Learning New Things

Did y’all know my brand new son-in-law is a photographer? He is and a really good one. He’s a young whippersnapper though and has given me grief over the fact that I don’t use Lightroom (the industry standard) for my editing. All in jest of course, and much love, because he wanted to marry my daughter 😉

He is actually going to second shoot a wedding with me in July though and in the interest of making life easier for both us in that endeavour I made sure my computer was up to snuff and could handle the Adobe program and I am now officially doing things like a grownup photographer.

I’m shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom.

Turns out that young whippersnapper knew what he was talking about when he kept telling me I just needed to do it. I still have a bit of a learning curve and as of yet I haven’t worked on anything involving people but I love love love what I have been able to do so far just with some flower pictures I took in my yard.

Between the extension tubes and Lightroom I am feeling all fancy and the clover in my yard has never looked prettier.

I don’t do a whole bunch of editing but I do think I like what I have the freedom to do since the file is larger and gives me more information to work with if I do want to play with it.

I know, I know. I’m just geeking out over a few pictures and new techniques and skill sets and it’s probably not terribly interesting to you. But seriously, look at the scope of detail that God put into a simple little clover.

The swirl and flare of each petal. The movement of color from stalk to stem. Even the beautiful tea stained shade of the dying flower.

How much more does He care about the details, the smalls ones and the big ones, about your life?

I’m still hung up on the wonder leading to wisdom I guess. Because how can we not be in awe of the God who created this and not trust Him enough to live the life He calls us to? A life of genuine love and real forgiveness? One flush with steadfastness and truth, beauty, and goodness.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

We have been created with even more attention and care than the flowers and He has work for us to do, good works. So get busy. You’re supposed to glorify Him today. Go make someone marvel at what He has done.

Poured Out

Sometimes I have a hard time knowing how to start a post. I have a core thought but I’m not sure how to introduce it. Like that awkward moment in a conversation when you want to throw something out there but an opening just hasn’t presented itself.

Or, and this is more like real life, I have this on going conversation in my head and putting it out there can seem a bit like blurting out randomness. I do it all the time to Rob. I have half the conversation in my head before I say something out loud and he gets this play of emotions across his face…confusion, a look that clearly shows him mentally groping for a thread to grab hold of, and a kind of eye shrug that declares “I got nothing” before he says, “Huh?” or sometimes “Woman, what are you talking about?”

So, I apologize up front if you have a woman-what-are-you-talking-about moment while reading this post. Just know that I have been thinking about being content, prayer, doing whatever you do to the glory of God and not being idle and just go with it.

Specifically this morning  I was contemplating the idea of giving ourselves as a living sacrifice and what that means. Unless you are new to this blog, and me really, then you know this is not a new topic. Romans twelve is and has been a big part of my thoughts. I’ve blogged often about how that can look, the dying to self, in our lives as wives and mothers.

But this morning, because of the above mentioned topics, I zeroed in on the quantitative meaning. And it seems to me that I can be pretty good at sacrificing bits and pieces here and there but giving my whole self over, holding nothing back is something more than what I am used to.

I’m not sure I know what it means to continually empty myself out on behalf of the people around me. Instead of pouring myself out as a drink offering as Christ did I might be tossing a thimbleful out in places. Or maybe a whole cupful or even a bucketful if I feel a sense of urgency or weightiness to a need.

But to continually pour myself out completely? To utterly empty myself out into the world? I’m not sure I know what that even means much less how to do it

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I think it can be easy to end up here. Lots of little demands and the busy-ness of being busy can do that. It wears you down and exhausts you and makes you feel like you are constantly being poured out, but how often have you really given completely over until there is nothing left?

This year is our youngest daughter’s first time on the school volleyball team. On the way to her first practice we were talking about playing hard and giving it all she has. I want her to see that she can play hard but still be holding back. And what her team needs (not just from her but from every player) is to leave it all on the court. To be completely focused and pulling from deep inside and putting everything she has into it.

We aren’t called to sacrifice a toe this day and maybe an arm some other day. Rather we are told to present our body as a living sacrifice. To give it all, everything, every day.

I wonder if we don’t live this way because we live such chopped up lives with so much going on? Or because we have believe we can’t be everything to everyone, we can’t do it all, and the biggie of big lies, you have to love and take care of yourself in order to love and take care of others? (Yes, I know there are times in Scripture where Jesus went off by himself to pray and be alone. But I really don’t think we can equate what He did with our version of mani-pedis and treat yo-self attitude. There is nothing wrong with finding alone time. Read a book, go get that mani-pedi or massage. But we should be careful not to over spiritualize it by thinking it is the same as quieting all of the day to day ruckus so that our heart and mind can find rest in God.)

We can’t be everything to everyone and we can’t do it all but the good news is that we aren’t called to be everything to everyone and to do it all. We look at our life and qualify it as everyone and everything and it simply is not so. We have the life and work that God has put us in and given to us and we are called to give ourselves completely and wholly to that. Do we over extend ourselves sometimes? Sure, but there are seasons and times of that and it will pass but we like to hold on to the feeling of it because in some way we get a sense of importance and self worth from it. If I feel like I am doing it all, or at least feel like I am expected to be doing it all, then I must be somebody; I must have meaning. But who is that making much of, me or God?

Maybe the reason we don’t really live emptied out like that is because we don’t understand what it really means. We have made it about actions and we can look around and declare with a certain amount of assurance, I just cannot physically do more.

It’s not just the physical work though, is it? I mean the action is part of it but it’s the whole faith without works thing…we can’t be poured out without, well, being poured out. It is the right combination of the physical with the right heart motivation and right focus that pulls it in line and turns what we are doing day to day into a life being spent in the name of Christ and for the glory of God.

As I finished my first draft of this post my husband sent out the Old Testament reading for our worship service this week. How kind is God to just tell us what it looks like to live poured out as an offering?

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”

We over complicate the thing by over thinking it, maybe? Or we want to control it so that we can maintain a certain level of comfort that we have become accustomed to and we reduce it down to something we feel like we can manage?

But He lays it out so simply. Fear me and walk in my ways, love me, serve me with everything you’ve got, and be obedient. And get this, it’s all for our good. The following two verses from that passage in Deuteronomy should give us great courage to live life this way.

He goes on to say that the heavens of heaven itself and the entire earth belong to Him and He has set His heart in love upon our fathers and their offspring. We’re the offspring! Everything belongs to Him and He loves us.

Now we are to go and live like it.

Sharing with Fresh Market Friday.

 

 

 

Living the Life

To want to be a writer seems to be a very presumptuous thing to me. To author anything, be it a blog post, book, or even a twitter feed, is a rather arrogant undertaking. You are essentially saying, “I have had a thought that should be heard. Someone else needs to hear what I am thinking other than the me that walks the halls of my mind and heart.”

How is that not presumptuous or arrogant? Yet here I am, pen at the ready. Or more accurately, fingers at the keyboard.

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We like to be made much of. We can crave the praise of man and feel driven to pursue acceptance and notice. I remember what it was like when several years ago a blogpost of mine was commented on and reposted by a well respected gentleman in our circle, a ministerial peer, if you will, of my husband. Man, I felt like I had arrived! Or when someone unexpected would engage with a post? That was like I had a feather in my cap.

That kind of pride or desire for that praise is one of the reasons I didn’t write/blog for a while. The lines of what motivated me became a bit blurry and I didn’t (and still don’t) want what could be a good thing to become nothing more than a narcissistic work of the flesh. It’s why I still come to it with a bit of hesitancy.

So, why am I here? How do I know it is okay for me to claim this part of the cyber world and to write? And further more to put it out there and invite you to read my thoughts?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

When I was younger I would read that verse and envision a boisterous medieval style feast, colorful and loud with joy and merriment. Eating and drinking with no concern of gluttony or hangovers as long as a cup was raised in honor of the King and thanks was rendered. It meant that no task, no endeavor, was ever “too much” if it was done for and in the name of Christ.

That seems a wee bit foolish, doesn’t it? It would be easy to tack a “Cheers!” style attitude on to just about anything and call it good if that were true. No, doing all you do to the glory of God is not free reign to indulge as deeply and unconcernedly as we can because just a few verses prior to that admonition is the reminder that while all things may be lawful not all things are helpful.

What does it mean to glorify God in all that you do then? John Piper defines it like this, “Glorifying” means feeling and thinking and acting in ways that reflect his greatness, that make much of God, that give evidence of the supreme greatness of all his attributes and the all-satisfying beauty of his manifold perfections.”

That is my plumb line…it is what I put my writing up against and how I evaluate it. It’s how I take measure of every thought and action that I do and have. Does this ________________ accurately reflect the characteristics of my King? If someone comes across my words, or sees me cleaning my house, or practicing hospitality, managing my time, eating and drinking, if anything I do is seen by anyone , will they see God in it?

Is it okay, or lawful for me to write? Are my words gentle? Are they kind? Do they encourage and point people to Christ? Am I being obedient to what I should be writing or am I just flapping my chops, as the old timers used to say? If I can answer those questions correctly then let the words fly!

A lot of the reason I am more comfortable these days with wanting to write is because of of the books I have been reading and sermons I have been pondering, etc. One book in particular that sort of solidified things is You Who by Rachel Jankovic.

“We have a natural, God-given desire for glory, but it must have a healthy purpose. Glory to give, not glory to hoard. Glory to pass on. This bring tremendous freedom. We do not struggle to be glorious, but we struggle to give glory.”

It’s not just in being free to write because it is something I want to do. It’s about being free from trying to turn it into something. When the purpose in doing what we do is to glorify Him, is giving evidence of His greatness, then I can be content with what I’ve done. He is free to make as little or as much of it as He would like.

Living that way is truly living. All of our work becomes important. I do not need to search for meaning in my tasks or to over spiritualize washing dishes and doing laundry. I just do them joyfully, content to allow the glory of His provision, His restoration, to have their proper place and be revealed through my obedience in these mundane ordinary tasks.

Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord. I always took that verse to mean do your work like God is your boss. I’m wondering now if it might mean a little more than that. If it might also include a bit of doing as unto the Lord as reflecting back the work He has done and is doing? Less a do the work well because the Big Boss is watching but rather do the job well, no matter how simple or difficult, small or significant, because there is glory to give in that task?

Today is grocery shopping day. As the kids have gotten older and in school or able to be home alone I have settled into a rhythm and routine of doing that task in a quiet focused solitude. Today Sam and Claire will need to go with me. There will be no quiet solitude and my focus will be dancing all over the place because their focus will be doing the hokey pokey all over the place. I literally just stopped typing, reread that sentence and took a big bracing sip of coffee. That alone is enough to give me pause but we aren’t called to face our day with teeth gritted and a just get through it attitude.

The truth of the matter is that no matter what is on the agenda today for me or you, we can do it all to the glory of God. We should do it all to the glory of God.

And who knows? A trip to the grocery store with two of the biggest personalities in the house may yield a blog post or two 🙂

Sharing with Candidly Christian and   Tell His Story