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5-6

I heard a someone talking about thoughts a few weeks ago, and how each human has somewhere between 12000 and 50000 thoughts a day, and that something like 90 percent of those thoughts are the exact same today as they were yesterday. This sort of discouraged me, because I like to think that each day I'm growing a little bit further away from where I was yesterday. That I'm making forward progress, and I'm not stuck in the same patterns I was in before. I have concluded that those stat's have an asterisk by them and fine print that reads: Exception: mind that is being renewed by the Holy Spirit gets new, Heavenly thoughts each day, making tomorrow's thoughts a little better than today's.

I gave up Facebook for Lent, and I had strong hopes that during this six weeks of abstinence, I'd look at my Bible every time I was tempted to check facebook. I was so excited to rid my brain of the mental clutter of other peoples' status reports about their dog, or their favorite starbucks, and I felt sure I'd have more air to breathe in my own head. (You know you need to give up facebook and twitter when you walk around all day thinking in a series of status updates-- and more than half of those updates have to do with food intake: Just poured new Trader Joe's Costa Rican in my favorite mug. @gooddays start with a single sip...cue the next ten minutes of thinking of the wittiest way to word that when I am supposed to be enjoying drinking it.)

Sadly, I have found over the course of the last five weeks that instead of checking my Bible when I want to check facebook, I've found new internet avenues to walk down and entertain myself with. Instagram...Gmail (even an ulta email is game for entertaining me) fact, I've realized, to my shame, that I've made worse decisions with my mental space lately than I would have if I had just stuck with the friendly updates of facebook. This is so typical. I give up pretzel mnms, thinking I'll eat carrots instead, and I suddenly discover chocolate chips.

The point is, I've been realizing how impossible it is for me to find rest in my brain. I am an entertainment junky. I want to have someone else feeding me my thoughts alot of the time. I want to break up the monotony of days by watching, listening to, or reading someone else's thoughts. What is so bad with just a day of hearing just the voices of the people I am with right then, or of watching just the movements of the folks I'm around, or contenting myself to read only the emotions and thoughts play on the face of Eden all day? It's like I can't handle the lack of options, the lack of distractions.

I've discovered a new favorite author: Grace Livingston Hill. As the good Lord would have it, she wrote almost a hundred books, so I'm set for a while. I have devoured her work, and the other day at the library I had a hard time deciding if I ought to carry Eden or the sack of thirteen of her first editions out to the car with me. Since she wrote before the first half of the 1900s, I feel like I'm mesmerized by how simply her characters live.

So I have been systematically going through my friend list, trying to get every one of my friends to start reading her books. When I was attempting to win another Grace Livingston Hill fan, my friend (who is also a mom) asked me, almost incredulously, "How do you find time to read?" In the words of a wise woman I know, I answered, "You make time for what you want to make time for." And sure, the window of time I get to read is usually after ten thirty, with Chad snoozing beside me and I'm reading by the glow of an led book light on my nook or on the tiny screen of my itouch...but it's my time to read. And it works.

Along with facebook, I felt like the Lord started to convict me yesterday about my reading habits. It's not that I read all day, by any means, but its that I let the books follow me. I am the kind of person who doesn't just see a movie. I am in the movie. Half the movies Chad wants to see I can't agree to go with him, because I know it will be too emotionally taxing on my heart. I need to save up that energy for real life. I'm realizing I need to adopt that attitude about books as well.

ie: The Hunger Games. After seeing the movie, naturally, I am re-reading the series. And I have started to realize that if I am going to invest precious leisure time reading something like this series, then I need to make sure I am not wasting any more of my day time thinking about them. I need to stop analyzing what I think about a certain character, about the plot, about the wording...when you start thinking you just saw a mockingjay fly across your window, you know you need to take a step back. ;-)

When I was thinking about this yesterday, I felt like the Lord reminded me of this verse in 2 Corinthians 10 about taking your thoughts captive. I've heard that verse all my life, and I've always applied it to impatient thoughts, discontented thoughts, jealous thoughts, self-pitying thoughts, etc. I never once thought to apply it to thoughts about things like books, or facebook updates, or what the latest celebrity is wearing. But if I can only think a certain number of thoughts a day, and my thoughts are basically on repeat, I need to be careful about what I'm thinking. Start filling up my leisure thoughts with things that are immediate, and centered on Jesus.

Jimmy Seibert's sermon (available free on Itunes from Antioch Community Church podcasts) on being grounded from two weeks ago has stuck with me. It's about the first of the two greatest commandments, Loving God with all your heart, soul, AND with all your mind. I can love God with my mind. With what I think about. With what I allow to entertain my mind. And so I'm asking God to help me take my thoughts captive so that my thoughts don't just fly past the Holy Spirit in rapid aimless fashion, without anything that grabs His attention or delights His heart. I want a mind that attracts Him, the mind that is set on the Spirit, the mind that is life and peace.

Monday, March 19, 2012


You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8

The following is based off of the insight of a college student. Last night, right before worship, this precious girl stood up and shared a picture the Lord had given her while she was spending time with Him earlier this week. It was one of those words that was so beautiful I was just wrecked inside. It was so huge. It was so big. I’ve been thinking about this whole morning, and I thought of a few people I so wanted to share it with, that I figured I might as well put it out here for everyone to take it. It’s the kind of word that is like a spread at Luby’s. It’s got enough to go around. It’s not meant for just the few. I am not sure why I just compared this really amazing word to something from Luby’s…but hopefully you get the picture. This is my narrative version of her words:

Failures. I wake up to them. I go to sleep with them. I dream about them. They haunt me when I’m alone, and they surface when I’m in a crowded room. Am I growing at all? Am I learning? Has any part of me changed since He came into my life? Or am I just the sum of my missing pieces, the scarred flesh of a wounded and wounding soul who is wearily searching the earth for some sort of repose? Have I travelled in circles for forty years of wandering, never getting any closer to my destination, never putting any miles between where I am and where I began? How can He be pleased with me, when there are days the only steps I take are in retreat, the only movements I make are backwards towards what I was, instead of towards what He wants me to be? Everytime someone talks about how much God loves me, I can’t help but feel a swell of shame in my chest. Why would He love me when I’ve nothing to give Him? How could He love me when I’ve failed Him this much?

And then I feel His hand in mine, clutching me close to Himself and willing me to follow Him. We’re walking through the halls of His home, so beautiful and unstained in its perfection. The more I see of that perfect place in which He lives, the more I’m aware how pitiful my attempt at making a home in my heart for Him truly is; He lives here? With all of this? And I offer Him a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitted pieces? He can sense my unrest, and His searching glance is laced with pity. He quickens His pace, and we pass room after room of beautiful splendor, breath-taking majesty. Soon we’re running, He with sure, steady strides, and my legs awkwardly trying to keep pace. Down, down, down the halls of His home until we reach it. It’s a library filled with countless books, their casings worn from use and their volumes precious from handling. He makes a sweeping motion with his arm, across the walls that are teeming with these, His favorite chapters, and He stares right into my eyes and says, “These books are filled with every thought you’ve ever had about me. Every sentence, every word, every desire, every prayer you have ever uttered about Me and to Me, I’ve written down; I love to look through them, I love to read them again, I love to hear your heart for Me.”

And I’m standing in the middle of this space, this room where He feels so comfortable, lined with these innumerable books that are filled with my sloppy, second-hand thoughts and feeble attempts at knowing Him, and I’m left speechless. He kept all of them? That prayer from second grade? That sudden impulse I had in sixth grade to be baptized? That tear I cried in Juarez when I saw the abundance of joy in those who had nothing? That whisper of a prayer for help when I was in the middle of warring desires in my soul? That warm glow of thanksgiving I felt when I held my baby girl for the first time? You kept all of those? My eyes are hungrily taking in every book, every memory, every moment, the ones I’ve forgotten and the promises I’ve failed to keep, and realizing You haven’t failed to remember.

And then I hear Your voice again, saying, “As for your wrongs, your failures, and your trespasses against Me…I keep no record of them.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Covering Wounds

This won't be much of a blog. I just wanted to get out some thoughts I was having and maybe offer them to you, hopefully to encourage you, even if its just one person. There is something so sweet about walking through a hard place with our faces down and loneliness creeping up on our hearts, only to realize the sound of someone else walking beside us, through a very similar season. It makes the burden half as heavy.

"He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9

I was thinking about this verse this morning, and marvelling at my own inability to do what it says. It's always a good sign that I need to invite the Holy Spirit to work on my heart when I read something like this and my first thought is, "Well, that can't possibly apply to this situation."

As I was wrestling through this in my mind, I remembered something I'd heard once, I can't remember where, about the Lord. Our Lord never asks us to do something for others that He hasn't already done, in some form, for us.

When someone says something, with or without intention, that hurts my feelings or hurts my heart,I react by trying to cover that wounded place in my heart. I immediately retract inside of myself to make sure I'm okay, to lick my proverbial wounds. But what if instead of reacting to cover that place in me that was hurt, I try to cover that person in my mind? What if I stopped analyzing the size and gravity of my wound, and just started speaking out a blessing on the person who inflicted it? What if I had faith for other people's lives, and believed in the very best of who they were? Because behind every offense, isn't the deepest pain the disappointment we feel that someone isn't what we thought they were? That someone we believed was our friend and confidant has suddenly become distant and maybe even mean-spirited?

I think God's heart is for us to give grace to the people around us. To look at them and see what the Lord sees...someone with divine purpose, eternal standing before the Throne, and a place in God's heart. Someone of so much value and worth that our Father was willing to sacrifice everything to win them a place in Heaven. Someone worthy of our love, hope, and forgiveness.

It's easier, probably, to do this with someone who didn't actually intend to offend us, or hurt our feelings. It's harder to do it we know someone meant to snub us, or exclude us, or ruffle our feathers. But that's when it becomes even more necessary. It goes along with the saying, "Hurt people hurt people". And that person might be one word of encouragement, one word of affirmation away from being lifted out of the pit they are stuck in. And how much more powerful would the encouragement be if it came from someone they'd just hurt?

When Chad and I fight, it basically is me fighting and Chad sitting back and listening, or laughing...depending on how ridiculous I'm being. Truly. But there isn't anything better for my heart then when I come back after ranting about something and calling him names that I don't really mean, to find that he still loves me. And not only that he loves me, but he still sees the woman he fell in love with and married and he's got the guts to forgive me and we get to start again. Sometimes its in those moments just after a fight that I feel closest to him. It's amazing what it does for my heart just to know that one person, perhaps the person whose opinion matters most, believes in the woman I am becoming rather than the woman I am.

Isn't that what Jesus does for us every single day?

Revelation 12:10 describes the enemy as "the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night". He's constantly bringing up my sins, even in the court of God, trying to get God to give up hope in my life. But 1 John 2:1 says: "If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." That word advocate is parakletos: summoned, called to one's side, especially called to one's aid, one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate, one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor; of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins,in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant.

When I was little and I'd get in trouble, I would burst into tears and start apologising. I guess I hated relational tension, even at a really young age. I can vividly remember a few times like that, where I just couldn't handle my mom being disappointed me. And she was the best about letting me know it was okay, and she still loved me. I've not really grown out of that. If I do something that I know dishonors the Lord, I gotta go to Him. I have to make sure He doesn't hate me. And despite the millions of times I've failed Him, He's never once given me the cold shoulder or told me to come back later when the wound wasn't so fresh. He just lets me right back in, and we pick up where we left off. He doesn't start rearranging my future because now He really knows who I am, and He's not so confident I will ever get to where He's planned for me to. He's not begrudging. He's got the most endless patience of anyone I know. And He wants us to forgive like He does. To handle offense like He does.

So the next time someone offends me, steals my joy, hurts my feelings, I want to show them the same grace Jesus shows me. To believe in my heart the best about them, to see the person they are truly, and to offer them immediate forgiveness, whether they've asked for it or not. It's going to take so much emotional effort to do those things I won't possibly have time to analyze how bad I'm hurt. And that's just fine, because I'll probably just bring infection if I start to try and fix it myself; the Lord is the shepherd and overseer of my soul, and He is my Good Physician.

*Disclaimer: Since posting this, I've had a few precious friends start asking if they offended me or if I am offended...and I feel awful! I wrote this during a quiet time, when I was reading that verse and with no particular time in mind. I just was thinking about how the Lord wants me to handle offense, and how I've failed in the past at it. As a general rule, I never want to blog out of venting or pointed at anyone person or time or event!! Please forgive me if I caused any confusion! It was unintended, and I'm so sorry!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Love Friday the 13th

You know what I love about the Lord? He likes to turn bad things good. He loves doing a gigantic flip. He loves redemption. It was His idea to create us, to give us the option of obedience or wandering, to become like us so He could redeem us- buy us back, give His life for us, change the first Adam's curse into the second Adam's blessing of eternal life and redemption. This is the kind of stuff that burns my heart, and gives me a caffeine high-- no caffeine necessary. Personally, I think He has a flare for the dramatic. He has the best ideas. I mean, think of all the creative wonderful people in the world, and then think that everybody is made in the image of the Creator. That means He is the most adventurous, most hilarious, most kind, most inventive, most talented person/God/Spirit/thing. Job 26:14 says, "And these are but the outerfringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him." And Job was a man who its safe to say knew God....but he says all he knew was just the faint whisper of who God was-- and from what I know of God, all I see is goodness, kindness, gentleness, joy. I already think He is immeasurably these things, but I can't imagine what the true God looks like if the outerfringe and faint whisper is already this poignant. Selah, right?

So that's why I have to blog about loving Friday the thirteenth. Seriously, I always kind of get tickled when its a Friday the thirteenth. I heard this morning that this year, 2012, we will have three Friday the 13ths and that they are each 13 weeks apart. Someone was going on about how creepy it is, and how that's got to mean something. I'd like to tell you what that means: we oughta get excited. Want to know what happens when the enemy tries to stir up fear and superstition in things like this? God shows up. And He turns things on their head. Because Satan is already eternally damned. The gig's up. The end is written. God wins.

I was listening to a sermon the other day about how sometimes we adopt our cultural truths as Biblical truths...and we don't even realize that what our world says is valid might be totally against what God says. I think superstition is one of those. No, I know superstition is one of those things. I grew up in a house where we weren't aloud to say "good luck". We weren't allowed to talk about luck. Luck, Mom said, was inconsistent with faith. So we would say, "God bless you" or something like that. I never found a penny, picked it up and all day long I had good luck. On the flip side, I've broken a mirror, walked underneath a few ladders, seen some black cats, and lived through some Friday the 13ths. And I don't live in fear. Because I've been brought into the safezone. Like when you play tag at recess and the one place that leaves you immune to whoever is chasing you, that's what the Lord is for us. He is an umbrella of peace, a covering, a Rock that is set on high, and He enables us to stand on the heights, to run to Him for refuge. No weapon formed against us prospers, and

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty...He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart...a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.If you make the Most High your dwelling--even the LORD, who is my refuge then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91

I love Ephesians 6, and the armor of God. One reason I may love it is because my little brother used to have a BibleMan costume-- yes, that's right, Bibleman-- complete with all of the armor mentioned in the aforesaid chapter. When my sister Lindsay was home from college, she could get nasty if you woke her up and were yourself defenseless, so we'd send in Josh decked out in his Bibleman gear. Sometimes he came away unscathed. Sometimes. But the point is, in that awesome chapter, we learn what kind of weapons we have, what kind of armor we have, and this particular point is relevant for this post:
"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
I like the guarantee of success here: if you have faith you CAN (the greek verb is dynamai, which means 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; 2) to be able to do something;3) to be capable, strong and powerful) extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. I don't know why but I've always thought flaming arrows are thoughts, especially thoughts of fear. If you let one hit you, it can pretty much consume everything. Fear can be so paralyzing. But faith trumps fear. Faith shields our hearts. And for this year, I have faith that this despite the number of 13s involved, it's God's year. And in Him we live and move and find our being, and we're safe.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I like to think that I’ve developed a strong stomach since Eden was born. I’ve been dealing with all sorts of nasty situations for the past 17 months, including and not limited to: her vomit in my mouth, her dried poop lodged on my hands, ankles, etc., her half-chewed food spread all through my hair, and naturally, her saliva and snot constantly fighting for a home somewhere on my person. I draw the line, however, at backwash. Call me a bad mom, but I just can’t bear it. I remember the first couple of weeks that Eden was learning to drink from a straw, and how Chad and I, in our enthusiasm, would share with her whatever we were drinking. It only took a few times for me to realize that just as surely as she was drinking from my cup, she was also leaving a portion of whatever was in her mouth floating in the bottom of my drink. So now I have a rule: no drink-sharing when Eden is eating. It makes my life, and my beverages, that much more enjoyable.
I got back from a wonderful thirteen days of Texas yesterday, and I spent New Year’s Eve and Day trying to soak up my last minutes with my precious family. So, today, January 3rd, 2012, is technically my New Year’s. I’ve been making my list of resolutions, and it’s long enough to keep me busy for the next few months. Of course, there are the kind of resolutions that I am gleefully writing down— the ones I can’t wait to get started on. Then there are the resolutions that I keep avoiding. Like this one: No more trashy TV (aka The Bachelor). I have been ignoring that one all day but I finally realized it’s a nonnegotiable.
Nothing is more annoying then when people try and plant their convictions in your heart without your consent or desire…so take this with a grain of salt. This has just been the thought on my mind today. I keep thinking of excuses for why I can “handle” certain trash…whether its TV, movies, music, or books. Call me fragile, but I’ve been realizing lately that I really can’t handle certain songs, certain scenes, etc. I get disturbed easily. I get distracted easily. And I get discouraged easily. It doesn’t take much to throw me off. So I’ve been trying to learn how to stay the course, so to speak, with the Lord. How to avoid pitfalls, and how to guard my heart and my mind so that I don’t get bogged down.
One of my constant excuses about things like this with the Lord is that TV shows, movies, songs don’t really affect me that much. I get over it. Sometimes I don’t even think about it. Sometimes. But I felt like the Lord reminded me today of Eden drinking out of my drinks. I would have this delicious, tall glass of sweet tea sitting in front of me and I could be so excited to drink it, but after Eden had a sip, it was filled with nasty floating food particles, and basically it ruined my joy. Because I believe in Jesus, I have the mind of Christ. It’s a brand spanking new mind—like that cup of sweet tea, perfectly brewed, with just the right amount of sugar-water and ice cubes—but if I choose to start watching stuff or listening to stuff or reading stuff that isn’t approved by God, I can really quickly start filling it with junk. And I felt like the Lord answered my predicament about reality TV and the like…whether it affects me or not, there will be floaties in my drink.