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For your best photographs, consider perspective

https://joyfullifemagazine.com/for-your-best-photographs-consider-perspective/

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Christian discovery, Self-awareness

There is no neutral

“Please tell me you’re having a boy.”

I read concern and maybe a little disgust on the waitress’s face as she surveyed by belly, 9 months ripe.

My husband quickly met my eyes, doing a quick read on my reaction. Our three daughters continued coloring happily on their kids menus. I was buried deeply in the booth, smushed on all sides by the beloved people with whom I get to do everyday life.

Although it was far from the first time I had been addressed this way, it still caught me off guard and a laugh escaped my lips.

“Nope!” I replied with a smile.

She proceeded to turn to my husband. “Man, I feel sorry for you.”

“Don’t!” he immediately responded.

She shrugged and walked away to fill our drink orders.

____________

I wonder why comments like these are so commonplace. Is there a cultural understanding that a ‘successful’ or ‘good’ life must include children of both genders? Should there ever be a lack of gratitude for an amazing gift?

“Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.” 1 Timothy 4:4

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“And whatever you do or say, do it was a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17

Our waitress obviously did not grasp the magnitude of the miraculous blessing growing in my womb. She was unaware of the journey I have been on and how undeserving I am of the life I am every day gifted to live.

Discontentment is contagious. So is gratitude. Let’s be careful which we are spreading.

“In every encounter, we either give life or we drain it. There is no neutral exchange.” Brennan Manning

Digging deeper, Poetry

Soil Surrender

It seemed like rich, soft soil

in this heart I carried ‘round

But when the Gardener’s spade hit,

He struck a hardened ground.

He continued to throw his shovel

breaking chunks off with each blow

Unsatisfied He was 

with leaving this plot so shallow.

The pain spurred tears of anger,

of grief, embarrassment

Then new drops of humility

finally were spent.

The Gardener didn’t mind the water,

in fact he used its spray

The tears provided softness

to the hardened dirt and clay.

The Gardener kept on digging

deep and wider than before

Good plans he’d made for this claimed lot

much harvest was in store.

He encountered rocks and weeds

that had settled in their place

But lovingly he pulled each up

to clear a fertile space

They kept his seeds from going deep

whose roots they must run wild

He tugged each weed up by the root,

untainting soil defiled.

___

I could resist my Gardener,

withhold my tears in pride

Or cling to rocks and all the weeds

I try so hard to hide

I could focus on my neighbor’s soil

and keep a detailed list

Maybe point out to the Gardener

their rough spots that he missed

But if I trust his work in me

I’ll focus on my own

I’ll let the tears pour softly down

Let him expose each stone

For all of us have rocky spots

Eve’s daughters and her sons

Let him who doesn’t cast the first

at us, the sinful ones

___

The Gardener’s hand is full of seeds

he gently tosses down

Like pebbles on the earth 

that will emerge as jewels in crowns

There will be seasons of waiting,

of pruning and more rain

But good crops are beginning

with deep roots that will sustain

The Gardener smiles at his work,

His promises fulfilled

He just needed unkempt soil

that was willing to be tilled.

Christian discovery, Digging deeper, Faith building, Self-awareness

My Identity “Untangled”

Suddenly it was more than just a movie night. 

I looked down from the screen with tear filled eyes. Despite my lack of golden locks, I felt a strong connection to Rapunzel. I had forgotten my true identity. The enemy had lured me away and used fear to convince me to stay in captivity. He spoke lies that he had my best interest at heart. My God-given powers and gifts were wasted for years serving his demands.

But something in me had always been a bit unsettled. I was curious, wondering when my life would really begin. I performed the usual routine activities on repeat as days turned into years. In attempts to go deeper, I served at church, read Scripture, and participated in small groups, but all without getting too vulnerable. 

While I was guardedly seeking, God was also pursuing me. In His creation, in songs, in my unquenchable thirst for purpose, He was launching His light into the sky to beckon me home.

In what felt like a hopeful impulse, I finally took a small leap out of security. “Search me and know me, Lord,” I prayed. “Test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me in the path of everlasting life.”

He answered with an adventure I could never have imagined. 

In the movie, Rapunzel’s journey to the kingdom also took an unexpected turn. She eventually rejoined her mother in their tower, betrayed and heartbroken. She believed her original fears of the outside world had been confirmed. “I tried to warn you,” her mother cooly and confidently affirmed, satisfied that this would quell any future attempts at escape.

Lying on her bed Rapunzel gazed up at the ceiling she had spent her life painting. This time something caught her attention- the royal crest of the kingdom scattered all throughout her work. Her reality began to unravel as she realized she had been subconsciously painting the symbol of her true identity all over the walls of the prison she called home. She was not simply a girl living with a mother who was trying to protect her. She was the lost princess!tumblr_inline_oxh0dlbol11sg8asc_1280

Much like Rapunzel, it took deep, personal heartbreak for God to begin to open my eyes. Now I saw the unquestionable evidence all around me. It had leaked out in the voids of my own efforts, my own attempts at painting the walls of my heart searching for significance and worthiness and loveliness. I put up more strokes of paint every time I tried to earn love and acceptance from sources that could never really provide it. There in my works was a Christ-shaped hole that I had never noticed before. I wondered now how I could have ever missed it.

One thing I did know was that I couldn’t go back to the old way of living.

In the fairy tale movie, it took 18 years for Rapunzel to realize she was actually royalty living in captivity. It took me 31 years! It takes some soul searching to assess.

  • Have you ever wondered when your life will really take off?
  • Is there a longing in you to be part of something bigger? 
  • Have you dreamed of an “if only”, completely fresh start? 
  • Are you worried you might be missing your real purpose?

What if these longings are lights in your heart from the Kingdom, hoping you won’t settle for a false life of captivity?

  • Do you know you have an enemy?
  • Have you heard his subtle lies whispered in your ear? They are often disguised as rational half-truths that confirm your fears. 
  • “Look at you, fragile and unqualified. Maybe soon, but not yet. Something will probably go wrong. Skip the drama and stay where you are.”

Your discovery that you are secretly royalty is a threat to him. 

  • Do you spend time painting your tower?
  • Are you happy with how well you fit in the “right” crowd?
  • Do your actions and choices reveal your needs for certain clothing, makeup, body shape, houses, cars, vacations, relationships, manicured nails and front lawns, resumes and connections? 
  • When you’re disappointed and fear or pain rise to the surface, do you expect one of these “needs” to comfort the cross-shaped hole in your life?

As scary as it may be, honest answers to these questions can be the first step on our adventure toward the King who is calling us home!

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:15-17)

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)