Monthly Archives: February 2015

When a Snowstorm Brings Your Sailboat to a Screeching Halt

Some days are just cold and nasty and negative.

The wind howled and blew and pushed the snow wherever it wanted to, and I looked out the window of my red truck and held tight to the steering wheel as I saw another gust of bitter wind barreling across the cornfield.

The outside matched the inside. In the backseat of the truck I had one child in complete distress over someone else’s blankey that she couldn’t take home with her and my other child was in tears because of his sister’s screams. The one howled her emotions as strong as the wind, and the other was driven along, like the snow that was quickly forming banks alongside the road and creating slick patches of ice.

And I gripped that steering wheel and felt just as helpless. My own inside felt weak from prior stress. My emotions soon bundled together and decided to make the brave jump to the outside world and I let them slide down my cheeks. There we were, the three of us crying together trying to make it home in the snowstorm.

Sometimes life has a way of slowing me down. The wind leaves my sails and I’m left rocking back and forth to the gentle push of the waves. The boat comes to a halt and my first thought is “What? Why are we stopping? We have places to be.”

sailboat

I look across the expanse of the water and I can faintly make out our landing spot. “See! That’s where it is. Come on God, we can do this!” But the wind is gone. The sails hang limp, and I obviously can’t get the boat there on my own.

This is exactly where He wants me. Sailing is wonderful (did I mention it was sub-zero wind-chill today?). Oh my goodness, sailing is wonderful. But if you get all anxious about reaching your destination, you miss the joy of just being. A lesson I needed to learn.

We are not here to do just for the sake of doing. We are here to be. If we are not properly “being” then we are most definitely not effectively “doing.” If we are properly “being” then He is effectively “doing.” He is the One who works. If we try to sail the boat with our big destination in sight, our eyes are no longer on Him. If our eyes are on Him, He drives the boat perfectly to wherever He has destined it to go.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Of course, we are all called to live out our faith with our actions. This involves doing. But what a sad scenario we create when we neglect the Vine in our quest for bearing fruit. Our fruit then becomes fruitless. Our “doing” is of our own abilities and those abilities are amazingly lacking.

So it is with this in mind, that I hold my hands up in weakness. I need more time to abide. If I miss a week of blogging, you can know my time schedule forced a choice between writing or “fill up time” and I chose the latter. Perhaps this will happen often. Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps some days writing will coincide with abiding. Each week has a rhythm all its own.

I’m sitting down in my windless boat, feeling rather exhausted from the day… the week… but ya know what? It’s peaceful. I can hear the soothing sound of the water lap the edge of the boat. “Just be. Be with Me.”

I can picture Him, standing in a boat like this, gently swaying at sea, with a crowd of people along the shoreline, eager to hear Him. Can you smell the salty air? Can you hear the mamas try to quiet their children so that they could hear what God had to say?

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow…”

“Wait… what did He just say? I missed that part. What is He saying?”

“Sshh! I’m trying to listen right now!”

“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground…. And they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble….”

“Did He say persecution for the Word’s sake?”

“Yes, on account of the Word.”

“Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit.”

Hear the Word. Accept it. Bear fruit.

During His life on earth, Yeshua made it a regular practice to get away from the people to just be. He went to the mountains, the sea, the gardens, and the desert to spend time alone, in the Word and in prayer.

This act is far from selfish. In fact it’s just the opposite. If someone can plug away teaching and sharing, ministering, and even just living without actively seeking His voice, he or she has way too much confidence in him or herself. It is misplaced and the fruit will wither. We need to fill up in order to pour out or we will be left pouring out ourselves into other people, which is not only extremely draining but powerless.

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me by still waters. He restores my soul. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23

Consider the different kinds of ground for the seed (which is the Word of God and is absolutely not “antiquated” or irrelevant) to land on. The wayside, stones, thorn bushes… or fertile ground. We can know all of these “grounds” are legitimate just as Jesus said. I don’t care which one you were yesterday. Decide right now today to become the good soil.

What was the first step in bearing fruit? Hear the Word and accept it. Sit down and listen. Abide.

Ok, Lord. Ok. Here I am in the middle of nowhere in this boat with You. Teach me.

-aubrie

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What every GIRL should know about beauty.

mirrorTwo years ago I welcomed our daughter into this world. Happy birthday sweet girl.

Pink is not a new color for me. My entire childhood was girls girls girls. I have five sisters (yes, five. Love them all!) and I have been a girl for twenty-six years now. A fairly good resume I thought, for knowing a thing or two about the female gender. But then she came.

She came along and now I can see all the things I want her heart (and mine) to know. I look at my daughter and have a slight taste of the earnest feeling our Father has to protect us from the lies we (me included!) so easily believe about being a girl.

Today I fight against the lie that the world has given us about beauty.

My little girl loves to wear fancy things. She stands in front of the mirror, tips her head to the side, and looks at herself. Her body sways from side to side and you can see it- she feels beautiful. Her hair is a wild mess, her nose needs a Kleenex but none of that matters. She is completely naïve to the requirements this world puts on beauty; her eyes are fresh and young, and she can easily accept the truth: she is beautiful. My mommy heart breaks that someday she may question that. My heart hurts that someday she might have to get a measuring tape out and wrap it around her body in different places to see if she can fit the bill. I will do my very best to fight this lie as she grows older, but I can only assume she will need to wrestle this one out with the world like we all do.

If you are a girl wrestling with this right now, set the mirror down. Who’s eyes are you turning to, to find truth? Who’s acceptance do you need? If you are looking for the world’s approval, be prepared to obsess over this issue for the next sixty years and work very hard. Be prepared to compare yourself, fall short and reap self-pity or compare yourself, excel and reap pride. Either way, this imbalanced view of beauty is not at all where God wants us.

You have been created with a desire to be beautiful. I know that. It is a God-given desire, but I think it goes so much deeper than what some realize. Outward beauty is merely something we use to achieve and fulfill the much larger need: to be wanted. We want to be wanted, desired, cherished, and sought after. Attractiveness is an accurate description here. We want to be found attractive. What is a pretty body with a sour heart? It might work for a time being, but sour hearts push people away. In the end, the outward beauty is not enough. Imagine if you won the crown for the most beautiful woman on planet earth and yet no one wanted you?! Do you see how that accomplishment is not really what we are after?

It is what this world is after because for every wonderful idea of God’s, there is a pseudo version working in a different direction. The world wants to point you to the physical world for beauty; God wants to bring your focus to the inner person for beauty. Peel back the layers of your heart: what is in there? What do you believe about beauty? Who’s idea are you chasing?

Don’t let the distraction of this world and its obsession for what is seen keep you from pursuing real beauty.

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward- arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Pursue these things! This is beauty. This is the kind of beauty that is so powerful that it actually overflows into an outward attractiveness as well. This is God’s one-two step for a “natural glow.” What is more attractive than the Light of the world working in your life?

Can you imagine if a fashion magazine detailed the recipe for incorruptible beauty? Or maybe they already do. Maybe it is in a pill they are selling or a certain foundation. But lo and behold- it never seems to fill the heart. Their recipes will always mislead.

The heart is the source of beauty. Fill your heart and life with peace, gentleness, joy, love, and kindness. These things are beyond beautiful and attractive and they make for a desirable person.

And as for being wanted, you are. Let me take your face in my hands and look you in the eye so that you can believe me, “You are wanted.”

I don’t know if you are young and anxious to feel wanted.

I don’t know if you are single and feel totally alone.

I don’t know if you are married and feeling completely unloved.

I don’t know if you are a woman who feels so far from beautiful and wanted it makes you cry.

I can only imagine there is someone reading this who feels one or more of these things.

Step back and look at life with big eyes. These days are passing, phases of life are changing, wrinkles are forming. Your relationship with God is the core purpose for this time on earth. You will one day stand before Him, just the two of you. You will not be someone’s girlfriend or wife. Your body as you knew it for your time on earth will be gone. And He will be there before you, with proof in His body of how much He wants a relationship with you. You are wanted in the most amazing, deep, pure way. Not for your body, not in a conditional way but in a holy, relentless, “I will pursue you to the ends of the earth” sort of way.

Don’t plug your ears and stomp your feet and say “No this can’t be. Not me!”

Yes, you.

Accepting this truth is the most beautiful thing you can do for yourself.

So the next time you are in front of that mirror, tip your head and sway as a daughter who is loved and created to house the Holy Spirit of the King of the universe. Allow Him to fill your needs. Allow His truth to take root in your heart, so that you don’t need to keep going back to the mirror again and again or look for the approval of others.

And then share your heart, His heart, with this world. We need your beauty.

xoxo,

aubrie

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We Shouldn’t Be Fifty Shades of Gray

crossChristian Grey and Anastasia Steele are about to hit the big screen. I’m sure you’ve heard.

This film has started quite the controversy, with it’s extremely sexual content and slightly twisted “romantic relationship.” A variety of people are feeling a little pushed over the limit of what is appropriate and are voicing their opinions.

Someone posed an interesting question: “Why is everyone protesting this movie? What makes it so different than all of the other movies?”

What do you think: is this movie any different?

I do. I think it is crossing the line, that “fluctuating, invisible, made to be crossed” line that is set by movie producers. I am thankful and encouraged that it has people upset and saying something about it.

But on the other hand, I understand the question. This isn’t the first movie to hit the theaters that is completely full of filth. This isn’t the first movie that is overly sexual and offensive. Fifty Shades of Grey is just another drop in the bucket of movies that promote everything God warns against.

But we didn’t protest those. Or, I should speak for myself, I didn’t protest. Somehow we went from “I Love Lucy” (remember her full length moo-moo? And the fact that Ricky had his own twin bed four feet away from Lucy’s?) to movies filled with graphic sex scenes and crude humor. As is typically the case with pushing boundaries, they pulled us so gently we didn’t even notice.

lucy2

Or perhaps we did notice. “Is this really ok to watch? Are we as believers allowed to watch anything we want?” We look to the left. Look to the right. What is everyone else doing?

I’ve done that before. I’ve sat through movies that made my cheeks hot and heart beat faster out of guilt. And while I had a thought that said “Leave!” I had second thought close behind say “Stay. No one else is leaving.” The flow of the current is a real persuader, or in some cases validator for a decision we would rather not question.

But let’s all STOP and think a minute. Do you feel how fast this current is moving? Fifty Shades of Grey will not be the last of its kind. I know that with certainty because I know how this world operates: unless there is a miracle of repentance, what is dark will progressively get darker. What makes us cringe with disgust today might be the next box office best-seller in ten years.

It’s called “The Law of Exposure.” If you are repeatedly exposed to something, your mind will acclimate and readily accept another nudge further. It’s the same principle behind porn addiction: what works for a while needs to be pushed to get the same effect. ISIS is using this concept to train child soldiers. Expose. Expose. Expose. The mind will acclimate. Allow it to make pathways in your brain (literally) so that the idea (s) presented can become familiar. Once a trail is blazed, just wait… the mind will accept what’s been offered and even an inch further.

I have a feeling that is the same ole down-trodden path that has led many people away from truth throughout the centuries. The path of “Step by Step” and “Drip by Drip.” Certainly no one would purposefully step off one path to walk another, but slowly… ever so slowly… introduce. Watch them question. Repeat. Some will compromise. Make it noisy, most will compromise. The flow of the current is a real persuader.

If there is one thing that is evident to me today it is this: this world is a dark place. God is light. Fifty different shades of gray are taking place because of the mixture of those two things.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)… have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11

“Put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

As Fifty Shades of Grey makes waves this weekend, please don’t under estimate the compromises we’ve already made to get to this place. The mind is a powerful thing and the eyes and ears are the doors to what is allowed into it. What have we already filled it with? A quick google search for the lyrics for many of today’s popular songs is nauseating. And I think, why? Why is music so about the flesh… to the extreme? And  as I sit and look out my window and into the sky (thinking pose) it hits me like an invisible brick of obviousness. Our enemy has not gone extinct. The verse that tells us that we are in a spiritual battle did not wrinkle up and die. And guess what? A great horde of things in this world hate that you love God. What is a good strategy to pull you away from light? One fun and entertaining gray drop at a time.

Check your DVD’s and CD case. Last year, I was totally convicted in this area. I had movies that glamorized adultery and premarital sex. I had movies that used God’s name in vain. I had CD’s that had songs about satisfying the desires of my flesh. To put it simply, I was allowing my head to be filled with “the old man.. my former conduct.” How ironic and wrong. Touché world, but no more of your sneaky drip by drip attack. I cleaned house: everything that sent me a message contraire to God’s Word went into the trash.

I can’t tell you what a wonderful difference this has had on my mind! I highly recommend it.

But back to the big hype of this weekend: to watch or not to watch the next big blockbuster romance.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Interesting question: have you asked God about it? I can only imagine that’s a big resounding no. But should He have a say in what goes into your mind?

Let’s go back to the biggest day in history. Jesus had just been flogged, beaten, spit on, mocked. He finally made it to the top of the hill, with blood pouring down his face, and pieces of his skin hanging off his back. Then He steps up to the cross and lays Himself down upon it. Can you imagine the pain? The soldiers carelessly yank His limp arm into place upon the beam. Down goes the hammer. In goes the nail. For what? You. Me. The salvation of mankind from the penalty of sin. Then what does He say?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..” Eph. 5:8

“be renewed in the spirit of your mind… in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:22-24

Now fast forward to present day. Maybe even this weekend. What do we see? A movie theater packed with people sitting in front of a 52 foot wide screen. Men and women, young and old, believer and unbeliever grouped together to watch a man tie up a woman to have sex with her. Eyes are open, minds engaged, popcorn crunching.

When I was growing up, on occasion my sisters and I would bring bad music into the house. Whenever it was found out, my dad would gather us together and explain that what we allow into our hearts and minds is a serious deal. Then he would smash the CD to pieces with a hammer.

I have that feeling. That same feeling- “something needs to be smashed.” Do we have a clue how holy our God is? If He entered the theater, or even your own home while you watch any number of the other rotten movies and TV shows already produced, what would He think? Would He look down at His hands and feet and hold them out to remind you: “do you know the cost of your salvation?” Why on earth do we continue to fill our minds with trash? Do we really like to fantasize about the very things He has been crucified for? Called out of sin, cleansed with His blood from our sin, now we flock to the theaters to fill our minds with it? Sheep! Sheep, do you know your Shepherd’s voice? He has given a lot of direction on how to live. Who desires to follow Him?

“What communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) but we continue to stubbornly stir the pot. Dark and light. Black and white. Flesh and Spirit. It should be no surprise when we find ourselves totally confused. Gray is the perfect breeding ground for false doctrine to take root. We were never called to bridge the divide between love of God and love of this world (notice that I didn’t say the people in this world). On the contrary, we are called to point to the One who so loved this world, He became the bridge for us: from darkness into light.

He has paid a heavy price. I can’t put adequate words to it. He has an invested interest in our minds. He has an invested interest in our lives.

This song, sung by a 10-year-old autistic boy has me in tears. His eyes are blind; he will probably never have the option of watching the latest movie. Listen to his cry: “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you… You are holy, holy, holy. Holy, holy, holy, I want to see You.”

blind boy

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Compassion and The Possum

I have never been an animal person. Well, wait I take that back.

On the day I graduated from kindergarten, I stood in front of the gymnasium full of people, reached up for the microphone and proudly stated that “I would like to be a zookeeper when I grow up.”

That was probably my only moment of resembling one of those care-free animal loving people. And to be honest it was all a farce. I was only copy-catting my older sister. She was in 2nd grade and well on her way to training dolphins at SeaWorld, so of course that was the coolest thing ever, but I couldn’t claim the exact same career aspirations so I modified it a little. I figured she could take care of the sea animals and I would man the land ones. Zookeeper- my perfect vocation. Not.

If I were cast for a role in the movie Beethoven, I would have been this guy:

beethoven

(different sweater, longer hair obviously)

It’s not that I don’t like animals. I do, really! I just like them from a distance.

Because inside every adorable doggy face is a tongue that was used to clean up his own poo.

Because Fee-fee the cat isn’t really just Fee-fee the cat. She has small invisible critters that live in her fur. (Believe me. I have seen the footage. I still remember the desk I was sitting in while I watched a movie in science class that opened my eyes to everything too small to be visible).

Because although horses are majestic and dreamy, they have hooves the size of basketballs that could pound! pound! pound! me into the ground if they wanted to. (*But I actually did really like our family horse when I was young and naïve.)

These are the things I think when I am around animals. The fur, the drool, the critters, the unpredictability… and that’s with the cute ones! You can only imagine my dilemma these past few weeks when faced with one of the world’s most horrifying creatures: the possum.

possom

(Here she is, outside my slider in broad daylight. It helps to cover my eyes with my hand and peek out between my fingers. She literally makes me gag. Apparently the other lady possums didn’t inform this one that pitch black is their most flattering color.)

My typical response would have been “The Three Noises.” The Three Noises is an excellent strategy I developed to deal with the problem of unwanted animals. I just open the slider, stick my head out and rotate through the three most effective noises:

“Pow-pa-pow-pow!” (the gun)

“Ruff! Ruff!” (the dog)

And my personal favorite, “Hey! Get outta my yard!” (the human)

But this possum was presenting a problem; she was right by my slider. No way in Bloomsdale was I about to open it.

As I sat and watched her (yes, still peeking through fingers), I wondered why she was acting so out of her ordinary. Possums are usually sneaky and cautious, but here she was scampering around like a blood hound on a bunny trail. And as a gust of frosty air came and swirled around the corners of my deck, it hit me. This possum is hungry.

Suddenly I had to take my hand down. She’s hungry? Man… No one should go hungry.

After a few minutes I watched her hurry off the deck and make a trail through the snow to her home under our back shed. I looked across our yard. The trees stood stiff and naked, the garden completely tucked away under a blanket of snow. The raspberry bushes were the only plants pushing through, but they only made the scene all the more barren. What do brown and gnarly berry-less bushes have to offer a possum?

That night I made chicken for dinner. We had chicken, potatoes, carrots, and corn, and ate to our hearts’ content like we always can. I took my pile of chicken trimmings and set them outside the slider. It was a strange moment for me: “Am I seriously feeding a possum? I’m not an animal person! The three noises are definitely not going to work if she knows there is food up here…. But she’s starving.”

In the most ironic of circumstances, my heart was moved to compassion for a nasty, hungry, animal. She is a regular around here now. She thinks were friends but to be honest I can’t wait until she never comes again. She still makes me gag.

But this whole experience has me thinking, “What else is out there, maybe a few hundred thousand miles farther outside my slider window? Who else is hungry?”

Let’s for a moment not shake our head and tune-out to the whole “feed the hungry children spiel” like we’ve heard it a hundred times. I know we have, but that doesn’t make it invalid. Maybe the reason it is such a common plea is because it’s unbelievably sad yet so easily fixed.

patiencegirl

Look at this face. This is no possum. This is not a wild critter looking for food. This is a human girl. She’s far outside your window. So far you will probably never see her, but she’s existing. Right now she has red blood traveling through her veins just like you do. Her mouth has taste buds, her eyes can form tears, her heart can feel just like yours. Her name is Patience. She doesn’t need much. Honestly, where she lives you only need to set out the scraps from your money bank and that will get her so far. You can sponsor her here or look through the hundreds of other children who need help here.

Or perhaps you too are living on scraps. Or perhaps you are one of those people who think, “We have so much need here. Why is everyone focused on other places when the need is here as well?”

I am not sure who you are, how much money you have left-over, or where your heart feels led, but I know that God knows. I know that He has a special place for you in the body of Believers, with a specific function and purpose. I know that He sometimes gifts us differently and leads us to different areas of need so I am not going to sit here and claim that everyone has to be doing the same thing.

But I do find one thing necessary: we have to live with compassion.

There is great suffering in this world. I repeat: there is great suffering in this world. We should not plug our ears to it, or close our eyes, or turn our heads. It’s here. It’s everywhere. Pain, sickness, starvation, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, murder, greed, injustice, the list goes on and on. There is great suffering going on around you right now.

I know it can be overwhelming to live with compassion. Truly, I know the feeling of heartache and hopelessness when I think of how some people live or what they have to deal with. It can be painful and hard to enter into it with them.

The other night my daughter was sleeping next to me because she was sick. She had a head cold that moseyed its way down her throat as she slept. In the still of the night, she coughed; it sounded tight and painful. Immediately after that one cough, she took her little hand and gently ran it down my arm until she found my hand. Then she held it tightly and went to sleep.

And I thought, as I laid awake watching her sleep, is this why You made compassion a heavy thing to carry? Is this why You made it painful, so that we would reach for Your hand to make it through?

God knows how much pain and suffering is in this world. He also knows how hard it can be to engage our own hearts into the pain and suffering of others, but we have to. If we are not living with compassion, we are not living as He intended.

“All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tender-hearted…” 1 Peter 3:8

Let’s take His hand and live with compassion. Whether that means feeding someone who is hungry, or volunteering your time, or sharing a word of truth to someone who desperately needs to hear it, we His body, need to do this. Rather, we need to be available for Him to do this through us.

-aubrie

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