October 9, 2014

Journal {capture your grief - day five}

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In the 6th grade we learned how to write "descriptive writing essays," and I fell in love. We sure learned how to "unpack our adjectives." ;-) I started taking in papers I had written in my free time to have my teacher give me constructive feedback. All I knew at 12 was that it made me happy and that I wanted to get better at it.

Writing was nothing more than the occasional hobby as I grew and enjoyed even less into adulthood as I was busy learning the newness of both wife and momma. It wasn't until about four years ago that writing became something so much more, something I think I recognized about myself at just 12.

Writing thrilled me deep to my core and more importantly, for me became a way of finding truth.

Writing in my journal unearths truths of myself that I wouldn't have gotten to just thinking or talking. Writing in quiet solitude allows my pen to flow on into words on a path undesigned because I let go. I've found that I am my most honest self when I'm bleeding a bit of myself out on paper.

Writing in quiet solitude, my attentions captured only by the simple stroke of my pen, allows my spirit to be quiet too before the Lord and primed to hear Him. He speaks to me there in our Secret Place most because the outside world is not competing for my attention and while I am writing my thoughts are not distracted with what in the world am I going to cook for our dinner guests because I did not go to the store. So I write and He whispers to me of His Truths from His Word and of His heart for me though I desperately don't deserve it.

Writing is also about something bigger than myself. I want women to read my jabberings and feel seen, encouraged, and inspired right where they are in their everyday lives or heartache. We need to know we're not alone and that there is HOPE worth sinking into.

I've grown exceedingly passionate about writing concerning pregnancy loss/miscarriage, honesty in grief, healing, journey, and Hope that is Christ, my Source. My prayer is that my words in this teeny tiny corner of web space might not only reach the hearts of bereaved parents, but also to shine light on truths and lies about miscarriage for those who haven't experienced it but might have the opportunity to provide support to a loved one.

So I write, listen, learn truths, discover, heal more, and share it. It has grown to become an art of honesty for me and a ministry I am so grateful to the Lord for.

October 4, 2014

NOW {capture your grief - day four}

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I wrote to you Friday about before. It's been four years of change now. Four years of scratching the surface of who the Lord's made me to be. Four years of #1000gifts, of heart swelling, no, learning to swell, with love in the mundane, every-day. Fours years of pouring into callings. Loads of pouring and sowing, and loads of reaping. As my soul pours out in its hardest work, I begin to recognize myself more as if my spirit already knew from communion with His Spirit, and is rejoicing inside me as I learn so desperately to "hold myself to a standard of grace and not perfection," and continually find myself more and more in love with being their momma and his wife and HIS fully accepted, blameless daughter and servant of the King. And there is such peace and thrill in knowing I have SO far to go. I am excited by the mysteries of God now and laugh at the future because I feel the reality of being firmly rooted. May my roots always reach further for the Source of quenching waters in Him alone, like a tree firmly planted in the desert.

Yes, this is my hardest work, but it yields the greatest return. And so I do the hard things. And there is joy unspeakable.

Some days down right stink. Some don't work. at. all. Some days I forget so easily about being intentional, forget about hunting for His joy dares. some days my soul is just tired. Some days theirs are. Some days my physical body cannot perform the intentionality my soul is ready for.

You see, some days being intentional actually means laying to-do's at rest. Let us eat those last bit of odd pantry and fridge items that don't go with anything when I'm just too tired to go to the grocery today. It teaches them and you of gratefulness and creativity. Let us call "teacher 'work' days" from homeschooling and watch their confusion as you pack a picnic lunch and their glee when you stay at "the awesome park" all day long. It teaches them and you to always make time for play. Let us put our feet up once in a blue moon and eat pop corn all day long because they laugh so hard as the hot air popper blasts strays away from the bowl and they dash to collect them. It teaches them and you to make time for needed rest.

Oh, but don't you yet still see it? The intentionality and commitment even in that?

"Be intentional, not regimental." -Beth Learn

I desire to be more intentional with their hearts than a to-do list, and especially during a to-do list, may I not lose sight of purpose. Because you know, things must get done. Intentionality and commitment; washing the same dishes every day, the same laundry every week, teaching them of school and of life constantly, answering never-ending questions. And it teaches them sacrificial love, diligence, discipline. And you.

Four years of change so far, but it's been this year that's changed me most. These last almost eight months of continuing to live since Jane didn't.

There has been so much more hunger for the Lord's presence, so much desperation to simply sit inside His heart, some days just to keep breathing. There is a new tenderness I feel in me, a good tender. No longer a fresh wound kind of tender, but a kind of humility to my core as I recognize more and more of my need for Him and I learn to rest firmly and rejoicingly in faith that is only found whole in Him. Still there's more to this new reality I muddle down to an inadequate word: tender. There's a quiet surety, a kind of firm strength I didn't have before, meekness. And I know I want to grow in it all my life.

I am not glad for her death or this never-ending but always-changing grief journey just because there has been good change. God is transcendant in faithfulness. He would have been faithful to grow me out of intimacy with Him without my children dying. Yet because He is faithful without waver, He never wastes a moment to work His love into all our hidden rooms of soul and open doors within us we didn't even know were there, let alone capable of walking into. I believe I have changed and grown in Him per His plan all the while. But sometimes how we respond to circumstance speeds it along. ;-) He did not cause it for my growth, but is always, always, always faithful to carry us through when we fall on Him.

I am exceedingly grateful for how I have been irrevocably changed since Jane's death this year, for the change that got me on this road when Caleb died eight years ago, and the four years after that when I realized it.

Carly Marie asked of today what do we want to become. I want to become...more. More growth from more of His presence, more faith from more rest in the hard things, more love from more seeing husband and children, friends and strangers through His eyes, more intercession on their behalf, and more worship. Always more worship. :-)

October 2, 2014

BEFORE {capture your grief - day three}

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Wow. That picture was a long time ago. Back when I was pretty successful at being who I thought I wanted to be at the time: the fun, young, hot Christian mom. It's kind of hard for me to share because my life and my person are so far departed from this. I am feeling a little nervous and vulnerable about this post, but I feel like there are two messages in this that need to get out. I desire to have a willing and obedient heart towards the Lord, and this is what immediately came to mind when I thought about who I was before my children died. Or rather, in between my children dying.

I still loved the Lord, though I looked an awful lot like the world in my dress and manner. I still loved my husband, though I was far from honoring him. I still loved my children fiercely, though I had no desire to commit myself wholy to nuturing, teaching, discipling them. I still loved my home, though I believed housecleaning was a stereotypical, legalistic mold that I needed to have good boundaries against.

You see, I loved. I've always loved deeply. But I wanted to love easy.

Sarah Mae said once upon a time, "Being intentional is super hard. Really loving is also super hard. I want to do the hard things."

I thought I loved well. But I lacked intentionality, commitment, calling. NO, I had calling. But callings take intentionality and commitment and doing hard things, and not just seeing the joy in it but choosing to count it all as joy.

But all that was after our first loss.

When I was 22 Caleb died and I felt life drain from me in every facet, and I wanted to grieve my baby. But we were so, so young and surrounded by young like us and younger. No one told us that grieving would be good and right, there was just silence and encouragement that we'd have another. And that's not their fault. They didn't know, same as us. So my hard-labor preacher husband bottled like it never happened. And I? I made a label-less box, neatly tied with ribbon in my soul to stuff it all in. And it stayed in a back room collecting dust, and I had forgotten where I put that key.

We became pregnant again in less than 3 months and while she truly was a "rainbow baby," we didn't see that nor desired to. We had "gotten over" that "bump in the road." But what I didn't realize was how that neatly packaged box that held grief and my son's name and my identity as his mother would effect me. I felt like I was missing something as I struggled so hard to love and love life. I just kept busy. For years. Because I knew if I stopped, I'd break. But I didn't know what from. My forever deeply passionate momma-heart NEEDED to acknowledge and grieve and heal.

I convinced myself it was a lack of faith in God. This, this constant struggle for peace. This too is how we all feel if we're withholding forgiveness. It eats at us. And it's confusing because we love Jesus and follow Him and yet there's no peace. We have to deal and we have to heal, give Him rein to heal us.

So I stayed busy in ministry and was such a fun, young, hot Christian mom.

Four years after he died and I was pregnant again, I heard someone share of their grief over their daughter's miscarriage. It awed me listening to her talk about this baby as if it were the same to her as her living grandchild. I could barely breathe and all my insides seemed to lock up as she explained that she will always wonder who she would have been and that she asked the Lord, if it pleased Him, to give her a dream to settle her soul. She said she HAD dreamed. DID see. And while she still misses, she has peace.

I felt as though a thousand volcanos were preparing to errupt inside my soul. And I wondered if God had that for me too. I told Him bluntly and humbly that I was afraid to ask and Him say no, and confessed I had zero faith for it, but was asking anyway. The beauty of acknowledging HIS holiness is that it also acknowledges our lack, our nothingness. And it allows the self-inflicted shackles of condemnation to absolutely disentegrate. I had nothing to bring to the table and He knew it. And that very stinkin' night, I dreamed.

I dreamed of heaven, Glory, and I saw him there, Caleb. He looked straight at me, in my eyes and I knew, knew-knew, that it was my son. He did not come to me. He was where he was supposed to be. But he did smile. A smile of purity and joy and perfect peace untainted by this world. He appeared four years old! His brown hair fluttered over his eyes when he turned and he had his daddy's eyes that shone at me with a mutual acknowledgement of who I am to him.

Turns out a lot of people have experienced these kinds of encounters. A very many.

I stopped being busy. I was still before the Lord. And I wept for days. I acknowledged, I grieved, and started the journey of healing. I had two daughters before my eyes, another in my womb, and a son in heaven. I was a momma of four who could rest.

It was after that I began pouring myself into my callings and relationships, with both intentionality and commitment, and began learning to walk in the Lord's peace and fruit of the Spirit. That's when I started to scratch the surface of who He created me to be; free and full of love and love for life in the mundane, every-day. That's when I started writing. But that's for tomorrow. Today was just about before.

Heart {capture your grief - day two} and My Rainbow Pregnancy Journal {17 weeks}

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"For me, it is not a lesser experience of parenting to parent your child's spirit instead of their spirit in a physical body, it is just a different one that is equally as precious." -Carly Marie Dudley

I have a son and a daughter that live in my heart. Their names are Caleb Aaron and Jane Malise. And they are just as much my children as the ones whose faces I don't have to wait 'til Glory to see.

"A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love that she holds in her heart."


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart."
{Jeremiah 1:5}

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord."
{1 Samuel 1:27-28}

If you interact with me on Facebook or Instagram, then you know we are expecting! This is the first I've really talked about this pregnancy here on the blog though, so no worries if you're totally like, "Whaaaa?! She pregnant?!" Yes, yes I am. :)

We lost our daughter Jane on February 17th of this year and really weren't expecting to conceive so quickly. We were surpised and thrilled and so grateful.

I am due March 12th, 2015 and am 17 weeks today. :)

I was very ill this time with severe morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum that has already subsided, glory to God! I had HG with all four that have been born alive and no nausea at all with our two born to heaven. I don't subscribe to the idea that morning sickness is THE sign of a healthy pregnancy. Many, including my mother, never had it! But I cannot deny the hope that swelled in me for this tiny life when I started to get sick really early on.

The last time I saw one of my children on an ultrasound screen... she was dead and misshapen and breath failed me. I was so nervous walking back into that same room where we were told how sorry they were just a few months ago for my 10 week "dating ultrasound." The hard-labor preacher and I both cried and smiled big smiles as we watched this one alive, heart beating, fluids wooshing, limbs wiggling.

Baby D started moving where I could feel them about 3 weeks ago. I hadn't ever felt Jane move before she died, so I realized with these first movements that my soul had been waiting 7 months to feel life move in my womb. With every little flutter, kisses to my soul. :)

I will begin to write more about this sacred dance journey between grief and joy that is a rainbow pregnancy. It's important. Thank you, friends, for walking through this time in support and for being excited with us about this new life. :)

October 1, 2014

Sunrise {capture your grief - day one}

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I rose early to watch the sun rise to shine its light and warmth on my side of the world. At first I was sorely disappointed when it was so foggy that I could barely see into the neighbor's yard much less the hope of brilliant colors up over the horizon and the trees over yonder. I sighed looking out the kitchen window over last night's dirty dishes and with it the rememberance of the romance I find in fog. There's a hope in it that I've never found "gloomy." A hope beyond what is visible, the faith that at different, almost intended moments, more is revealed. I found a foggy sunrise rather fitting on this first day of "capturing grief," of chronicling "what heals my heart" on this journey and dance between grief and joy.

I stood outside by myself in the quiet of the morning. Even in my favorite hoodie, the brisk early Autumn air sent chills down my arms, and I remembered. I remembered the two lives that are mine but not with me, and while my heart ached, it swelled with love more. Some days it still aches more, and that's fine, but fewer and fewer knock me flat. I will always ache for their presence but I will, am, healing.

I remembered too the so many who have lost long before me and were made to grieve in silence. I remembered those who even today believe the lie past down that their children were not such and their grief not valid.

I walked and remembered and sipped from my warm cup the reminder of Truth written on its side.

"God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." -Psalm 46:1

I walked through the fog and gazed over this ground we've been cultivating at our new home. Too late for planting for this season, but will be right on time come Spring. Much like the life currently claiming the sacred space in my womb. I look at the garden and I touch my barely swollen belly, my tiny person bump, and I pray again to hold this one. Let this person live, Lord. Being filled with the faith that our cultivated crops next year will yield its fruit never takes away the realization of the previous crop, whether abundant or fallen short. But there is faith in the Lord for the crop to come nonetheless. We place our trust in His hands, cultivate with the time we're given, and praise Him, always.

September 30, 2014

Capture Your Grief Project {31 days of what heals your heart}

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October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, as instated by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. But all over the world parents unite in a beautiful thing during these same 31 days by sharing their journies of grief and healing through Carly Marie's "Capture Your Grief" project. It's meant to meet us all right where we are currently in our journey missing our children.

I have chosen to participate in sharing "what heals your heart" for the first time this year, and I have been looking forward to it with joy. My participation will be on both Instagram (@rivkareverer) and here. Some days what's on my heart may find less words than others, sometimes more, but always with the point and focus to be real and honest and to see His light in every day. He is the bringer of life and the restorer of souls.

To read the entire description from Carly Marie, to receive encouragement for yourself or someone you know, or to see how you can join me in getting involved, follow this link.

"May October 2014 be a month that we can all look back and say, 'That was such an incredibly HEALING time in my life.'" -Carly Marie Dudley

August 28, 2014

Trusting in the Validator of Your Grief

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In much needed solitude I walked into the middle of the field. With the giant hood of the wind breaker I had borrowed from my husband's closet up and over my head and eyes, I lay there on my back in the sun. I lay there with my arms wide, not caring if I looked silly. It was a cool day in late Spring but the wind made my bones ache a little. I felt the Lord's warmth along with the sun though as I lay there, and the absolute sturdiness of the ground beneath me. And I sang.

Three months after our Jane died in my womb I sat alone on retreat, away from husband and daughters, at Pilgrimage. I ached for little puckered lips and boo-boos I wasn't at home to kiss and for the strong arms that hold me cherished every night. But even still, I could see Jesus and His providence all over that place set-apart, and knew it was where I was supposed to be. For such a time as this.

Someone at my table asked me how I felt when our baby died. I struggled for words and resented being asked. I knew it was because these people, that were just strangers two days beforehand, cared for me now and I for them. They wanted to know where my heart was now. But when the session ended for a break before anyone was able to respond to me, I realized how rock hard I was craving validation. Craving "man" to somehow know, understand, and approve everything I was feeling about the death of my child, and even validate that her little unborn life was worth grieving even though I never got to hold her. A craving unmet brought my attention to His still, small voice.

So I went and laid my shaky soul down flat on my back in the field there. And I sang. I sang to THE Validator of my being. I brought to His feet sacrificial praise, hard eucharisteo, and He lifted me from His feet and held me like a little girl in His lap. I lay there in the field and He held me, face against chest, and told me He knew, that He understands, and He absolutely approves of me.

I know He's got Jane. And Caleb, who went before. Almost eight years now. Like every other child that has gone before, by miscarriage, abortion, born still, as an infant, as a child. He's got them all, all those lives pure, not accountable yet. Creation returns to the Creator and He's marvelous at it beyond our feabile comprehension.

I chose something that day laying in the field. I chose to rest in His validation of my grief. And day by day it's been easier to trust it and not go seeking for something not withstanding.

When I remember Jane, my heart and womb ache for her person, and the life and experience this side of heaven that would have been. But we are here. And there is necessity to find balance in our souls. To always remember and honor and cherish missed life, and to desire to be fully present, completely here. Experiencing the obvious, and seeking out the hidden, joys. Joys and thanksgiving in the everyday. To keep speaking of them does not mean you're still wrent with fresh grief. Saying their names brings more healing. Our parent hearts, both mother and father, are never the same after losing a child. But it WILL get better.

"When death comes in your home like an uninvited guest and sits in your favorite chair...it's gonna be okay."
-a speaker at Pilgrimage who has more than enough experience to say this and carry weight to it. May it sink down in our soul, deep unto deep.

"I waited patiently on the Lord; He inclined unto me, and He heard my cry." -Psalm 40:1 >

{I leave with a modified excerpt from the "Meet Me In the Meadow" daybrightener, by Roy Lessin.}

Lord, make me strong in Your hands. May my goals (and passions) be shaped by Your will; may my resolve be based in Your Truth; may my resources (and words) be used for Your glory and the good of others. Cover me with grace, shield me with mercy, and motivate me with Love.

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August 25, 2014

My Priest

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I am grateful for the #shereadstruth ministry and community that provides a way for thousands of women to connect online through the study of God's Word. I have been LOVING the current study through the book of Hebrews, and look anxiously forward to digging deep into the next: a study in Hosea! (A book in which I confess to never reading more than whatever verses a preacher was quoting from in a message. Eek!) Here's to the Spirit teaching me to be more theologian-hearted, a lover and passionate studier of His Holy Word.

"Hebrews is dense and complex and rich with the gospel." #shereadstruth

I am admittedly an entire week behind everyone in Hebrews. And for the first time I'm not beating myself up about that. I am not behind for neglect of that precious time with Him. No, this time I know I am exactly where He intended me to be.

The Lord pressed pause in me during this study to meditate there. To sail out and cast my net in deeper waters. To fall absolutely, head over heels, rush to the alter all over again, love...

In love with Christ as my High Priest.
Learning what that truly means and becoming more aware of what our relationship looks like on His side of heaven.

You see, HE paused me. At the end of my devoted study time with Him on the days after being emersed in chapters 4-7, and since, it has not stopped resonating within my soul.

The way excitement would rush through your body and up into your head as the childhood carossel would complete another circle... and keep going.

The way you say, "Goodnight," to someone after a heartfelt conversation and you lay in bed awake replaying everything.

The way you pray intently that the Gospel words you shared with that lady in the market or that neighbor-kid who eats occassionally at your table would stick to their minds and souls like glue until they just have to know more of Him, that is Christ who loves them unconditionally and is seated at the throne of Grace.

He pressed pause in me there.

We fight and we struggle and we plead to know that there's one, anyone, who understands. We search for solidarity. And sometimes, by His grace, we find that beauty in one another. The beauty of connection and how suffering trandscends difference. And yet still, it seems no one understand completely.

And all the while Jesus is there, with no condemnation towards us for forgetting, saying, "I understand fully. And I never cease taking you to the Father."

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need." -Hebrews 4:15-16

There. That. Ultimate solidarity.

"But He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Hence also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." -Hebrews 7:24-25

He knows. He sees you up close. Stands in the gap for you. Knowing in advance to any situation or hurt or need, exactly how to intercede for you. Always. He LIVES for it. I have trouble reconciling that scriptural truth with my fallen skin. But I don't have to understand to rest in it. To rest in Him.

“There can be no vacancy in this priesthood, no hour nor moment in which the people are without a priest to negotiate their spiritual concerns in heaven. This ever-living high priest is able to save completely all who come to God through him.” -Matthew Henry

I absolutely adore Laura Woodly Osman's heart and music. I cannot find much of any of it online to link you to (not to mention the chords), but it IS available on iTunes. I have been singing this song constantly this last week, as my family can attest to, and just HAD to share it with you. Lyrics are under the video.

If you are a subscriber reading this post in your email inbox, click on over to be ministered to through her words. Also, I have an inability to record short songs to Jesus. I never watch the clock while I'm worshipping. ;-)

Jesus, You are praying for me
Day and night You are interceding
Jesus, You are praying for me
Day and night You are speaking words of life

My Priest
You know how I get weak
All of my wanderings
And the places I hide when I just can't find my faith

But You say, "Father,"
"Pour out Your grace."
"This one is seeking Your face."
"You know why I died."
"Father, you love this child."
"Look at my hands and feet."
"Grant mercy."

My Priest by Laura Woodly Osman, from the album "Home"

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June 9, 2014

Seasons of Soul in Transition
:: moms against manic mondays [a link up] ::

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Feels like Spring in my soul here lately.

A crocus would bloom here in there as the early signs of the changing season, but then winter would hold on (like it usually does, doesn't it friends?).

Sometimes it would ice over through the night after I began to get used to the rising temperature, trading in my heavy coat for my favorite knee-length cardigan.  Sometimes it would even snow.  Leaving me cold and clinging to Him again; the best place to grasp hold of when grip is lost.   

I'd watch as the earthly seasons changed, seemingly without me, into Spring with magnificent blooms, and now closing into summer with all the running barefoot through the grass and the dancing in the rain that our daughters do so well with complete abandon.  Coveting even the April showers that people, whose souls were in Spring or Summer or Fall, complained through.

In those moments of hope for Spring drenched by winter again, we must reject the wrong belief that that it isn't normal.  Rejecting the loathing I did not always do well, dwelling on spinning thoughts.  "But I was doing so well...  What changed?  What did I do wrong?  I must have done something wrong.  I must not be trusting you enough.  I'll never get out of this winter."  {these thoughts speak so much louder than just the syllables they make - speaking of deeply rooted weeds in my garden}

You didn't do anything wrong.  It's what transition looks like.  And transition goes even further in securing the right uprooting and death and ash of self in the winter, making your soul ground ready for new growth. 

Transition yields more dependence.  Or depression. 
Our choice.  That's why we desperately need Jesus and the aid of the Holy Spirit sooooo much.

"The beauty of the ash of love, when you emerge you're more beautiful."

Only Jesus knows how long the winter is going to be, or needs to be.  We mustn't allow ourselves to try to rush through.  It usually catches up with us if we do, sweeping up over us from behind, us unaware until we're overtaken. 

Only Jesus knows the purpose.  I've heard, "There's purpose in the pain."  While God absolutely did not cause the pain you're walking through, He absolutely is faithful to fulfill His promises while you're in it --
Romans 8:28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. 
James 1:2-8 Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
I say Your name out loud, and I give up more, making empty space for You to fill me up more and more.  Deep unto deep.  My prayer for us all during Winter seasons and times of transition --
Colossians 2:2 [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it.
"The beauty of the ash of love, when you emerge, you're more beautiful." I say Your name out loud: JESUS.
feeling rested beyond circumstance.
There are so many beautiful things about Mondays.  Here at From My Mountain View, every Monday, we band together to renounce/reject Manic Mondays.  Right here is a great place to encourage one another and be encouraged!

Moms Against Manic Mondays is a place you can share your posts about:
Mondays - Encouragement - Joy - Pressing On - Etc.
  • Share a link to your post using the widget at the end of this post, it's easy!
  • Remember to link your blog post back here by adding our adorable button using the code found below, courtesy of Plumrose Lane.
  • Most importantly, visit the person that linked up before you and encourage them in their comments!  (Which is the heart of this community.)
I bless you today with eyes to see them and the heart to recognize them - the blessings in disguise.  Eucharisteo!
Psalm 118:24
"This is the day which the Lord has brought about; I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
  1. I desire to recognize what is my part of the "manic" in Mondays, and do what I can to change it.
  2. I desire to live abundantly in the Mondays.
  3. I desire to thrive in each day, to dance them in along with the sun.

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March 23, 2014

What Is the Soundtrack to Your Faith
{aka, I got to shake Ron Luce's hand this morning}

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I got to shake Ron Luce's hand this morning.

"Ron Luce and his wife Katie started Teen Mania Ministries in 1986 with a dream to raise up young people who would change the world. The ministry has expanded greatly and has become very influential within today’s Christian youth culture."

They are responsible for the Acquire the Fire weekend youth rallies that tour all over the country, Global Expeditions that trains and sends youth all over the world to proclaim the name of Christ through missions, they offer Extreme (summer) Camps, the Honor academy to cultivate and develop the leadership potential in young adults directly following high school, plus advanced education opportunities in their School of Worship and their Center for Creative Media.

I got to shake Ron Luce's hand this morning.

I got to tell him that 16 years ago I attended my first Acquire The Fire youth conference, around the time my daddy was in rehab and my parents had separated and I had just started cutting.

I was 13.

No one knew how depressed I was and scared to be myself in our youth group or how I believed that I didn't fit in or that they didn't even want me there because I was just an annoying 7th grader who was unknowingly going through hell.

It was at that ATF conference that I learned for the first time that God saw me, up close.  He totally showed up when I did the whole, open-up-the-Word-at-a-random-place-and-point-with-your-finger-at-random-on-the-page-and-see-if-it-means-anything-to-you... thing.  Thrice.

It was at that ATF conference that I silently balled my eyes out in my auditorium seat with my face covered so my "friends" wouldn't see me as Ron's words penetrated straight into my soul and rocked my world.  And GOD met me right where I was.

Ron likes to say, "When you fall in love with Jesus, you fall out of love with the world," and I walked away from that weekend never to cut again. God used that conference in March of '98 to change. my. life. I can still hear him yelling in the mic, "HOW do YOU know God is real?" and the whole auditorium screaming back, "Because He changed my life!!!"

This morning he was a guest speaker at the church fellowship our family is apart of.  He spoke on Daniel 3:16-18. Just 3 verses out of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He talked about this "feel good" world, and how it has easily crafted a new normal for Christians to have "feel good" faith too; "only if" faith. Only if He does this or answers this prayer or protects this person, etc. We put conditions on our following of Christ. "Lord, I will follow You but first let me..." {Luke 9:61} There's no "backroom deals" with God. There's no deal we can make that will allow us the pleasure of riding above the storms in life.

I don't want to be that kid who throws a fit on Christmas morning because I didn't get the present that I wanted. i.e. - He didn't protect my baby and keep her healthy, so... the centrality of my faith is shaken? Or how about when we see something bad happen to good people, or they even die, or get diagnosed, or children are abused, etc, and we say silently in our hearts, "Hold up! This does NOT line up with my theology." It's at this point that "feel good faith" becomes disillusioned. Scripture says, "We see through a glass dimly..."

Will I trust Him when it hurts really bad? Or how about how we all believe that He CAN do something, but that He MAY NOT choose to... so I'm afraid to even ask in faith in the first place because I could be disappointed? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not only believed God COULD, but also that He WOULD... and yet they added, "Even if He doesn't..."
"Even if" faith allows for the majesty of God.  -Ron Luce
Jesus said that those who ENDURE to the end will be saved. Endure is not a word we use to describe something pleasant or enjoyable. ("Hey, do you think you could endure this ice cream?")

"BE STRONG IN THE LORD!" we say. Yeah, for like a minute. Because as Christians, we usually only train for strength but not for endurance. Endure through the difficult.  Like running with with an injury to finish the race, or a military person miraculously rescuing someone even though their own wounds might eventually overtake them: choosing to endure even when it FEELS unpleasant. Or even simply choosing to worship or pray or dig deep in Him "even if" we don't FEEL His presence currently.
Brook Fraser wrote a song called faithful that says, "When I can't feel you I have learned to reach out just the same. When I can't hear you I know you still hear every word I say.  Lord, I want you more than I want to live another day. So as I wait for you maybe I'm made more...faithful."
Made more faithful.  Trained for endurance.

He shared the back-story of the beloved hymn, "It Is Well," which I already knew, but haven't heard directly after my own loss before. After the loss of all four of his daughters in a shipwreck the hymnist Horatio Spafford penned these words, "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul."

Jesus asked His disciples when the going got tough, "Will you leave me too?" They responded so matter of fact with, "Lord, where would we go?" 

Ron left us with this question posed:
"What is the soundtrack to your faith? Only if or even if?"
Sixteen years ago God used this man, this imperfect soul that just wants to live for God to his fullest and impact as many youth for Christ like he was... to reach me right where I was at the time. We were just another stop on that year's ATF tour. There have been decades and thousand more tour stops along the way, and millions of youth reached like I was.

And God did that again for me today. What a pleasure to get to tell Ron my God-story that he had no idea included him. Also, at the end of the conversation he remembered both our names from the beginning of it, and thanked us. Our pleasure. :)

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