flipping tables + changing things

I was asked this week the question, “What tables would Jesus overturn if he walked into your church? Your life?” Immediately a few things came to mind, what I would consider “obvious” things in our society that Jesus wouldn’t be the happiest with. But as I was reading through John today, I was slapped upside the head with something that got thrust to the top of my list. 

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Rooted over Watered, Any Day

I have a roommate that works the floral counter in a grocery store. Naturally, there is an obvious bonus that comes from living with her (aside from the fact that she is a lovely human): It seems like almost every other day she comes home with a bouquet of flowers to brighten up our home.

Window

I have a roommate that works the floral counter in a grocery store. Naturally, there is an obvious bonus that comes from living with her (aside from the fact that she is a lovely human): It seems like almost every other day she comes home with a bouquet of flowers to brighten up our home. We’ve got flowers on the kitchen counter, in the laundry room, in the living room, the loft, heck we even had a little vase in the bathroom for a while. With their sweet smells and bright colors, they extend and create joy in our home, and I’m super thankful for them (and her).

But, alas, something happens to all of these beautiful flowers that come into our home- eventually, they wither and droop. From the root they were picked from to their final resting place in our trash can, we see the end cycle of a beautiful life. Once harvested from their root, it’s only a matter of time before, without the necessary nutrients, they die. 

And that got me thinking- the idea of being rooted in something to keep you grounded isn’t only important because we as humans find it to be, but is important because being rooted is intricately, uniquely, and precisely woven into the very fabric of our universe, the very fiber of our being.

If a plant gets unrooted from the ground that it needs, at some point soon, it will die. No matter how much water you give it, it’s time will come much faster than if it had still been rooted in the soil to where it belonged. 

“Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia”
– Seasons by Hillsong Worship

How often do we allow ourselves to be fed by influence of this world- “watered,” so to speak, to grow and expand in the way that fits best in the society to which we inhabit?

How often is our beauty (talents, passions, pursuits, potentials) thought of as a commodity, as a property, only important when it can be used and plucked for the root for society’s enjoyment? 

How often have we seen people burned out/overexposed/tossed around, only to wither to nothing, because they have nothing left? 

We are not the property of this world, but the propellers of this world. We were meant to be cultivated, to be tended, to be fully fed and without a need for anything other than the sustenance of Jesus. Yet we settle for being watered by societies’ compliments, only to be thrown out in the trash by societies’ judgements. 

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be rooted and fed by God than portioned and picked over by society. I choose to put my trust in God.

“Blessed is the man who trusts the LORD, whose trust is in the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 [ESV]

My friend- if you feel like you are in a season of drought, don’t turn to the alluring watering can that society offers- dig deeper, root deeper. Extend your roots as far as you can into the provision of God, and watch your fruit flood over in abundance.

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel 

The Reason to Fight

The biggest barrier to living into a full relationship with God isn’t understanding Him, it’s understanding ourselves. Why? Because we change our minds like the winds change direction / we fall apart at the slightest indication of a rumble.

The biggest barrier to living into a full relationship with God isn’t understanding Him, it’s understanding ourselves. Why? Because we change our minds like the winds change direction / we fall apart at the slightest indication of a rumble. But God does not change – His character is constant, and His promises are true. That doesn’t mean He can’t surprise us- oh no, He can do so whenever His will sees fit. But those surprises are always for our good, even when we can’t see it, even when we can’t fathom how. And that never changes. So it’s in understanding ourselves and how we interact and live and breathe that will inform and give way to a full relationship with the Father. An all-encompassing relationship. Fully loved, deeply known.

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Week One of Silence + Solitude: Realizing I’m a Jar of River Water

The act of Silence + Solitude is a tricky beast, and one that I’ve been struggling with the past ~ 7 days. While it wasn’t easy, the uncomfortable has rooted me in the fact that it is oh-so-necessary to be able to thrive in this world. I realized quickly that the more uncomfortable you are in S+S, the more you need it. And boy, do I have the highest need of all.

The act of Silence + Solitude is a tricky beast, and one that I’ve been struggling with the past ~ 7 days. While it wasn’t easy, the uncomfortable has rooted me in the fact that it is oh-so-necessary to be able to thrive in this world. I realized quickly that the more uncomfortable you are in S+S, the more you need it. And boy, do I have the highest need of all.

What I’ve noticed more than everything is that you have to really trust God in the Silence, because without Him guiding it, your mind can wonder back into this life- a to-do list, a conversation you need to have, a work issue, a family miscommunication, etc. That’s how I was, at least. Societal implications + distractions run rampant in our subconscious, and when you choose to just sit and experience silence, they come to the forefront. I have yet to master how to completely clear my mind, but Ruth Haley Barton in the book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” gave me a little encouragement. When she was going through this same spiritual discipline and cultivating it, someone told her:

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MONTH ONE: Silence + Solitude

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you more than likely have an immediate gut reaction (either positive or negative) to the words, “Silence and solitude.” For all of us introverts, that sounds like a breath of life in a world where alone time is far more filling than crowded get-together’s. For extroverts, that might be your worst nightmare.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you more than likely have an immediate gut reaction (either positive or negative) to the words, “Silence and solitude.” For all of us introverts, that sounds like a breath of life in a world where alone time is far more filling than crowded get-together’s. For extroverts, that might be your worst nightmare. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, when looking at Jesus’s life, the practice was important to Him, and therefore, should be important to us.

Silence and solitude is the first spiritual discipline we are focusing on in my apprenticeship, and honestly, it’s the one I’m most excited for, for a few reasons- 1) I’m an introvert, 2) I THRIVE on alone time, and 3) With the hustle of my day to day life, the idea of intentionally slowing down and sitting with God sounds like the best rest of all.

I am nervous, however, to see what comes up in it. We are going through “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton as our reading for the month, and Dallas Willard, in the foreword, had this to say:

“When we go into silence and solitude, we stop making demands of God. It is enough that God is God and we are his. We learn we have a soul, that God is here, that this world is “My Father’s World”. This knowledge of God progressively replaces the rabid busyness and self-importance that drives most human beings, including the religious ones.”

That’s what I’m most nervous for. For my rhythms and core beliefs to be challenged, for my comfort level to be tested. Silence and solitude, I’ve been told, is one of the most important spiritual disciplines- it’s the one that more often than not acts as a container for many other ones.  It makes sense to be starting with it. It’s also an agent to begin noticing and comprehending the truth in our lives, which seems simple, but is something so often missed because the busyness of life gets in the way.

Let the silence commence // let the noticing begin.

First Thoughts: Spiritual Disciplines + The Way

I’m embarking on an eight-month journey through the Spiritual Disciplines, as outlined by the life of Jesus- diving into each one and examining where it lands in Scripture, my life, and modern-day society.

I’m embarking on an eight-month journey through the Spiritual Disciplines, as outlined by the life of Jesus- diving into each one and examining where it lands in Scripture, my life, and modern-day society. I’m going along on this journey with experts in the field and a whole host of hungry people who serve in modern-day Orange County churches, in an effort to integrate these disciplines into our daily lives and to truly practice the way of Jesus.

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Verse of the Month: June + July 2017

“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently on the LORD.” – Psalm 27:13-14 –

Honesty time: I suck at patience.

Even more honesty time: I think you do too.

“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” – Psalm 27: 13-14 –

Honesty time: I suck at patience.

Even more honesty time: I think you do too.

I think we all are deeply-rooted in a soul-devouring impatience. We want to graduate- quick. Find a job- quick. Get married- quick. Have a baby- quick. Get to “good”- quick. And impatience isn’t bad! It assists in the evolution of life- the fire burning within us to do more and to be more. But here’s where I find the problem-

Jesus is in the waiting. The Holy Spirit is in the slowing down of our brains long enough to be thinking of nothing, and then giving God the space to show us what is important.

It’s patience, sitting in silence + solitude, actively listening while intentionally planting yourself, immovable to even the most exciting of invitations from the outside world, and internally listening to the invitation of Jesus to sync your thoughts with the most interior of your being.

That’s why this is the verse of the month(s) for both June and July. In June I took a step back- from writing, group activities, and my phone (failed more often than succeeded, but it’s all in the intent) and sat in more silence + solitude than I’ve ever done before. I’ll be giving more insight into what that looked like for me (spoiler alert: it looks different for everyone) later on this month, but what it really fed into me above all was patience. Patience in God’s timing, patience in my growth, and patience in the world around me. The fruit of that was twofold- one, I saw the Lord’s goodness more clearly than ever before, and two, I saw the corruption of humanity more pronounced than I’d ever spent time looking into. Again, I’ll go into that more later, but overall- waiting patiently on the Lord allowed me to be more patient with myself and the world around me- a renewal of myself in the most tender and intimate of ways.

Curate your Heart > Curate your Instagram

Definition of curate (v.)- to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation. // I don’t know about you, but I most definitely have caught myself putting more effort into the presentation of my Instagram profile rather than myself. Because it’s just so easy.

Definition of curate (v.)- to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation.

I don’t know about you, but I most definitely have caught myself putting more effort into the presentation of my Instagram profile rather than myself.

Because it’s just so easy. Pick the picture that looks like you are having the most fun, even if they day wasn’t – add a filter that says “Tan, but not too tan, toned, but not too toned” – write a witty caption with an inside joke for the friends that just understand – check in at the trendiest place you were at that day, even if you only walked by for a second – tag friends so people know who you are hanging out with and who was excluded – publish. Sit by the phone/computer/tablet, wait for the likes + comments to roll in.

If you are a 21st century millennial like myself, you more than likely have experienced some level of this. And while I cringe at the sheer thought of this, imagine with me for a second how much time we have actually spent doing this [and if Instagram isn’t your thing, think of Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Vimeo + Vine (R.I.P) + Snapchat, etc….whatever it is that you curate your life through]. I don’t know about you, but for me, slightly embarrassing and horrifying. Because I can almost guarantee without a shadow a doubt that I spent even less time that day curating my heart.

Day to Day Presentation

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23 –

Curating our hearts is a tricky task yet a must, because every decision we make is rooted in where our hearts are.  By the definition, to curate is to sift through the inventory of what’s in there (a.k.a. my love/ thoughts/ feelings/ emotions/ beliefs/ hurts/ triumphs) and picking what I want to present to the world in the day to day. Much more important, in my opinion, than what my Instagram feed shows, yet I can say with almost certainty that I spend more time thinking about that. Or that post on Facebook. Or the tweet on Twitter.

This means then, that what we store up in our hearts is what we get to choose to curate from. What we get to present to the world. And for me, that opens up a lot of questions- what should I show? How can I be authentic, yet real? What is it that I want to portray? Who am I?

These questions strike up a bit of a fear in my heart that I haven’t truly figured any of those answers out yet. But also, that’s okay. I don’t have to have every one of those questions figured out. But I’ll tell you what- it makes it a bit easier to figure out when I’ve been curating my heart rather than my Instagram, and putting time and effort and intentionality into what I’m storing in there, rather than what my feed looks like.

Why What You Love Matters

“What we love in our heart has a far greater effect on how we live than on what we know in our head. How do we change what we love? Through practice. Because the things we do, do something to us.”
– John Mark Comer –

There goes John Mark, dropping some serious truth in just one quote. I heard this one when he spoke in March at The Way in Orange County (check out this post for more information on what that gathering is). While at first I didn’t quite make the connection, I’ve been stewing on it and slowly piecing together.

To curate my heart, it’s even simpler than publishing a post on Instagram- I need to practice truly loving what is good and from God and Kingdom building, and in turn, my heart will present itself in that same way. As someone who is good, who tries hard to live a life led by Jesus, and who is a vessel for the Kingdom to be brought to this Earth, as it is in Heaven.

Easier Said than Done, I’m Aware

My immediate next thought: “Great, but I’m not perfect. How can I portray myself exactly how I want when I have more mess-ups than I can count?” After stewing on this one for a bit, I was scrolling through my phone and saw a few pictures in my camera roll from when my mom and I were trying to take a picture on Mother’s Day. We both had exact specifications on how we wanted to image to look: I wanted to be on the right, with hair over the right shoulder- she demanded to be on the left with one hand on her hip. After about six tries my stepdad got exasperated and handed the phone back to us, hopeful that we had at least one shot that would work. Luckily we did, and we posted away.

I realized in that moment that, again, curating our hearts and curating our Instagram’s are not all that different. If you mess up in portraying yourself to the world, you can try again. Did you flip off that driver because they cut you off? Luckily for you, you are more than likely going to have a bad driving experience again (and for me, relatively soon, because I drive in the OC). But by leading with love [flowing from a heart full of Jesus], you can change the energy you put in to the world and instead give grace to the next driver you come in contact with rather than condemnation. As John Mark says, it takes practice, in this case, to learn to love people as Jesus would.

It’s in these moments where we are able to change the way we are portraying ourselves to the world. And this is where we can partner with Jesus >> be the vessel for God’s Kingdom to inhabit earth- by changing what we love, and allowing that which we love, to change us.

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel