Monthly Archives: November 2016

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

~Ephesians 3:16-19

I’m coming for your heart.

And you should realize, especially after having watched me this past month, I have come to win.

You should realize, but I’m not a particularly impressive person to look at, and you don’t seem to know anything about the power behind me. So you’ll probably underestimate me. Again.

I don’t know why it’s so important to me that you know love. Really. I don’t know why I care. After everything you put me through, I really shouldn’t.

But I do. And I’m sensitive enough to know that when something is important to me, I need to go for it. So I am. Going for it, that is.

You’ve been so in control of what happens in your heart for so long – you haven’t felt much, you haven’t cared much, and what you have felt and cared about, you haven’t expressed – like your heart is something you get to turn on and off at will. Like nobody else needs or wants your heart.

Maybe that’s why I care. Because I’ve operated there, too.

Doesn’t matter. You’re not going to be able to control your heart that way anymore.

Because I’m coming for it, with every ounce of power I possess. (That’s considerable power, if you were wondering.)

And I’ve come to win.

Seeking Justice, Loving Mercy

“There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground” (Amos 5:7 NIV).

“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth” (Amos 5:10 NIV).

“There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts” (Amos 5:12 NIV).

“You have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness” (Amos 6:12 NIV).

Two times, Amos was given visions of Israel’s destruction. Two times, Amos interceded with God on behalf of Israel. Two times, God relented.

After a third vision, God says, “I will spare [my people Israel] no longer.” And this time, Amos doesn’t intercede, because a prophet can’t carry a burden that God lifts.

I couldn’t intercede in what happened today, try though I did. I’ve spent the past few months crying out to God for justice in this situation. I’ve spent the past month pursuing an opportunity for justice in this situation. I’ve refused to participate in injustice against myself.

I paid for all of it.

I processed all of it.

I interceded for the people involved through all of it.

I let all of it go. To God. I let all of it go to God.

And that’s important. Because if had been entirely up to me, what happened today wouldn’t have happened.

But I am not my own. I belong to Someone Else. I am fiercely loved and jealously protected. These things are never entirely up to me.

I thought I would be displeased by what happened today. Instead, I feel the love, the protection, the vindication. The fierceness of all of it.

I feel best knowing that even though what happened today had to happen, you are in merciful hands, and if you lean in, all good things will be yours.

Lean in.

Lean in.

Lean in.

As someone reminded me last week, you harvest what you plant.

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24 NIV).

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5-6 NIV).

 

 

 

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My Jam Right Now

By which I mean I’m listening to it on repeat, singing along, and thinking about doing a cover.

I feel this song in my soul right now.

Don’t judge. Or do. Whatevs. 😉

You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like a nothing
You, with your voice like nails
On a chalk board, calling me out when I’m wounded
You, picking on the weaker man

You can take me down
With just one single blow
But you don’t know what you don’t know

Someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides
And your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You have pointed out my flaws again
As if I don’t already see them
I walk with my head down,
Try to block you out ’cause I never impress you
I just want to feel okay again

I bet you got pushed around
Somebody made you cold but the cycle ends right now
‘Cause you can’t lead me down that road
And you don’t know what you don’t know

Someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar
Talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion
But nobody’s listening, washed up and ranting
About the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing
But all you are is mean
All you are is mean and a liar and pathetic
And alone in life and mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

But someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Yeah someday I’ll be big enough
So you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so (mean)
Someday I’ll be living in a big old city
(Why you gotta be so mean)

And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
(Why you gotta be so mean)
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
(Why you gotta be so mean)
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

-Taylor Swift, Mean

Normalizing Overreaction

Friday night, as I was washing my dishes and thinking about the thing that happened Thursday, I had a flashback to doing dishes with my dad when I was younger. I had accidentally dried a piece of silverware that had not been rinsed and put it in the silverware drawer. My dad was furious because I had just assumed the silverware rinsed instead of asking, and he dumped the entire contents of that silverware drawer into the kitchen sink, and had me wash, rinse, and dry every. single. piece. Until Friday night, the only thought I’ve ever had about that incident is that my family had a ton of silverware. Oh, and if I’m ever doing dishes with my dad, to remember to ask him if he’s rinsed things.

But on Friday night, doing dishes on my own and thinking about the thing, I understood for the first time that it was an overreaction on my dad’s part. And I understood it because I had just been on the receiving end of another overreaction, and I was resisting admitting it.

See, for whatever reason, it’s easy for me to assume responsibility not only for my actions but for others’ reactions as well. Dad dumped the entire silverware drawer into the sink and made you wash, rinse, and dry every last piece? Well, you were the one who dried a piece without asking if it was rinsed. You deserved that. You made that happen.

But, for whatever reason, on Friday night, I was struggling accepting full responsibility for the thing. I mean, I had accepted full responsibility for it on Thursday. Someone reduced six months of your work to nothing? Well, you were the one who mishandled that situation by not communicating. You deserved that. You made that happen. You can’t just pull something like that and expect people not to have a response. Except. You had conversations with three other people about the situation – one of them also on the line because of how you handled things – and none of them had that response. That’s because it wasn’t a normal response. That would not have been a normal response to anybody who did what you did. That was an overreaction.

Cue middle-of-kitchen meltdown. Like, how in the world did I get to this place where I normalize this kind of reaction and accept responsibility for it? How messed up am I to accept these things that everyone else looks at and rejects?

The reality is I was conditioned to normalize it, to accept responsibility for it, to accept the consequences from it. This is the standard to which I was raised. You made this happen. Grin and bear it, babe, because you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. It’s all on you.

And this is the point where I imagine God throwing back His head, laughing and saying, “Lydia, you are not that powerful.”

So I put myself out there and asked for something I wanted.

So I had feelings when that something went to someone else.

So I made the decision to look out for myself, if only passively.

So I experienced an overreaction and spent over twenty-four hours trying to convince myself that I made it happen, that I deserved it, that it was somehow normal and good and right.

So I realized it wasn’t.

And there’s no telling, really, what all it’s going to take to de-normalize others’ overreactions to my actions.

I know I need to have more grace and patience with myself; it’s perfectly acceptable for me to have reactions and responses to anything and everything. Not overreactions, mind you, although I will have those on occasion, too, but it’s okay for things to touch me in a deep enough place where I have to say something, even if no one else on the planet would. They touch me for a reason.

I know I need to find the balance between remaining service-oriented wherever I am while still pursuing opportunities that are worthy of my time, energy, and talents. I have to be able to take pride in what I do and be proud of what I do because it means something to me, because it means something to others. I have to keep asking for and pursuing what I want, not just what I’m given, not just what I have to take.

I know I need to relinquish control, or more accurately, relinquish my idea of control, especially in how people respond, react, and at times, overreact to me. I’m responsible for me. Even in those times when I do upsetting things, I wasn’t created to carry the power of making things right. I can’t make the thing that happened Thursday right. I can’t unmake all the things that led up to the thing. I can’t control what anybody thinks of me – for better or worse – after the thing. I can’t control the consequences of the overreaction for the overreactor.

But I don’t know how to keep my mind from automatically snapping to its default.

I guess I’ll figure it out.

Blah. Fun times.

 

 

 

Of Redwoods (Again)

I’ve been reading up on the resistant vitality of Redwoods this morning.

Did you know that mature Redwoods are highly resistant to insects, fungi, and fire?

It’s the resistance to fire that is captivating me right now. I’ve known about this fire resistance since I asked God to make me a Redwood over six years ago, but He reminded me of it this morning. 

You see, He’s calling me to the fire, telling me not to be afraid of it.  I’ve survived insects and fungi, He tells me, and my root network is in place. Here comes the fire.

And you know what I love about this revelation? Not that there is more hard stuff on the way (because Lord knows I’m as tired as they come), but that my Heavenly Father counts me mature enough to resist the fire, to continue living and giving life in the middle of it all.

Listen to this:

Fire is the great quick destroyer of forests. Acres upon acres of the finest forests of the world are consumed annually by destructive fires. The pine and the fir trees are highly inflammable because of the pitch they contain. Evidence of early-day fires is apparent in many places throughout the Redwood regions, and many of the fire scars can be used to date the time of the occurrence of the fires.

Redwoods, however, contain neither pitch nor resin; furthermore, since the asbestos-like bark grows to at least one foot in thickness in the Coast Redwood, and often as much as two feet in thickness in the Sierra Redwood, fire seldom is able to kill these trees. Once in a great while, fire will go up the trunk of a Sequoia, burn the crown, and thus kill the tree. Both kinds of Redwood are thus exceedingly resistant to fire and its effects. Of course, hot fires will kill the young Redwoods, but once the trees have reached maturity they are not easily killed.

As many as six lightning fires have been known to occur in the Yosemite in one day. If fires have occurred no oftener than once in a hundred years, some of the older trees must have been attacked at least twenty times in their lifetime. Once a fire was started, it swept through the forest, burning pines, firs, and young Sequoias, but seldom killing a mature Sequoia.

The Telescope Tree in the Mariposa Grove and the Chimney Tree in Big Basin show how these trees may continue for centuries to remain vigorous though their heart is burned out. How can a tree continue to live with the heartwood burned out? The term “heartwood” is really a misnomer, in that it suggests the animal heart, which is essential to the life of an animal. Heartwood is composed of cells which have ceased to live. The outer layers of the wood of a tree, known as sapwood, are the live part of the wood. Through the sapwood, water and minerals are conducted up from the roots. Food is manufactured by the green leaves in the presence of sunshine, and the food is conducted down to the various parts of the tree through the inner layers of bark.

There are sections of country along the Redwood Highway where farmers have tried to use cut over Redwood land for agricultural purposes. But even after as many as ten successive years of heavy burning of the stumps on a cut-over region, sprouts have still continued to come up, so that the farmers frequently surrender to the persistent Redwoods.

Source: National Parks Service

Bring it, fire.

Burn up the dead inside.

I carry the living things close to my tough but resilient exterior, anyhow. Everyone knows that.

You don’t scare me, fire.

I am made of tougher stuff than you, and I am one of those Redwoods that will keep living and giving life. My Creator made me so.

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Today has been a collosally bad day.

I mean, this whole week, really.

The past three months, if I stop and think about it.

This whole year has been rough, of course, but it’s like it intensified the second I got back home.

Or maybe I just became less able to cope with it all. I don’t know.

It has just sucked. Royally.

And I just internalize, you know? I don’t have much time to process these days – and certainly no energy to get it all out. Sometimes I pray about the things that are bothering me, and sometimes I keep them to myself. Sometimes I tuck things away like I think a good girl should, and react passive aggressively instead. (SUPER healthy, I know.)

But you don’t always know it to look at me: I am having a collosally bad time right now.

What happened today was my fault. Really. Aforementioned passive aggressive behavior led someone to get royally pissed off at me and say some things I didn’t deserve.

I. Lost. It.

I didn’t even know I was capable of losing it this much, y’all. I don’t even know exactly what I said, except there was a general laying of it all out there on my part, and a hefty amount of sarcasm from this other person.

I got lots of hugs and sympathy afterwards, but I don’t feel great. (Nor do I think I should.)

All I can think is, “I don’t lose my temper like this.”

But I just did.

I did because I don’t say what’s really going on when what’s going on isn’t good. I have this compulsion to make everything graceful and nice for everyone else, when I’m still feeling the clumsiness and ugliness. I don’t know how to articulate bad things, hard things; I always feel like I have to spin it.

So I spun this thing for the past few months, and today it spiraled right out of control.

Because I wasn’t honest and direct. Because I dealt with things as I always do: passively.

I regret that. (And I regret it because it gave the judge justification for his injustice. And that’s on me.)

But. I don’t regret articulating some of my frustrations, even if this person wasn’t able to hear them, because of their own frustrations with me. I regret not doing it sooner, and I regret how I chose to articulate these things, but I’m glad I said them.

It’s a recurring theme, this lack of communication from me. You might not know it reading this blog, but I think the trouble is that I’ve been communicating from my mind, and I need to communicate from my heart.

Hm. Yeah.

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Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.   In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,   yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.   And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?   I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8 NRSV)

Two days ago, I asked God, “What if I ask for this, and nothing happens? What if nobody cares?” He reminded me of the story above. So I asked. Now I wait.

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When I come and ask you for what I’ve earned

Okay, first of all, this is what I should have done in the first place: come to you and asked you for what I’ve earned. I didn’t. I walked away instead. I walked away. I’m not going to cloud this post with all of the reasons why; I’m pretty sure you’re already clear on why. The point is I shouldn’t have walked away without giving you an opportunity to make it right.

I heard yesterday you’re going to make it right for someone else’s benefit. I lost it. But I remembered, I never really gave you a chance.

So I’m giving it to you now. Please don’t blow it.

I had an intense night last night.

I came to at about one in the morning, though from what, I’m not really sure. I had just rolled over onto my back in bed, my room the normal amount of light from the floods outside my apartment. It was quiet, except for the ceiling fan thumping around and a plastic trash bag rustling from my bedroom door handle.

Nothing out of the ordinary, except … this wasn’t how things were just moments ago.

It started out with a nightmare – being chased down the halls of my subconscious by some demon. Then, I was sitting in a therapist’s office with my parents and the therapist was telling me that this demon was me and that I needed to look in the mirror and own it. I knew the demon wasn’t me, but I looked in the mirror on the therapist’s wall anyhow, and there was the demon. It rushed out at me and into me and started speaking for me. I knew it was a nightmare, knew no such thing could happen in real life. I willed myself to open my eyes.

My bedroom was dark, and in my periphery, above me, smoke-like wraiths were circling and swooping in at me, but unlike my dream, they couldn’t get in me, or touch me at all. I knew they were demons, and I started rebuking them and telling them to leave in Jesus’ name. I thought I was yelling, but I couldn’t hear myself, thought I was raising my hands in prayer, but then I couldn’t move. They wouldn’t leave. I was terrified. Eventually, it was all I could do to just call out Jesus’ name.

I rolled over onto my back, and suddenly, everything was back to normal. They were gone. I felt free, weightless, rested.

Well done.

Those two words and I knew: what had just happened had been real. Whether it occurred in the physical realm or on a spiritual plane, I really can’t say – but I can tell you that I was involved in intense spiritual warfare shortly before one this morning, and I was on the side that won.

The plastic trash bag on my door handle rustled, and a shiver ran through me. This time I call out for Jesus and I can hear myself.

I fell asleep after I prayed for God’s protection over my loved ones and I and after once again rebuking the enemy in our lives.

All I can say is this, when prayer starts turning the tide, the enemy gets scared. Right now, I am praying certain things because I know beyond the shadow of any doubt, God wants to do them. God has worked in me “to will and to do His good pleasure.” I am praying these in spite of personal failure, fear, and pain. And because I refuse to surrender, I have a target on my back. But you know what? I’m on the winning side: “You are of God, little children. Greater is the One who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

 

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