I’ve Been Preapproved

To be preapproved means this: We love from our approval, not for our approval. We love without expecting anything in return. – Jennifer Dukes Lee

PreapprovedI just finished reading Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. The subtitle on the cover sums it up so well, “Letting go of your need for approval and seeing yourself through God’s eyes.”

So often today, we have blinded ourselves to who we really are. We strive and work to be accepted by parents, peers, bosses, and sometimes even strangers.  That longing for approval creates idols that replace God.

Love Idol reminds us that we don’t have to prove ourselves – we can’t, even. Much like a credit card offer, we have been preapproved by Christ. We are already accepted and loved. The book is a journey to help us gain freedom from the bondage of people pleasing, perfectionism, and approval seeking.

I wanted to really dig into Love Idol, but I didn’t quite get caught up in it as I’d hoped. Jennifer is a gifted writer, but that gift sometimes got in the way. At times, the description of the surroundings of a conversation were so brilliantly written, that I stumbled out of the story to focus on the scenario she just created, that I missed the reason the story was included and had to re-read the passage.

Despite that, I still would encourage people to read the book, but to do so with discernment (as we should with anything, really). I have a friend in mind who I think will enjoy the book and I look forward to passing it on.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book released early, so it’s available now at multiple online retailers. You can also join the Love Idol Movement on Facebook.

Where is the Joy?

Welcome back to Five Minute Friday. The general idea is to receive a prompt word and write about it for 5 minutes. No major editing, no fixing things to make the perfect post. It’s about writing.

This week, I left it really raw. It was one of those words that I wanted to overlook, but I stepped up to the challenge to write anyway. What follows is a rough estimation of how my brain works. I like where we finally ended up, but the getting-there was H-A-R-D. Disclaimer: I went way over 5 minutes, but you’ll see why.

This week, the prompt is Joy.

————

The clock is ticking… The meter’s running… 

And I sit and try to figure out what in the world I could say about joy.

|    |    |    |    |    ← the cursor keeps blinking at me.

The Bible is filled with promises of joy. The 2nd fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace…

But I don’t feel it. Life is hard sometimes and my joy seems to dissipate like morning fog as the sun rises.

Nope. No.

I don’t remember a joyful moment today.

And I wrestle with how that balances with the people who are bubbling over with joy so much of the time.

I remember how, just before Christmas, a friend had a really exciting thing happen in her family. She couldn’t contain her joy (rightfully so!). One day she shouted on Facebook, “JESUS IS SO GOOD!”

At the time I was working through Advent, preparing to greet the Christ-child anew in celebration of his birth. My heart was raw, wounded, and sore. I mulled over her triumphant shout, happy for her, aching for me. It struck me at the time, that while I couldn’t shout in joy that God is good, I could still whisper it in pain. I could sob it in prayer.

Jesus is so good.

God even used that to allow me to encourage a few other people during the Advent season, to shyly show a tiny window of my pain so that someone else’s day would be brightened. There was a quiet joy in that.

Joy God is good

Back to today. A joyless day? God is still so good.

But my heart aches. God is so good.

And today’s problems will still be here tomorrow. He is good.

But I just want to scream out my frustrations! Jesus is so good!

joy.

Today is the first day of spring. We’re between the two holidays of Christmas and Easter. The joy at the manger to the joy of the cross. You see that now, right? The sorrow has a bright side. God is so good. He orchestrates everything for good, for His glory.

The joy of today is that even on a hard, exhausting, stressful day, God is so good.

Joy!

————

You can read more of this week’s Five Minute Friday posts here – Joy.

I’m linked up with:

Five Minute Friday       

Why I Get Excited about the True/False Film Fest

Poster created by artist Akiko Stehrenberger with art direction by veteran T/F collaborator, Erik Buckham. More of Akiko’s work will be on display at Uprise Bakery during the festival, with 10% of the sales going towards the True Life Fund.

Columbia is about to explode with the True/False Film Fest, a documentary film festival, beginning Thursday evening through Sunday, March 2. It’s one of my favorite things about this city. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably see a lot of T/F posts in the next few days.

Tom and I had the privilege to be Juggernaut Volunteers for 3 years, beginning in 2010. It was a purposeful decision, prompted by one of our elders at Karis Church, to be involved in the life of our city, by giving of our time and energy to support the welfare of the city. Prior to volunteering, we essentially avoided downtown during the Fest due to heavy traffic and crowds of people.

We just weren’t documentary people.

Wow. We have so changed since then.

After having missed last year due to a work conflict, we are so excited to be back this year as both passholders and sponsors of True/False. We love the crowds, because it’s a community. Standing in line, you compare notes with total strangers about the films, the buskers, the restaurants, and the parties. Everyone you rub shoulders with during the Fest has a great story to share about how they were touched by a documentary they just watched. I love hearing the passion in the directors’ voices as they share how they were led to create their documentary. It’s a thrill to be part of an interactive crowd whose emotions audibly follow the highs and lows of each film.

I mentioned that our involvement was very intentional. Along with friends of ours, we didn’t want to be Christians who stayed in our secure little corner, only touched by and touching the lives of other safe Christians. Tom summed it up so well in his blog post from our first year’s experience:

“…we, as Karis, are located in the downtown area and we feel a close connection and a real love for our City, and when you love something you want to serve it, and serve it well. So what a better opportunity to serve our City by serving at the Festival.

I didn’t really understand the importance of this, or really even think about it, until early Sunday morning. I volunteered to make a couple of airport runs during the festival along with serving on Rob’s team. I got to pick up a film director in St. Louis on Friday evening and I got to take a festival celebrity to Kansas City Sunday morning. So, at 5:15 am on Sunday, I picked up Jonathan at the hotel so he could make his 8:30 am flight to Los Angeles. When he got in my car he immediately thanked me for volunteering to drive him two hours one way at 5am. Then he asked me, “How did you get involved with True/False and why are you doing it?” So I told him about Karis Church and the “Rob Squad.” I told him that we were a group of people who loved Columbia and we just wanted to be there to serve our City. His response was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. At first he just sat there with his mouth wide open. Then he said, “You mean a church is out doing practical things and serving a film festival? No f*****g way! Whoops, I guess I shouldn’t cuss in front of you!” He then went on to tell me about Los Angeles where he lives and how churches there are so self-focused and that there was no way any church there would ever do what we were doing. Now who knows if that is really true, but that is at least his perception. Then he thanked me for being part of a church who was not afraid to step out of our own little comfortable box (Not his exact words, but that was what he said in a nutshell).”

Don’t you love it?

Last week, we were thrilled to hear that the NY Times ran an article about True/False and its partnership with a local church, The Crossing, which also seeks to invest in the community around it. You can read that article here, along with a thoughtful response from The Crossing’s pastor, Dave Cover, here.

I’m excited to live in a community that not only hosts festivals like True/False, but also consists of Christians and churches who are willing to roll up their shirt sleeves and get involved, for the good of the city.

The Lover Of Your Soul Sings Over You

_MG_5323

(Photo credit: flickr-rickr)

Here’s the thing, just as money can’t buy happiness, having a love in your life doesn’t guarantee you will feel loved.

It just doesn’t.

There is only One who loves perfectly. No other love will satisfy. Not fully. Not forever. The whole “you complete me” bit? It’s only gonna be found in one place, and that’s God.

He is your bridegroom, singing over his Beloved.

I adore this song by Kari Jobe. It’s a prayer, one that the Lover of your soul sings for you throughout Scripture.

Listen to it and read the lyrics below. There are verses embedded throughout this song, some of which I’ve listed by each line. If you mouse over them, you’ll see the phrases that are echoing throughout the Bible – a love song for you.

Soak in this prayer by your Bridegroom:

Read the full post »

Just Write

claygirlsings:

This was my Five Minute Friday post from a couple weeks ago. The prompt was encouragement, but it fits today’s prompt, write, so well.
Just write, Friends.

Originally posted on Claygirlsings:

Joining Five Minute Friday for the first time this year. The writing prompt is encouragement. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes. Go.

This is my first post since mid-November.

Sad, really. I posted daily through October, but then burned out the rest of the year.

It’s because if I can’t have a perfect post, I don’t post at all. If I can’t put an image that inspires next to my words, it’s not worth the time. If I can’t be an Ann Voskamp or Emily Freeman or Mary DeMuth (or Lisa-Jo), why even try?

Of course, you see the lie. I do, too, when I look.
A) God didn’t make me to be those women. I can reach people that they may never have the chance to reach.
B) They didn’t start at the top. They started with faithfully writing and asking God to guide their words…

View original 149 more words

You are a hero (minus the cape)

You, my friend, are a hero.

Didn’t know that, did you? As clueless as Lois Lane working alongside Clark Kent, you have no idea of the hero inside you. Cue Whitney Houston song…scratch that. Moving on.

You are a hero. Once in a great while, someone might see that. An author or celebrity might realize it. Most of us miss it.

Look around you. Who is watching you? It might be a child, your own or a friend’s. It might be a lonely neighbor, a disconnected coworker or classmate.

Think about it. There are people who have touched your life deeply, but you never told them. An upperclassman who was kind. An unexpected friend when the world seemed against you. A helping hand from a stranger. A friendly coworker. A camp counselor who took time to learn your name. Someone who made you feel known. Seen. Accepted.

I can almost guarantee there is someone watching your life. Someone who looks up to you. You may never even know it this side of eternity.

But, friend, you are a hero to that one. Make someone feel known and you become a hero to that person. You don’t even need a cape to prove it.

hero

This has been another adventure with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday community. The prompt this week is Hero. Pop on over to her blog to read other great posts.

Five Minute Friday

Come by anytime for a visit

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday again. We write for 5 minutes, without aiming for perfection. Just write, link up with Lisa-Jo, and read/comment on someone else’s blog.

This week, the prompt is Visit:

I met up with a retiree during a Christmas holiday event. We reintroduced ourselves. It turns out we live in the same neighborhood. Just blocks apart.

Without hesitation she invited me over for coffee. “Come by anytime for a visit.”

I responded affirmatively, “Sounds lovely. I’ll have to do that.”

Did I mean it or was I just trying to sound friendly?

How often do I extend an open invitation for someone to drop by my house anytime? To not worry about interrupting my life or disrupting my plans?

Let’s try never. I worry about making a phone call to my sister because it might mess up dinner or a homeschooling lesson or laundry or something ridiculous.

Come by anytime for a visit.

tea time

I’d like that. I really would. I might be embarrassed at first, when I realize the state of my house or the amount of cat fur on that sunny spot on the sofa.

But deep down, I want to be known.

That includes my stacks of mail (has anyone really found a perfect solution for mail? I’d love to hear it, if you do.) or dirty dishes.

So, any local friends reading this? Take me up on it. Stop by anytime. Let’s get past the perfect facades and have a visit.

And that retired lady? I’m going to make plans to stop by her house soon.

— Read more “Visit” posts here.

Just Write

Joining Five Minute Friday for the first time this year. The writing prompt is encouragement. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes. Go.

This is my first post since mid-November.

Sad, really. I posted daily through October, but then burned out the rest of the year.

It’s because if I can’t have a perfect post, I don’t post at all. If I can’t put an image that inspires next to my words, it’s not worth the time. If I can’t be an Ann Voskamp or Emily Freeman or Mary DeMuth (or Lisa-Jo), why even try?

Of course, you see the lie. I do, too, when I look.
A) God didn’t make me to be those women. I can reach people that they may never have the chance to reach.
B) They didn’t start at the top. They started with faithfully writing and asking God to guide their words. They worked – and hard – to get the platform/tribe/following/whatever that they now have.
C) Hidden in those complaints and excuses is a deeper question:

For whom am I writing?

Is it for some Facebook friend who I hope to impress?
Is it for a Five Minute Friday reader?
Is it for my glory?

Is it for the Lord?

Today’s encouragement is mainly for myself (though you may feel it, too). Write, not for others, but for God. Write to glorify Him and spread the light of His truth.

Just write, or paint, or raise babies, or deliver babies, or clean houses, or sell tools, or clean teeth, or type letters, or park cars, or answer phones, or whatever you do…do it for the Lord.


Thanks for joining this edition of Five Minute Friday. You can go to Lisa Jo Baker’s blog to read more posts on Encouragement.

barren 

Disturbed, Satisfied, and Enough

Why are you crying? C’mon, you can tell me. What’s wrong?

The last click of high school[Day155]*

Photo credit: Chapendra (Creative Commons)

Has anyone ever asked you this, but you couldn’t answer? More than that, you didn’t know the answer?

I can picture myself on the floor by my high school locker, with my best friend, Andre’, patiently trying to figure out what was going on.

Poor boy.
Like he could ever understand a teenage girl. He had no idea what was wrong.

Problem is, sometimes neither did I.

There was so much comfort when I discovered David’s words,

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

David, king of Israel and called a man after God’s own heart, knew what it was like to be down and not fully understand why. Wow! As a confused, hormonal teen, that was music to my ears. Even today, that is so comforting.

Now look back at the beginning of the Psalm (verses 1-2):

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

It all begins with desiring God as a basic necessity for life. Like water to a living thing. Do you remember, as a kid, how you would play and play, not thinking at all about food or drink, when suddenly it’s hits you – you’re starving! And you’re dying of thirst! That’s when drinking from the hose tasted the best (yeah, I know kids aren’t allowed to do that anymore and this blog does not endorse such behavior, blah, blah, blah). But it’s only after being that thirsty that the water tasted best.

I love this song that we sometimes sing in Karis Church, Satisfied in You. It’s one of those songs that I often have to sing as a prayer, because I’m not often in the place where I can say I’m satisfied in God. I want to be. But I’m often not there.

Yesterday, Justin and Trisha Davis posted The Most Important Question on their blog. Please click over and read the whole post, but in case you don’t, here’s the question: “Is Jesus enough?…Is he truly enough or do I desire the things he gives me more than I desire him? If everything else goes away…is Jesus enough?” The post goes on to list specific scenarios. You may find yourself in one or more of them. I did.

So where are you today? Disturbed and downcast? Satisfied and thirsting for God? A little of both?

Will you, with me, live these words from the song?

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about Your faithfulness.
Let my pain reveal Your glory as my only real rest.
Let my losses show me all I truly have is You. Because all I truly have is You.

I’m linking up with

Day 31: True Rest – the Beginning to Never Needing

fall roadThe month of October has sped by and I feel like I’ve barely touched on the topic of rest. I think I was hoping to uncover some secret to feeling at rest, but instead, I ended up frazzled and stretched throughout the whole month.

Much like I wrote in the very first post for this series, Called to Rest, I long for the break. In this case, the end of the month. Here’s what I said 31 days ago:

We spend so much of our lives striving for something. We work to fit in with peers, we fill our calendars with events, we climb the corporate ladder…But how many of us, when the day is done and the party is over and we’re finally alone in our homes, are just plain worn out? We kick off our shoes and get into some comfy sweats and sigh deeply. We long for the weekends, vacation, a holiday or just a day off, but even then we fill those to the brim, finally exclaiming, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

I’m starting to wonder if we really ever do feel at rest, completely rested in this life. The success of that involves us totally surrendering our lives and schedules, hopes and dreams on the Lord. But since my sinful heart continually fights to grasp at control of my life, it only comes in bits and spurts. Moments of peace, seconds of rest. A Sabbath here and there.

It’s good to want the rest, but it becomes tarnished when rest becomes an idol consuming our days.

The reward may not be in the resting after all. The goal may be the One in whom we rest. That desire we all have for rest may be a longing for Heaven and home with God.

And it keeps me wanting
That mysterious thing
Like a night is waiting for a dawn

The joy is in the waiting
Somewhere in the grand design
It’s good to be unsatisfied
It keeps the faith and hope
A little more alive

This is such a fun song with which to close out the month, from my Canadian friends again.

Every prayer I say (a little closer)
To my resting place (a little closer)
Where my final breath
Is the beginning
To never needing
And I will find my last Amen.

Doesn’t that sound like true rest – the beginning to never needing? Total, 100% surrender to God, trusting him absolutely?

Rest indeed.

Until we reach that last Amen of true rest, continue to give up those bits of crazy in your life to find glimpses of rest. Keep reminding each other to surrender control, to trust God, and to rest in Him. Encourage “one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” — Hebrews 3:13

If you want to a little further reading on rest, take a look at Hebrews 3-4, comparing the Israelites who were not allowed to enter God’s rest with those who believe and are allowed to enter His rest.

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…

Thank you for journeying with me through 31 Days of Rest. I pray that you find that true rest.

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