Monday, March 26, 2012

The 7th Year- Week 5: Space

This week’s layer makes my life scroll stand 6 layers high. I found security while working through this layer as it asked me to describe God during different times in my life. It was comfortable, but my mental list of adjectives is suffering. I wish my word-smith skills were stronger. 
In addition to my life scroll layer, I have been thinking more about space. Just this morning Gil read our Lent devotion to me- Psalm 31. 
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; 
You have made know the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hands of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. (vs. 7 & 8)
One of the phrases jumped out to both of have set my feet in a broad place. We clicked on “broad place” and learned that it is synonymous with spacious place, wilderness, and openness. It’s found a handful of times, a few of the places being scriptures I have already written down; 
I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter the wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you... Live openly and expansively. 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG)
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19
He brought me out into a spacious place. 2 Samuel 22:20
Here is my brainstorm list:
A spacious place is peaceful. 
A spacious place is free. 
A spacious place is wide. 
A spacious place is living. 
A spacious place is life-sustaining. 
A spacious place is filtering. 
A spacious place is welcoming. 
A spacious place is calming. 
A spacious place is roomy. 
A spacious place is healing. 
A spacious place is teeming with life. 
A spacious place is beckoning.
A spacious place is stable.
When you think of a spacious place, what do you think of? 
But this seems to be a linear, a flat-lined, horizontal view of space. 
What if spaciousness is thought of in a 3-D view, a broad and X-Y-Z axis type of picture?
It would be impossible to list all the ways God is spacious in a 3-D view, a broad and X-Y-Z axis type formation, but here are a few I can think of; 
  • God is spacious in his grace and love for us- it is large and unending. 
  • God is spacious in his movement with us- he allows us to move at our pace while inviting us to move at his pace. 
  • God is spacious in his healing- he lavishly provides the space in time and growth for true healing. 
  • God is spacious in his presence- he offers contentment and peace amidst our cluttered world. 
What are some other ways God is spacious in his personhood?
So, if space is so wildly wonderful, why do we- and why did the Old Testament believers- not abandon everything to find it? 
To enjoy space, you have to look up, glance around and soak up the surroundings. You have to look up from the plow, so to speak. You have to stop what you’re doing and take it in. I forget to stop, raise my head and appreciate the space. I get too busy trying to do it myself- checking off the to-do list, finding my satisfaction in accomplishments. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

The 7th Year- Week 4: Clenched fists, open hands

My life scroll, from The 7th Year.
She spoke of clenched fists and open hands this week. Clench fists provide a delusion of ownership, while open hands require trust and stewardship. 
I can see parallels between this truth statement and my life scroll I’ve been creating along with The 7th Year project, but I struggle to verbalize them. 
I’m adding a picture of my life scroll with the hopes that it’s blurred enough that it can’t be read by the entire world wide web. I decided to use paper I had at home rather than Alicia’s suggestion of tracing paper, and since I homeschool, I had HUGE paper with seven lines already drawn! (I hope it turns out ok in the end....we still have a few weeks of layers to add.) 

This week, we were asked to add another layer to our life scroll....a layer of thinking about what I thought about myself throughout my life’s ages and stages. What a task this turned out to be! I had to step away from the project for a day to gain perspective on  my adjectives and observations. 
Looking through this list of descriptors causes enough different feelings to fill a box of crayolas. Times of triumph, hard work are followed by deep pain; an ebb and flow of internal reactions to external actions. Interestingly enough, it seems that as I have grown up, the peaks and valleys have become less extreme. The joys are awesome, but my response is less elevated and the hurtful moments are still present, but my perspective of myself is less low. 
As I work on my life scroll and all the layers Alicia adds, I am thankful for her reminder that God is and has always been present. During the second week, I even wrote “I knew God knew” as part of my spiritual movement. I know this probably doesn’t make sense to those not participating in The 7th Year, but I wanted to document it. 
So, what is my ultimate reaction to this week’s addition to the life scroll? I am sad that one, two or a few individuals (depending on the time in my life) can have such a strong impact of how I perceive what’s happening around me. People can hurt others. People have hurt me. But God knew and he was there despite their hurt and he hurt too. BUT, I am thankful that people can also help heal. Other people have been a part of my growth and healing. And God knew that too

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Voice New Testament

The Voice New Testament
Gil received a paper copy of The Voice New Testament when he went to Catalyst last fall. The Voice is a New Testament translation which reads like a screenplay. As you read, you are told where someone goes/is and what he/she has said. This makes the text very easy to follow and allows the reader to focus on the point of the scripture rather than trying to figure out points that are sometimes harder to gather.

We used his copy of The Voice for our Advent readings last Christmas and it seemed to help our daughters understand more of what was happening. Also, Gil sometimes reads this version to me at night. I love that.

I was given a digital copy to review for the publisher, so I downloaded it to my iPad. I already have another popular Bible app on my iPad, but since this was a different translation than the ones available on the app, I thought it would be nice to have access to it there as well.

Lately, I have been processing a statement I heard about the original design of the scriptures being shared orally. For generations, the scriptures were handed down orally with painstaking detail to stick to the original. when I think of the scriptures being read aloud, these words come to mind: soothing, soaking, blanketing... The publishers of The Voice say, "This translation promotes the public reading of longer sections of Scripture—followed by thoughtful engagement with the biblical narrative in its richness and fullness and dramatic flow." I love that. Hearing the scriptures read aloud brings an element of the old traditions into our modern day- a community gathering (whether large or small gathering) to hear God's word together, to process what was said/done/created/redeemed for us as a group. 

My only complaint is that when it's downloaded to my iPad, it is then stored in my iBooks apps. I would rather it have it's own app so I don't have to click through iBooks to find it. There might be a way to make this happen, but I haven't figured it out yet.

Grab yourself a copy of the The Voice New Testament- either paper or digital or both.

Booksneeze gave me a free digital copy of The Voice New Testament in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The 7th Year- Week 3

Safe Space

This week Alicia asked us to add another layer to a map we have been creating over the past weeks. The detail and personal moments aren’t something I’d like to share with the current and future world via the internet, so I will keep those to myself. However, I was struck by another part of the reading this week. 
Alicia mentions three points about the biblical 7th year; rest the land and hear the law, release slaves and cancel debts, and make no profit and give generously. Can you imagine being commanded to do these things? This type of leadership model doesn’t sound like it would work in our economy. But that’s exactly it. This isn’t a command given to work within “the system”. God’s ways aren’t bound by our ways. 
I can not begin to imagine what it would feel like to take a year to simply listen to the Word of God being spoken over me. 
What about my school loans? I seriously would not know what I would do if I got a letter from my lenders stating that my college loans had been cancelled. Yes! Bring it on Deuteronomy! 
And since my loans would be paid off and we would no longer have a mortgage, living profitless and giving generously...well, that would just be fun! 
Imagine what it would be like. Imagine the freedom. Imagine the weightlessness. Imagine the possibilities of movement, change, growth. Imagine looking up and enjoying the view rather than keeping eyes down to the plow. Imagine taking it all in. 
Imagine the space in your mind- the uncluttered thinking. 
Imagine the space in your time- the freedom to rest and enjoy. 
Imagine the space in your heart- the healing that’d take place. 
Alicia writes that space is telling. 
About a year ago, I began thinking a great deal about space. 
My understanding is that space equals freedom. Freedom to move about, explore, grow. Freedom to challenge yourself in all areas. Freedom to wiggle, experiment, stretch
But I also understand that space requires trust. Trust that someone else has all danger at bay. Trust that appropriate and safe boundary lines have been established and marked clearly. Trust that responsibilities will be tended. 
I think about this idea of space quite a bit. 
I think about fish needing a bigger tank to grow. 
I think about risking it all to tackle something bigger, harder, different, unfamiliar. 
I think about my husband wanting to ice climb (is that what it’s called?), cycle for more miles than I care to think about it, summit tough mountains, and race harder/faster than he’s ever done before. He wants to challenge himself and push past his current experiences. He wants to explore. 
And I dream of a place where I can drop the worries of my world at the road and enjoy safe space, true freedom, deep rest, utmost protection. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 7th Year- Week 2: Tightropes

This is the second week of my 7th Year Journey. (You can read about the first week here and more about the ministry here.) Alicia continued discussing our life map. Last week, we were asked to pick 3 or 4 backdrops of our life- as if our life was a play or movie. I picked 4 different places that I felt were the big ones...and wanted to add Connecticut as a fifth. 
This week, we were asked to think deeper about those scenes or backdrops. Here’s what I asked myself: What has made these places stick out to me? What is similar between those places and what changed- other than the obvious location? 
After some thought, I feel that my scenes stick out to me because life-changing moments happened there...both good and bad things. Sometimes the life changing moments were mere moments and other scenes were many moments made into one major moment. The scenes varied by location, people present, age, and stage of life. Some backdrops included both happy and hard moments. The only things that remain the same across all of my backdrops was my presence (duh!), Jesus was there, and a figurative tightrope. 
During each scene in my “life play”, I walked a tightrope of faith. Sometimes the tight ropes were easier to walk than others. Sometimes I needed to depend on the presence of Jesus more than others. But every scene required me to take the first, timid step onto the tightrope. I had to decide whether I would trust that Jesus would take care of my every detail. I had to choose to believe that he knew what he was asking me to do and was aware of my every move. When I think about these tightrope moments, I feel cinched in, pressure, swaddling, hugged, controlled but intentional breaths. 
I’ll be a little transparent and give a specific example. One of the scenes on my list was the house I just moved from in VA. So many wonderful things happened in that house. I loved it for a long list of reasons. Many tight rope moments happened there, but one moment that jumps out in my mind occurred just a week or two before we moved to CT. Gil and I packed up our daughters room to make a “landing space” for everything to come down out of the attic and get sorted for packing, trashing or donating. That was the easy part. The hard part was fighting through such deeply rooted security. The problem was that I found security in someTHING. You see, since my daughters were born, all most all of their clothes, toys, essentials were given to us. God used arm loads of people to bless us and provide for our needs. I can tell you who gave us almost every item. I thought about those individuals when my girls wore the clothes, played with the toys and were swaddled in the blankets. These baby and toddler items were proof to me that God existed and that he KNEW I was here and needed him. These things were my little altars- reminders that God cared about me.
When it all came out of the attic and I had to make fast decisions of whether something was going to take up room in our moving truck, whether the attic heat (or my kids) had ruined it or if it was to be donated to someone else. Rubbermaid tubs full of little pieces of evidence that my God loved me and my family piled high around me....almost to the ceiling.....and I had to pick through it. The task was huge and felt overwhelming, but that wasn’t the cause of my panic. I had almost packed up our entire house....what’s one more room? No big deal. The fear was a result of my trust in God. Here is what was running through my mind: 
God promised he would provide. 
And He did. 
He provided, through his people giving, sharing, passing along these items. 
Both of my girls wore/played with/used these items. 
This dress was worn for E’s pictures when she was 18 months old. 
M** gave it to me.
M** loves my girls, I am so glad she is in our life. 
Do I get rid of this stuff? 
Is it frugal or wise stewardship to get rid of it? 
What if we decide to have another child- do I risk it being a boy and not wearing all this stuff? 
Do I risk it and take up room on the moving truck just in case? 
Would I donate it to someone who would love it as much as I have loved it? Who would that person be?
Are we really going to have another child? 
Do I trust God enough to provide again? 
Is it asking too much from God to clothe another child? 
Do I trust God enough? 
Do I trust God? 
Image courtesy of: tightrope.png

See my tightrope? My thoughts got narrower and narrower as I found the source of my panic and fear. Do I trust God? Do I trust God enough to provide for me again? Do I trust God enough to keep reminding me of his goodness? Do I seriously need things in my life to remind me of his blessings- this item (or stacks of boxes of items) specifically? 
(PS-I am totally all about keeping things in life as reminders of what God has done- this wasn’t exactly that....nor does anyone need this large amount of stuff to remind them of what God has done.) 
I knew I had crossed the tight rope when I drove away from the Crisis Pregnancy Storage Area. I donated an entire minivan FULL of beautiful baby things. I allowed myself to keep one tub of sentimental items- or things I want to give my girls one day- and donated the rest. I forced myself across that tightrope and into the trusting, providing, safe arms of Jesus. I threw the ball back into his court. If Gil and I felt led to have more kids after our move, God would come to our rescue once again and be our one way or another...and I just decided to trust in that. 
Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”
Deuteronomy 8:3 "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
When I drove away from the Crisis Pregnancy Storage Area that day, I felt cinched in, swaddled, protected, tight....yet free, light and untangled. 
Cinched in and free at the same time?
Swaddled and untangled at the same time
Tight and weightless at the same time? 
While standing on the tightrope, my security just shifted from my surplus/storage/ Jesus. Only Jesus. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What an honor....

Judah, our (85 lb.) Belgian Tervuren, enjoying a
snow fall a few weeks ago. 
Today I've had the great honor of guest blogging for my dear friend, Chris. She's written for me before and now I get to repay her the favor.

You can check it out on her blog, This is the Life.

Don't forget to sign up (just over there, to the right and down a bit) to become a follower of my blog. You can also leave a comment anytime you wish...I would LOVE to hear from you!