Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pure Passion :: From Giving Away to Holding Close {Dating}





Author’s Note ::  Dear sister, if, after reading this, you experience guilt knowing you’ve given away what is priceless, know I have been there too. It’s hard for me to imagine a woman who hasn’t overrun God’s bounds when we really look at the wholeness of the gift of pure sexual passion meant to be guarded for marriage.  Please know that there is healing and always, always, the ardent pursuit of a God who redeems.   
I pray the vision of pure passion gives you the hope of what is always before you to live. With the Power of the Risen Christ in you, it is all possible!

  
Image Copyright :: RLsole -- fotolia.com
 

Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5 (ESV)


I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

This Pure Passion Series is where I share my story.  The truth is most of my life has been full ofconfusion about the gift of sexuality.  In experiencing Pure Passion in my relationship with God, I began to have clarity about the depth of desire God gives us.  It’s ultimate end is Himself.  Recently, I have begun to see that this same passion is intended to bring wild, blessed life to sexuality.  

The best analogy I have found is that passion is a river that, in marriage only, is meant to move with freedom sexually as this treasure is the gift given to both husband and wife. 

But what about when we are dating?  Essentially we are in between the clarity of the single where pure passion is fulfilled in God, and the pure passion that is intended to envelop and infuse sexual intimacy as married couples delight in God and each other.

http://janscardinophotography.com/

Is there any expression of pure passion that is in between these two extremes? One that honors God while we are dating?

Although there are lots of ways to answer this question, I want to respond from my story. That is how I see it in a fresh, yet painful, way as I learn the nature of pure passion and what it means to defile it.

Most of my life I have had no idea that all-out heart commitment and love for God had any connection to sexual desire.  I thought of them as warring opposites.

A lot of this comes from the double-barreled confusion of silence amongst Christians related to the gift of sex paired with severe warning against sexual immorality.  This forms a legalistic culture that feeds on fear while opening the door to hiding, shame, ignorance and sin. 

I am a product of this culture. The warnings took effect.  Truly, I did not think it was especially appealing to have sex, that big ugly NO NO, with anyone.  So I did remain pure sexually while dating.  Yet I gave entirely too much away.

It’s true.   

Perspective gets all mixed up and murky when we don’t see pure passion as the vein that pumps blood into both the longing of our souls for union with God and fuels the good desire for one-flesh union in marriage.   

During my dating years, I loved and lived for God in adventurous and joy-filled ways.  This passion for Him naturally found expression in friendships, good guy friendships and dating relationships.

And since the spiritual and emotional elements of relationships are freely talked about among Christians, I thought there was nothing wrong with giving of myself in the same way in relationships with guys.  There weren’t the clear red flags that came with sexual acts.  I wasn’t even kissing you all! So, surely it was all good.  


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

But where did I go wrong?  Why did I end up giving away the passion meant only for God while I remained sexually pure?

I take responsibility for what I will call spiritual and emotional promiscuity.  Although I was confused, something in me knew I was investing too much in guy friendships and dating relationships with good guy friends.  

But I desperately needed someone to make it clearer to me.

This is why I say that the warped and all-too-prevalent view that sexual purity is a safeguard to pure passion can have a devastating effect on good Christian girls like me.

So, really, truly, I think it’s time to talk about it all.
 
We need to stop separating the spiritual and emotional from the physical when it comes to sexuality. 




 In the blessed fullness of lifetime covenantal commitment in marriage between a man and woman, sex is the deepest spiritual, emotional and physical expression of love and worship that we can give to God in the context of community.  Through it we touch the redemptive heartbeat of Christ’s death on the cross, buying back all the innocent beauty of love that was lost.  Therefore we must understand and remind each other what we give away when we let any level of unguarded passion flow outside of the intimacy of marriage.

The TRUTH is that pure sexual passion is gorgeous, breathtaking, wild and delightful-- a pearl-of-great-price we must be inspired to sacrifice everything to keep.  It is a vision God holds for us, as the Giver of Marriage, and it awaits His clear timing to find its naked and unashamed revelation.  

So, you who are dating, whether in groups of friends, casually or exclusively, embrace the gift of pure passion.  Honor this indescribable gift at the cost of your life. Revolutionize your thinking.  Let your hearts be stunned.  And may the Beauty sought through ALL righteous yearnings rise up to form a hot, holy hold around the fountain of your own precious and unique passion.  



Tomorrow I continue this series :: Pure Passion :: From Hurt to Healing {when you've been abused}

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Pure Passion :: From Solitary to Surrounded {The Season of Single}



{Author’s Note ::  As I re-read this post, I wanted to add this.  Please hear my heart, dear single friend.  I do not want to pass blithely over the pain, insecurity, doubt and fear of this season in life.  I have been there both single and married.  In all things I join with you in fighting for the only rest we can ever truly know—that is in The Arms of God.  I urge you to daily live the Beauty of possessing a true Lover of Your Soul and know the urging of the Psalmist “Trust in the Lord at all times O people.  POUR OUT YOUR HEARTS BEFORE HIM; God is a Refuge for us. Selah.” Psalm 62:8}

 photo image :: Copyright RFsole - fotolia.com

When I think of all of the clumsy stereotypes for Christian singles, the image of solitary confinement comes to mind.  There’s this impossibly small space with bland walls, little to no food, and enough loneliness to cause you to go mad.  Singleness can be seen as a punishment from God or an indictment upon ourselves as unwanted, unseen and downright unlovable.

I realize that this image is drastic.  But sometimes drastic is what we need to shake us out of faulty thinking.  While I was single, I allowed myself to settle for less than the freedom of pure passionate relationship with God intended to surround me in a way shaped only for singleness.

But Hallelujah, this was not the end of the story for me.  He who has overcome the world, brought great victory in the single period of my life.  Since I have been married, I often look back to this season with longing.  Let me clarify—I have NEVER regretted a moment of my marriage, but I have missed the pure passion that was all God’s and the desperate clarity with which I pursued it.

In my story, the single years were all of my 20’s.  It may not seem very long, especially if this season is much longer for you.  But when I think of what I both experienced and endured in this season, I count it a pivotal, rest-of-my-life-shaping essential.  

While I was single, I became the first in my family to travel overseas.  Through this I became fluent in Spanish and traveled to Latin America as a translator for several missions’ projects.  I began a teaching career and knew great capacity to intern with youth groups and continually mentor high school students.  I moved a day’s drive from home not knowing a single person where I moved.  I experienced a powerful call to ministry and began seminary.



I weathered the deepest romantic heartache of my life.  As it crushed me, I needed to find the strength to heal and move forward with a soft, hopeful heart.  

I did the thing my determined independence would not allow.  With a peace that truly surpassed my understanding I moved home with my parents.  I learned to live interdependently with my mother, in particular, as I experienced healing in our relationship.  

A year after I moved home, my mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  I was a primary care-giver and found strength in God, my Husband, to be an anchor of support to both of my parents as my mom was dying.  

These single years are precious and made me a Jesus girl through and through.  For my husband, this is the single most attractive thing about me.

Pure Passion brought LIFE to every day of those years.  The unrestricted opportunity to follow God, to give myself to Him as My One and Only Lover, now gives me the depth of devotion to continue to love Him with passion and vision as a wife, mother, missionary, writer and more!

The truth is that single years are eternal years. 

Every day is a preparation.  This preparation may first be for a marriage where the Fiery Love of God is lived out at a level of Beauty that has been made possible by the Pure Passion that learned how to run free in the school of singleness.   


Or this preparation joins the preparation of all, single and married, as our hearts daily anticipate and hungrily grow in deepest of souls’ yearning for a Face to Face Love and Embrace to which nothing could ever compare!

If you are single reading this, I want you to believe that Pure Passion is For You!  God is pursuing you in radical ways that are daily gifts AND you teach all of us so much.  My prayer is that TODAY the lies of clumsy, chaining stereotypes find no place in what God intends to be gorgeous, godly, wildly full & His.

Join me tomorrow as I continue this series on Pure Passion :: From Giving Away to Holding Close {Dating}


Joining Jen, Michelle, and Laura

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Friday, April 25, 2014

You All Are My String of Pearls {#FMFParty #Friends}

Go ::

You're all my string of pearls.

You have come once only to
stay forever.

You span continents {all}, countries {many}
and States the same.

Time zones and denomination.

You are pearls that I would
sacrifice it all to keep.

You remind me of the real; the broken.

You take me as I am.

The mess that keeps on messing:)

You have loved in the days of famine

And rejoiced in the days of plenty.

You are born of blood and spirit and
always, always, always the heart of friend.

You humble me and delight me.

You make me long for Heaven.

There will be every tear wiped away
and the leaving; the missing;

it will be no more.

Hallelujah.

It's my song; I sing in the quiet and lonely.

In the new and scary.

I remember how you knew me when and
how you still know me.

I know you are a phone call away and be it
2 weeks, or months or years or decades we
still see soul-to-soul.

You make me smile from the deep when
I think of you living well right where you are.

You are the realest of real.

You've become my real in many seasons of
change and leaving. Yours and Mine.

You make me know that there is a God
who makes Himself known in quiet places of
the listening ears, and the silent spaces of prayers
that are the tie that binds.

You remind that I am not alone.
I have never been alone.
You show me the face of Jesus.

You all are my string of pearls...I wear you 
proudly wherever in the world I am.

Five Minute Friday


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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pure Passion :: From Overrun to Overcome {Part 2}

Yesterday I began a new series 'Pure Passion' and talked about how confused I was about sex growing up and the first strands of clarity that continue to shape my life in this area.
Today I am continuing to talk about what I never talked about.

Here I am again. Feeling the timid. Literally facing the thick wall of silence that profoundly shapes sexual understanding for me.



And I know I'm not alone. I understand propriety. Truly, I do. Modesty in speech and privacy are important and I don't want to be disrespectful.

But, here's the problem. The world talks A LOT about sex. And the vast majority turns upside-down and dirties the good and beautiful and right and true that God designed sex to be.

This series is my story. 

It comes from the heart of a girl who did all of the right things and yet ended up with very wrong, warped thinking.

It is real. Raw in places. Joy-filled in others. It is an offering of hope. An acting on the belief that God, in Christ, redeems everything. It has been bathed in prayer and inspired by the vision of women who love God being set free from what holds them back from Him. And more, the truth that learning to live wild and free as God's in this world releases a pure passion that finds intimate expression through sex. In His bounds. For His Glory. Simply Amazing.

Part 2 continues today at Missional Women.  I'll pick back up next week with posts on singleness, dating and abuse and then begin several weeks of looking at sex in marriage. I hope you'll join me!

Picture 
joining Emily, Crystal, Lyli, and CMB


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Well, it's time I told you what I've been up to {drum roll please:}



I've been up to a lot, it turns out.

I've been traveling over oceans on planes with a 6, 4 and very active 1 year-old.

I've been re-connecting with family and some friends on this side of the ocean.
{Though I long to connect with more of both...}

I've been shifting into the nomadic that will continue as we return to Hungary in June and head to our English Camp soon after.

I've been saying too many sharp words for socks tossed under beds, this way and that, and dirty clothes the same.

I've been cuddling in the mornings with the kiddos and at night with the hubby.
{Who pretty much is the reason I survive any of this travel--he is THE best! Oh, Jesus, Him too!}

I've been making time for God and pouring out my heart in ways that mark wherever I am in the world.

But, the real what-i've-been-up-to that I want to share here. now. with you. if I can just find the courage...
{picture ringing hands and a shy smile with a bit of a blush}


Well, it's about my story.

About a part of my story that I never, I repeat NEVER, thought that I would share in a blog or anywhere public.

It's been a wrestle to keep walking forward with it. I've prayed, hedged and prayed some more. I've talked a lot with that amazing hubby who has been...amazing. His support means everything.

And at the end of the day, I rest in a Risen Christ who gives me the freedom to be His in this world.

And, right now, being His, means sharing my story in a series {and maybe one day, a book?} called... 


Pure Passion.

You can read that however you want to and you will probably be right;)

I'm starting it slow. Talking about growing up not talking about, you know {baby steps, you see;}

Will you join me at Missional Women where I begin talking about the confusion and the first strands of clarity in my journey towards Pure Passion.

Picture

Linking with Jen, Laura, Jennifer and Emily

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Five Minutes on Glory 'Glue' #FMFParty

Go ::

It's you.
This Glory Glue
it sticks to 
the most 
unexpected.


the knees bowed
and the 
handing over.
with mouths
that want to 
cry Glory
instead of 
taking you to 
be killed.


and Your Glory
Glue it sticks
to the broken
the ones who 
long for 
the I AM to 
rescue
and yet the 
glory is but 
the shadow 
amidst the mar.


and Your Glory
Glue it haunts
the chained 
and makes us
see that we are...
chained.
the broken realize
we are broken.
the lost realize
we are lost.
there is 
freedom 
and wholeness
and Home 
for those 
who will
let Glory Glue
come and find
and cling
and make all 

It's Glory Glue
that shines on 
all that has 
ever been good.
since the Word
the You of Glory
spoke and made.

All that light in 
darkness sticking
to the things 
that were made 
good and making
good again.


It's Your Glory Glue
that comes through
places that never
before knew
they could hold
the true and good
and grace of 
eternity.

It's Your 
Glory Glue
that makes 
all of this 
world, the 
wandering,
the longing,
it makes it all
somehow 
a part of 
a whole that 
is from
beginning to 
end bound 
up in You.

@ Missional Women


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lessons from the hill :: dance together...toward home

Lessons from the hill 2

I have lived in Budapest, Hungary for the last two years {Though, for the next 2 months, we’re back in the States}. This series,“lessons from the hill :: the keeping grace”, is all about the things God teaches me as I take 20 minutes a day to walk a hill by our flat.  This post is part 2 about how concentric circles help us order what we love.

One of the biggest struggles I have had living overseas is common to many, I think.

How do I spend my time?

There will never be enough time in the day to get everything done. If there is for you, then I’d like to meet you and hear all your secrets;)

The struggle has become greater as it just takes more time to do most things in another country. Shopping. Cooking. Laundry. Forming Relationships. Talking…

My brain has been a little crazy these last two years. At the hardest points, I had some pretty strong anxiety and knew that I needed, needed, needed some ways to center myself in this new life.

The Lord,  the utmost of gracious and kind, as I poured out my heart to him and begged for His peace, gave me the picture of concentric circles.


Jared and Abby #1 

As I saw the circles, I was impressed with my stripped bare can’t-do-anything-well life. I had the opportunity to add the layers of importance God’s way. And He wanted me to see my marriage : the loving, honoring, cheerleading, praying for with heart of hearts as my #1 human relationship. The intimately linked next circle after loving God and receiving His love.

It may not sound earth-shattering, but somehow it was.

I had let the heart-deep, searing, knowing of this proper love-ordering grow dull. For me, it’s been the transitions, the packing, the endless goodbyes and tentative hellos, the language-learning and babies in the midst. It’s like the parable of the sower. Between rocks of bitterness, lack of thankfulness, whining {yes, little brat whining} or the weeds of worry, exhaustion, loneliness, desire for control, playing mommy-martyr, etc. I had lost the little girl wonder and joy of a life-long love affair with my best friend.

And God, being rich in mercy and grace, brought me to another country, let me go through fire and pain, in order to surrender all sense of worth in other things. 

It’s an achingly beautiful place.

A place where I was hungry to hear the words of life. Ready to lay it all down and take up Him.
It felt so freeing to see how drawing close to God, loving and knowing Him and being loved and known by Him, would lead me home to my husband in ways that revive, refresh, and renew. This truly is an easy yoke and the rightness of heart in honoring this one human relationship above all others brings great peace.


Jared and Abby #2 
Since that dawning of a few months ago, I can say that I see it. I really see in my life how connected it is--that singular heart of loving God above all others and then loving my husband in that next closest place. It both centers and strengthens my intimacy in that chord of three strands as we dance toward Home.

Linking with Laura, Jen and Michelle 
and a new first-but-not-last Sheila @ To Love Honor & Vacuum
 
UseitonMonday 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

how to paint a life #fmfparty #livelifetothefull

Go::


it's blood and guts
a lot of crazy
and even more grace.

it's the risks that leave
us with no regrets though
the broken pieces remain.

it's knowing that you have
one dear, precious life
and asking questions well.

the colors come from 
moments true and they span
the family messy days and 
warm romantic nights and 
they shine in days of sun and rain
and they bear weight.


the things that remain are 
the colors with the bleeding
depth that seems to have it's
own kind of folds. the velvet
and canvas and linens of the 
weaving and then there's the 
bright and clear of the faith-filled
hues.

how to paint a life?

in all things true, lovely, noble
and honorable...
all of the rise-up-and-bless-her
praise that those closest
can sing from heart of hearts.

how to paint a life?

in messy, broken, and then
there's some more mess
and some more broken.
pieces...mosaics of those who 
aren't afraid to feel and express
but know the humble sorry
and words to reconcile 
and redeem
even more...words to point 
to the One who died 
for all that was lost 
to see us Home.


how to paint a life?

one moment, one thought,
one fight for all that's 
worth the living and the 
dying. To never, ever, ever
give up or believe it's simply 
not worth the journey
of every bleeding, digging,
pursuing, heart-deep
step.

Stop. 



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Monday, April 7, 2014

Lessons from the Hill :: Make Time for God

“Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter—the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”
~Henri Nouwen “The Way of the Heart”
Lessons from the hill 2I thought this was going to be a different post.  I was going to keep talking about concentric circles and how this helps us understand and order what we love.
But it sort of seemed out of place to keep going.
Because, the truth is, there is no understanding of ourselves, at least not any that will bring lasting change, unless we make the room to listen, respond, listen again…basically, learn how to commune with God. 

So how do we make room?

We are close to two years living overseas. There’s a lot that I have made a mess of—falling flat on my face and exhausting myself in the process. But, for most of this time, there is one thing I did well.

I made time for God.
 
Most of the time, I have been so confused and unsure what I am to do in this new life. With three lil ones including a new baby, I had a hard time getting out. And when I did, I didn’t know how to ask where the baking soda was in the store. I didn’t know how to get to the store. I didn’t know the recipes that work the best to substitute for crescent rolls or mac-n-cheese or pizza sauce. What ingredients did I need? Where were they and how did I ask for them? I didn’t know which friendships or ministry to pursue when I did have the time. In the middle of this mess, how could I keep from going crazy? 

Winter Sunset
Twenty Minutes.

I could find twenty minutes every day—good, bad, cold, hot, morning, evening—twenty minutes and a route for a vigorous walk. This I could do.

And so I did. 

The combination of time outside and exercise keep me motivated as well as make the time fruitful. It is always, always, twenty minutes that I listen to the things that right my mind. A sermon. Worship music. The scripture I am meditating upon and memorizing as I listen to passages I can record through this app.

And a question that I am always asking, “What are you saying to me, God?”

I’m pouring out my heart some times because the fresh air seems to make it flow
Winking smile
Bright, clear sunset
Most of the time the worship music or sermon or scripture is in the background. Some times what I am hearing comes right from this. Like this version of ‘Be Still My Soul’ that kept me in some of the most tumultuous days. Or the Prodigal God sermons from Tim Keller that I have listened to over and over again. Or all of the promises I affirmed about God delivering me from fears, defeating my slavery to fear and casting it out with perfect love through this ‘no fear’ set in my memory verses.
In the darkest period of our transition I experienced the fall sunsets. And I got the strength I needed to fight another day.

So, I’ll say it again: Make time for God.

circus on the hill

As little as twenty minutes a day can make all the difference in how you live for God in this world. It probably doesn’t seem too radical. Yet, in a busy, busy world where we can never get everything done, it is one of the most counter-cultural things we can do. Let go of all that’s undone and make it the non-negotiable in our day’s schedule.

We head back to the States in two days for two months. We’ll travel a lot, but wherever we are, there will be twenty minutes or so each day that will be the same for me the whole world over.Smile
UseitonMonday



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