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Sometimes, we journey to the dark so we can be moved by the Light. We trace the furthest boundary lines behind our eyes. We get deep next to demons, weighed down from evil within and without. And when warmth first touches cheek or shoulder or the back of our knees, the weight may not lift but there is relief. . . . And it is the same magic— to feel Light's warmth after a cold night or a long stretch of summer, it is the same glory— to be reading the lectionary in a Home Depot parking lot with sleeping car seats or having a morning cup of coffee on the front stoop with my co-laborers. . . . Somehow, God has anchored the pale blue ombre sky above me like an endless umbrella. He covers and cloaks with Light and sometimes I have to go deep in dark to feel it's warmth. . . . Morning Call:  Lamentations 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if  there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon  me, whom the Lord hath afflicted. . . . Opening Prayer:  Loving Father, as we journey with your Son in this week of remembrance and hope, help us to experience and receive you and your love for the world more clearly. Transform us by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of your Son, our Lord, we pray. Amen. #holyweek #notredame #outofthedarkness #intothelight
Naked morning comfort and I'm just basking in the humble light of it. They wear all their affections like clothes and this one makes me melt because they aren't so attached to their wholeness. They are ready to be broken to make peace with one another -- more ready than me, so I take notes. . . . The making of our Peace broke Him, completely. His humble persistence was full of glory because He was God, not because it looked good. Making peace means breaking pride, breaking selfish gain, breaking the sin inside that so easily entangles us, and breaking the power of the sin outside that so deceives us. . . . #newblog #momswhowrite #writersofinstagram #motherhood #siblings #siblingsasfriends #braveryofsmalllife #Godseconomy #kitchen #atlanta #family #teamkolts #teampixel #teampixelnofilter #nofilter #morningglow #morning #liveauthentic #kids #georgia #southernsummer
"Look, Mom! Edelweisses!!!!" And she passed the peace to me with flower weed stems and smooshed petals. The brisk tickle of Spring wind swept my elbows as I reached out to receive. . . . And it got made again, Peace. Established with delicate weed offerings and vulnerable outstretched hands, peace mended for a moment the breaks of the morning. The Great Deceiver's attempts to put us at odds— to wound one other with war words thrown in defense and pride— got smooshed underfoot in the backyard. . . . And I thought of Jesus making literal Peace, because the world doesn't allow it to come and be kept. Peace must be forged with active rebellion against the forces within and without that would rather war. We are a peace breaking people made in the image of One who carries Peace in his character, One who made Peace for us forever with God so that we can make peace today exactly where we are. . . . "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility." Ephesians 2:14 . . . And the little child shall lead us.
I studied Job's friends pretending comfort, while withholding kindness and refusing to revive a weary spirit. I taught about the people in Jerusalem spreading their coats out like a royal carpet for the King of glory to ride in on a borrowed mule. I learned about the invisible God we try to force fit our image but our invisible spirit is made in His. I chased my littles in circles in the newly cut backyard and followed Foster's gaze to find birds high on budding branches. I heard Zella yell to our neighbor two houses down to move her apple trees far away because our juniper tree has a bad disease that could infect it. I wrestled through pride and failure and defending ideas. I made a very late afternoon cup of coffee and cooked with my baby strapped on my back. I snuggled my girl and gave her choices while praying she would choose right. On the first day of Spring. . . . We rode to Bible study, the kids and me, in an Uber because I ran the battery down on the van. I caught the sun glory streaming in to hit all our faces in the backseat as Zella chatted with the driver about music, imaginary children, and her preference to not wear socks and shoes. Our Wednesdays have so much Bible in them — sometimes nothing connects and I arrive at the end with mush brain and then sleep in my day clothes. But yesterday, I fell into bed so thankful that there are constellations in all these bits of Light. He is holding all things together and sometimes He connects dots and reveals a special glimpse of the glory of it all. #writersofinstagram #momswhowrite
My brows converge over my nose and my face squints against the dark. I pray, "O, God. O, God." I lay flat on my bed between two littles and take a deep breath that reaches my shoulders and sides and ankles "O, God." . . . It feels like Spring shouldn't come, that it is so *wrong* here that Lent should last forever. That, though our hope for Spring is strong, it is mostly about escape and not about salvation. We have made ourselves at home in winter, comfortable with the frosted ground under our hibernation. Our evil isn't seasonal. It isn't an epoch, a phase, a time period. It is in us— bones, marrow and evil. And we don't even want out. A Stockholm syndrome sickness that's eating us up from the inside but we refuse rescue. . . . The mercy of the Lord comes anyway, budding trees and blooms for the just and unjust. He woos us— relentlessly— out of our captivity with kindness. He calls us to repent of our soul's winter so we can finally see and taste His Spring. He calls us out of shadow and into marvelous light where our winter is exposed and we can squint to see our salvation. And we can know even a little bit more the extent of His glory and the depth of His grace. . . . Spring is coming and we are Easter people, but today there is lament. #light #shadow
Why is it that when we talk about the beginning of the United States it's always "when we founded this great nation" but when we talk about slavery it skips to the Civil War and it's always, "they were fighting to keep slavery in the south." The same humans who founded this nation bought humans and made them slaves in it. And today, for that, I mourn. . . . Every human made in the image of God is the same amount of invaluable. The same amount of mysterious wonder is knit up in our bones, from those first moments curled up in the womb. Lord, have mercy on us for acting like it is not so. . . . . . #americanlent #lentenrose #whiteprivilege #slavery #lent #lament #foundingfathers #letstalkaboutit #repentanceproject #didyouknow #spring #teamkolts #liturgy #reflection #monday #teampixel #atlanta #blackandwhite #slavetrade

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Mission 2011: Here I am. SEND ME!

Our theme verse for our week of focused mission service comes from Isaiah 6:8,

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Our preparation has a beautiful, frantic fragrance this week. We are running around arranging, buying, planning, and chasing details like one chases a beach ball across a lake on a windy day. One thing is for sure: God is completely sovereign. Even in the foibles, I can claim this as true. I thought some of you might be interested in reading through the short devotionals for each day this week. I’ve included the passage (taken from The Message Bible) and the few questions I’ve asked the kids to ponder. Pray with us as God humbles our hearts and uses broken vessels to reveal His great Light of salvation!

Throughout the week, students will be updating on my blog to give direction to your prayers/praises and most importantly to give God the glory for the overflow of love. So stay tuned this week!

MONDAY: “costly sacrifice”

Scripture: 2 Samuel 24:18-25, the Message
18-19 That same day Gad came to David and said, “Go and build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” David did what Gad told him, what God commanded.

20-21 Araunah looked up and saw David and his men coming his way; he met them, bowing deeply, honoring the king and saying, “Why has my master the king come to see me?”

“To buy your threshing floor,” said David, “so I can build an altar to God here and put an end to this disaster.”

22-23 “Oh,” said Araunah, “let my master the king take and sacrifice whatever he wants. Look, here’s an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles and ox-yokes for fuel—Araunah gives it all to the king! And may God, your God, act in your favor.”

24-25 But the king said to Araunah, “No. I’ve got to buy it from you for a good price; I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the ox, paying out fifty shekels of silver. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. God was moved by the prayers and that was the end of the disaster.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are easy things you have given up this week? Was it hard to make the decision to give them up or go without?
  • What are hard things you have given up for this week? How did you make the decision that it is worth it?
  • What are things God is asking you to give up in your “normal” life, apart from this mission trip?
  • David was told to build an altar because his people were suffereing great disaster. He was asked to worship the Lord in the midst of great trial. Even then he didn’t feel right worshipping without great sacrifice. Is there disaster in your life and God is asking you to worship still? How has he shown you that He will be faithful to bring you through it and even bring relief?

TUESDAY: “think of others as better”

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-4, the Message
1-4If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Has the love of Christ made any difference in your life? Have you felt the power and comfort of community? Do you care about what God cares about? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this passage is for you.
  • Think about times when you agreed/disagreed with someone who is also a Christian ask yourself if your actions reflected the great love Christ has shown you. Can you give an example of a time when you did reflect Christ? And a time when you didn’t?
  • How many times have you “pushed your way to the front” or “sweet-talked” to get ahead of everyone else? Can you think of a specific time?
  • What can you do THIS week to “put yourself aside” and help OTHERS get ahead?
  • Apart from this one week of service, how can you “forget yourself” to put others first?

WEDNESDAY: “who we are instead”

Scripture: Isaiah 58, the Message
1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins!

They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people— law-abiding, God-honoring.

They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side. But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5“Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist.

The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.

What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.

Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

9-12“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins. If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go.

I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.

13-14“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there—

Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.

I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!

Questions to Ponder

  • Read over the passage again, and this time think about what the people of Israel were doing and what God wanted them to do instead.
  • In your life, what have you done to make it “appear” like you are a good Christian – have you acted like a Christian for the right people, but acted differently elsewhere? How and when?
  • Right now, what do you feel God specifically calling you to stand up for or give up or do?
  • How do you think God might use your life to “glow in the darkness” of your family, friends, school?

THURSDAY: “who is my neighbor?”

Scripture: Matthew 9:36-39, the Message
37-40Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the first on your list of things to love in life?
  • If you are honest, do you love God with all your passion, prayer, and intelligence? In your own words, what does this look like?
  • Can you remember a time in your life where you loved God in this way?
  • What is a practical example in your life as a way you would love others as much (if not more) than you love yourself?
  • Who are the “others” in your life? Is it next door, down the street, at the orphanage, on the street corner, in your classes, in your home? Who is your neighbor?

FRIDAY: “weary times and refreshment”

Scripture: 2 Samuel 16:5-14
5-8 When the king got to Bahurim, a man appeared who had connections with Saul’s family. His name was Shimei son of Gera. As he followed along he shouted insults and threw rocks right and left at David and his company, servants and soldiers alike. To the accompaniment of curses he shouted, “Get lost, get lost, you butcher, you hellhound! God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. Look at you now—ruined! And good riddance, you pathetic old man!” 9 Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “This mangy dog can’t insult my master the king this way—let me go over and cut off his head!”

10 But the king said, “Why are you sons of Zeruiah always interfering and getting in the way? If he’s cursing, it’s because Godtold him, ‘Curse David.’ So who dares raise questions?”

11-12 “Besides,” continued David to Abishai and the rest of his servants, “my own son, my flesh and bone, is right now trying to kill me; compared to that this Benjaminite is small potatoes. Don’t bother with him; let him curse; he’s preaching God’s word to me. And who knows, maybe God will see the trouble I’m in today and exchange the curses for something good.”

13 David and his men went on down the road, while Shimei followed along on the ridge of the hill alongside, cursing, throwing stones down on them, and kicking up dirt. 14 By the time they reached the Jordan River, David and all the men of the company were exhausted. There they rested and were revived.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Can you remember a time someone “kicked you while you were down”?
  • How might your classmates “throw stones” when you return to “normal life?”
  • What does God promise us after we pass through a time of trial or persecution in life? (vs. 14)
  • What (evil) has God allowed in your life that, when you look back, you can see He used for good?
  • Are there any times in your life where you remember being refreshed and revived by God?
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