Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Roundup

I made a list today of all of the things I feel like God has taught me this year.

It was, um, a huge list to say the least. But here are some of my faves:

1.) When I take fear out of the equation, my decisions are a lot easier to make.

Because as my friend Julie says, "Fear is the absence of faith in God."

"Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Matthew 8:26

2.) In every moment, I am either moving towards or away from God.

Every moment. Every decision I make. Every thing I do. It either pulls me to His throne or further into myself.

3.) I have nothing to fear from being imperfect. My imperfection is an unchangeable fact until I see Jesus face to face.

Which means I have no fear in being transparent and honest about all my failures and shortcomings. I am more sinful than I could ever imagine and yet more loved than I could ever dare hope.

4.) Whatever is all over the floor of my life was inside of me to begin with.

Paige Benton Brown pointed out that when a water bottle gets knocked over there will be water on the floor because there was water in the bottle. Life will knock me down, it is inevitable and unavoidable. But if there is bitterness, frustration or sorrow on the floor of my life, it is not because I got knocked over. It is because those things were inside of me from the very beginning. Life just happened to reveal them at this moment. It all goes back to what the condition of my heart is.

5.) I can't change other people, I can only change the way I react to them.

Thank you Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.

6.) That God is a gentleman.

He will not force Himself upon me. He will allow me to choose. Will it be Him or something else?

7.) I receive peace not when my prayers are answered but when they are offered.

8) God will not play my mind games.

When I worry about a particular situation that could happen, that is a mental reality that exists without God. He will not show up in my daymares. If the actual situation occurs, He will be there. But it is useless to worry because He won't play the game of showing me how every problem in my imagination will be solved IF it happens. He will only show me how it is solved if it does happen.

9) All suffering is weighing God's character against my own wisdom.

And my wisdom is EXTREMELY limited and fairly useless.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. " - Proverbs 3:5-6

10) God loves me.

This year I discovered that God is a God of boundaries. He does not tolerate sin. So the only way He can tolerate us is if that sin has been paid for. That is His boundary. But, He loves me so much that He paid for it Himself. Wow.

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Faith Daring Pillow Reminders

I was spending some time pouring my heart out to God this morning when I looked over and saw this pillow.  It says "Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see".  I have been sleeping in this room for several nights and somehow just noticed it today in the middle of my prayer.

Hmmm....  Perhaps I'll cart it back to the big city as a little reminder...
A reminder that faith means I trust that God is working behind the scenes....
And just because I can't see it doesn't mean I can't keep going.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cup Removal

"Abba, Father," He said, "everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36)

"Jesus, knowing all  that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'
    'Jesus of Nazareth.' they replied.
    'I am He,' Jesus said." (John 18:4-5)

Jesus asked for the cup of suffering that He knew was to come to be taken from Him.  And God was silent.  He did not take it away. 

And then, moments later, Jesus walked into the fire, knowing all that was going to happen to Him.

"I am He."  The cup of suffering was not removed.  God chose not to remove and so Jesus was obedient to what He was called to do.  He was completely obedient knowing what pain and suffering that would mean.

If I ask God to remove something, a hurt, a task, anything... How faithfully will I follow Him "through the valley of it" if He does not?  How obedient will I be when He calls me to do something and I say it is too hard?  Will I step forward and say, "I am she" or will I muddle through kicking and screaming?  

"So if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone."
-If You Want Me To- G. Owens

Having fallen in love with this song by Ginny Owens, I now realize that the truest example of the graceful obedience she sings of is in Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 15, 2008


"Someone told me a lie.
Someone looked me in the eye and said,
'Time will ease your pain.'"
-Cannonball by Brandi Carlile

I was struck today by how much faith I have put in time to heal pain. I think we are all guilty of that. But it struck me when I read this verse today:

"But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." - Psalm 59:16

And then I looked up the definition of refuge:
"Refuge: Anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape."

God is my refuge in times of trouble. He is my aid. He is my relief. He is my escape. He is the Healer that applies the balm to the wounds.

God only.
And I realized all of the things that I have been making my refuge lately:
Friendships. Family. Caring for Myself. Church. Keeping Busy. Serving Others. Loving Others. Performing. Exercising. The West Wing.
Even the advice I have received (and have given to others at times) points to the way we make everything but God our refuge:
"Lean on your friends."
"Time will fix this. Time will heal."
"Just keep yourself busy."
"Now you can focus on your career for a little while."
"This is time to make taking care of you a priority."

And I have been depending on these things (relationships, career, myself, etc.) to (1.) either pass the time until healing occurs or (2.) be my refuge.

But Time won't heal pain. It will make it seem less significant. It will fill our minds with other things and activities. But Time won't heal.

And there is nothing wrong with loving people or service or career or my favorite television show BUT I have made good things into ultimate things. I have made blessings into my refuge, my aid, my relief and my escape.

But only God is able to be my refuge. Only God is my Healer. Only God is my aid, my relief, my escape.

"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
and the mountains quake with their surging....
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted amontg the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
-Psalm 46:1-3 and 10

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quotes of the Week

I went back to see Sight and Sound Theater's Miracle of Christmas show last weekend that some of my friends were in. Two of the lines really hit me in the gut.

1.) The scene in the show where Mary is pregnant and Joseph thinks she has been unfaithful prompts Mary to say to him, "Why is your faith shaken by that which you cannot comprehend?"

Which led me to:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. " - Proverbs 3:5-6

How often am I leaning on my own understanding of a situation? My own, 25 year old, Kentucky born, New York University educated understanding of a situation? And let's be serious. How limited is that? Yikes.

Like Kathy Keller said, all suffering and hurt is weighing God's character against my own wisdom. And trusting in the Lord with all my heart goes hand and hand with LEANING NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING.

So, Lauren, quit leaning on something as rickety as a one legged table.

2.) There is a scene where Elizabeth, Mary's significantly older cousin, who is miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist discusses how after years of being unable to conceive a child, "In my greatest hour of despair, God did His best work."

I am constantly floored by the nature of God and the way He makes great things out of nothingness. It must be because once we are emptied of all our junk, that is the hour that we are most dependent on Him. We have been emptied of all the worldly desires, hang-ups and habits and are clinging to nothing but the knowledge that Jesus loves us because that is all we have left. And NOW, God can begin to do His best work.

Also this week, Susan threw this one at me when I was upset about my own stupid sins:
3.) "You never have anything to fear about being imperfect, Lauren. Until we see Jesus face to face, our imperfection is an unchangeable fact."

I'll admit when she hit me up with that one, I started crying immediately. It never ceases to amaze me how countercultural Jesus is. The idea that nothing about being loved by Him has anything to do with my performance as a human or even as a Christian is something I am constantly relearning.

So, as I sit between Thanskgiving and Christmas, I'm thankful for three things:
1.) That my God is bigger than the shakiness of my faith. A faith that is often shaken by things I can't comprehend.
2.) That God makes great things not out of good things but out of nothingness. He often does His best work in my greatest hours of despair.
3.) That I am completely and totally imperfect. And yet completely and totally loved.

Hope your Christmas is getting off to a good start.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


"I thank God upon every remembrance of you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now..." Philippians 1:3-5

I'll be honest.

I was not looking forward to the holidays this year.  In fact, the thought of Christmas is still a little daunting to me.

But God is good.  And when my skeptical heart said, "Really? A holiday to count my blessings?"  I was met with some pretty huge reasons why I should be doing just that.

There really is nothing like sisterhood.

It was pretty exciting to bring two of my favorite ladies from New York home to Kentucky and introduce them to my childhood community and say, "See, this is why New York is so important to me.  This is part of the community that continues to help me grow and love and change."

People in Kentucky can be pretty skeptical about why New York is a place worth visiting.  I can't count how much I introduced friends from NYC and heard "New York?  That's somewhere you will never see me go." 

But I think we showed them that sisters like this makes a lot of the homesickness, lack of grass and rent checks feel totally worth it.