Monthly Archives: December 2016

dwelling in 2016

dwelling-in-2016

Well my friends, we have reached day 366 of the year 2016. At least that’s what my big ole wall calendar tells me. I don’t want to do any research beyond that, so if I’m wrong, just let me be wrong. Leap year, right?

Anyways.

For the past few years, rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I’ve chosen a word or theme for the coming year – what I hope to learn, settle in to, or be intentional about in the days ahead. For 2016, that word was dwell.

According to the people who make up meanings for words, dwell means: to live or continue in a given condition or state; to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.

As I entered in to 2016, I wanted to figure out what dwelling with God, myself, and others could look like. To live or continue in a state of rejoicing or mourning with those I care about. To linger over what the Lord was doing in my life, and not freak the heck out about it. To ponder anew what the Almighty can do if I just sit and continue with Him.

I wanted to ask, is this a relationship worth me dwelling in? Is open, honest life with this person a mutual calling to good, or one-sided exploitation that does both of us harm?

And ultimately, I wanted to sit in this question: If all I ever do is dwell with the One who came to dwell with us – if Jesus is all I ever get – is that enough?

You know how when they say if you pray for patience, be ready to experience opportunities to practice patience? Well, same principle applies.

2016 was full of opportunities to let life get the best of me. To be anxious and afraid and feel a lot of crap that the enemy wanted to use against me. Sometimes dwell was the last thing I wanted to do – unless it was dwelling in my bedroom, under the covers, with my eyelids shut tight.

Many times I felt a stirring in my heart/soul/insides/whatever that made me restless, itchy, anxious, and afraid. Insecurities I thought had been put to bed came bubbling back up. The opposite of dwelling seemed like the easier choice so often in the past 365 days.

But the most amazing thing happened.
I stuck around.
I continued in the state I was given.

And God didn’t leave me.
My friends didn’t leave me.
I was able to dwell in the midst of some disruptive crapitty-crap and I am coming out the other side still alive.

There are marked moments of God showing up, helping me to dwell and to settle in to life, disrupted, but not shaken by the world around me.
He allowed for words to be spoken to me that applied an instant salve on my heart.
He illuminated His mercy for me in new ways that left me speechless.
He dwelled with me throughout the entire time, not leaving me on the rickety boat alone, but stuck around, hoisting the sails, bailing water that came in over the sides, making sure that if nothing else, we stayed afloat.

Even though today is the last day of the year and most resolutions are resolved, I think this whole dwell thing has really only begun. Today – right now – Jesus is enough. Other days, honestly, it doesn’t seem like He is. But the best part about dwelling with Him is that, even when I tell Him that I don’t believe He’s enough, He still sticks around.

I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings – the joy and hope in what God is up to, the depth of relationship He will continue to grow, and the promise He is the God that will never leave or forsake us growing more and more true in my life.

Now, I need to go pack my gold sparkly heels (that I will have officially worn for the 3rd time in 4 years after tonight). I’ve got a wedding to go to and a rug to cut.

Smith out.

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psalm 17

psalm-17

Ahhh, psalm 17. Another psalm where David spends some time telling God how upright and good he is. Another psalm in which David ends up pleading for deliverance from his enemies. Another psalm where I find myself saying, “Yes, please. And me too.”

What hit me this morning is that I, like David, spend time trying to tell God how He has tried my heart, has tested me, and found nothing. (YEAH RIGHT He’s found NOTHING)
I try to fix my mind on keeping my mouth shut so that it will not transgress. (v3) I do my darnedest to convince myself, and the Lord, that I have avoided the ways of the violent. That I have not slipped. (v4-5)

And the whole time I’m reading this, I’m thinking – Gosh. Why do I feel like I have to work so hard to prove myself? Why do I, over and over again, say, “Hey God! Look at me! Look at all the good I’m doing and all the sin I’m not participating in! Don’t you see how I’ve been crushing this whole life thing?!”

And then I get to verse 7 and David and I turn a corner:

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.

Lord, wondrously show your steadfast love to this little punk that keeps getting it all wrong. Wondrously show your steadfast love to the one who tries to prove herself time and time again, when all you ask is that I show up and trust you with my today. Wondrously show your steadfast love to the one that desires to walk in righteousness but often takes walks down weird paths that are more about self-righteousness than anything else.

Hide her in the shadow of your wings.
Deliver her.
Show up for her.

 

And then He does.

He shows up by placing His wrath on His Son – removing the justice that I deserve because I have not kept my mouth from transgressing. I have not avoided the ways of the violent. I have slipped.

But praise be to God that I am found in the shadow of His wings & the due penalty of my sin was covered by the blood of the spotless Lamb on the cross.

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psalm 16

psalm-16

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 who 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

And now, a prayer from my journal:

Father, thank You for allowing the doubt, the heartache, the push-back, the eye-rolls, the distrust, the…well…the **** that I bring to You. Thank You for meeting me in that and loving me even still. Thank You for being a God that doesn’t get scared by that. Thank You for being a God that welcomes the hurt and pain and hard things. And thank You for being the only God that fully heals.

There are times in my life when Psalm 16 seems like a joke to me. I have a “yyyeeeeaaahhhh right!” moment with the writer. “You’re serious? You believe this God is for your good? That your sorrows won’t multiply because you’re not chasing other gods? That you can take refuge in this guy?”

It’s sometimes hard for me to feel that Jesus is sufficient. That God’s goodness is enough. That in His presence I can have fullness of joy.

But then I remember prayers like the one above. I’m reminded that I bring a LOT of junk to the table and God doesn’t throw it off to the side. He sifts through it with me. He welcomes it. He makes known to me the path of life. He really does do the things that the psalmist’s write about.

He isn’t some distant, far off, bully god that takes pleasure is the demise of His people.

No.

He is the God that was born of Mary.
He is the God that came to His people and dwelt among them.
He is the God that hung on a cross to bear the penalty of sin for me, and many.
He is the God that promises resurrected, new life, and has delivered on that promise!

He is the God that, even in the midst of me spitting in His face, He passionately pursues and loves me.
He doesn’t get scared by the crap I bring to Him.
If anything, I think He lovingly awaits me to bring the rest so He and I can deal with it.

Tonight I’m choosing to sit in the promise of not being shaken, because the Lord is my chosen portion and He holds my lot.

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life around the table

life-around-the-table

This past week, I’ve been thinking about tables quite a bit. Just last Saturday, I was around 3 different tables with 3 different people in 3 very different scenarios. One, breakfast with one of my oldest friends, catching up on life since she’s moved to California. Another, packing up her kitchen as she and her husband move to their new home and next chapter in their story just a couple minutes down the road. And the last, a tiny pub table with fries on top across from my friend, introducing her to my local favorites.

In each of these instances, my day was marked by the significance of the table. Without the table, we didn’t have those moments with one another. Without a place to gather – to show up with and for one another – that day didn’t exist. Tables make you slow down and be. Tables make you look someone in the eye and see their humanity. Or, if you’re like me, they force you to stop awkwardly avoiding eye contact and remove the veil of feigned vulnerability and get real real with the person who has taken their time to sit and be with me. (Shoutout to L.S. who called me on my eye contact just a couple weeks ago. Jerk.)

I think there’s something to be said about time with one another. We can learn from one another’s stories, have conversations we may not even know how to start, and sit in the tension of where-do-we-go-from-here when we’re with one another. And where better to be with one another than at a table: packing, drinking, eating, playing games…being.

I think we all need a little more life around the table. Not just a mom-dad-children, put you phone away ’cause we’re eating combination. But as a friend-friend-friend combination. As a married couple/person-single person combination. As a widow-marrieds-singles-children combination. We all need life with one another, in deeper ways than we’re sometimes willing to admit.

A friend recently said, “I don’t even know how to start that conversation….”
And I think the answer is, “With one another.”

If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I need your stories. And I think you need mine. And we can’t share those stories if we’re constantly pushing back against meeting each other at the table, pausing in life to listen and share.

So, if you want to sit across a table from me and watch me awkwardly not look you in the eye for 5 minutes, then settle down and finally lean into the whole thing, you know where to find me.*

Find a table today to just be with someone, even if that someone is just you and Jesus. I think it’ll be pretty darn neat to see what happens.

*and if you don’t….well…sorry. 

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a date which will live in infamy

bruce_harbor

Where my history nerds at?

This title only works for today.

But the post is applicable all days. I think.

Today, December 7th, is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. A date in which we Americans recall the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. It was a dark day in our history. If you’ve ever seen the movie Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, think about the darkness in (parts) of that movie, and then don’t. Because that movie is so inaccurate, and it’s just a love story, and history smishtory.

I digress.

But.

As I was thinking about today – about remembering the darkness in our country’s past – I started thinking about days in my life that may live in infamy. I had specific seasons and time periods and events that came to my mind that I remember as dark, marked days that had a profound impact on my life and who I am today.

On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous speeches in our modern history. The ending, the call to action, is so desperately hopeful:

“Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”

In my personal infamous days, I believe FDR’s words ring even truer. The enemy exists. There is no blinking at the fact that darkness is real and we are in grave danger. But with confidence in our risen Savior, with the unbounding grace and mercy of our Father, we have gained the inevitable triumph – in Jesus.

Praise God – He enters in and redeems. The victory is already ours.

Infamy doesn’t equal defeat.
Our dark days may have quite a blow on our souls.
But Jesus wins in the end. And I can press on, clinging to that truth.

 

(also, you’re welcome for the picture of Jennifer Garner in Pearl Harbor because she’s the only good thing about that movie and I bet you didn’t even know she was in it…)

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