Tuesday, April 21, 2009

i saw it first

A little known fact about me is that I spent the first six years of my life in the countryside outside of Philadelphia. I hope heaven will look a little like our land on Ivy Mills Road. I have so many warm and sparkly memories from that era.

Recently, the masterminds behind Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters started a home and garden shop called Terrain at Styer's. It's been getting a lot of press lately--I first noticed it in Domino. Looks pretty awesome.

I saw this picture and thought, "Hmmm, that looks familiar."

One of my earliest memories took place in this lofted greenhouse. I was walking with my mom, as she picked out potted plants to take home. Oddly, I can still remember that "Constant Cravings" by kd lang was playing (which should ruin the memory, but doesn't).

Styer's has been in Glen Mills for years, right around the corner from our old farmhouse, but it just so happens to be the next big thing in designer gardening.

Monday, April 20, 2009

in need of the truth, part II

Read Part I here. Part II won't make much sense without it.


∴ Yoohoo! The actual passage is: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:2-5). Yeah, I kind of left out a massive element of the whole process. And what is so compelling about Angie’s life is that she is living this out. Her hope is deep and alive, and it sustains her through her earthly troubles. Without hope as its outcome, suffering feels tragically wasteful and disappointing. With hope, suffering is not only bearable, but it is even strangely beautiful.

∴ True hope for eternity sustains us through our earthly troubles far better than any earthly solution to them or protection from them. God’s protection is so much more effective and real. While I may feel safer on my own, I’m every bit as helpless. Drawing nearer to God means actually becoming safer, because while I’m still out of control, I can be confident that my heart is safe with Him. I fear suffering that turns to despair, but He will not allow me to be tempted by hopelessness beyond what I can bear, and He will always give me a way out. His mighty hand is my refuge.

∴ I was really helped by my friend Karen’s observation that the analogies we use to describe God’s behavior and heart will always be slightly insufficient. His ways are mysterious and incomprehensible most of the time, so the Spirit gives us insight through His Word, but God is so much more than a physical flame or chisel. His love and discipline do refine me, but He is not casting me enthusiastically into a furnace to be burned. His touch is compassionate and tender, though it is always changing me.

∴ Emily rocked my world with this question: How much do you value your faith? In other words, is my walk with God just an avenue for me to get what I want (a life free from pain and suffering) or is FAITH in Christ the ultimate goal, regardless of circumstances? Which brings me right back to Angie’s words: “I am choosing to bear the crown, because I cannot live without the love.” Will I allow God to lead me in His love? Will I value my faith in Him above all, knowing that it gives everything else meaning? (Ari, you hit this one on the head in your comment.)

∴ What a comfort it is to pray. The girls and I were all a bit bewildered, but in the end, we could only ask God to deliver us from evil and give us our daily bread. Abba, penetrate our hearts with your truth; let us trust you and not be afraid of you. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this subject.

Friday, April 17, 2009

in need of the truth, part I

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38).

Most everything I long for spiritually is contained in this verse. I want more Holy Spirit in my life. For some reason, I imagine being more prone to giving people hugs and praying for them on the spot. I might even believe that what I pray for will happen. I might even pray for crazy things, just because I can. I could see myself being more bold with the truth and speaking encouraging words to lonely or disheartened people. Generally, the fruits of the Spirit would be popping up here and there.

I recently read Angie’s post reflecting on the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s birth and death, entitled “It Was Love.” All I know about Angie is what she tells the world in her posts, but she seems to me like someone who has a whole lot of living water flowing from her. She’s honest, joyous and faith-filled; she grieves beautifully and loves passionately. She writes, “We who are followers of the King must daily wake up and look in the mirror, seeing our reflection with a crown of thorns balanced on our heads. We must feel the burden of the cross at different points in our life, and with the power of Christ Himself, we will look solemnly back at ourselves and say, "I am choosing to bear the crown because I cannot live without the love..."

Since then, I’ve been fighting a battle against what I believe to be strategic lies from the enemy. They are accusations against God, and I find myself easily believing them. What originated as a question for God turned itself into fear and distrust. I was wondering: do I have to suffer like Angie has suffered in order to know and love God like she does? In other words, does God cause suffering so that people will love Him more? It makes some sense, based on many of the Scriptural metaphors we have for God, specifically the “refining fire” comparison. You know, the whole “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character” deal.

So then I began to imagine what it would be like if we lost Ellary to SIDS or something (seems like so many babies are dying in the mommy blog world). I tend to think that I’ve had little to no real suffering in my life thus far, and that freaks me out. It makes me wonder: “What’s coming? Something horrible is inevitable, right? If I ask God to take me deeper, then I’m opening myself up to pain. I’ll lose the protection of my mediocre spiritual life.” These are not uplifting thoughts, and I got to the point on this trajectory where I was willing to say, “If I have to lose Ellary in order to know and love God more, then I don’t want to know and love God more.” I said it. I think I still feel it a bit.

Nevertheless, I brought up this issue yesterday in a group I attend with a few other wives, and I left knowing that we’d all seen some victory over these lies. A couple of the girls are in that waiting stage, wondering if God’s going to provide relief from their current suffering. We all just really needed truth. I want to hit the main points that we discussed, because this conversation was money in the bank. Check back soon for some words from the Lord.