God’s Love

Encouragement for You

pretty-3Today, I want to offer you encouragement. Someday soon, I can tell you about the past six months, all the closed doors, false starts, waiting, questioning, being humbled again and again… and the open doors. The ones that move the slightest bit and leave you stunned.

This is what I know, God cares for us with a gentle, careful love. He always has and always will. Even if we don’t at all see clearly what he is doing in our lives. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

To call you friends is a tremendous thing.

I want to give away three books I read over the summer- as we all free fall into a new season where our calendars expand and responsibilities pile up.

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Hand Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford

Present-over-Prefect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

 

I pray for you all to be able to slow down this fall season and see the cracks of light streaming through the doors God opens for you.

Leave a comment to be entered to win. Or direct someone over to our Facebook Page if you think they might be encouraged there, let me know to be entered.

How do you practice being present over being perfect? 

Expansive and Immense

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This is what I know…

God’s love is not a skinny love.

 

Lineation: the action or process of drawing lines or marking with lines. 

Unravel: to separate or disentangle threads

Draw

Erase 

Design a plan

Shred a plan

 

His love melts into the narrowest of passages

Expansive and Immense

 

 

 

love to all of you

love

Sometimes people write about all the things they have accomplished.

 

Number of Christmas treats made: 0

Christmas shopping: Not Done

Number of times I forgot to hide the elf on the shelf: 8

How much of our Christmas tree is lit up: 1/4 the rest of the lights will not shine

My good intention to do an act of kindness each day in December: not doing so good

Christmas Cards: 0

Christmas devotions read at the dinner table: 1

Also: Christmas lice nits and one hundred loads of laundry

 

I love the Herdmans from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

Imogene Herdman was crying.

In the candlelight her face was all shiny with tears and she didn’t even bother to wipe them away. She just sat there-awful old Imogene- in her crookedy veil, crying and crying and crying.

 

At my job, the librarian is reading this book to the second grade class.

One of the students raised his hand, “Are the Herdmans real?”

Yes. The Herdmans are real. They are more real than most of us choose to reveal.

 

Those Herdmans are real.

Hey! Unto you a child is born

Jesus was born for the Herdmans. He was born for us.

 

I am feeling a little like Imogene in the crookedy veil.

I will be taking a little break until the New Year.

Love to all of you.

I am looking forward to regrouping to so we can draw up in proximity to all the Herdmans we know and are yet to know.

 

Drop me a note aboutproximity@gmail.com

I really love hearing from you all. Your voices mean so much.

but I do love.

photo (2)My Mom took this photograph of my daughter Ellie on a class field trip. Each student was lying at the base of a tree, staring up into its branches.

When I was a girl, I remember lying on the grass of our backyard, behind our red brick house. Our golden retriever Tessa, was probably close by. I would lay there and stare at the clouds moving by. I would pick daisies and feed them to Tessa out of my open palm.

 

I don’t pause often enough to dream anymore. Life moves forward so quickly, I forget.

Yesterday afternoon, the wind howled and rain fell in sheets. I laid on my bed watching, drifting off to sleep. In that moment I was thankful. I thought of all the years I spent doubting myself and worrying about making everyone happy, I felt terribly thankful for the fading. All that living small faded with one thing…

 

If I do not love. I am nothing.

But I do love. That is everything. Enough.

The best gift I could receive, I am enough for God.

When we are still and dream, we are assured.

love

What keeps you from pausing? Dreaming? What did God bring forth in you the last time you paused to listen. 

Unfinished

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Richard Stearns, President of World Vision has a new book called Unfinished Believing is only the Beginning. 

About Proximity was given a hard cover copy to review and giveaway!

Stearns first book was the National Bestseller The Hole in our Gospel. In that book he spoke about his journey from CEO of Parker Brothers Games and Lenox, Inc to World Vision.

 

In Unfinished, Stearns writes about our Biblical mission to proclaim God’s truths and act on his life-changing love.

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The book lacked the deep story telling Stearns included in his first book. He spent much of the chapters giving overview to the bigger story found in the Bible. I still enjoyed the book and its message very much. The stories he tells of his work with World Vision and other people’s acts of love are the strongest parts of the book.

One story stands out against the backdrop of the book for me. He told of how tourists vacationing at Haiti ocean resort locations are placed on buses with blacked out windows when they arrive at the airport. Then, they are transported to their destination. The windows are blacked out so they do not see the abject poverty they are passing by on the way to their resort.

 

The work is unfinished.

How often when we are not in direct proximity to suffering, do we black out what we see.

We were made for so much more.

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You have a critical role to play.

We need to cast off our inward, secure, isolated lives and look outward.

The book has a great study guide and an act,pray, influence and give guide.

 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a hard cover copy of the book! 

Are you ever tempted to black out what you know? What do you think when you read the words we were made for so much more?

He Holds Us With the Greatest Love

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Rick Warren, is the author of Purpose Driven Life, and pastor of Saddleback Community Church in CA. This weekend his son took his own life.

I was so touched by his honestly in his letter to his staff, that was made public. He shared how his son has struggled since birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression and suicidal thoughts that did not subside with the best doctors, medications, counselors and prayers for healing.

Mental illness is real and dark. Mental illness does not mean you don’t love and trust God in your life. It is a disease, an illness, an imbalance.

I have struggled with this in my life. You can read my story in the about section of my writing. I struggled to accept the help of medication, thinking perhaps, I was not relying on God enough. Nothing could be further from the truth. My mind could not even touch the compassion of Christ for me when I was in an anxious state of being. Just as I finished writing this, I read a post about mental health by Ann Voskamp. She is the most eloquent writer I have ever read and speaks about this beautifully.

 

What I am troubled by is at the end of every article about Pastor Warren’s son is a string of comments. We know these follow every article written, but these make my heart hurt.

The comments revolve around three issues mental health, guns and homosexuality.

Across all the news articles comments, people seem to believe Warren’s son committed suicide from the despair of being homosexual with a pastor for a father. This has no factual basis. That is many people’s perception though, that if you belong in a Christian family and are homosexual it would drive you to suicide.

God gave us free will. He doesn’t have a list of what is a freedom or not. He gave us guidelines in his Word that he longs for us to follow, but we have the free will to make the choices that define our life.

He allows us to choose while holding us with the greatest love. 

Lamentations

The Jesus I know loved on the most vulnerable of society. I do not see Jesus closing the door of the church on anyone.

I don’t want to live in a world that assumes if you belong to a Christian family and are homosexual you would be driven to suicide.

I want to focus on Christ and his message, to love the most vulnerable. I want to be a servant, bending in the love that covers over all sins. There is so much we can do in this world to model the love of Christ.

There are so many broken people. We are all broken people. I am a broken person. I have hope because of Christ. I do not think anyone is beyond that hope and life altering redemption.

Kneel

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Your light will break forth like the dawn,

your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you, 

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:8-9 

 

I am thankful that God says HERE AM I.

I am thankful that I can kneel.

 

Hey God, I feel utterly helpless right now. There are so many things out of my control. They leave me reeling.

All I can do is get on my knees. I want to wear them out. I called to you and I can be assured that you heard me. 

 

You will be my rear guard. If I stumble, if I fall backwards, if I am reeling you are right behind me to catch my fall. You will ease me back to standing. You will make my footsteps firm.

The very second I call to you.

 

Here am I. Here am I. Right here: in front of you, behind you and all around you.

You NEVER leave my proximity ~

kneel

Unexpected Love

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Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women 

 

You can read more of Julie Zine Coleman’s work at her website Encounter an Unexpected God.  She has been an educator for 20 years and a prolific Bible teacher.

You can also check out her Unexpected Love landing space and get chapter guides and lesson plans for group study.

 

I would sum this book up with this statement:

Jesus loves us unconditionally.

 

Each of the nine chapters covers a conversation Jesus had specifically with women in the Bible. Women mattered to Jesus. We still matter.

 

As a Biblical teacher, you learn when you read her words and you are unexpectedly encouraged.

I love the applications for today’s woman, discussion questions and the journal prompts at the end of each chapter.

 

Jesus commended the faith of those who admitted their unworthiness, their brokenness, their need.

He did not let judgement cloud his interactions with others. He reached out his hand to all. These women came from all walks of life.

Jesus was interested and intentional about each encounter.

 

In my faith, at times I have struggled to believe I could be significant to God… He is interested. His concern does not depend on how spiritual I might be or how important I might seem in his eyes. It is not dependent on my performance or even my good intentions. I matter to him not because of who I am or what I do. I matter because of who he is. 

Jesus is personal. He cares about you. You. Me. Sometimes I need to remember that better.

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book!

changes everything

Scandalous. Messy. Love.

When my daughter Ellie was 3 1/2, we were decorating for Christmas time. Somehow our Playmobil nativity scene got mixed up with our Little People house.  Ellie was very busy for a long time. Later that night, I went to put the Playmobil set back by our Christmas tree.

I found quite a scene in the Little People house. Mary was lying in bed with a wise man and one of the shepherds was lying with his head in the toilet.

 

I sat their staring for a moment, shocked.

Scandalous. Messy.

 

God knew went he sent Jesus in the form of a baby.

He knew how broken we would be.

He still sent his only son to redeem our lives.

 

That is a love like no other.

That is a grace like no other.

 

Give thanks to the one who loves.

Extend that kind of grace and love to the broken.

We Are Not Consumed

During summer camp I write:

Today waiting for songs and skit a little boy, whose name tag read Eric, walked circles around me for minutes on end. Then he looked up with his forward facing front teeth and round glasses, “Are you dizzy yet?” 

No, I am not dizzy, because I am standing in one place.

 

A journal entry:

If I keep still it’s almost as if there is a pseudo peace. 

If I keep myself contained and quiet, no one will see all my rough edges. 

If I cover over myself I will stay hidden from other’s eyes, no one can hurt me hidden. 

 

Josiah called out to me as I was opening up his bedroom window on a warm fall day. As I ran to him, my foot stepped into a lego box and my ankle twisted me to the floor, I lay in a pile of sharp legos. Ellie arrived, laughing hysterically at me. Tears pressed against my eyelids, but I crawled to Josiah. He had crashed onto the floor during some bed jumping. I held him on my lap realizing how hurt my ankle felt. I would have done it again, to be there to wipe his tears.

Moving forward can be painful. 

I held close a manuscript for nearly a decade. If eyes saw the words, maybe my inadequacy would be revealed and my dream would disappear. I trusted a handful of close friends to critique. The paper bleed with red.

I was also head hopping,  (being in the head of more than one character at a time), doesn’t that sound scandalous? The old me wanted to crawl into my bed and die a quiet death.

Then, something surfaced, a strange hope. I was moving forward, I implemented the ideas, and I loved what emerged.

 

Standing in the same place helps insulate hurt and sometimes attains pseudo peace.

Moving forward brings hope and draws you into the person God created you to be.

 

Lamentations 3:22

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails.

 

His compassion will never fail us.

We can take courage to move forward, we will not be consumed.

 

What do you need to stop standing still about? How do you gather courage to move forward? 

Check in Wednesday: A Guest Post about where the sidewalk ends…