Cupcakes and Running

What do these two things have in common?  I am sure many things but I am hoping for a great conversation.

Recently at a bar-b-que I was sitting around and talking with a group of running friends.  The conversation somehow quickly turned to food and how many of us had a mutual love of baking.  The thrill and challenge with sugar and making something that tastes so unbelievably decadent that it is for a treat….well at least that is what we tell ourselves.

Well out of all this came the idea to have a cupcake challenge.  A way for us to just spend time together outside of running and share in another part of our lives.  I know it is not earth-shattering but just engaging in life with others and deepening those relationships is a gift.

As I continue to ponder what it looks like to be incarnational in my life and think through how did Jesus live and what does that look like for me.  I figured he would enjoy a good night with great food that could lead to deeper conversation.  Now I just need to figure out what cupcake recipe to try out.

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There is something….

beautiful about sitting on the beach with waves crashing into the shore and the crackle of a fire burning brightly.  As the sun descended into the horizon so the conversation deepened.  This is what I have been longing, hoping and praying for as I think about these women.  I want them to experience coming together and hearing each other’s stories and realize they are not alone.  That God is writing his larger story and that they have a part in it.  Through heartbreak, setbacks, triumphs and just life they are experiencing the journey of walking with God and each other.

I also needed this reminder last night.  I couldn’t have felt more loved by each of them.  It was as if a collective sigh of relief was felt as we closed in prayer.  That the burdens that were deep within each heart for a moment were lifted and given over to the waiting hands of our loving Father.  I know we can experience these moments no matter our surroundings but I have to say looking into the fire and feeling its warmth there was a sense that we were delighting in something special, something restorative.

Life that flows

“We must go out and then let church reemerge as a reflection and the natural outgrowth of our missional way of life.” p.38 Tangible Kingdom  What does this mean?  Of course that is why I am reading the book and hopefully will discover more soon.  But one concept has been on my mind for the past few weeks.

How do you really engage with others around you that are vastly different from you in terms of values?  What does it look like to move towards others relationally when you disagree with their choices and behavior?  Jesus was considered a friend of sinners and they were drawn to him.  They wanted to spend time with him and liked being in his presence.  How many of us have friends in our lives that are far from Jesus but are drawn towards him through us?

I know that as I have sought to step out in faith and be this in my community I am finding that it is incredibly challenging.  So many times I want to throw my hands up and give up.  To not have to face times of feeling isolated or alone or conflicted in my emotions or how to handle certain situations.  Life is not so black and white and that is a challenge.  It brings me to my knees knowing that I don’t have the answers and that I fail others miserably.  All I can trust in is that I am deeply loved and growing and learning to lean more closely on the Lord.  Hopefully as I seek to rely on Jesus, He will be reflected to those around me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you stay engaged with others around you that may be difficult to love or even difficult to watch their life choices.  Oh but I am so thankful for the grace because thankfully Jesus doesn’t back away from me when I don’t choose him.

Conversation

We have them everyday.  Conversations, an exchange of ideas, thoughts, emotions or just words.  Sometimes we listen and engage and at other times it is probably doing that which is socially acceptable.  But what does it look like to have a conversation that is transformative.  One that changes the way I see myself, see the other person or even the way I see the world.

Lately, those are the conversations I crave and yet fear at the same time.  I long for transformation in my own life and those around me.  But transformation comes at a price.  It will cost me something and I am faced with the question “I am willing to pay the price?”.  For it requires that I leave the safety of what is know and what feels comfortable.  That risk is involved.

This morning I was having one of those conversations.  It was about what it means to really surrender my life to Jesus.  To live in such a way that I am willing to let go of my own agenda and plans and willing to surrender and embrace a life that is focused on others and what God would have for me.  We were talking theory and about how to live our lives missionally.  Both of us responsible for leading others and helping them to see the world differently.  But yet both us asking that question of ourselves.  If I am calling others to live a faith that is surrendered and can bring transformation, am I willing do that myself?  

Within our conversation a blog post by Mark Sayers was brought up where he shares his perspective on consumerism and why many young believers are leaving the church.  It is both convicting and telling.  http://marksayers.wordpress.com/older-articles/why-young-adults-leave-church-reason-4-consumerist-spirituality/

Thus the introspection begins.  Where am I allowing consumerism to influence my faith journey?  What are your thoughts.

Captivated by Story

Last night a group of women gathered in my home for dinner.  It was such a sweet time of entering into each other’s story.  The idea was to come together and answer the question “What are you captivated by?”

As the evening unfolded the stories became richer and deeper as experiences were shared and hearts unfolded.  Most of us could relate to being captivated by the beauty in nature; a glorious sunset, a majestic mountain, the quiet of a forest.  Yet it was the boldness of one woman to share her story of receiving forgiveness and the restoration of relationship that opened the treasure of venturing further into each other’s lives.  Blessing, peace, and experiencing the Lord’s presence all are places where our hearts are captivated.

Then I asked when have you experienced when the Lord has been captivated by you?  A hush fell over us and the weight of that question just lingered in the air.  The idea of the Lord being captivated by me???? Could that really be true.  Of course we sat there knowing intellectually that is what He says in His Word and yet the idea of truly believing that and its implications hung there.  Sweetness and freedom lay there waiting for us to believe.

As we pushed further into that idea I had a chance to read one of my favorite stories.  You are Special by Max Lucado.  This is what captivates me.  That my creator would be so loving, kind and generous with me.  That He patiently waits for me to come to Him and just spend time in His presence.

I delighted in an evening of women sharing their stories and look forward to another time of story.

Retrospection

Looking back, reflecting, evaluating.  There are so many aspects to retrospection.  Lately I have been inspired what Gordon T. Smith in Courage and Calling wrote about this aspect of our faith journeys.  He states that “[t]hrough retrospection we interpret how our identity and our call have unfolded in the whole of our life experience thus far.”  Isn’t that so true of our Lord.  To not waste any experience but allow all the trials and triumphs shape us into who he created us to be and also how we get to enter into his Kingdom work here on earth.

He also states that “[r]estrospection also includes coming to terms with the difficult moments in our journey.”  Throughout studying 2 Peter we are reminded that we should not be surprised by suffering and trials here on earth.  I am not sure if that is always consoling in the midst of great pain and heartache but I do know it has been a part of the conversations with younger women I have been having lately.  Just the recognition that life happens and it doesn’t seem to always turn out they way we anticipate or desire.  That  we experience hurt both from our own sin but also from the sins of others.  In this retrospection and looking back we can allow Jesus to enter into that pain and bring a healing that comforts and also allows us the freedom to enter into the hurting places of others.

Smith continues by saying “[w]e must look back, but we look back so that we can be fully present to the current situation, to the current moment, to the real circumstances of our current life situation.  Everything in our lives is a prelude to the present moment, to the present event, to the opportunities that are before us now.”  So that challenge exists to live in the present.  To not long for a past that may or may not have existed or a future that may or may not be.  But to just allow those moments that have shaped my past be a catalyst into what the Lord has for me in this present moment.

It is there that the tension lies.  Am I willing to listen, to engage in relationship with my Lord in such a dynamic way that I hear what He has for me?  Am I willing to embrace the present and be fully available to live into the moments now?

The Artist

Yesterday as a couple of us were sharing with each other about our struggles and triumphs the most beautiful picture arose.  I which I could claim credit but it was not my idea but one I am clinging onto.

 

As we were talking the idea arose of how many times as we continue in our journey with God we experience greater depths of emotion and intimacy it is like we increase our palette.  As we mature so do the varied colors with which we see the world.  It is no longer black and white but a myriad of shades which bring out greater beauty.

 

I can just imagine the joy and delight that must bring our Father in heaven to see our eyes opening to the wide range of colors that he desires for us to engage with each and every day.  His palette is limitless but mine continues to grow as I walk with Him.  Also as my palette grows so does my capacity to love others well and go to greater depths of experience.

 

Having gone through art school, although never being a painter, I so appreciate the idea of creating things of beauty.  I believe that is ultimately what we experience when we see restoration come out of broken places.

 

May your palette be full of many colors.