Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Art of Pursuit






Ooh, I can feel the controversy of this topic running through my fingers as I type this post, and I'm only in the first sentence! Be forewarned: This post may become a tinsy bit more passionate then the other ones usually are. It may or may not have to do with the fact that for supper I had a non-fat mocha with an extra shot of expresso.There. You can't say I didn't warn you.




In my meager 24 years of life, I have gradually figured out what I do and do not want in a man. However, I'm going to go a step beyond that ( I know, a big shocker) and I'm going to boldly generalize one of the things that many women deeply desire in life. To be pursued and desired by an honorable man.
Anybody who really knows me knows that I have very "old fashioned", conservative views on dating, the roles of men and women in a relationship and marriage. I have some friends that think I'm crazy, and some that don't understand it, but I also have a handful of friends who share the same or similar views. We support one another on the road to understanding ourselves, so that we in turn can have a hope to try to understand that man or woman that we will end up spending the rest of our lives with.

I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I've posted, but remember; this blog is my little corner of the world, so I can write whatever I want. And, as always, I hope that what I write inspires and encourages, as well as encourages you to look at things in a different perspective. No "box inhabiting" in my world.
We live in a culture that has blurred, if not completely erased the dividing line between what it means to be a "man" and what it means to be a "woman". Thanks to that rediculous "Sexual Revolution", women tend to think that the concept and art of the pursuit of a woman is either:

A) Slow -" I can do this so much faster and quicker! I want what I want, and I want it now!"


B) Offensive-" Why does HE have to pay for my meal? I'm a self suffiecient, hard working single woman. Is he insinuating that I'm not capable? "

C) Non-equalizing: "Men and Women are on the same plane. Neither should be considered higher than the other. Women can do what a man can do. Women can do a man's job."

While the reality of these truths is that they've been largely accepted in our society, the truth of the matter is that they have ruined the beauty and the art of a man pursuing a woman, and a woman responding to the pursuit and her pursuer.
As women, we tend to think that our timing ( Which usually is when we want something) is the right timing. We give men the excuses that they are "dumb", "blind", "don't get it", "shy", "not experienced", etc. while there are certainly times that these things are legitimate, as women we tend to view them as things that just "slow up" what is "supposed to happen". That is when we call first, we initiate all the communication, we share our feelings, and we go out of our way to show them "how much we care".

Truth: If a man wants to be with a woman; if he has the slightest bit of interest in getting to know her beyond a platonic level, he will do something about it. and, if he desires to and doesn't, he's not the man that God desires him to be. That's a harsh statement, I know, and I feel a little bit like a rotten person for believing it, but I think it's true. God designed men to "conquer and divide" to be excited about "the hunt", and to desire a challenge to win something that is truly a prize. Likewise, God designed women with beautiful gifts of being able to respond, affirm and encourage the pursuit and the pursuer. My heart goes out to those men who want to and can't, with the reasons being many, none of which I am down playing in the least. Fears of rejection, not "being enough". failure, anxiety and arrogance are some of the reasons that come to mind, all of which are strongholds in a person's life that prevents them from moving forward. Only Jesus Christ can work miracles on the heart of a person in a strong hold, and I choose to believe that it happens.

I also have compassion for the women who think that if they "hunt down" the man they are interested in, that they will receive the attention, affirmation and affection that their hearts desire. My heart breaks when I see so many women searching for their significance and answers in a man who really wasn't "on board" in the first place. Fear, anxiety and arrogance also plays a role with women. Instead of having the grace and the courage to wait to be pursued and desired, we give into the fears such as being alone and fears of "not being enough or too much", just to name a few. And often times, these things can be a direct result as to how we view ourselves; the worth and emphasis that we place on who we are as individuals. Both men and women must initially find their significance and attractive qualities in the romancer of their hearts, Jesus Christ.
Passivity is an evil thing. I think that satan lurks in passitivity, totally ready to give men a reason to be so, and women reasons enough to accept it in a man. As women, when we "take over" and don't wait to be pursued, we encourage passivity in a man. We take away that mission, because we've claimed that mission as our own. Passitivity is the absence of passion. And with women, when we don't respond to the pursuit of a man, we are also demonstrating passivity. When we don't share how we really feel, or fail to respond directly with a "yes" or "no", we hinder the pursuer. We as women need to respect and encourage the men who put aside all of their fear of rejection, anxiety and pride, to show and tell you that they think you are worth getting to know. Even if one of the people isn't attracted to the other, this act absolutely demands respect. period. Pursuit is an honorable act in a very dishonorable society.

Jesus is the perfect gentleman. His chivelary is un-ending, His pursuit is relentless. His love is intoxicating, and He doesn't worry about "coming on too strong". As we grow in our relationship with Him, we can learn to respond with the faith and the courage that our youth demands of us. As we get to know the lover of our souls, we can learn on a more intimate level what God desires of His children in matters of the heart. Let Him pursue you, and may you have the courage to respond to His pursuit, unafraid of the future and more deeply in love then ever before. Furthermore, may you have the courage and desire to pursue His love for you, never fearing what may come of such a bold act of the heart.










Saturday, August 28, 2010

Again




Ever since I was a little girl, I've had this crazy notion that I'm supposed to get something right the first time. In addition to that, I've thought that if I learned something the first time, I should be able to get it right every time. Well, you can imagine how many times I've hit the floor, only to have gotten back up again, my stubborness and strong will proving to be a positive asset.

I distinctly remember being 12 years old, sitting at the kitchen table at 9:30 at night, sobbing over my math text book, pencil in hand, so extremely angry and upset that I just simply couldn't figure out those problems! My mom would either cry with me, or throw her hands up in frustration, not sure what to do with her dramatic, over analytical daughter who was so intelligent and mature for her age, and yet could not figure out how many minutes verses miles it took for charles to get to Texas going 65 miles an hour, or how in the world x didn't indeed equal 1o, even though I did the problem step by step, at least eight times.

As an adult, that same struggle has translated to so many different areas in my life. My mother reminded me the other day how many times she has failed and failed again in different areas of her life, and that sometimes she didn't learn the first time. That sometimes,it took four or five times before she actually got it and made the change, or figured out how to solve her problem.
Where in our human capabilities do we think that we are supposed to get it right the first time? Why do I expect this of myself, and why do I fall apart when I fall flat on my face the first time, thinking that it's "over" or "I'll never get this"?
One of my all time favorite movies is "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken". If you haven't had the privilege of experiencing this movie, it is a true story about a young girl whose stubborness and will was her greatest weakness and strength. She became a successful "diving girl", diving horses off of a high point into a swimming pool. I won't share the whole thing in an effort not to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but there is a scene in that movie that I want to share with you.

Sonora and Al ( This incredibly hot, gorgeous son of her boss) train this wild stallion in an effort to show Al's father ( the owner of the diving show business) that Sonora could dive horses, and be promoted from being a stable hand. Al told her if she could make a "moving mount" ( mounting the wild horse while the horse was running), she could become a diving girl.
Sonora fell again, and again and again. But each time that she did, she kept saying "Again." She absolutely refused to give up. She was going to make that moving mount. And you know what? She did. (
I've posted the link to the movie clip from youtube, go to minutes 3:45 for this scene. It's powerful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wp6TapXIK0&feature=related )

I think that sometimes, we need to accept and know ahead of time that we won't get it right the first time, and that maybe, just maybe, God uses that time to teach us that not only is it ok, but it's neccesary. It teaches us perseverence, trust, but most of all, I think it teaches us acceptance. When we accept life on life's terms, we gain peace. When we accept the fact that we aren't going to get it right the first time, we have peace. When we fall down and hit the ground so hard that we aren't sure if we can make it up again, all we have to say is "again". There is a lot of power in the word "again". It is a word that could be viewed as repetitive and boring, but I choose to view it as a word that God uses to keep us going. When we are absolutely positive that we simply can't do it, we can do it, with the strength and the help of our Heavenly Father. If we got it right every time, what would we learn, and how would God prove to be so much greater, so much more capable than we are?
I found the biography of the real Sonora Webster, to which I came across this quote from her sister.
"The movie made a big deal about having the courage to go on riding after she lost her sight. But, the truth was, riding the horse was the most fun you could have and we just loved it so. We didn't want to give it up. Once you were on the horse, there really wasn't much to do but hold on. The horse was in charge." Wow. Can you see the paralellism of the horse and Jesus?

Friends, the truth is that life is like making a moving mount on a horse. Everything is going in fast motion, and it's not going to all stop to give you time to "get it right" and "get things in order". You just have to jump on that horse, fall flat on your face, and try again. And if you choose not to even take that risk, you aren't participating in life. You stand on the side lines, worried that you are going to fail, when in all actuality, you are failing by not trusting God that He'll pick you back up again when you do fall. Maybe that's what it's all about. Maybe it's about being in pain and being uncomfortable, because it is right in that place that He can show us how great His capabilities are in taking care of His children.


May every fall you take bring you closer to your Father. May your bloody and scratched elbows and knees be an offering to your King. Let Him pick you up, and keep trying again, again and again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It Can Only Come As a Gift




God bless my "happy place".
I retreated there this evening with so much on my heart, and a need for space to breathe and think. I know that God meets us wherever we are at in every sense of that phrase, but for some reason I feel like He really meets with me in my "happy place". Do you have such a place? I certainly hope so. Everyone should have a place like that.
For the past couple months, I've been reading "Quest For Love" by Elizabeth Elliot. Tonight I dove into it again, and God certainly taught me something tonight that I hope is beneficial to you as well. My aim for this blog is to not merely write, but to write about things that will benefit and penetrate the hearts of my readers. I hope that this post is no exception.
In one of the chapters of Elizabeth's book she shares a story that took place in the 1800's about a missionary by the name of Hudson Taylor. Hudson was in love with girl #1. Girl #1 was also in love with Hudson, but didn't share his calling and passion for the mission field. Both Hudson and girl #1 thought that they could change each others minds, but to no avail. Hudson left for the mission field, and came upon girl #2. He liked girl #2 and pursued her, but she did not return his love for her. Hudson was living in China at the time, and the likelihood of finding a suitable mate in that part of the world seemed slim to none, until he came arcross Maria. He didn't spend much time with Maria, but grew to love her and proposed marriage to her. To make a long story short, they lived happily ever after.
However, here is the excerpt that hit me like a ton of bricks:

"Hudson's career had shown his compulsion for love. His muddled attempts to end loneliness had led him to make offers which, if accepted, would have snuffed out the flame of his pioneering zeal. His existance cried aloud to be organized, to be understood: his natural impatience made him flounder about trying to construct a partnership which could only come as a gift."
-John C. Polluck, Hudson Taylor and Maria


Nearly my whole life, I have heard the following phrase "Sarah, God witholds nothing good from His children." and this is a promise from God, as it is written in His word.(Psalm 34:10). In fact, I pray that in my daily prayers every morning. "Dear God, remind me that you withold nothing good from your children, and that which you withold that is good, is of greater good at that time." But tonight when I read the excerpt written above, the highlighted portion allowed me to go a step beyond that concept; that step being that when we are disobedient, when we insist on our way or what appears to be exactly what God wants for us, we actually take away the opportunity for God to give us His precious gifts. Don't get me wrong. Our God is a God of mercy and grace, and He works and moves in our lives despite our lack of obedience. However, I desire to receive gifts from God. Gifts that I cannot compose with my own resources and sheer, stubborn will, but gifts that can only be designed, formed and crafted by the ultimate gift giver. I want to be like the surprised little girl on her birthday that was only expecting the Barbie Doll that was on sale, and instead given a beautiful porcelin masterpiece that far outshined the plastic bimbo that she wanted in the first place.
Make room in your heart to accept the fact that God truly does not withold anything good for His children. Take comfort in the fact that that which is good and God honoring and is not happening, is not happening because that is of greater good for you at this time. Rest in the peace that when you let go of shopping for your own presents, He will surprise you with a beautiful package with the prettiest of papers and ribbons, only to find that on the inside is something you could never have dreamed up. Only God can dream up the ultimate blessings of our lives. Trust that He knows your taste, your favorite color, and exactly what makes your heart sing.

Let Him give those gifts to you, let Him lavish you, let Him love you. Let Him be the gift giver, and you be the receiver. For in this case, it is truly better to receive, then it is to give.

Wake Up, Show Up and Just Do It.


As I type the title of this blog post, I can hear my mother's voice ringing in my head. This phrase is loosely adapted from something my mother has said time and time again whenever it seemed unbearable to do something that God had clearly laid out for you to do.
That is how I can describe this last month of my life. Nothing really makes any sense, and what I thought made total sense no longer makes any sense at all. Make sense? :)
Very little "feels" good right now. I find myself fighting back tears as I go through my days at work, trying to "be grateful for my assigned portion"(Psalm 16:5) and "trusting Him in the least thing shown." Friends, I'm here to tell you that God answers our prayers, especially the ones that our human flesh doesn't really want answered. You know what prayers I'm talking about "God, please give me patience", and then He gives you a whole plateful of opportunities to practice patience.
Here is what I've learned: Trusting God means just doing life, even if you don't know how in the world it's going to come together. Trusting God doesn't "feel" good. It's not a "mountain top experience", and when you trust God, satan is going to come right in there and do everything he possibly can to break that trust apart. There is a contemporary Christian song that goes " I don't want to go through the motions". Although I appreciate the song and I understand what the author is communicating to his audience, sometimes you have to go through the motions when you trust God. Sometimes going through the motions is trusting God.

I choose to believe that our God is a God who understands that sometimes we have to go through the motions and sometimes we have to wrestle between trusting Him and thinking we are crazy for doing so, in order to fully understand His capability of moving mountains in our lives.

It's perfectly acceptable to "go through the motions". When we "wake up, show up and just do it", it allows God to truly do the same in our life. When we move out of the way and throw away our ideals of how we are to "feel, do and be", God steps in and shows us what that really means.

Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him.

Trust Him in the least thing shown.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stumble




I've come to understand that life isn't a smooth, pathed path. Instead, it is full of underground roots, pebbles that get into your shoe, trees that have fallen to the ground due to lightening and strong winds, potholes and un-even gravel. I've learned that much of walking on the path of life involves stumbling over obstacles, falling, and then eventually getting back up again and continuing on to wherever it is you are going.


Have you ever stopped to realize the blessings that have resulted out of stumbling on to something? Even though the path itself is full of obstacles, it's what surrounds us on that path that is beautiful. It may be pitch black as you walk your path, but there hanging in the sky is a beautiful full moon, glowing just brightly enough to illuminate your journey, accompanied by a host of twinkling stars. How many times in your life have you just been "going about your business", when you happen to stumble into someone who may now be your best friend, or when you've taken what appears to be a "detour" in life, and through that detour God reveals to you an occupation choice that you hadn't ever considered in the past, but it turns out to be a life long calling; it just so happens that your unique talents, gifts and personality fit in like a puzzle piece that had been lost for goodness knows how long under that couch cushion.


I've written this statement before in one of my blog posts, but I'm going to say it again. He has been where we are going. What appears to be obstacles in our path are just God's way of getting us to depend on Him. He is our compass and our guide. I say that as much for my sake as I do for yours. My knees are pretty skinned up from constantly tripping on the obstacles of life.... but if I can learn to find joy in my suffering and to be content in whatever my circumstances, I know He'll lead me home.


Psalm 119:102-105 "The Message" Translation


"I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil so I can spend all my time keeping in your word. I never make detours from the route you've laid out; you gave me such good directions....By your words I see where I am going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sittin' In the Corner



I simply love word pictures. Word pictures help me make sense of things, giving me a tangible means to make sense of the world. Last night on my drive home from a weekend of family and refreshment, my dear friend Gary gave me a really great one.

"It's kind of like God is putting me in a corner and saying "Stay here until I'm done!" ".

I can totally relate to that word picture. God knows us through and through. He knows our passions, our dreams and our goals. He gets excited when we get excited about making a difference, pressing on and doing "the next right thing", as my mom puts it so clearly. But, there are times where God says "hoooold your horses child. Your ways aren't my ways, my thoughts aren't your thoughts. Let me do what I do best. Stay here until I'm finished, and DON'T MOVE." It's at that point where we can choose to be obedient, or try to sneak out of our "time out", thinking we can outsmart the omnipresent nature of our heavenly Father.
Here is a portion of Romans 12:3, in the translation of "The Message".
"...Living then, as everyone does, in pure grace, it's important that you do not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing the goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and what He does for us,not by what we are and what we do for Him."


Sometimes, I think it's neccesary that we give ourselves a "time out". I believe firmly that as Christians, we at times can fall into more of the "I do for God" rather then the "God do for me". God doesn't need us, but He chooses to use us to fulfill His plan on this earth. It's almost as if we can at times view ourselves as the main act, and God is merely the opening entertainment. The sad truth is that so many Christians miss out on seeing God move in their lives, because they are so concerned with moving and doing in their own lives. Sometimes I yearn to sit in that corner for awhile. What does a parent usually say to a child who is put in "time out"? Well, I know from personal experience that the typical instructions given to me by my mother was "I want you to use this time to think about what you did." Likewise, God calls us to our own personal corners to think about what He is doing in our lives and the lives of so many others, drawing us away from ourselves and closer to Him. And, when the timer dings to tell us our "time out" is done, we can be confident that our time spent in our own little corner was time truly well spent.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yes



When we allow God to enable us to quiet our souls, I believe that He shows us things that we can't see when we are restless and "busy" inside and out. I was reminded of this truth two days ago, when a resident of mine shared something with me. "Sarah, " she said. " I have a sign on my door that says "Yes". Just say yes to whatever God puts in front of you."

It was in that moment that I realized God was speaking directly to me. As I processed and prayed about that statement, I realized what God was telling me in that moment.


Things are tough right now. Very tough. Nothing in my life right now "feels good". I feel like God has been breaking me, making me uncomfortable, and literally "emptying me of me", which is a direct result of my prayer and submission to Him, asking Him to do those things. Sometimes it amazes me how I can struggle with believing that God answers prayer. Sometimes that answered prayer isn't what we want it to look like.Often that answered prayer is experiencing just what I am at this very moment. Sometimes God answering our prayers is painful, full of tears and maybe some deep rooted sadness. However, we can take hold of the promise that those answered prayers are blessed, are beautiful, are meant to happen in order for God to continue His good work in us.

What I am learning is how to continually say "yes" to God, even when I don't understand why He is calling me to do so. A part of a prayer that I've been praying goes something like this" Obey God in the least thing shown". When we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, to help lead us, that doesn't mean we get to know "why", we just have to "do". That's a hard one for me to swallow. We would all like to know the "why" before we actually "do", but then where would God fit in? In our humaness we would allow Him to kind of sink to the bottom of our resources, to slowly fade in the distance. I am learning that the Lord uses things that are important to us to get our attention, to draw us closer to Him.


Here is a word picture I'm going to leave you with. I picture God, in all of His majesty and beauty, tall and broad shouldered, standing over me. I am about knee level to Him, thrusting punches at Him in frustration, much like a small child would do to her father. The punches are certainly wimpy, but they have so much power behind them for that small child. Then I picture my Father just smiling, with a softness in His expression. Then, after I tire, He scoops me up in His arms, and I lay my head on His shoulder, His strong arm holding me tight.

God doesn't want us to throw wimpy, childish punches at His knees. However, He lets us, appreciating our honesty and being a gentleman, giving us the choice to fight or not. He wants us to bow down at His feet, to surrender, to allow Him to scoop us up in His arms. He's just waiting for us to give up the fight, and let Him to do it for us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On My Knees



Being on one's knees is probably the most ultimate of a vulnerable physical position. Being in that position makes it difficult to rise up quickly, verses elevating quickly from a sitting position. To obtain eye contact with a small child or a wheel chair bound person, we must make an effort to bend down from our comfortable standing position. Being on one's knees communicates at least four things: 1) surrender 2) vulnerability 3) willingness and 4) respect.

Last spring at a women's faith conference, I was challenged by one of the speakers to pray on my knees as much as possible. Prior to hearing that, I had done it a few times, but had not made a habit of it. On several occasions within this year, I have found myself on my knees as kind of a "last resort", but quickly learned that powerful things happened when I prayed in this manner.

I don't think that God really cares in what form we pray. We can do it in our heads as we drift off to sleep at night, in writing within the pages of a journal, outloud alone or in a group, or through music. But I have learned that there are specific deliverance methods of prayer that make a greater personal connection for myself. I cannot assume that this is true for all people, but because this is my little corner of the world, I will share my personal thoughts and I hope to get feedback from those who will be reading this.

I have found that when making the personal effort to physically get on my hands and knees before my Savior, I am brought down to the lowest physical point. This in turn connects to my emotions, and the understanding in my heart that I cannot be effective, function or truly experience the peace and joy found through my Savior, without Him enabling me to do so. I have also found that by conquering my weird little hang up about praying out loud by myself, there are words and requests that flow from my lips that are not of myself.

I also experience that same phenomenon when I sing. When God gives me a song title to sing for ministry, there is that direct connection between my gift to that person, and the giver of that gift. Often the lyrics of songs allow me to not stand in the way of what God is wants to communicate to those who are listening.


There is an old song by Christian Contemporary Artist Jaci Valesquez entitled "On My Knees". The words to this song beautifully express what I'm trying to communicate through this post.

On My Knees

There are days
when I feel
The best of me
is ready to begin
Then there's days
when I feel
I'm letting go
and soaring on the wind
'Cause I've learned in laughter or in pain
How to survive!

I get on my knees!
There I am before the Love
That changes me
See I don't know how
But there's power
When I'm on my knees

I can be
in a crowd
Or by myself
and almost anywhere
When I feel
there's a need
To talk with God
He is Emmanuel
When I close my eyes,
no darkness there
There's only light!

See I don't know how, but there's power
When I'm on my, oh, when I'm on my
When I'm on my knees


The highlighted portion of the song "cause I've learned in laughter or in pain, how to survive!" friends, prayer is a method of survival. Just like food is a method for our bodies to survive, and relationships are a method for our hearts to survive, prayer is a means to survive this world. We need that communion with God even more then anything else in this world! Just now the little quote "God answers knee-mail" ran through my head. As "cute" as that phrase is, it's so true! Every single one of our knees should be bruised and sore from kneeling on the ground and leaning on our Savior, confident that He hears us and takes us at our word.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sowing in Tears



Recently I've been diving into some classics by author and speaker Elizabeth Elliot. So much of what she writes and the way she writes it is effective, scripturally sound and truly insightful. I felt the need to post the following in an effort to encourage my readers. I hope that it will succeed in doing so!


"It is good that we should have to submit to what we do not understand. It teaches us the laws of faith and hope.It is good that we should have to do what we should rather not, in circumstances not of our choice. It is good that there should always be something to prick us on, something to remind us that we are in enemy's country, belong to a marching column. It is good that we should meet with checks and failures in what we undertake, to keep us humble and prayerful. All these things belong to sowing in tears. God seems to laid out the order of things in His Church, not for general and brilliant triumph but for the hidden santification of the individual souls which compose it."


Janice Erskine Stuart-"Prayer in Faith"