Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Deserving Design with my boy Vernie

Alright everyone...

To give glory where glory is due, I thought you'd all love to join me in a little praise dancing (closed doors are allowed) for tomorrow (Wednesday) because...

Vern Vip - my boy Vernie as I shall call him - is the host of the show Deserving Design. Have y'all ever seen it? To summarize a little about what he does, and I quote, "Designer Vern Yip hosts a new feel-good design show that gives a break to the people who really need it the most." So there you go.

So guess who is going to be on the show featured tomorrow Wednesday, at 9PM on HGTV??? My Georgia Tech sorority girls - Alpha Delta Chi!!! Yes...yes...yes. We were actually selected this past Spring semester, but the show will air tomorrow evening. Now hold on to your remote control before you completely stereotype my sorority, m'kay? They are an anointed group of young women whose lives I considered it a privilege to be able to walk beside during my years at Tech. It remains, and acts on biblical principles...so we stick out like a sore thumb in the Greek community, which I love. We're rubbing shoulders with that often-times dark world, communing where we've been planted, yet not forsaking the call to holiness. And yes - we did all the cheesy things that go along with being in a sorority. Anyway, I don't think any of the girls will be in the scenes at all..maybe? And it's not about us or the sorority. But I wanted to rejoice in the graciousness of God - that He would allow our small, often-overlooked, going against the tide of the Greek community, to be swept up in His overwhelming favor, and have the privilege to be able to continue to reflect Him, as in a mirror.

We surely were not deserving of anything...and the girls' least concern was a renovated room. But may He receive all the glory, honor, and praise...He'll take center stage if you let Him - and a television show too :)
PS - I have some 'Jesus' mumblings below if you were thinking I still hadn't. But you'd be much more fulfilled going to read your Bible again and hearing the voice of the Living God instead of mine, m'kay? :) Love y'all!

Just a few of the girls

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Holy Limp of Prevail

I walk with a limp. You may not see me hobble all the time, but I do. No. There are no outer bandages and the crutches were disposed of after a while. They seemed to hurt me more than help.
There is no need to pity me for my walk. I am privileged to limp. I know that seems contradictory to the status quo of superwoman these days who flies through life with her one arm of faith held out in battle against any enemy. But it was God-ordained. It was God purposed. And it was God caused.
Jacob, son of Isaac, is dear to my heart. He was touched by God. God’s touch brought all of the things one normally thinks of when we hear those tender, yet unfortunately, sometimes, clich├ęd words – ‘touched by God.’ It brought life, wholeness, vitality, promise, and closeness. However, it also brought a breaking. A hip breaking to be more exact. Jacob has the holy limps of all holy limps; the first, but by no means the last. God has likely called you to one as well…
Jacob was returning to his home land of Canaan, but in dread of meeting his brother Esau. Jacob feared that Esau had been wanting to kill him ever since he left Canaan. Jacob had word that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright, and taken their father’s blessing through deception. The brothers were not on friendly terms…and Jacob’s overwhelming fear of his brother was validated. ((It turns out that Esau embraced his brother weeping, bowing down, and with a kiss – what a picture of the mercy of God displayed through Esau towards his brother – but another story for another time.)

Despite this, Jacob continued as God had commanded him. He prays: “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, “Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ … deliver me I pray from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children” Genesis 32:9-12. Jacob then sends all of his children and wives across the stream ahead of him, leaving him all alone.
It’s night. It’s dark. Jacob is alone. His loved ones are not with him. The circumstances demand fear. Will he die? Will his wives and children die? Will his possessions be stolen? Will he reach Canaan? Anxiety overwhelms him, and one plea for help has come from his heart to the God of his grandfather and father.

The clock on the kingdom calendar has ticked towards the dramatic circumstances. Against the darkness of Jacob’s soul, against the doubt of what would come in the morning after this lonely night, and against fear and solitude, God steps in.
He does not step in with a vision. He does not step in through the winds, or the stillness of the night. He does not step in by a word. He does not step in to allow Jacob to feel His soft comforting presence of peace. He instead, steps in to battle. He steps in to wrestle with this child of the covenant. He steps in to get dusty with the son who claims Him as the ‘God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,’ yet remains clearly distant in his lack to claim Him as my God.
Scripture tells us that Jacob wrestles with him until daybreak. When He (God) saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob), he touched the socket of his thigh; so that the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled. Upon the breaking of dawn, He asked Jacob to let him go. Jacob said that he would not let him go unless He blessed him first.
A name change and a blessing later, the wrestling ceases and Jacob is left alone again. The sun rose, and the match ended. Jacob has seen the face of God, his soul was preserved and he crosses the river, limping from the holy touch.
Jacob wrestled all night - and he got a ‘hip-breaking’ in the process. But don’t miss it dear one. Do you see it? Does your heart resonate with emotional familiarity? Jacob, whose name meant “heel-grabber” because he heel-grabbed Esau in the womb, grabbed onto Someone greater this time. And he wrestled his way through, still demanding that he receive a blessing. (Some things don’t change do they!?) God, in response, gave him a blessing, and probably more resounding, changed his name. No longer will he be called Jacob, but he will be called Israel, in Hebrew “God will prevail’.
Seemingly contradictory? God gives him a name that meant ‘God will prevail,’ yet Jacob ‘prevailed’ in the wrestling match that night per se. Not in the least is God contradicting Himself, nor on some ego trip of denial. Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, has the promise of the covenant to him. The blessing he asked for was given by God that night; but what Jacob may not have realized was that he’d already had the blessing. God had already given him the blessing through the established covenant of Abraham. In addition, Jacob had the earthly blessing of his father Isaac. What more blessing could he have needed when the God, Elohoim of the Universe, made covenant that He would be with him, multiply his descendants, and more? Jacob had the blessing unquestionably. God gave him more than a ‘blessing’ – He changed his name.

‘Jacob’ to ‘Israel’. ‘Heel holder’ to ‘God will prevail’. One who holds another back to one who battles forward to victory. God… will… prevail.
Jacob prevailed that night. But God will prevail through Jacob’s heart, establishing Himself to the nation of Israel. God prevailed in the underlying battle. He, in a sense, took Jacob’s face in His hands, looked at him, blessed him, changed his name, and touched him. Through Jacob, God would establish the 12 tribes of Israel - and from out of this continued lineage, Jesus Christ, Conqueror of death, would come.
Jacob got the victory because God prevails. Face to face, no longer called a heel-holder, Jacob’s soul is transformed. It is not necessarily that the future doubts had been resolved; Jacob received no answer about Esau’s coming, no peace about the safety of his family, no conjured up internal strength, and certainly no extraordinary physical strength at this point – an all night wrestling match and a broken hip leaves even the strongest of self-wills weary. But he trusted God.
It was a victory over Jacob’s mind and soul. He had wrestled with God about his doubts, fears, and darkness. He did not wrestle against God.

We have all been there; however, I fear that some of us have missed the blessing of the wrestle. Many times, we will decide to embrace the darkness of our nights, the aloneness, the fear, the unbelief, and fight hard. Unfortunately, we fight against God. We really have not wrestled at all, but hide our innermost thoughts and emotions from God. We may even tearfully pour out a confession and a prayer, such as that of Jacob’s, but place our hands over our hearts in the process, not allowing God to look at the darkness inside. The inevitable happens in these circumstances: when I refuse to jump in the ring of my Almighty and let him deal with me, there is no victory and no glory for my God. I am still a heel-holder…and I grab onto whatever thing or person is nearest me to get my empty blessing and pretentious victory. I lose…
I beg you to wrestle with God. Let your heart and soul fight with God, and the limp of the darkness becomes a holy limp of wholeness and light. Let God get you face to face, dusty in the ground, as He whispers ‘Work with me child! Do you see me? Do you see my heart for you?’ I am for you, not against you. I am your shield and strong tower. I will bless you and make you prosperous. I am God, your God, and I will prevail!
Take courage beloved, and get dusty. Do you feel alone in the emotions of your soul? Is there an area of darkness to look upon? Is there uncertainty of fear over the future? Is there an area of brokenness in your heart over the past? He has called you near. He has called you to battle. He has called you to battle against yourself, and with Him. We lay down our lives, and live. We take up our cross, and follow Him. We grieve for the night, but are promised that joy comes in the morning.
We wrestle with the dissonance of our souls, and what we receive is a blessing of unbroken fellowship, power, and a new name. We are overcomers, victorious in Christ, and no weapon forged against us shall prosper – for this is the inheritance of the saints. We march on across our rivers, gather our friends and family, and embrace our ‘Esau’s.’ We do not draw attention to our limp. But we cannot hide it either. It is a reminder of who God is to us, what He has done for us, and what He has promised to us. God is not just one who has spoken to us, nor the God of our fathers and grandfathers. In the intimacy of battle, He has become our God, and we are His people.
We limp a limp given by the touch of God, visible to the doubting Thomases in us, and around us, who need to know that we have been in the dark lonely nights, and have come through. A reminder of our absolute dependence upon Him, a reminder that He is victory, a reminder that He is for us, a reminder that we have to be for ourselves, a reminder that there is no fear in Him, and no darkness is in Him - for He is light, a reminder that He has given us a new name, a reminder that He is all sufficient and all knowing.
Don’t miss the wrestle sweet sisters. Cease heel-grabbing onto false gods, temporary fixes, idols, or things of this world. God has called you into deep fellowship – deep communion – He’s called you alone with Him to look Him in the face, speak, and work out your salvation with fear, trembling, and a little wrestling match. Has God allowed some solitude in your life? Turn your eyes off of your friends, family, and other loved ones who we need as the Body of Christ, but are not meant to walk thru this valley of your soul with you. They are across the river cheering you on in prayer and encouragement. The Creator of the Universe has called you to Himself. What a divine privilege of grace. What a blessing of His goodness. What a powerful chance to commune.
Don’t miss the chance to get with God over the areas of your heart. He arrives with greatness for you. He gets close, your face in His hands, heart pounding, eyes of love asking you to work this one through with Him, and a new name over an area of former darkness.

Are you ready for the holy limp of wholeness and blessing from God? He is…..

Psalm 13: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD…”

Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not over me my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me!”

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

Psalm 27

Genesis 32

Monday, January 21, 2008

Christmas, New Years, Ducks, and Cake

Hello all my missed siestas, miestas, lurkers, and individuals who'd given up hope of me returning back to blogworld. I've missed you! And come to the valid conclusion that y'all have made me that much weirder than I already am. For during my absence from you, many of you would come to mind, heart, and prayer...though only through your blognames or blog titles - not your real names. I am not sure that I even have all of your real names memorized, and I've decided I'm not going to try. You are what you are to my heart, so there you go.

Anyway! I'm not going to type much here since I've been out of commission for over a month. A post that would adequately cover such a time period would bore me to tears and surely send you to the store to buy a gallon of ice cream as a means of comf0rt to get through it. BUT, I will just insert some pictures from the past month and a half, and you can catch up with me that way, m'kay? I love you all! And am working on a post to deliver to you in the next few days - thank you for being patient with me. And thank you for your encouragement. Y'all are such a blessing. I love you dearly.

Christmas Party at the end of the semester: Shaney, me, and Natalie (all southern girls). Location: South Hamilton, MA
Wedding #1 back at home upon leaving school: me, Ashley, and Wendi (I've known these dear girls since I was 5 years old. It was a precious blessing to get to be in a wedding together with them for one of our friends.) Nate and I attended another wedding that same day, but I was too tired to even take pictures in that one (which means I'm WAY tired.). Location: Jekyll Island, GA
Tina-Marie (Nate's sister-in-law), me, and Anna (Nate's sister) around the days of Christmas. I met his entire family for the first time, and look...I'm still smiling and functioning. No seriously - they're amazing and wonderful. Explains him very well. Location: Panama City, FL
Luke (Nate's brother), Ivan (his Dad), Nathanael (which they call him, and I tease him about), and his brother-in-law Todd. This picture just makes me laugh b/c he and his Dad are both wearing zipped hooded navy blue jackets. He's already become his Dad huh? :) . Location: Panama City, FL
My other boyfriend - Mac - and I kissing over New Year's Eve :) Location: Greenville, SC

Me and my man over New Year's. Location: Greenville, SC (And yes all my much-needed spiritual mama's out there - we are wonderful. He is wonderful. And I still have the stupid-love face on. He's leaving Sunday to be in Thailand for 3 weeks, so I'd cherish your prayers for him. And me - so that I don't go get that gallon of ice-cream I mentioned earlier.)

All the boys, and me, during the days of duck-hunting after New Year's. Clarification: They got up at 5 am each day to go, and returned home as I was waking up :) I didn't feel left-out at all: I had several good books, chocolate-covered nuts, my pajamas, and my Jesus with whom to bond. Location: Wynne, Arkansas.

My favorite view on campus. This is what Boston welcomed me back with upon return. Apparently, it thought I would miss the cold. It's 4 degrees here today - don't even get me started.

My birthday was this past Sunday. So, Saturday night a big group of us went cosmic candlepin bowling. Translation: cosmic = black light, disco balls, and all oldies music. I was loving it, and didn't care if it felt a bit middle-school'ish. Candlepin bowling = They use bowling balls about the size of a grapefruit, and skinny taller pins that they expect you to be able to hit with the small bowl. Riiiight! lol. Mandy treated me to a quality chick-flick the next day (long overdue), Nate sent me flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries (my favorite...he's a good man), and the girls celebrated over me to such a foolish extent, that I was left outright embarrassed. I just had to get under it, and receive it as straight from my Father's hand (which is what I believe it was). Because y'all know how I don't like receiving any attention for crying out loud.

Okay, you survived. That's it! Finals, 2 weddings, snow storms, a new family, 25 years of age, and 4 states later, you're up to date :) I love y'all