My Night At The Mansion

It all started at a mansion. What a cheeky start, huh?

My really good friend was house sitting the largest and best decorated home in [all of what I dare to believe] America.  The house was amazing. This mansion where it all started had over eight bedrooms, a child’s playroom, a gym, a prayer room, a designated man-cave with a zebra skinned rug, an island in the kitchen made completely of marble that was [not exagerating] bigger than the kitchen in my sister’s house, an indoor pool, and a grotto that puts Hugh Hefner’s to shame [sorry honeys bunnies.].

If I had a permanent address, I’d say I was living the high life by having a sleepover in a place like that! Considering the fact that I don’t have a good enough answer as to why my license says I live in East Tennessee, my car is registered in Illinois, and I am temporarily couch-surfing across the East Coast, I can claim that I’m not living in the lap of luxury despite popular beliefs. [I think I made that up. I’m pretty sure living out of a suitcase is not luxurious to anyone.]

Oddly enough, while I was sitting in the world’s most lush guest bedroom the Lord began to rock my heart in a really deep way. I was reading “The Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer when I felt such a burden of spiritual dryness. Surrounded by the American Dream, I began to recognize that I felt like my hunger for God was rocky. In every sense, I oftentimes desire more from God. I long for more out of my prayer life. And I want more of Him in the day-to-day study of the word. There’s a part of that book that really struck my heart. It’s about being so centered around the intellect that we miss our hearts.

I know without a doubt I am wired to depend on logic and intellect; some of that stems from fear of emotions having seen them displayed in unhealthy ways. Combating my desire to “know” in exchange for constant dependence in an intimate, grace-filled relationship with Christ is a daily struggle. And sometimes if I’m honest, it’s not even a struggle because I stop fighting. And I know that might be something some of you are going through too. Daily fighting off pride, independence or complacency gets tiring when we’re doing it in the flesh. If there is anything I’ve learned through my night at the mansion it is that God: The Master Illustrator shows up in complete, unabashed surrender.

One of my prayers that night was that my heart would stir for the word in a way that helps me to fall in love with Jesus. Now, what I’m about to say might make some of you take a step back and think, “This girl is off her rocker.” Bear with me! It’s not what you think.

I had a vision, and no it wasn’t like a prophetic-incense-burning-3D-projection-from-heaven. It was more like the Lord wanted to cast vision in my heart for how He wants me to have a renewed heart for Him and His word. I just pictured myself in that room reading scripture as if it were a love letter to me. Studying it. Reading it over and over again. Yet, not even noticing that the Author of that letter was sitting with me. God was showing me that oftentimes I read the word because it’s something I’m supposed to do and know, but I completely ignore the Person who wrote it.

Then I imagined myself sitting on the bed with Jesus, reading verses, and discussing them with Him. The verses about His love for us made my heart radiate with JOY! as I got to read them aloud to the God who authored them. I pictured me reading to the Holy of holies 1 Peter 2:9 about being His special people and being in awe that He would die for me! And I began to fall in love with Jesus all over again.

In total surrender of fears and performance, although I was feeling less than competent or even worthy in this massive mansion, the Lord met me. He illustrated where I was at in my walk with Him and where He wants to take me. I felt a burden lift off my shoulders as I felt God’s pursuit of me and see His heart for me. He is an amazing God!

I am excited to walk in this renewed vision and deeper love for the Lord. I am excited to be in prayer about what I’m reading in the word, getting excited with Jesus, and feeling the weight of what He’s saying. If that’s brokenness for the lost or joy in being His, I’m ready to walk through truth with Jesus because I’m confident He gave us His word to know and have His heart.

Thanks for letting me share about my night at the mansion. The Lord is good and His love endures forever!

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Praise Report

This is a praise post. This post is going to be an encouraging, exciting, and uplifting post about something cool God did today.

Well, I have this friend. Her name is Tessa. She just graduated with her degree in elementary education from Clemson University. She has been looking for a job since graduation, which isn’t that long but in this economy most graduates are expecting to wait a long time for a job. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are in the job world. There are so many people who are qualified that are having a hard time finding work. It’s tough!

Go Tessa!

Today, I woke up late and was getting ready pretty quickly. I was putting on my mascara when God put on my heart to pray for Tessa to get a job today. So, I said a quick little prayer asking God to provide for her and open this door. She had a job interview last week and the lady accidentally forgot. So she went back in again this week for a second interview.

On my way from my support appointment to pick up a friend, I briefly called her and left her a message saying, “Hey girl, I prayed for you to get a job today. Let me know how everything is. God loves to bless us and provide.”

At around 2 o’clock today I got a text from Tessa saying, “I’m going into work right now, but He did! I got offered a job today!” So. Cool.

Now, here’s something else I processed today. Did God need me to pray that for Tessa in order for Him to provide her with a job? No. Not at all. But there’s something super sweet about Him allowing me to be a part of that. We tend to give people, or even fate, the credit for God’s hand mightily moving in our lives. God wants us to notice the things He’s doing. It gives Him the glory. He is faithful to provide! I’m honored and blessed that I could see a prayer answered in such little time. Amazing! I’m thankful

Anyways, another praise: I prayed this week to get to 50% overall raised. I am currently at 52% of my goal. Don’t worry, I did in fact do a celebratory dance to Toto’s Africa. 🙂

And then celebrated with lemon cookies, drawing a lion, and singing praise songs. Giving praise where praise is due. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness and provision! 🙂

I just love when God does stuff like this. I’m loving that He hears. And when we’re open and willing to surrender things, He works them out for our good! And He shows His faithfulness. Are you willing to see Him?

A Big Ol’ Bike Ride Day

Well, for those of you who know me, you’ve heard about my friend Tyson. If not, click here. After you’re done hearing about what happened in his accident, click here. AND MOST DEFINITELY THIS ONE And here especially to cry.

Anyways, Tyson created a FB event called “A Big Ol’ Bike Ride.” Today is his first time riding a bike since the accident. It’s his favorite. So, today Tyson wanted everyone to go out and do one thing that they really love to do. If it’s riding a bike, cool. Do that. If it’s snorkeling, do that.

It’s amazing the progress he’s made. God continues to be faithful to Tyson and fills our hearts with joy when we hear Tyson speak, see him walk, and hear about him riding a bike! 🙂

Here’s some posts from the event page:

Sabrie: Going to a concert instead of work today! lol gotta love bike day! 

Jan: OK Tyson I just got back from my ride. I did an extra 5 miles for you. You are my new hero. I used to focus on Matt Long when the hills got rough, today I thought of you. Read “The Long Run” by Matt Long, great book. Good Luck
Abby: is flying her kite today. twice. In honor of Tyson Ward and the miracles God has demonstrated by his life. 
So that’s it. Go out and do something you love! I am dancing around and singing in my kitchen and can’t wait to go take a nap out in the sunshine!!
To God be all the glory.
Psalm 111[a]

1 Praise the LORD.[b]   I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Things I am learning…

1. If you are busy enough, forgetting to eat happens.

2. Lists are essential. If you’re too busy to remember to eat, make a note to eat. And shower.

3. Exotic Fruit anything doesn’t ever taste good.

4. Kettle Corn that has cinnamon and white chocolate drizzled on it is as good as it sounds, maybe even better.

5. Pastor John doesn’t really stick to his written sermons. I like that about him. You never know what you’re gonna get. And Sunday’s sermon was for me. Mos Def.

6. It is the Lord’s will for me to go to Africa in September therefore support will come in because He is faithful to provide. NOT If the support comes in it must be His will.** tough one to learn.

7. Even with deadlines, days off are required to not lose your mind.

8. Sigur Ros is amazing. Watch this video. And by watch I do mean close your eyes and listen.

9. People like visuals. If you can’t give them a “vision” audibly, you better use pictures.

10. If you go spend $50 at an organic grocery store, you will still crave Kraft Mac N’ Cheese.

Delish.

Am I Prepared To Be a Good Steward of Divine Revelation?

So, this morning I’ve read two devotionals so far. I really love Chris Tiegreen’s One Year: At His Feet devotional. It’s a simple, challenging, and great read. I also really love My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers. This devotional tends to speak to me a little bit more because it’s written by a scholar of the word. It’s a tougher read so I am forced to really meditate on it. Well, today both devotionals posed great questions.

Tiegreen’s:

Todays excerpt was on divine privilege taken from Matthew 13:10-17 and emphasized Matthew 13:11–> “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom in Heaven has been given to you.”  Basically divine wisdom, knowledge of the character of God, and all of the mysteries people have been logically trying to uncover for centuries can only be understood by humble seekers through revelation from God. He gives us eyes that see and ears that hear not for our own enjoyment but for the sole purpose of knowing Him. I see where I’ve grown from and cannot deny that the fruits produced were all because of His mighty hand at work in my life. The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom in heaven was given to me and I chose to respond to it in worship by surrendering my life to the only One who is worthy to have it.

The last portion of the devotional really challenged me. It says,

“The relevant question for us (believers in Jesus) is this: What will we do with that knowledge? It wasn’t given for entertainment; it was given to pass on to those who will welcome it. Share it everywhere. The divine privilege is entrusted to those who know what to do with it.”

This devotional never comes with just grace and truth; it always ends in a practical life-applicable challenge. Being a good steward of what God teaches me and entrusts to me is a part of my life as His servant. I am not to hold on to the things He fills me with. I can’t carry around my bucket of  “spiritual juice” and keep it. It is meant to be shared with others. Pouring out is a natural process. I just pray that I will be further entrusted with the things of God and that I will know what to do with it.

Chambers:

This devotional today was on brotherly love and loving one another as Christ has loved us. It’s about forsaking ourselves for the sake of Christ. God’s love was given to us so that we can love Him, and then others. We do a pretty okay job of loving God most of the time. Where we really need improvement is in loving others. We are so quick to love those who are the easiest to love. It’s easy, why wouldn’t we? The people who are the hardest to love (the pen clicker, the smelly kid, the loud and obnoxious person, the rude dude, the introvert, etc.) are generally the people who need God’s love the most. And I know that I need to stop the reasoning that goes a little something like this, “God, they really need your love. Find someone who can show them you and your love cause I sure can’t! They get on my nerves.” <What kind of thinking is that?! And don’t think I’m pointing fingers anywhere else but right back at myself. I don’t necessarily think these things all the time, but I could get a Ph.D. in avoiding people. I’m pro.

This whole devotional made me realize I have a lot of pride and hardness that I have to surrender to God. Loving people generally  doesn’t come easily for me unless the relationships are shallow. Relationships get messy. But today I learned that my relationship with God is going to be reflected in the way I interact with others. The last part of this really, really made me check my heart. It said,

“Am I prepared to be identified so closely with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness will be continually poured out through me? Neither natural love nor God’s divine love will remain and grow in me unless it is nurtured. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline.”

So, anyways these two devotionals led me to the question, “Am I prepared to be a good steward of divine revelation?” Am I prepared for God to show me how to love others well? I know I pray for that, genuineness, kindness, gentleness, etc. but am I prepared to be used as a vessel with anyone and everyone?

So, that’s what I’m thinking about today as I begin to set up appointments for next week. Keeping in mind God is in control. What I am doing next year is a part of His plan for me and He will provide a way for me where I see no way. My responsibility is to be a good steward of the knowledge He has given me and to love every person the same way in which He has loved me.

Sorry this was so long! I hope you stuck around. 🙂

Mary

College Graduate

I am now DONE with school!! YAY! I am no longer a college kid. I know most people say this but I feel so accomplished. From the beginning I’ve been thinking school wasn’t for me. But I persevered and finished! Thanks mom for making me stay in school for 5 years plus summer school.

Now: I’m an a full time intern with Cru. That’s a total big girl step! I’m support raising right now and it’s been amazing. I really need balance in my life and am learning it through support raising. I’m so excited to be doing ministry this summer while establishing ministry partners. But really my heart is so excited to love on these people and to introduce them to Jesus. I can’t wait to be an official big girl living in AFRICA! 🙂

Is this supposed to be really scary? I know what I’m doing for the next 14 months, so I’m not too nervous. My main worries right now are bugs, african food, and not being able to speak French as well as I’d like. In about 3 months of being there I’ll get over all of that stuff. I think towards the end of my  STINT I might get more nervous/freak out about my future. I have no solid plans and have never kept a job longer than 9 months. It’s sink or swim time. I can doggie paddle pretty well. Surely, life can’t be as hard as swimming….

I say that as I go into a part of life that’s been getting really messy. If you could possibly remember me in your prayers that’d be swell. I’m being tested on loving people unconditionally. I am letting my hurt feelings get in the way of my relationship with the Lord and others. I have let that fester into bitterness and it’s ugly. Instead of using this opportunity to continue to pursue relationships and show Christ’s love, I have chosen to back away emotionally, physically and spiritually from some people who have really hurt my feelings. It’s not healthy for me nor the body as a whole to ignore the healing the Lord wants to bring; it certainly isn’t honoring to the Lord. Christ came for reconciliation and that’s what we’re called to do as well.

I want to love well regardless of how I feel others are treating me or how I expect to be treated by fellow Christians. Christ first loved me even when I was a jerk and my sins nailed His son to the cross. He still pursued me and loved me. As a Christian, I need to set aside my pride and hurt feelings and just depend on the Lord in this situation. I’m wanting to sit in my cubicle and just ignore the issue, but I can’t. I know I can’t. So, just be praying that I am open to the Lord working on my heart and that I am yielding to His hand daily. Pray for genuine restoration. Just be praying.

Thanks readers.

Mary

STINT, Scary Storms of 2011, and Seasons Ending

Sorry! I didn’t forget about you, promise. I just got a little distracted. You know how that goes.

STINT training:

That weekend couldn’t have gone any better. It was the confirmation that I’ve needed that this is what I’m supposed to be doing this next year. I learned a lot about how Cru operates, the heartbeat behind what we do and just how much work is going to be put in to being hired as an official intern. It was pretty tough though. I’m not going to lie. We were trained in three days over stuff that staff members are taught over two weeks in Colorado. We kind of got the short stick here… 😉

I’m learning more and more that ministry can’t be for those whose faith is not completely and utterly in the Lord. So often I think I am not as dependent on Him as I should be. My faith in His goodness and His plans for me were shaken last semester. But, I’m committing to seeing God the way He is and falling in love with Him all over again as the God of the universe who is loving and just:

Psalm 97:1-6 “1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. 4 His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.”…

Psalm 100: 1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

School:

Well, I’m almost completely done with internship paper work. My goal is to be done with that by 6 p.m. I’m completely finished with my Senior Seminar course (final grade=B!). I have a french final on Wednesday. And I have an online portfolio due for my design class sometime next week. Then… I’ll be graduating!!! 🙂 May 7th is the big date. PTL! I can’t wait to be done!

Bible Study:

Tuesday was the last bible study us seniors will ever attend as students at UTC. HOW SAD! It was a great time of reflection, tears, and of course, chocolate. Four years ago, I wasn’t a child of God. Not even close. If someone had told me in 2007 that I’d be where I’m at, I probably would have laughed at them. It’s amazing the work God has done in me through these amazing women and through the staff and ministry of Cru. I know God is so faithful to complete the work He’s begun within me (Phil. 1:6) so He’ll provide a new group of sisters to grow with and invest in. I just can’t imagine the next group being as sweet as this one has been. I’ll post a picture soon of all the girls that I’ve been growing with for the past four years. I look forward to the future while holding these girls and the past four years close to my heart!

Oh, and those Tornadoes:

our little gang in the basement!

Well, two nights ago crazy storms hit the south bringing in over 30 tornadoes. Alabama was hit the worst with over 160 people dead. Tennessee has 24+ casualties. It’s been crazy. Yesterday we hid out in Bonnie and Scott’s basement with like 8 other people. It was fun to be with so many people that I love and adore, but super scary because we kept hearing about the massive devastation the storm was causing around us. Thankfully, no one I know was injured. Our power came back on this morning around 10:30, but thousands of people in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tenn. don’t have power. Keep praying!

Anyways, I have to go! I have a meeting in an hour! 🙂

Promise, next post will be sooner! LOVE YOU!