Thursday, October 30, 2014

When You Hit the Wall and There Is No Runner's High

I hate the burn in my lungs from running. I've been told a million times you can push past and a runner's high is second to none, but me? I'd rather dance it out or do ANYTHING other than run.

Chalk it up to my small stature and lung capacity. Running has never been my thing. I've tried and I'll keep trying, but I'm doubtful that I'll be running a marathon...well...ever.

Running takes determination and endurance. It requires motivation and lazy people need not apply.

There will be miles that you don't feel like continuing on and you'll want to stop. My friends who run tell me if you push through and believe you can do it  you catch a second wind. They tell me it isn't near the finish line that you breach exhaustion. No, it's right in the arduous middle.

Ya'll, I hit a wall yesterday in the chase.

October has been looney tunes for my family. A month plus of engineering exam studying for my husband, constant travel for his job, two weekend mission's conferences, his exam and my trip to Allume has made for an overflowing month. October with it's glow usually finds me reveling in it's beauty, but I've wished again and again for it to pass right on into the past this year.

Yesterday was the day that broke my back...actually it was my knee. I could see the light. My husband was headed home from his final trip of the month. I was headed to the gym with only the lightest morning sickness and then something in my knee popped- like the bad kind of pop where you know nothing good can come of the next few steps.

It seems that my loosened pregnancy joints caused me to strain the muscle that connects my thigh to my knee. Oh goodie. Cue the self pity as I try and hobble around behind my almost three year old. I'm sad to say that little injury drained all the light right out of my day. I'm ashamed at how easily I stumble into the darkness. 

The writer of Hebrews called us all out to run the race before us with endurance. I gasp for air at the first signs of difficulty. Increase the grade of my chase and I'm quick to complain of the difficulty. 

My knee injury has been a forced slow down in my life. I sat in the waiting room at the doctor's office today and read the words of James over and over as he reminded me to consider the trials joy because they are making me more like Jesus. I needed to tune my heart back to His voice. I needed the Spirit to re-energize me in the chase.

Don't be confused because chasing light isn't about a try hard brand of Christianity. It's about leaning hard into the Spirit when we feel too weak to continue on. It's about believing that our second wind in our weakness is the very Spirit of the living God alive inside of us.

After all isn't that what this chasing light thing is all about? 

God, Jesus, Creator of light, the Spirit that fills us wants us to live in the light ever becoming more like our brother and Savior Christ. I will stumble and my lungs will blaze hot with the effort at times. I will want to stop and I might even momentarily take a knee as I wonder if I can make it.

I am confident that the Spirit will meet me there in my dark moments of wondering and push me forward in my chase.

Tell me about your month of light chasing. Where has it taken you? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let Me Have a Sip of That: A Chasing Light Love Story

It was nine years ago today when I slipped my hand through my brother's arm and walked down the aisle toward my husband-to-be. One of those perfect autumn days where the colors blaze the breeze blows warm and the possibilities seem endless.

The other night he reminded me of the life we've lived in these short nine years. We've had more adventure in our few years then some have in their whole lifetime.

He is the only man who I want to share my food with. Scratch that. He's the only human being that I am remotely willing to share my food with. {I have a problem} Save our children who take their portion of mama's food by force- something I'm still growing accustomed too.

He is always the more generous one. He is the first to give and the one to slide his drink across the table for me when I ordered water. Because he knows I'm going to ask for a sip of sweet tea.

We've crossed oceans and almost been homeless and wondered about money and how we would make it. We've found the humor in most of it and the broken beauty in the rest and we've believed in a God of redemption together.

Our lives have changed. Our roles have changed. He's the silliest Daddy and I don't know if he fully knows how much that brown-eyed little look-alike girl of his loves him. I know I love him more for all of his love for her that I get to front row seat to watch. It heals me in all the father-less places.

And to think it all began with a walk to see a pig...yes, a pig. We walked to see how the Christmas pig was fattening up and then I ran away from him. But God wouldn't let me run too far from this brown-eyed boy and a year later we were married.

He is the smartest, wisest, funniest, bravest man I know.

My life has been brought closer to the Light by His lead. 

I think Light chasing might be the best part of our marriage. I'm continually amazed at the pull he has on me. He can find me where I am in my fear and shrinking and he points me again and again to truth. He is a live piece of Jesus that puts my life in perspective again and again. 

I have discovered it is infinitely better to chase light together. 

Yes, it gets messy. There are dark days when you'd rather roll over and turn out the light in silence then roll to the middle and invite the Light of God into the mess that is your marriage. We've learned to navigate the darkness always steering toward the Light. I'm glad those dark days have been far outnumbered by the days bursting with Light. That is God at work.

When my lungs have burned from the effort to find God in the cracks of life he has pointed and pushed and believed with me that God has not abandoned us. 

I don't have a grand point. I'm grateful, humbled and oh so happy the bearded man who makes my life is coming home today from his travels. I could have spent the last nine years a thousand different ways, but I'm glad that I've spent each one with him. There's no one I'd rather chase light alongside. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

We're Each Others Light

She sits alone in a darkened room. The light barely peeking through the window is just much for her eyes, her heart. She turns away and burrows into heavy pillows and blankets and buries the pain, hurt and the exhaustion. She shivers cold in the dark of it all because the heat of blankets can't warm the coldness of a body, a soul living far from the Light.

We've all had moments as this woman. Some of us have had more moments and more struggles with depression and darkness wrestling than others. There is no place so dark that the Light, the first Light that was called from the darkness, can't find a way in. We are the way in.

Me and You. Sisters.

We are the conduit to get Light into the darkness of those around us.

Darkness isolates and bullies and we have to be the voices, the candle holders, the lamp lighters that drive away the dark for each other.  We can find each other in blackened through and through places.

Miscarriage, babes who won't sleep through the night, disease wrecking a body, a marriage on the cliff's edge, are all places that we can find each other slipping into the darkness.

I need my sisters. I need to be seen by them. I need them to know when I am stumbling toward the darkness. I desperately long for them to speak truth and invite the Light into my life.

There are times that I don't want the Light. It's the same feeling you get when your eyes have grown accustomed to the dimness and a light is suddenly turned on. You shrink back. You long for the darkness because the light requires too much of you.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5
I've experienced the pull of those in the Light. They call me out. They wrap me up in truth and remind me that the Light is warmth and peace. The Light is my greatest need.

How have you been drawn into the Light by others?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why We Might be Looking too Low {Day 27}

I've been chasing light quietly away from my computer. I was at the Allume conference over the weekend and I was filled and wrung dry at the same time.

In another universe I would have been way ahead on the 31 Days posts, but in this universe? The one I live and breathe and potty train a toddler in? It just wasn't happening.

I'm back at home in my glorious ordinary with dishes stacked high, a wheezing washing machine and a new scented candle to cover up that smell I can't seem to track down.

This is my life and the messy middle of where I chase light. 

I was inspired this past weekend by something one of the Allume keynote speakers said. Confession: I was super tired in the evenings while at the conference. Chalk it up to not enough caffeine and a wee baby growing in my belly (hadn't you heard?) but it was all I could do to track along with the evening speakers.

As I zoned in and out of consciousness at Timothy Willard's keynote I managed to catch one thing. I'm constantly looking for God to show up right in front of me in my plain old everyday. I think that is good. I think He is very present. However, Tim asked us to allow our gaze to be drawn upwards.

Some days those dishes, and my friends illness, and the rattle in the front end of the car are all a bit much. If we aren't remembering, yes God is with us in all of the details, but He is also over all of them.

God is gloriously high above our dirt stained earth problems. 

We are an entertainment obsessed culture. We want to be awed, but our threshold for being awed has increased until it is almost entirely out of reach. God wants us to be awed by Him. The One who carved with His finger the canyons and coaxed the mountains to rise up into the sky. He calls us beloved and longs for us to stare at Him with the wonder of it all.

Light offends. Stare into the sun and you will be blinded.

I wonder what a steady gaze above to the truth of our God, mighty to save yet gentle to stoop, would do for our everyday.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my strength come?" Psalm 121:1

If we could see Him with us in all and arching His love over all then maybe we would start walking and living in a way that pours itself out from the overflow of who He is and not our limited humanness.

Do you see God over all the little in your life? Tell me your story of being in awe of God.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All Grown Up and Full of Light {My Compassion Sponsorship Story}

At eighteen I signed up to be a Compassion sponsor. She was a tiny thing and her deep brown eyes shown off the page and right into my heart. Her name was Charlotte and I could only imagine the scars left on her family following the all to recent Rwandan genocide.

My Rwandan daughter is now the same age as I was when I sent my first sponsorship check in. She's tall and always wears a Mona Lisa style smirk like she knows a secret. I just love her.

It's funny how my history has become entwined with Charlotte growing up. Since becoming her sponsor I've gotten married, moved all over including Africa, and had my first child. As she has grown so has our family and I'm glad that I've been able to share my life with her family half way around the world.

Time and again I receive simple letters full of gratitude and updates about what season it is and what her family is growing. They are never flashy, but I read between the lines and realize that her life is different because I chose to use my meager resources differently. My willingness to be her sponsor was an invitation to the very Light of God. 

When I decided to be a Compassion sponsor I remember having friends who questioned and discouraged me about it. I'm glad that I didn't listen.

There are places where only you can shine light. There are people that only your two hands can reach out toward. They are across the road and down the aisle and on the other side of the tracks or the world, but they are all within your reach.

Charlotte is a shining light herself now. I know that she's going to be a beacon in her community wherever God takes her.

This is my small story as a Compassion sponsor. It's not a plea for sponsorships- although I'm a big advocate for the work that Compassion does- but what I am asking is for you to look around and find big and small ways to chase light out into the open. Use your God given creativity and the opportunities that show up in your daily life to find those in darkness and shine the Light of God into their lives.

Join the Compassion Blogger Network

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love Spoke So Much Louder

She shimmied her jeans up twisting and turning to get them over hips expanded by two babies born, two babies in heaven and years of yo-yo dieting. Her sides streaked by cream colored marks against her tan skin. I sat on the bed knees pulled to my chest and I thought her beautiful. It never crossed my mind that my mom might not think the same thing about herself.

She died when I was twelve and the memories I have of her are faded and worn around the edges. I'm a mama myself now and I look at my own wider-than-they-once-were hips and I sigh deep about what once was. I know that she must have done the same as she wrestled those jeans up over her backside.

I remember the day she had lost enough weight to shop at the non-plus-size stores. We went to the mall for a mini-shopping spree. It was the mid-nineties and the Gap was everything. She bought a jean jumper and a sleeveless turtleneck sweater and it was as if she could have been Friends with Rachel and Monica. I had never seen her look like such a cool mom.

But there again I never heard my mom's struggle with her outer appearance. She never said, "Oh, I'm so fat!" or "I wish I was as pretty as {insert whoever}" or "I hate this about me." Her struggle was silent though I realize now there must have been an internal battle raging.

We all knew that girl in high school (or confession time...maybe we were that girl?) who always said things like, "Ugh, I am" when she couldn't have weighed more than a buck ten. My mom struggled with her weight her whole life and I am reasonably certain she would have wanted to slap that girl silly, but I digress.

Our words matter. How we speak about the way we see ourselves reflects our understanding of how God sees us. Some of us have deep scars that have to do with our physical bodies. Some of our wounds have been inflicted by other people. Some of our deepest cuts have been made by words spoken to our reflection in the mirror. Some of us are still fighting a battle with beauty that rages in our everyday.

I'm sharing the rest of this story over at Velvet Ashes today and I'm offering this up as part of my 31 Days of Chasing Light series. God created us unique in all our imperfections and yes, there are things that we would like to change and some that we actually can change, but sometimes we just need to rest in the beauty that God has given us. The kind of light and beauty that radiates from our hands and soul. 

If you haven't gotten a chance click back over to Sunday's post and enter to win a copy of Emily P. Freeman's book A Million Little Ways

Photo Credit: davedehetre via Compfight cc

When You Think Your Work Doesn't Matter to God {Day 21}

I once went to a week long basketball camp at a university several hours away from home. I didn't even make it onto my jr. high team the following year. It broke my heart. Now I realize that some of you are snickering at this point because you know me in real life and realize I don't quite hit the 5' mark. All I will say is; Muggsy Bogues. Google him.

I went on to be a decent athlete in high school as a volleyball player- yes, another sport known for players with height- and cheerleading. Petite, spunky and loud, cheerleading was my sweet spot.

Truthfully my lackluster athletic career isn't the point of this post. No, my point is a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy on things that drain us of life. We chase after things that we just weren't made to do and suffer disappointment after disappointment trying to fit into someone else's mold.

One of the things that my husband is so amazing at is encouraging people to see their vocations as a means of Gospel work. Do you have a mind for business? Do you have practical mechanical skills? What is it that you do that God can use for your good and His glory?

There is a bit of a misnomer in the Christian world that to be affective in ministry you need to have letters like MDiv and Phd following your name. I have many friends who do and I am astounded at their knowledge and ability to share with others. But I also have some pretty amazing friends who are artists, nurses, counselors, dancers, mechanics, farmers, stay at home moms, writers, dentists, cosmetologists, engineers, pilots {and on and on} and I can't imagine God doesn't have vast and amazing uses for each of them to bring about His purposes.

When God created you He did so with purpose. He didn't just take the remnants of His palette and throw some paint on a canvas. No, He specially chose the shades and medium to make you into who you are; His unique creation in His image.

What you do with your two hands matters to God. Find a way to use it for His glory and you will come alive as you experience His presence in your work.

My husband will squeeze trips overseas into his work schedule this year so that He can work on water and sanitation projects, encourage the international church and plant seeds of the Gospel. He gets that His work matters. He believes that your work matters too.

Part of chasing light is seeing how God has made you and embracing the intricacy and following His call to use your skills wherever they lead, even to the ends of the earth.

Do you believe that your work matters? How have you seen God use what you do in daily life for His purposes? 

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Emily Freeman's A Million Little Ways! I'll announce the winner on Friday.

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