Thursday, November 21, 2013

You'll Come!

Seems like as of late, I carry around in my head a tune - it is a constant song in there...and it is typically a song that we sing praising the Lord at church the prior weekend.  Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  So, having a good, true, and lovely song stuck in my head is a good thing!  I just hope that my kids don't start singing "What Does The Fox Say" and mess my peaceful head up!

This week it is "You'll Come" by Hillsong.  This morning I sat down and looked at the lyrics closely and it was such a comfort and reminder to me in this season.

The first words in the song - "I have decided, I have resolved to wait upon you Lord."  - Yup, need to work on this.  Still.  We seem to always need to be reminded to be patient and wait on the Lord's timing.  Why do we always try to do it ourselves.  We've got it.  We know best. Scoot over, because I'm in a bad spot and I want my way - NOW!

"We are not shaken, We are not moved, We wait upon you Lord."  - Again, I don't want to sound like things are bleak and hopeless, but the season that our family is in is not a pleasant one.  And as I look around and listen to prayer requests from our brothers and sisters, I see the pain and struggles that others are shouldering right now.  Wow.  This life is not fun sometimes, right?  As a friend reminded me gently yesterday, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2, emphasis added).  One of these years I hope to get better at walking above our circumstances - to be like the tree that is rooted by a stream whose leaves never wither with drought. (Psalm 1:3).  I'm certain we will continue to have opportunities in the remaining years on earth to exercise this skill of being content in all circumstances and not letting the circumstances bring us down - and not being bitter or surprised when things aren't going smoothly.  He says we will pass through rivers and walk through fire, but He tells us plainly that we will not be hurt by the outside chaos around us (IF we have our eyes on Him and not on that chaos.)  Blink long.  Refocus.

This song talks a lot about waiting for the Lord - and I am relating it to our preset situation that we don't necessarily want to be in...BUT, I think that the overall message is we're waiting on His perfect timing for Jesus to come back and gather His sheep up.  "As surely as the sun will rise, You'll come to us, Certain as the dawn appears, You'll Come."  "Spirit rain, flood into our thirsty hearts again.  You'll come, you'll come."  -Ahh!  A begging to God to rain His Spirit down and overflow our parched hearts...again.  To be filled to overflowing, flooded.  Yes, please.  It makes it all better.  Like I said, man, this life is hard...for so many.  This song is so encouraging to me- so much hope...He is worth having our hope in and He will come!  We must have faith that He will respond to us (answer us) and fill us up while we are living life here - sometimes feeling as we're barely hanging on.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17)

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) 

So, while we are here.  Rejoice that we have a hope and an eternal glory!  Have faith.  He'll come.  This too shall pass.  Share the good news...there's something better than this...

"Chains be broken, Lives be healed, Eyes be opened, Christ is revealed."

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sharing a Snapshot

I've always wanted to get some outdoor family pictures taken by a photographer.  We finally did it last weekend!  I've been talking to my talented friend, Maura, about it for over a year.  The process of coordinating the outfits, slicking down the hair and instructions began.   "Evan, don't touch the cats...and don't lean your head back."  And as I noticed that Emily took the opportunity to experiment with blue eye shadow with ten minutes left to spare, I suggested that I help her blend, which caused hysterical tears.  "God help us!"  Jeff had a headache and I insisted that he was mad about something.  The drive there revealed that Evan's shirt was actually falling apart.  There were threats of turning around and going home if attitudes didn't improve.  That always helps - demanding that everyone be happy...  We arrived so that Maura could capture our 'happy and relaxed' moments together as a loving family.  Sigh...

Pictures have never been relaxed for me.  I spend way too much time preparing and making us look just perfect and instructing everyone on what to do and not do.  Then we all paste our smiles on and look like the perfect little family.

I started thinking this morning about what would happen if we framed the moments that aren't planned and perfect, but the everyday moments - the moments leading up to the one that has the camera on us.  Taking a snapshot of our everyday life - what would that look like?  Ouch.  Not cute.
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus wants us to represent Him well:  "let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."  We need to remember that our actions, both good and not so lovely, are on display - like pictures - for others to see.  People are watching us, watching us to see how we handle completely frustrating situations and moments when our kids take us to the end of our rope.  When we do mess up, what do we do afterwards?  Do we scramble to make it look like we didn't?  Or do we humbly and truly ask for forgiveness from others?  How do we represent Christ in the everyday moments?  When we don't think anyone is looking.  Something I need to think about!  If my candid photos/videos (the informal snapshots taken without my knowledge) were posted on facebook could I be a good witness for Christ?  Ouch again.

Ok, let's switch gears a bit and look at this in a totally different way:  we are pretty good at displaying the professionally edited portrait of our lives -- the "everything is going well, our family is perfect, we don't have problems." (as in picture below!)  It's the candid snapshots that we aren't as willing to reveal because they are messy.  But...people are relieved to find out that you don't actually have it all together but struggle the same as they do.  All of a sudden you become real and approachable because no one is perfect.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend time with someone who is honest than someone who insists that she has it all together and everything is great - when it isn't.

A few weeks ago, I nervously shared my own messy snapshots to a group of women at church, revealing my weaknesses, my sins, and my imperfections.  God wanted me to do this because as I purposefully shared my 'messy,' I was also able to share how God uses the messy and the broken to make beautiful things.  He is in the business of making beautiful things out of the dust.  He was gracious in allowing me to see that my obedience in sharing touched a few and made them stronger by not feeling alone in their own struggles.

This week the Kissel family was under spiritual attack - this is all I can use to explain the darkness that entered into the house and the hopelessness felt.  I could have pasted on my edited smile but I was real and said, 'we need help' to my friends in Christ.  It's hard to display this type of picture to others - the one of weakness.  Prayers from our army helped us come through stronger and unscathed.

Sharing the 'imperfections' in our lives, in the right way mind you, can help God's Kingdom grow in number and become strengthened.

My prayer out of all my ramblings this morning is this:  that we will have more candid, behind the scenes, everyday snapshots that are a great witness for Christ.  That we aren't afraid to share the messy photos if it might help a brother or sister or ourselves.  That we would have big smiles, not because everything in our lives are perfect, but because God is shining through us.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)