Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sorrow and Suffering

I was talking with Tina last night, and sharing and praying, and I remembered one of my favorite allegorical books. I reread it last night and this morning, and have a few quotes to share about Sorrow and Suffering, the companions the Great Shepherd chose for little, lame, crippled, Much-Afraid for her journey to the High Places. 

Excerpts from Hannah Hurnard's Hinds Feet on High Places 

Go with Sorrow and Suffering, and if you cannot manage alone, put your hands in theirs confidently and they will take you exactly where I want you to go. 

You know, Shepherd, it makes a great difference in my feelings toward [Sorrow and Suffering] not to look upon them with dread, but as friends who want to help me. It seems ridiculous, but sometimes I get the feeling that they really love me and want to go with me. 

"Oh no!" they laughed, "We are no more Sorrow and Suffering than you are Much-Afraid. Don't you know that everything that comes to the High Places is transformed. Since you brought us here with you, we are turned into Joy and Peace" 

Suffering and Sorrow may not enter the Kingdom of Love, but each time you accepted us and put your hands in ours we began to change. Had you turned back or rejected us, we never could have come here. 

Though the fig tree should not blossom, 
nor fruit be on the vines, 
the produce of the olive fail 
and the fields yield no food, 
the flock be cut off from the fold 
and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; 
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 
God, the Lord, is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the deer's; 
he makes me tread on my high places. 
Habakkuk 3:17-19 

For who is God, but the Lord? 
And who is a rock, except our God? 
This God is my strong refuge
and has made my way blameless. 
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure upon the heights. 
2 Samuel 22:32-34 (also Psalm 18:31-33) 

Friday, March 27, 2015

All Things New

Has it only been a week since that last post? It feels like a lifetime.

I've been offered two jobs since then, and if I like the work, a third. I'm having many second thoughts about leaving in the middle of the session - we just started spring, and I don't know if I want to leave in just a few weeks.

But beyond that, it's been more or less business as usual.

I finished John, and wrote the haiku

Jesus is the light 
By which we see everything 
This light is our life 

And I started Deuteronomy. It's a book about remembering everything God has done for us. It's knowing who we are and pressing in to know who He is. It's about Remembering Jesus Christ. It's about the gospel. It's about the basics -

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, lest they depart form your heart all the days of your life. Deuteronomy 4:9

Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39 

Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today...for it is no empty word for you, but your very life...Deuteronomy 32:46-47

In Deuteronomy, I love seeing the caution to remember what God has done for us. Forgetting our history causes us to relive it. Every law is to help us remember the Lord, and in following Him, we bring honor and glory to your name.

I reread A Hunger for God, and enjoyed a day of fasting, of hungering for Jesus, of longing for the fullness of the hope I've been promised.

"When we eat, we taste the emblem of our heavenly food - the Bread of Life. And when we fast we say, 'I Love the Reality more than the emblem' 

And of course, there's the start of John Piper's most famous quote -

"God rewards fasting because fasting expresses the cry of the heart that nothing on the earth can satisfy our souls besides God. God must reward this cry because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"

And this morning, I woke, writing,

Feeling a lot of things, but mostly, I'm exhaling 

I read Deuteronomy for the fifth time. Inspired by 32:46-7 again, I wrote

The word is life. Jesus is the word. Jesus is life. 

Thankful that it is called today - I can turn my heart to the Lord, and He will be near. 

I went to my Friday yoga. It was the first class of spring with this instructor, and he started things off with a poem about the newness of spring, the turning over so that there can be growth. This really resonated with me, and left me soft and pensive

It's beautiful, the things that can well up in your heart during a yoga class. Today was all of spring of newness - and what did I have but - 

Behold, I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5)

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)

...who makes known the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10)

And of course, I was singing - You're Beautiful 
When we arrive at eternity's shore 
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring 
Your bride will come together and we'll sing 
You're beautiful 

And Tina, heavy on my heart 

Last year, I prayed for Tina by running. I trekked up mountains and skipped over rocks. I prayed for chains to be broken as I communed with God in spring snow and heard branches break beneath me. And this year, I am quieter. I sit in a twisted pigeon, feeling more open than ever, and hear Him say - Behold, I am making all things new - I make known the end from the beginning - I am the beginning and the end. I contemplate how bending does not have to mean breaking, and how folding in half can actually bring length. My heart, surrounded by thorns and flesh, can't yet devour the bread the Spirit brings, and yet I taste it. I teeter ever on the edge of already and not yet. I breathe deeply and drink deeply and hope and pray that I can live deeply. Encourage deeply. Live deeply. Jesus is sweeter to me now than then - sweeter than in the right after, than in that first year. Will He grow my love for Tina yet all the more? Will my heart long for Him more fully? What will He be doing in this a year from now? In then years? My heart is full just thinking about it - all of it. Before the world was created, God knew the sorrow that would be Christina's, and He also knew the grace He'd extend. Before we were born, He knew the love we'd have for each other in the joy of His Son. And He knows how we, how all things, are being made new, being made known. He knows my heart now and only, He knows how soft it may be decades to come. I will hope in His name, that I will know it too. 

And then.

I have to laugh. My bike got a flat on the way to the chiropractor. All this reflection on the God who knows the end from the beginning. It's funny right? Because, oh yes, He knew this too. And He knows how He's using this day and this flat for my good. What a beautiful Jesus I know. 

Happy Friday. Happy spring.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Let Faith Arise

This is a difficult post for me to write; I wasn't even sure if I was going to share it, but I think it's something people who know me should hear about.

I had the absolute worst week of work ever. Easily my worst one since I started at this company - in fact, I would rank every class I taught in the top 20 worst classes of this last 19 months or so that I've been here. If my boss had not been out of town, I really do think I would have put in my 30 days this week.

I'm also dealing with the fact that I have one job offer and one interview offer on the table elsewhere. I definitely want to leave SGA in the near future (for a multitude of reasons), but at the same time, it's very tied into my Seattle identity - marking most if not all of my relationships - and even my post grad identity as a whole. I feel indebted to SGA; I am beyond grateful because without this company, I would likely not have moved to Seattle with Elizabeth, gone vegan, run up a mountain, lived with Jordan, or done gymnastics conditioning the way we have. There have been highs and lows, but gratitude is at the forefront and I don't regret it. I know I do need to leave, to uphold integrity and to ultimately carve out my small corner in this world, but it doesn't make it easy.

All week, I fought for joy, and constantly felt like I was losing. There were moments of light - some of the sweetest worship I've had in a LONG time, some of the deepest laughter, some of the most honest prayer - but the darkness always came back.

All that to say, by the time I finished on Thursday evening, I was an emotional wreck. I cried the entire yin yoga session I went to - I literally sat on the mat, did about three cycles of breath, and started sobbing and never stopped. I cried all the way to the airport to pick up JT. I cried in the cell lot. I yelled at T a little and I felt bad about it. Elizabeth and I were texting -

K: I haven't had quite the emotional melt down like this maybe ever
E: Are you okay?
K: I don't even know how to answer that. It's like every fear and doubt I've ever had keeps hitting me all at once. I can't even ground myself.
E: So not really. This probably isn't helpful but I know that feeling and it will pass. It's probably good you're acknowledging it and not trying to ignore it.

I wrote later, I didn't even know who I was or where the ground was. That was so scary. Remembering now that it was Naomi's deep faith that deepened her grief (See Paul Miller's A Loving Life). We are so hard on ourselves. We think we just need to be stronger and believe better, and memorize more Scripture and that if we have emotional breakdowns or panic attacks, it means we're lesser Christians. But in fact, some of the deepest relationships with the Lord also had the deepest pain. 

Finally starting to rest in His presence.

I slept in, though I don't know how long because I purposely keep myself from looking at clocks in the morning on my days off. My phone was outside my room, so I missed Jordan's text at 9:18 - "are you sleeping lady?" (what does it tell you that my roommate was concerned about not having seen me by 9am? lol ) I was writing.

I've been thinking a lot about the book, Circle Makers, that I read a few years agao. The premise is praying bold prayers rooted in honest faith that God is who He says He is and upholds the universe by the word of his power. There is a people who would kneel to pray and draw a circle around themselves and not leave the circle until God had moved. I think that's a beautiful, scandalous faith. My room is my circle; I will not go out without the peace of God. 

 I was knee deep in my twelfth reading of John (still in bed, mind you) when J came down and peeked her head in to see if I was still I alive. I said I was and she left and I cried a little more. I read on.

If you abide in my word, you are my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32

I am the door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go out and find pasture. 10:9

I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in my may not remain in darkness. 12:46 

 I felt the truth of God washing over me. I continued with Psalm 63

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars shall be stopped. 

 I thought that last bit was especially powerful - every lie you've ever believed, about yourself, about God - those will all end. Can you imagine that reality?

I finally braved going upstairs, mostly because I was hungry. The fact that I didn't leave bed until after 10am is a BIG DEAL if you know me well. I had a green smoothie and a super healing cacao flax muffin. Jordan and Trevor tried to cheer me up, but I was still rather withdrawn.

Back to the Kate cave it was.

I was next led into Lamentations, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible for its raw honesty. It led me to seriously consider myself, it led me into repentance (I am NOT saying that when you are suffering, it's because you're in sin, but I definitely think that we can and often do sin in that suffering, and sin is sin and it needs to be taken seriously), but mostly it led me straight to Jesus.

I wrote, Even the lows of life are not outside of God's sovereignty - The Lord has done what he purposed; he has carried out  his word, which he commanded long ago. Lamentations 2:17a

And I read on

Their heart cried to the Lord. O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite! "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children who faint for hunger at the head of every street" 2:18-19

my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord" Remember my afflictions and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him" The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 3:17-26 [Side note: I think the context of the famous "mercies new every morning" verses is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. One second, Jeremiah is hopeless, then he's able to remember who God is and his hope returns. We can't wash over the darkness]

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 3:31-32

Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? 3:37-38

And I reflected

I think what was so scary about last night was that I forgot who God was, or I at least forgot how to believe Him. If I don't know my God, I don't know myself, and when your identity is attacked, your whole world falls to pieces. 

And I sang, a song I hadn't even heard in at least a year

I life my hands to believe again 
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever 

Let faith arise
Let faith arise
Open my eyes 

- Chris Tomlin, I Lift My Hands

I went to yoga, and had a great practice. I was doing new variations and sequences and feeling new openings and balance. I felt graceful, balanced and yes, even beautiful. I came back refreshed.

I started re-reading The Pleasures of God and was brought into a deep enjoyment of God. I felt like myself again, and cooked up a storm (oatmeal "cupcakes", chocolate coconut bark, and coconut kale soup) and I listened to three sermons from the Anchor Church I AM series (I am the light, I am the door, and I am the good shepherd) while I did it.  I KILLED it at cyclefit, hitting a new all-time high wattage.

Did I enjoy this week or last night? No. But I do see how God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. I feel like I was brought through a valley to see a better view of the mountain. I love Jesus, and if this is how He brings me deeper into Himself, let it be.

Let faith arise.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Give me today my daily bread.

This morning at my first hot power yoga class, I set my intention as "Give me today my daily bread. Sustain me, Lord Jesus". After class, I saw a beautiful sunrise and saw how God has provided bountifully - not to mention the crisp mountain view I got on my bike ride in. Jesus really did sustain me today, and my pre k teaching went great. Praise Him!

At home, I got the chance to dig into John (I finished Numbers this morning. Haiku: Following the Lord/Is what's best for His people/Trust Him. He is good.)

John 6 has got to be one of the most defining chapters in the gospels, if not the Bible. I don't know if it's because bread is delicious or I love food writing or my baking habit, but I love when Jesus talks about the bread of life.

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. They said to him, Sir, give us this bread always. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst...I am the bread of life. John 6:33-35, 48

When we ask for daily bread, we're asking for enough grace, for enough of the presence of God, for the Spirit without measure, to sustain us for our day. To satisfy. To provide. To give endurance.

It's a beautiful thing, asking to be nourished by the one who can never perish. Being a weird vegan, I think a lot about what foods give the most energy and fill my needs. But Jesus is the food that gives eternal life. He is the best nourishment our souls could ever find.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I trust You

This morning, I read Numbers again. I saw how fickle the human heart is - we are impatient, wandering children for life. 
The Israelites had the cloud to cover them and a pillar of fire to lead them. And yet they doubted God.

How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have done among them? Numbers 14:11 

I see that in myself. How many times has The Lord proven Himself faithful and yet I can't seem to trust Him. 

Thomas Harley writes in Some
Birds Sing in Winter, "if we are hardened in here and unwilling to trust in The Lord, no matter how many miracles he brings before us, we will still not believe" 

So today at yoga I set my intention, "I trust You" (I still don't know what intentions are supposed to be but whatever).  During final relaxation I repeated it, and felt God respond - "I am trustworthy". Over and over again, "I trust You" "I am trustworthy".  Trustworthy is who He is, and He cannot deny Himself. And if He cannot deny Himself, He will never betray our trust. 

O Lord, please help this unbelief. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

He is Risen, Indeed!

I don't even know where to start this inevitably disjointed post about how beautiful God is to me. Maybe it's the Seattle sun, but I am soaking up so much of His presence that I'm trying to bottle it for rainy days. Today I was wearing shorts (!!!) and walking when I saw the mountains.

Those mountains.

They get me. Every time.

I was listening to another Getty song - Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed - and looking out at the sky, it was like the world was saying, "He is risen indeed! New life is here!" And I know we're still in Lent to remember and repent but maybe God's just reminding me that we can mourn our sin and come forth in repentance because of the life that's already ours in Christ. He is risen indeed.

I was outside at starbucks reading Numbers and Willing to Be Forgotten and as an older woman sitting near me was leaving, she came over, tapped my Bible and said, "Awesome. Awesome" as she smiled, nodded and walked away. I don't know why, but it brought me such joy; it was so encouraging. It's amazing how unifying the gospel can be, that two strangers can be sisters. I prayed for her today, thanked God for her, because she's got the Light of Life and she's clearly not afraid to let Him shine.

And tonight, singing. Singing in my room, whatever song came next. Thinking about how inadequate my praise is, how words fall short of describing the glory of God. Thinking of this "poor lisping stammering tongue", and how when it "lies stammering in the grave/Then with a nobler, sweeter song/I'll sing Thy power to save". Thankful that "when in scenes of glory/I sing the new, new song/Twill be the old, old story/That I have loved so long". Longing for "that day when free from sinning/I shall see Thy lovely face/Clothed then in blood washed linen/I'll sing Thy sovereign grace".

I recently (after what, 2 years of loving pieces of this Psalm) memorized this, connecting the dots between verses 1&2, 6 , and 11. I say it to myself often.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, you are my lord: I have no good apart from you. As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another God shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out, or take their names on my lips. The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel, in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16

Christ is risen

He is risen, indeed

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Look at all the pretty things (or rather, don't!)

I'm over a quarter of the way into my readings of Numbers, and predictably, it has not been a wow like Luke. There are a lot of lists. I do feel the same way I did in Genesis - that all of these people were used  in ordinary faithfulness to carry out an enormous divine purpose they could only glimpse from afar.

There has, however, been one verse leaping out at me every time

And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 
Leviticus 15:39 

There are so very many things we can worship besides Jesus. GK Chesterton said that "When we cease to worship God, we don't worship nothing. We worship anything". We have hearts that are so prone to wander, and that's exactly why we have this warning here not to follow after our hearts. Further, we can only see so many things. We can't see the big picture the way God can, nor do we know the end from the beginning, as He does (Isaiah 46:10). This is why we walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are called to live a life that trusts Jesus to be the light by which we see, and to give us new hearts that are sensitive to His guiding hand (Ezekiel 36:26).

I was thinking about all this when I heard the song All The Pretty Things by Tenth Avenue North for the first time in awhile

We are, we are, we're caught in the in between 
Of who we already are and who we are yet to be 
And we're looking for love but finding we're still in need 
It's only what we have lost will we be allowed to keep 

And we're waiting but our eyes are wandering 
To all this earth holds dear 

Look at all the pretty things 
That steal my heart away 
I can feel I'm fading 
'Cause Lord I love so many things 
That keep me from Your face 
Come and save me 

We run we run to finally be set free 
But we're fighting fighting for what we've already received 

So we're waiting but our eyes are wandering 
To all this earth holds dear 

Look at all the pretty things 
That steal my heart away 
I can feel I'm fading 
'Cause Lord I love so many things 
That keep me from Your face 
Come and save me 

We are we are caught in the in between 
But we're fighting for what we already have received 
We are we are caught in the in between 
But we're fighting for what we already have received 

Look at all the pretty things 
That steal my heart away 
I can feel I'm fading 
'Cause Lord I love so many things 
That keep me from Your face 
Come and save me

I like how this song speaks of the tension we live in right now - our hearts have been freed to love Jesus, but we don't yet love Him fully. One day, though, we will see Him as He is, and everything else we loved will fall away. I'm holding onto this promise in Ezekiel 

And I will give them an undivided heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and given them a heart of flesh   11.19 

Oh, what a beautiful day that will be, when I am free at last to worship Jesus as He deserves! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Luke Haiku

I know I keep doing this, but Luke was so incredible. My favorite book so far ;)

Every time, I saw how the human heart was revealed, how coming face to face with Jesus either makes you run away because you don't want to confess your sin, or it makes you fall on your face and worship Him because of how badly you need Him. He came to reveal this in us, and to save those who cry out to Him, to give them an inheritance that does not perish and a peace that cannot be taken.

Jesus knows our hearts
And He wants them so much that
He died to heal them

Monday, March 2, 2015

Post Sugar

I slept terribly last night, and I am 100% blaming it on the sugar and caffeine.

And I was tired today.

And not feeling great all morning.


That's what I've learned.

On another note, I am still amazed at how quickly my joy can be taken from me. If I really truly believed Jesus, I wouldn't be so easily shaken. Psalm 16 even says so - I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not be shaken (v 8). Like when my boss misplaced my keys after fixing my bike...I was seriously panicked and stressed about it, and I was praying, but they weren't prayers from a heart rooted in trust, it was a desperate grasping from a vending machine god of my own making. It's really sobering to come face to face with who I can be when I separate myself from Christ.

Help this unbelief!

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I finally had my donuts. The glaze on the grasshopper tasted very sweet to me. I actually preferred the cinnamon sugar, which was weird to me. 

Otherwise...prep as usual. Chia bread, vegan frittata, chia jam, veggie orzo. You know. 

Full and Empty

I'm in my 17th reading, and I've just been absolutely enamored with this gospel. It is so very rich. And I really do love this reading plan if you haven't figured that one out already.  I shared earlier about persecution, but here's another thought that's been turning itself around in my head lately. 

In Luke 5, Jesus calls Simon Peter, James and John to be His disciples. 

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were(C)washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”  And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
This story was so interesting to me, because the disciples trusted Jesus when their nets were empty, and they trusted Him when their nets were full. They'd been fishing all night and had nothing to show for it, and even though they let down their nets as Jesus said, it was mostly to humor Him. Then, they caught more fish than they could believe, and when Jesus said "follow me", they left their bounty behind. I think that's a really beautiful thing - to come to Jesus with empty hands, knowing He can give and take away, and trust Him no matter what. It reminds me of what Paul wrote in the letter to the Philippians: 

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11b-13

Followers of Jesus can be content in all things because Christ has given us everything.