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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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making myself available

I keep talking about this “a la orden” philosophy, so this week I stopped talking and tried to start applying. And, GOODNESS, it is like singing sweet freedom’s song and hearing it echo in the greatest canyon! I thought I would try to summarize some thoughts, if no other reason than by way of reminder to make myself available to serve with the ways God has shared Himself with me.

The philosophy of “a la orden” (Spanish for, “at your service”):
Making conscious, consistent decisions to put the needs of others in front of my own by making my gifts completely available.

We know that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Anything good in this world is good because it comes from the Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth. So, whatever good things ended up in me – gifts or abilities or talents – are there as the distinct, divine fingerprint of an Almighty God. They are not from me, because I am not capable of producing anything (John 15:5). Every ability or gift we have is revealing something about His character and creativity.

So, if I recognize that I’ve got a good set of gifts on loan from the Creator, I must also recognize I have no right to hoard them. If I turn the gift inside out so only I can see and enjoy it, two things happen: 1) the gift fails its purpose (to bless others) and 2) I have wrong views of God and myself. I try to take the shortcut to joy by enjoying ways God has blessed me without using those blessings for their intended purpose. It’s no surprise that I come up short on joy and frustrated by my self-centered excitement in my gifts.

In Philippians 2, Paul challenges the church,

“if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Paul asks, have you benefited at all by this relationship you have with the Living God? Then, Paul says, nothing would bring me more joy than to see you joining together in community and serving one another. Paul goes on to describe Christ’s character that we should strive to emulate,

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Christ was the greatest gift and He opened Himself up completely that everyone might enjoy Him. Everything He received from the Father (by being indeed one with Him), He made completely available.

I think this is maybe what it means to look to the interests of others. It’s not just keeping your eyes peeled for that little, old lady needing help to cross the street. As we are working out faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), we must be searching God for ways His gifts can be made available through us.

Sometimes it takes awhile to understand how God has gifted us… and that’s okay! But, Paul’s advice for the church in Philippi is useful here as well. Encourage one another! Be like-minded! Look for ways God has blessed other people and then LET THEM KNOW IT! Build them up in their gifts and encourage them to praise God for His unique fingerprints on their lives.

Then… we use God’s gifts in our lives like a Mary Poppins bag of blessings! I know God’s in charge of the blessing, so when I make His gifts available to others through me – EVERYBODY WINS! I receive the joy of obedience and service, someone else receives encouragement or a mentor or a much needed Scripture, and GOD gets the glory. I’m only the vessel that holds the water of blessing for others to drink! Christ said COME and DRINK and there’s no way I would try to take that place, but being a vessel that carries the hope of eternal life is like walking around with 4th of July fireworks in my heart.

The more loosely I hold onto things of this world – whether it be words or jeans or the gift of organization – the more tightly I cling to the indescribable joy of eternity.

That’ll have to do for now, folks. I’m sure I’ll be processing this more in these days. As for practical application, I take it day by day. But I would say trying to live this out has rendered me speechless. There aren’t enough pages to record all the blessings, but at the same time I can’t seem to articulate just one. God is so good!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

3 comments on “making myself available

  1. Caroline says:

    Here’s a great article on PRACTICAL ways to live like this with your neighbors! http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/29/to-love-your-neighbor-you-must-know-your-neighbor/

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