How's Your Sight? | Reflections from Luke 11

Whatever color you want to call them, if we’re not intentional and vigilant, we can throw these colored glasses on without even thinking twice. And this is where I want to talk about this thing that the Lord was so patient and purposeful in showing me, and in doing so reminding me that I have a choice in this.

“You need a light to see. Only an idiot would light a lamp and then put it beneath the floor or under a bucket. No, any intelligent person would put the lamp on a table so everyone who comes in the house can see. Listen, your eye, your outlook, the way you see is your lamp. If your way of seeing is functioning well, then your whole life will be enlightened. But if your way of seeing is darkened, then your life will be a dark, dark place. So be careful, people, because your light may be malfunctioning. If your outlook is good, then your whole life will be bright, with no shadowy corners, as when a radiant lamp brightens your home.” -Luke 11:33-36 | the Voice

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Reflections From Acts 9 | The Unmentioned Aspects of Conversion

You know that Enneagram train everyone is riding these days? Yep. I’m on it. Maybe it’s because I am unashamedly curious about all the ways I can get better at being Laura, or maybe it’s because I weirdly like having spelled-out before me the areas that I am weak and need improving. Whatever the reason, the Enneagram has me hooked and I want to know everyone’s number and talk about all the ways we can become the best versions of ourselves. (For those dying to know… I’m a 9 ;) )

What’s crazy about the Enneagram is that the belief behind the system is that we take on the version of ourselves that we are as adults when we are children. So it’s not necessarily that we were born this way, but rather that life circumstances and choices forced us to put on a certain self as a coping mechanism or a way of navigating our own little worlds, and thus we became the people we are today.

It’s fascinating to me just how influential our surroundings are in the people we become. Where we lived, who we spent our time with, the kinds of food, music, and activities we consumed—it all weaves together the tapestry that is each individual person.

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Our surroundings shape the pages that write the beginnings of our lives.

I wonder at the details of Paul’s surroundings early on in his life. (Or Saul, rather, at that point in time.) The book of Acts tells us that he was a severe man, with a fiery intentionality for whatever he set out to do. In the case of the early church, Saul set out to persecute and rid the world of all those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Later on, after his conversion, he tells us that he was as straight as they came in terms of his Hebrew heritage and way of living. Not only did he dot every “i” and cross every “t”, he did it better than all the rest. So the pride, and social status that fueled his actions was likely of astronomical proportions (Acts 22:1-5).

In his circle, he was doing all the right things.

And then Jesus Christ, the One Saul had devoted all of his time, energy, and resources to slander, intersects his life in a blinding way, and everything in Saul’s life turns upside down.

[You can read the story of the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-18. What I want to point out are the days following this miraculous conversion.]

Verse 19 of chapter 9 tells us that,

He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days.”

As I read that I wondered, what about all the guys he was traveling with, all on their way to persecute believers in Damascus? Paul had made a HUGE decision to follow Jesus. And he didn’t do it privately so that no one in his regular life knew about it. He was baptized and proceeded to then spend all of his time with those he had intended to kill.

What did his friends think? His family? His boss? The other Jewish believers who saw him as a wise and powerful man “on their side”?

He had ditched his comrades and the life he lived before that moment he met Jesus, and the word spread quickly.

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22 | NIV).

Paul had “everything to lose” and yet he knew that he had, in fact, gained everything the moment he gave his life to Christ. People were dumbfounded that this man was now living for the One with whom he had devoted his life to wiping out. As I read this, I am floored by the reality that we as believers live our lives so ashamed of this incredible gift we have been given. We try to hide from a watching world the eternal life and salvation we have been given through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

There is so much we can learn from Paul—God knew the tenacity with which this man would get after anything he was passionate about, so He made sure Paul would be passionate about His Son.

Couldn’t that be true of you and I, too?

He knows the exact way He wants to use you and your commitment to Christ to influence your surroundings. He knows the head-strong people you work with, or share a family name and genetics with. He knows the story of your past and all the ways people like to define you by it. He knows where you’ve been and He knows where you’re going. And He wants His Name to be what defines your life from here on out.

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of who you were or who they are. Perfect love drives out fear, and His love in you and for you and through you is perfect. He knows how to wash-white your past, He knows how to supply your every present need, and He knows how to lovingly navigate your future, so that His Name would be made great through your passionate love of His Son.

So can you and I be like Paul, and run head-long towards the One from which we have been given true and lasting LIFE? Can we cease caring about how life will go on for those around us, and start leaning in and doing life with those who are devoted to Jesus, trusting that He will use our stories to speak to the hearts of those who have influenced us before we met Christ?

It wasn’t easy for Paul, at first. But he pressed on, and was given an advocate—someone to encourage him, guide him, and support him on his journey towards complete devotion to Christ. RPromise me you’ll read the rest of the story—it can be found here. If you are new to your faith, like Paul was here, find yourself a Barnabas. If you can’t, then pray with boat-loads of faith that God would bring you one. His heart is not for you to do this life of faith alone, so broaden your vantage point and start looking to places you’ve never looked before. I promise you, you’ll find your Barnabas.

What could happen to this lost and lonely world if we all turned and followed like Paul did? Lord, would you do this again in each one of our lives; that Your church would grow and the lost would be found in Jesus.

The Day He Asked Me Why | Entering Into Healing

My son has this obsession with Band-aids. I'm going to be honest with you--it drives me completely crazy. There are band-aid wrappers all over the house, and even worse, used band-aids in odd, and questionable places. For every owie, and everything that could maybe, potentially be an owie, a band-aid is a must.


Today I asked myself a couple of times, "why don't you want to get healed?" An interesting observation on my part, because my prayer life would reflect that I do, in fact, seek healing in specific areas of my life, and yet when approached with the opportunity, I hesitate.

Interesting.

Later on I heard that same question but from my Savior. "Why don't you want to get healed?" You see, when I ask it of myself, I do so under the false assumption that I have some sort of control over the matter, which would be the reason why I never actually answered myself in the first place.

But when asked that question from the One who holds within Himself all power to restore and renew, I feel the breath lost from my lungs. There's a gasp in my spirit--like embarrassment mixed with shame mixed with maybe-I-can-pretend-I-didn't-hear-myself-the-first-two-times.

The Savior Jesus wants to know why I don't want what He wants to give to me.


Remember my band-aid obsessed kid? Well, one of the reasons he drives me bonkers with these band-aids is that he will keep them on for. days. I tell him repeatedly, "Malachi, if you do not take it off and let it heal you will get an infection. I don't think you understand what that means--you will have to see the dr and get a shot and it will be so so so so so so bad." (Maybe my tactic isn't the greatest, but I'm grabbing at straws on my best days.) And as I drove home from work today I saw that I am, in fact, worse than my son.

I want my band-aids; my coverings. I want my hope and security in the thing that is hurting in me to be found in something tangible instead of trusting that time and fresh air and healing balm with make it all better. If I cover it up then that must mean it's safe. Phew. Except that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Often times, I will find Malachi with his hand wrapped around the finger of his other hand, strenuously attempting to keep a gross, no-longer-sticky band-aid on. Today I see myself doing the same thing. I've got wounds that have been around for more years than I can recount, and I'm still here, a 32 year old woman of God, working that bandage like it's the day I put it on.

So I guess I might need to give Malachi a little slack seeing as I'm more of a band-aid freak than he is.

As I sit here and ask the Lord, "what do I do with this? How do I get to a place of uncovering so that You can do what You do?" And immediately I'm reminded of a restorative holy yoga class I led last weekend. I asked the women 3 questions and today He asks me the same:

"Is God good?"

"Is God good to me?"

"Is God good at being God?"

It's as if I can see His face, and hear His gentle voice as He whispers over me the very same words I whisper (or shout) over Malachi: "You have to trust Me. I need to be the best Savior that I can be, and that means asking you to do something scary and trusting Me while you do it."

I have to reach my hands out, however shaky they might be, and I need to loose my lips, however much they might quiver, and I need to let Him do what He does. I need to say yes to healing, and believe that even if the other side seems scary and unfamiliar, that He is in that place, too.


I don't have any answers for you and I can't proceed to give you a testimony of received healing. I'm walking this out, today. But I know that His question to me is also His question to you. So, my dear friend, 

"Why don't you want to get healed?"

 

When I Almost Brought My Idol To My Worship

This morning, like nearly every morning, I excitedly poured myself a cup of coffee before hurrying to the couch to get my time in the Word before the start of the day. I looked to the right of my coffee maker to find a little, glistening, plastic box of leftover chocolate chip scones from yesterday's playgroup. I have this rebellious spirit when it comes to "treats". My mind fills with thoughts paralleled to a teenage girl sneaking out her bedroom window. As I reached for one little scone, telling myself that one was the sensible choice, I quickly countered that thought with a more pleasing one:

"Shoot. These two are attached to one another. I could separate them, but let's be real--I'm coming back for a second anyways."

As I left the kitchen and headed for my daily seat with the Lord, He whispered to me, "well, would you look at those little idols your bringing with you to your worship."

Dang it.

My story with food is a long one, but it's also not long at all.

I'm a disordered eater.

The pendulum swings really far with me when it comes to food, so the drawing of my attention to my little accompaniment this morning was nothing short of grace-filled mercy and a reminder of reverence. 

Daughter, you can come to Me with those two little scones and I will love you and speak My truth to you; but I want to ask you one question... to what degree do you revere Me? Enough to choose what I've told you is best for you?

Paul's words rang in my ears and I sat in disbelief of what I was actually about to do. I was about to sit at the feet of my Savior with one (of many) of the things that keeps me from the liberated life He gave me. 

"I can hear some of you saying, "For me, all things are permitted." But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So you say, "For me, all things are permitted." Here's my response: I will not allow anything to control me." -1 Corinthians 6:12 | the Voice

I can't eat wheat. Or dairy. Or corn.

Will it kill me if I do? No. (Do these words linger in my mind each and every time I face a bakery case filled with delicacies or am given the option of Mexican for dinner? Yes.)

Will it benefit me if I do? No. (Do these words keep me from listening to the rebellious girl inside who just wants to jump out her bedroom window? Rarely.)

Except for today.

In light of Paul's words I'm faced with this question: How many times have I brought my idols with me to my worship?

Maybe it's the idol of comparison, or the idol of perfectionism. How many times have I snuck a quick peek at Instagram during Sunday's sermon or made sure my outfit was on point before heading out to a church event. 

Gotta impress. Gotta feed the monster.

But what if I just went to worship and decided that the idols needed to stay at the door? What if there were an "idol detector" at the door of my worship, blaring at the detection of anything that stood in defense of complete reverence for God?

It's crazy the things you'll notice when God decides you're ready to.

Forgiveness, Jesus. You are far sweeter and tastier than any scone and the sound of your whisper satisfies me deeper than today's treats ever could have. Thanks for saving me from something less-than. Oh, and also, not today, satan.

Holy Week With The Real Man

Let's just get this out of the way first--I'm not a scholar. For anyone who thought I might be, because I'm so lofty in speech and whatnot, you can let your curiosity rest. I'm just a follower of Christ who never got to finish college. 

It's Holy Week. For someone who grew up Catholic, I have very little experience in letting my Easter celebration grow in the days prior to Resurrection Sunday. I never grew up practicing Lent, and it wasn't until well into my "Christian-dom" that I had even heard of people practicing any sort of worship or spiritual fasting in the days prior to Easter. To me it was eggs, bunnies and church with a big dinner afterwards. (A dinner that always took place around 1pm. Midwesterners are weird like that.)

So over the past several years I had decided in my heart that I wanted to really get "into" Lent and Holy Week. Easter is, after all, the absolute BEST day of the year, and the day in which I celebrate the thing that completely changed my life, and the course of humankind for all of time. The problem is, I'm a person with a scattered mind and a complete inability to think ahead for things like birthday cards, parties, bills and Spiritual Practices. It takes intentionality. Something that does not come naturally to me.

In my disappointment of myself and my lack of reverence for this week, I decided I ought to dive into John and read along with the telling of the days leading up to Jesus' death. What I love is that Jesus, while the Son of God, was also totally man. And in His humanness, even now, He knew I needed a way to revere Him this year that took into account my reality that is kids and sickness and a husband on crutches.

Enter Beautiful Outlaw

I've been picking away at this incredible book for awhile now. I'm convinced that my "idea" to pick up a book where I left off is not my idea at all but God's Sovereignty. In my desire to worship with a heart of gratitude this week and into the weekend, He reminded me of something absolutely vital to my worship:

Jesus was a man.

I had paused in the middle of this chapter a week or so ago and when I picked it up today I found myself challenged with this question:

"How will my worship and celebration on this Good Friday and Easter Sunday change in light of the fact that Jesus was fully man?"

It completely changes everything. 

"You might think that keeping Jesus all mysterious and heavenly is the proper thing to do, but consider this: When he came, he came as presented in the Gospels--very much human, a person, a man, with a very distinct personality. This is the primary witness we have of him, recorded for all who would know him. This is how he chooses to make himself know. This is the "self" he presents to us. Be careful you don't push him away with your religious delicacies."

When I picture myself on Sunday morning, in my Easter best, having just argued and bartered my way through getting my family all cute and perfect and to church on time, singing and worshiping my God, I wonder how it would be different if I worshiped with this in mind. What does it look like in my heart to worship a Savior who was fully God and fully man

I think it looks a lot less delicate and divided and a lot more intimate and raw.

Or what about on "Good Friday"?

"The religious glaze over Jesus--over our hearts--is so thick we have to keep striking it, over and over and over: Jesus was human. Jesus was a man. His humanity was real. He wasn't pretending. Those nails actually hurt."

What makes Good Friday "good" cannot be remembered by religious practices or ceremonies or even making sure you've checked church attendance off of your list. It is actively choosing to call to mind the Son of Man that willingly walked His own cross to the top of that hill and told His Father to forgive us for what we were about to do because we didn't fully get it.  "Good" is defined as not depreciating in value. His plea to the Father on our behalf then has not depreciated in value--He still advocates for us, and He does it as the Son of God and the Son of Man. His actions on that day and in the days leading up to it never have, and never will, depreciate in value. They will continue to be the absolute most valuable actions ever taken by man. Ever.

What could shift for you on this Holy Week if you took this into account? If you closed your eyes and imagined Jesus as completely man, and worshiped Him not as an untouchable religious figure but as a man who just really, really loves you?

"Jesus' humanity will cause you to fall in love with him all the more. His personality, his remarkable qualities... they burst with color and brilliance like fireworks because of his humanity. Think of it--the Man of Sorrows had a sense of humor. The Prince of Peace could work himself into a lather. This wonderful counselor could be downright ironic. The man on a mission had time to sit and chat. Far from diminishing Jesus, this will only quicken your worship and deepen your intimacy."

I'm thankful that the Man I love knows where I'm at and He let's me know Him all the more in the midst of it. May we be as intentional as life allows us and let grace fill in all the rest.

Happiest of Holy Weeks to you all.

 

 

*All text quoted from Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. 

Exile

Hey. It's been awhile. Life has been crazy, a little bit disjointed at times, and not-surprisingly covered in the goodness of God. His plan is always so far beyond my realm of understanding and He is so patient with me. I'm so thankful for that. I'm also thankful that He chooses not to let me in on His plans too far in advance. I enjoy being surprised in life, and I also don't have the capacity to not freak when I don't understand where He is going with me.

So it's good.

While I haven't been blogging as much, and I haven't been keeping up with my year of freedom, I've been digging deep into His Word and finding freedoms I didn't know I was in need of. If you aren't aware, I've been contributing over at Brooke Boon's blog and have had the privilege of working more with the ministry of Holy Yoga. There's been a whole lot of busy and it's been really, really good--even if some days I feel I'm not enough for the task. He says I am and for me, that's more than good enough.

I have, however, been feeling the tug to share more of what He's been opening up to me in our time together. So today, that is what I intend to do. While it feels a lot like describing to you each individual piece of gold in a giant treasure cove, it's a task I am more than willing and honored to take on.

So let's get going.

If you know a bit of our story you know that we have had our fair share of tumultuous seasons. Somewhere in my little mind I thought that once we were done with the military we would be done with our problems--at least for awhile. The trouble with circumstantial thinking like that is that we place blame where it doesn't belong, or we look at the problem as just that--a problem--instead of seeing it as a season of refinement or maybe even a saving grace from something that would have left us worse off. T and I are so guilty of blaming everything on the army. And I mean ev-er-y-thing. In hindsight I see God keeping us from things, preparing us for things and sometimes just outright leaving us to our own false gods.

Today I was reading in Jeremiah and came across a slightly (and I mean slightly) paralleled story of the people of Israel and Judah being exiled to Babylon. The land was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the people were forced to leave their homeland.  But they did not leave without a promise from their High King.

"'The days are coming', declares the Lord, 'when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,' says the Lord."-Jeremiah 30:3 [NIV]

Before we entered into the hard season of military life we knew the promises of our High King. We just chose not to keep them ever on our hearts and minds. We let circumstances take the place of truth and our emotions and understanding followed suit.

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Ferguson-57

Before we entered into the hard season of loss we knew the promises of our merciful Father. As we wrestled with the loss of our baby we knew that He was still good. That He was still loving. And that He had a better plan somehow, even if it meant we would suffer for a time. Choosing to keep this at the forefront of our minds and hearts carried us through deep grief and physical pain. But hear me when I say that it did not make the "bad" feelings go away. They still came, along with questions and words cried out in anger. So many times I longed for "home"--the place where things felt right and the pain ceased. At the end of each of those days, or even each feeling as it came, was the choice to believe God for His Word. To choose to believe Him instead of our circumstance. To know that "home" was coming.

As I entered into a very difficult season of revelation of sin in my marriage I had a choice:

Mercy or Anger.

Love or Fear.

Jesus or sin.

While this was not a circumstance I would have ever chosen for myself, it was a necessary one. It was necessary for the depth of pain caused by sin to be revealed to my husband. For him to see firsthand what the poison of darkness can do to a marriage--to his marriage. Friends, I clung to the promises of my God like I've never clung before. And you know what? He never let me down. Not once. And He never let my husband down. And because of that He has done a good and miraculous work that will, in turn, never let our children down. We have, by the mercy and grace of God, been taken from that place of exile and my deepest hearts-cry is to never go back.

We can live by our circumstances or we can live by His word.

“‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;do not be dismayed, Israel,’declares the Lord.‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,your descendants from the land of their exile.Jacob will again have peace and security,and no one will make him afraid.I am with you and will save you,’declares the Lord." -Jeremiah 30:10-11 [NIV]

The truth is that our home, the place where we don't need to make the choice between circumstance and Jesus, is awaiting us. He promises that we will return to where He always intended us to be. Our exile is for a time and for His purposes. But it is not our reality--our reality is Jesus and in Jesus is full life, even if our circumstances and our sin say otherwise. We don't deserve this home He has created for us. The stench of our sin in pungent and the affect is widespread. But just as He promised Israel and Judah thousands of years ago, He too promises us, and because of Jesus these promises are ours to take hold of today:

He is with you and will save you.

Peace and security is yours.

He will bring you back home.

If you are in a place of exile today, friend, don't let go of His promise to you. Keep your eyes locked on His. Let your knuckles be white by the strength of your hold on Him. Home is coming. He is the One you worship--not your circumstances.

Walking with you,

laura b
laura b

Thanksgiving : Giving Thanks

These days it seems harder and harder to get here, and yet my heart longs for it more and more. Through our season of loss and grief there have been so many moments that the Holy Spirit has made the Word beautifully alive to me. All I've wanted to do is shout each one from the rooftops (or post it on here and let it spread like wildfire--or so I'd hope), but busyness, mom-hood and sometimes simply this season of sorrow have kept these gems between me and my Father. Which is pretty awesome actually. My prayer is for more time here in 2015--I believe wholeheartedly that He has called me to some good things here. But until then, there is one thing I must share with you.


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Now, you maaaaay not know this, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I know, I know, it's a little bit nuts. I think it's safe to say that I'm not alone in feeling very unfulfilled at the thought of an American Thanksgiving.

  • Way too much food.
  • Stresses of family.
  • Corralling kid(s) and living on the prayer that they will stay sane throughout this very out-of-routine day.
  • And dishes. So many dishes.

What's it all for these days? We hear so often that we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude as we enter into the holiday season, kicking it off with the holiday of thanks. But I think what's unsettling to me is this idea that we are to simply walk around with an attitude of thanksgiving.

As I prepared for my holy yoga classes this week, I did some perusing on Wikipedia; you know, for all of the legitimate historical information that would transform me into a scholar on the topic. I found some very interesting facts on the origin of this holiday that, to no surprise to me, correlate pretty perfectly with this faith-life we live with Jesus.

Firstly, there is the pretty oft-forgotten original intention of Thanksgiving. President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared it to be an official Federal holiday by proclaiming a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

In a time when Thanksgiving is about all the wrong things, can we take a moment to remember what we are actually supposed to do on this day?

The definition of Beneficent is "characterized by or performing acts of kindness or charity."

Our Father's very character is kindness. It's not something He simply decides to give--it's a part of Him; one that cannot be separated or taken away. If you're like me, you thank God for His kindness with a spirit similar to that of a debtor. Like it was so much work and such a burden for Him to show that kindness to me. But if I focus on the reality that my God's character is to be kind, would my thanks be given with a spirit of adoration? Maybe similar to that of a wide-eyed child thanking their parent from which they are unshakably secure in the knowledge of their love for them? I mean, can't you agree that there is a whole-body shift in you when you thank someone whom you feel indebted to versus someone whom you know you owe nothing in return? That is our Father. Our King. The One we celebrate tomorrow for.

The other thing that I just have to say is this: there is a mighty huge difference between simply having an attitude of gratitude and actually giving thanks. You can walk around all day long feeling thankful, but at that point your gratitude is about you. Sort of. But when you open your lips and speak out your praise, so that the One you are thanking (and all those around you) would see your joy and praise for His character of kindness, it becomes about Him.

Say your husband shovels the driveway for you. You feel thankful. Inside. Your gratitude cannot reach any further than your own self. But as soon as you open your lips and tell your husband how appreciative you are of his kindness and service, your gratitude has reached another--it's become about him and not about you.

The same goes for our King. And the same goes for what we celebrate tomorrow.

So as you prepare and bake and shop and clean today, can I challenge you with something? Please, oh please, take 5 minutes, a pen and some paper and sit. Prayerfully meditate on the kindness of the Lord in your life. And yes, things like food on the table and loved ones are important, but I'm talking specific things.

"The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"--days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought."-Good ol' Wikipedia

Has the Lord just won a battle for you? Where has He been victorious in your life this week? This month? This season?

Are you finally beginning to experience springs of Living Water after a season in the desert with the Lord? Are you seeing the harvest of your commitment to sowing the Truth in your mind, your family or your ministry?

Now once you've meditated on these things I want you to write them down. Make a list, sloppy or neatly bulleted, and carry this around with you tomorrow. As you visit with family members or friends, share one or all of these things with them, because as Psalm 105 tells us, we are "to make known His doings among the peoples". Let it be known to those around you that you are loved by a Father who is kind. Any maybe, just maybe, let this year be the beginning of your families accurate celebration of this very battered and stolen holiday.

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"O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His Name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them. Glory in His holy Name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek and require  the Lord [as their indispensable necessity].-Psalm 105:1-3 AMP (emphasis mine)

Tomorrow is your thanksgiving. The schedule, food, family or black friday ads needn't determine how you celebrate it. So celebrate your King tomorrow. Take back the holiday for yourself and your family. Maybe, if we each share this with our own families this year, it can continue to grow and one day we can see this holiday as it was meant to be.

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Today, I've been romanced

and it was in the most unexpected of ways. We started our morning with an outing to the farmer's market. After grabbing a 1/2 peck of Honeycrisp apples (thank you, U of M, for creating such a deliciously crisp apple) we got in the car to head home. But I faced a dilemma of sorts. You see, I have a thing for a little place called Caribou Coffee, and she and I have been separated these last three years. So as you can imagine, I take advantage of most opportunities to indulge myself (I say "most" but what I really mean is "each and every"). Here in lies the dilemma... the farmer's market shares a parking lot with Caribou. Shares it. So you can see why I really basically had no other choice. And they have a drive-thru, a.k.a. I don't have to take the baby out of the car seat. Double-whammy. Before I even realized what I was doing I was already sitting at the speaker listening to the cheerful lady ask what she could get started for me. After discovering that one of my favorite drinks (a vanilla rooibos tea latte) had zero caffeine I quickly adjusted my course of action and asked for a medium light roast with white chocolate... the cheap girls version of a frou-frou drink. *Let me pause and adjust your visual here. My parents just got a new vehicle and I have been blessed enough to cruise around town in it. It is by no means flashy but definitely new and definitely an upgrade from our already "good and gets the job done" Endeavor. As I drive it I enjoy pretending like I actually could own a car with satellite radio and a back-up camera. It's fun and I'm enjoying it while I can. I also, personally, don't believe that young people should be able to have such nice things. There's a reason why the older you get the nicer your stuff gets. You work hard while your young to enjoy your harvest when you're older. So I enjoy little glimpses to the future. Or maybe even the never, who knows.*

As I waited for the car in front of me I counted the dollar bills I had with me and talked a bit with M in the back in an effort to keep him awake until we got home so he could lay down for his nap without interruption. We pulled up and I waited. A lovely young girl carrying my precious coffee greeted me with a grin and said, "The person in front of you already paid for you coffee and wanted to tell you to have a great day!" So, naturally, I quickly adjusted myself and lifted my chin from the dropped position and began to smile so wide and asked, ever so awkwardly, "What? Are you serious?" To that she said, "yes" and more smiles were exchanged and even more stutters and stumbles (all from my end). All in all the exchange lasted a little longer than probably necessary considering I didn't actually have to give her anything at all, just had to take the cup from her. After I took it and drove away I began to really realize what had happened. You see, I've been making a significant effort to spend M's morning nap doing my BSF study as well as spend some time in prayer. These last few days have been pretty busy, making today the first day in a while I've had to set the better part of his nap aside to spend with my Lord. Knowing this, I was all the more anxious to get him in bed for a full nap because time was of the essence. As I pulled away with my coffee I made the realization that I was, in fact, being romanced by the Man I was about to have a date with.

And He treated.

Talk about romantic. There was always something special about going out, even for coffee, and having T offer to pay. I felt special. Taken care of. Worthy. This morning, He showed me that I am those very things to Him. He needed me to know that even though I cannot go on a coffee date with my love, my Lord and love will join me on one every day of the week. And He will romance me in a season that could be considered very romance-less.

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Another thing I realized upon receiving this coffee was the power of obedience, which coincidentally came up in my study time. The person in front of me could have seen a young girl in a nice new car and thought, "pssh... she obviously isn't in want. I'm sure she has no problem affording a cup of coffee. I'll seek out someone who I think is more deserving." There was no way of them knowing that I am actually an Army wife who is not in want but does not necessarily have excess. He has provided for us all that we need, but it is true that sometimes a cup of coffee is a luxury and I am more than okay with that. Or that my husband, and the father of my child gurgling in the back seat, is across the world and we will not see his face, except for a blurry skype call, until the beginning of summer. But they did not judge. They did not assume. They just blessed.

How often do I just bless? Without asking questions, or making assumptions. Just do as I'm asked. I have to say, not often. I always just know that I know what's really going on. Who people really are. Reality is, I have absolutely no idea. Repeatedly I am surprised by the kindness of people around me, most of which are the most unsuspecting. And yet I still walk around like I know all. It's pure madness!

Obedience is the lesson of my romantic encounter with my Lord today. It's pretty tough to be obedient in an very disobedient world. But it's something I will always need to be brought back to.

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And that He delights in romancing me. He knows my heart. He knows what makes me smile. He knows I'm worth far more than a $2 cup of coffee. And He will forever show me that in beautiful, unsuspecting ways. How sweet is my Lord.

P.S. Can we just take a minute and look at how cute my honey is? *He's the one with the killer smile and smiley eyes*

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My heart melts.