Nameless Names

We humans are so funny. We have this need to name things… And once it has a name, we are satisfied, even if that name explains nothing. The strange concept has been on my mind the last few days… So join me as I dive deep into some inward psychological musings. 

Think of how many diseases and sicknesses there are that doctors give fancy names to… I can’t tell you how many times someone will tell me the fancy title for their disease or sickness, but then when I ask follow-up questions, they admit that doctors don’t know why it happens or how to fix it.
So basically, they have come up with a fancy name for “I don’t know.” And yet somehow I get the sense that people feel better when it has a name. 

Even if that name means means nothing.

 It is a nameless name. 

Or think about animals… We say they have “instincts.” We all know what instincts are – the drive within an animal to do something very particular with their life, an impulse particular to their own breed/kind. But can we explain instincts? We say, “oh, they know how to do that because of their instinct.” 

But in reality, that explains nothing! Can we explain instinct? Instinct means “they just know.” 

But HOW do they just know?? 

From where does this instinct come?

Oh, why are we so blind?!

Animals’ instinct or “inexplicable knowingness” can only come because these animals have been PROGRAMMED – programmed by a much higher intelligence. 

Oh, why do we not see God in creation?? 

Creation screams the praise of its Maker! 

The evidence of our Creator is all around us, within us – if we will only open our eyes and SEE. 

You know… We are even sort of this way with God…we acknowledge His existence and say that yes, we exist because of God (well, some of us acknowledge this). God made us; God made everything. We are here because of God. 

But God is just the name – not a reason, not a definition, hardly an explanation. Who is this god? Do we know? Do we seek to know the reason, the definition, the explanation, the mystery – behind the name that we have given to what we can’t understand and can’t explain? Calling this inexplicable and mysterious Being “God” does not satisfy the mystery that is our Creator. It does not tell us who he is or what he does. It is just a name for Someone we cannot explain… it is just a tag, a reference for the incredible power, the invisible breath that holds all things of earth together.

 He is Spirit, He is Mystery, he is Life – He is much more than just a name. More than a word, than a reference, than a tag we use to identify what we do not know, don’t understand, and can’t explain. 

We have given the Inexplicable a name… but do we know the Person behind the name?

My name is Emily. That is my tag. That says nothing about me. You may know my name, but that doesn’t mean that you know me, who I am. “Emily” is simply a verbal tag to refer to the entity of me. But if you do not know me – who I am, what I am like -then my name is nameless to you. 

My name does not matter unless you know ME. 

Knowing God’s name serves us 

NOTHING

 unless we know the entity 

BEHIND THE NAME. 

I will not be satisfied with nameless names. 

                        Will you? 

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My Constipated Home

My Constipated Home

I am beginning to realize that consumerism is a sin.  Before you say “Woah, don’t you think that’s a little extreme!?”  and close out of this page, hear me out.

I’ve been reading my Bible lately.  No, this is not new…but I have been reading “old” familiar passages  that are hitting me afresh.  Like this one:

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

– Luke 12:32-34

And when I reached the end of the passage, I tried to apply the neat little interpretation and application that I have been taught applies to that passage.  And I found it was like trying to stick a round peg into a square hole – it didn’t work. Time and again, I am finding my comfortable scripture applications clattering to the floor.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

Have you ever thought, “I would love to support that missionary, it’s just that finances are really tight right now”?

Why in the past have I read that passage and glossed over it, thinking “Oh, that is for people who are really rich and whose value and entire existence is caught up in owning things instead of the things that really matter.”

WAIT.

I own at least seven different types of cookware,  multiple specialty kitchen gadgets, dozens of differently shaped and sized bowls, cups,  mugs, tea cups, plasticware and plates. I have a myriad of beautifully colored pieces of cloth, all designated for different purposes –  kitchen towels, bath towels, baby towels, toddler towels, burp cloths, blankets, fleece throws, car seat blankets, crib blankets, duvets, bedsheets, tablecloths, curtains, cloth napkins – the list is endless!!  I have short sleeve shirts, three-quarter sleeve shirts, longsleeve shirts, sweatshirts, dress shirts, running shirts, not to mention all of my skirts, dresses, pants,  shorts, and capris!  There’s constantly a flood of toys tumbling onto our living room floor and with our refrigerator/freezer, upright freezer, pantry,  and every space/herb you could imagine, we practically have our own personal grocery store at our fingertips. I live in a house with ten rooms, one of which was created solely to house one of our two gleaming, self propelling “chariots.” Much,  even most, of my time is spent washing, drying, folding,  organizing and putting away said-clothing, washing, drying and putting away said-dishes, as well as sweeping and scrubbing the many rooms we live in and attempting over and over again to organize my junk into beauty.  And I keep failing.

If I am not “the rich” that Jesus was talking to, then who is? Oh sure, there are people who ARE  way wealthier than my family and me –  but that does not make me poor.  The poor are those who hardly have clothing on their backs, who have a sagging roof over their heads, whose bellies grumble because their pantries are bare, and whose bodies are sick because they can’t even access clean water.  The poor are the ones who feel like they have to sell their bodies or their children just to get enough to eat.

  I am not poor. 

 I am rich.

 Jesus was talking to me

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

And suddenly it hit me. Jesus was not giving two separate commands: 1) Sell your possessions 2) Give to the poor.  He was telling us how. Sell your possessions so that you can give to the poor. I may not be a millionaire, but I have a whole lot of wealth tied up  in my STUFF.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

Maybe, just maybe, Jesus actually meant that. Literally. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Why don’t we take Jesus literally?? 

I am being challenged to re-think my selfish, consumerism mindset. When my body constantly takes in food and does not expel it, I am constipated and my body is not in a healthy state. When my body is constipated, I cannot even enjoy taking in food. Does the same not go for our homes? When our homes are constantly taking in stuff and not expelling stuff (giving it away), our homes become constipated and unhealthy. And just like my body, my constipated home cannot even enjoy the stuff it is trying to take in. 

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

What if I did? What if I sold all my excess possessions?

Maybe then I would actually have the extra finances to support that missionary…

When STUFF Controls Your SOUL: Desiring Simplicity

When STUFF Controls Your SOUL: Desiring Simplicity

I have found that I have a hard time giving something away when it is still “good” in my eyes for whatever reason. Perhaps I like the look of it, the meaning behind it, the one who gave it to me, the cause it represents, or the dream it reflects.

But why do I consider it “bad” to give a “good” item away? Should I not rather give a “good” item away so that it can bless someone else? Surely it can’t be right to only want to give “bad” items away to others! If it is not currently blessing me, I need to bless someone else with it! Even if it could bless me LATER, I need to give it to someone who would be blessed by it NOW.

Why do I let fear of the future keep me hoarding things that I don’t need or don’t use? Truly that is the root of my reluctance to give things away…FEAR. I am somehow afraid that I will need that object in the future and won’t have it. Do I not trust my God to provide for my every need in every moment?? Do I trust more fully in myself and rely on my possessions to be confident about my future?! When you really spell it out like that, it sounds ridiculous.

Many times, I think I have allowed objects to essentially become a part of me.

Has giving something away ever felt strangely like giving away a part of your soul?

I don’t like to admit it, but I have felt that way more often than I would like. Giving away a cute dress that I used to feel beautiful in feels somehow like giving away a part of my beauty; tossing a photograph of a special moment (or even a rather mediocre moment) somehow feels like tossing away the memory; giving away the components of an unfinished project often feels like I am giving up and giving away that dream. But in actuality, none of these feelings are a true representation of reality. No object controls my beauty or dictates my dreams or contains my memories. Every object is only a temporary accent or asset to these parts of my life. These objects are NOT my life! On the contrary, when we succumb to these deceptive feelings, these objects TAKE OVER our lives!
I daresay that we will never miss between 90%  and 99% of the objects we give away. And for that tiny percentage that we might have a fleeting moment of regret over – would we really trade in that blessed and wonderful feeling of freedom and simple living that we have attained in order to have those couple objects back? Would we really desire to take that object back from the person we blessed with it?

I think not.

I am finding that the more I learn, the less I know. I am also discovering that in so many ways….THE LESS I OWN, THE MORE IT FEELS LIKE I HAVE.

We must seek to be content in God and to be content in what He has so graciously given us; we must focus on resting in His presence and desiring only Him; to make it a habit to advantage of every opportunity to GIVE – and I believe the fruit of simplicity will start blossom as a result.

 

Walking with my Savior

I’m so glad that I serve a God Who walks beside me.

Lately, in my chaotic “mommy-world” I have found it difficult to spend alone time with my Lord. It seems like a million things are always tugging at my brain…and at my time. Dirty diapers, dirty laundry, growling tummies, dusty books, new recipes, an empty fridge, dear friends and family who miss me, and of course, our precious treasure in my growing belly who makes my full-time job consist of eating and sleeping. Well – just about.

In all the beautiful craziness of life, I find my “alone AND free” moments to be rare. And how I miss them. I miss communing in the quiet with my Savior. I miss sitting at His feet in the silent music of His presence. And yet…though I think I should never give up these times or cease to seek them, I am learning a new truth: my Savior and I can still commune in the crazy.

We can talk while I push the stroller. I can sing praises to Him while scrubbing dishes. I can honor Him by gifting smiles and kind words to those around me. I can read His words aloud to my tiny disciple as we eat our scrambled eggs. And though I miss the quiet times with my Jesus…I can still share the chaotic times with my Jesus too.

Because He walks with me.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
            and gently lead those that are with young.

~Isaiah 40:11

Experiencing Israel

Experiencing Israel

Wow! Forgive me for not writing for so long….life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately! Seven weeks ago, the Lord blessed me and my family with being able to move into our very own home!! We are so incredibly grateful and are loving our new stomping grounds. And just over eight weeks ago, we found out we are expecting our second child!! We are SO. INCREDIBLY. BLESSED. But see what I mean about whirlwind? =)

However, more on all that later! We need to do this in order. 😉 Let’s back up to about ten weeks in ago in the month of May…(how does that already feel like ages ago?) when Aaron and I had the unbelievable privilege of traveling to see the Holy Land! After returning from this Middle Eastern jewel that is so pregnant with stories and prophecies, so many people have been asking me what experiencing Israel is like….so I am going to try to tell you. But let me warn you – it is so hard to put into words….

Israel is beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. It is a desolate, sometimes barren beautiful, with countless caves and crevices dotting its endless mountains and breathtaking views around seemingly every corner.There are spots of green in the endless desert beige, each one treasured and tenderly looked after. This is evidenced by the brown irrigation tubes that accompany anything remotely green. The people of Israel planted almost every tree and plant in their country BY HAND and are apparently known for inventing the most brilliant irrigation system in the world!

Israel breathes story. Flashes of Biblical narratives would race into my head, and like playing with paper dolls in a real world, I tried to paste 2D characters into the 3D world before my eyes. It was kind of like someone took my black-and-white picture Bible and a box of crayons and began to spill color into lines.

One of the archaeological highlights of our visit was the ruined Roman city of Beth-Shean. Beth-Shean boasted a still-mostly-intact bathhouse and an open air theatre and intricate pillars – the sites took my breath away. Our tour guide only gave us 20 minutes to explore, but I could have spent hours there…

My other archaeological favorite was that of Masada, an abandoned fortress that whispers a most tragic story. A band of Jewish zealots fleeing the hands of the Romans escaped Jerusalem and climbed the perilous mountain to reclaim the abandoned fortress that King Herod left behind at his death. Fortified with its own irrigation system and high stone walls, the band of Jews held out for three proud years against the constant onslaught of the Romans. Finally, when it was evident that their downfall was imminent, the zealots elected to rather kill their families and each other than to suffer rape, slavery, and murder at the hands of their enemies. I felt a sick feeling settle deep in my gut as I tried to imagine such an impossible moral conflict. What would I have done? As I walked along the ancient stone walls and peered over the edge of the cliff at the remains of the Roman encampments still imprinted on the ground below, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was it courage? Or was it lack of faith?

The times when we were given time to sit and reflect were the most impactful times spiritually. One such time, we climbed aboard a boat and sailed on the Sea of Galilee, singing worship songs and learning a Jewish dance as the sun soaked our skin and the wind rippled the water – water that Jesus touched, water He walked on, water that He stilled with a word, water that heaved fish into nets at His command.

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Another such time was when we got to visit the Garden Tomb. Though not necessarily the one where Jesus was buried, it was legitimately a 2,000 year old rich man’s tomb in a beautiful garden – so like the description in the scriptures that it gave me chills as I bent through the stone doorway and stepped into the cool, dark, EMPTY tomb. “He is not here, but is risen, as He said!”  In an intimate little room carved into rock, just a stone’s throw from the tomb, Aaron and I then got to portray some of Jesus’ last hours with His disciples to our group (as part of Piercing Word ministry)  and lead them in communion. What a sweet time of reflection and prayer as we soaked up Jesus’ last words to His disciples, right near where it really happened.

Yet I think the most impactful moment for me personally was when we were led to the Wailing Wall and given time to pray. As the Jews traditionally do, I scrawled a prayer on a scrap of paper and slowly approached the wall. The sound of weeping met me as I touched the cold stone and stuffed my prayer into a crevice of the rock. My eyes searched up and down, left and right – countless pleas to Jehovah were stuffed in every nook and cranny; the entire wall was dotted with crumpled prayers. I lowered myself to the ground, kneeling between two Orthodox Jewish women and tried to pray the words I had penned just moments ago. But I could hardly focus, my words were lost, lost in the sobs that filled my ears, swept away in the strings of Hebrew words that poured forth in such obvious desperation. My mind could not understand the prayers of my Israelite sisters, but my heart might as well have known every word. And suddenly my own prayer changed. Instead of pleading for myself and my family, I begged the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to show Himself to His people. To set them free, to show them the truth – the truth that their Messiah has already come, that they have already been rescued! My heart ached with the desperation that sandwiched me in that moment. Oh Jesus, show Yourself to Your precious people…

And you know what? I think that was the part about this trip that I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect the main takeaway for me personally to be the simple fact that God used my experience in Israel to grow in me a heart for His people and His promised land. In a way, I never really thought someone could miss a country…but I truly do.

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The Mirrors of Motherhood

The Mirrors of Motherhood
I had no idea just how refining motherhood would be. I had no idea just how selfish I am. No idea just how entitled I am.
UNTIL MOTHERHOOD.
Until my tiny human came along. My “mini-me” who brought with him a tiny but brutally honest mirror. The mirror of motherhood. The mirror that seems to constantly pull out the real and the raw of all that lies dormant in my heart, anything that I have tried to cover up or beautify has been pulled to the surface in a mirror that reflects the deepest parts of my being.
Never before has life been so not on my terms. I can’t eat whenever I want, I can’t shower whenever I want, I can’t even clean whenever I want! Never have I known such thankless work.
AND YET.
And yet I love my little bean with all my heart. And with all the hardship and all the trials and the giving, day in and day out – I find a strong desire that still pulls at my heart. It happens when I see a beautiful mama whose belly is swelled with mystery. It happens when I pass a young mother on the sidewalk – two souls in the stroller, one holding her hand, and one riding their bicycle ahead of her. It happens when I see myriad of feet pounding across the soccer field and I hear their laughter as they squeal with competitive excitement.
And I have to acknowledge the thrill that swells in my chest: I want to have more children.
WHAT??
This has been the hardest, most thankless job I have ever known. I must serve my tiny, helpless being with all that I am – even if my own needs are not taken care of, much less my wants.
 And STILL my heart yearns to have more children.
And I think to myself…am I crazy? I must be crazy! 
And then I think of the heart of God. Day in and day out, He serves us and loves us and cares for us – often without a word of thanks as we greedily slurp up His blessings.
And yet…YET.
He always wants more children. He YEARNS for more children! He loves to scoop our helpless souls into His arms and nurture us, love us, teach us, serve us – day in and day out. His arms and His heart are never too full to welcome another child.
 And then I think that maybe – just maybe – I have tasted of the heart of God.
Just maybe, I have caught a tiny glimpse of His heart in my own heart.
Just maybe a shard of my broken, selfish heart is reflecting His perfectly selfless heart.
And I smile to myself. Yes – I am probably crazy. But if my tiny bit of “crazy” is reflecting the craziness of Love Himself – then BRING IT ON.

One Year with the Love of my Life

Wedding Day

Aaron: you are my hero in every sense of the word.You are my role model, my best friend, my forever crush, my deepest love, my closest brother. You are all of the most beautiful relationships entwined into the greatest human love I have ever known….

 

October 14th, 2012 – quite possibly the best day of my life! Just a handful of days ago, Aaron and I celebrated our very first anniversary of this wonderful, crazy union of marriage!

HOW CAN I EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE LIFE WITH THIS MAN?

It is perfectly beautiful.

No, not because our lives are perfect. Not because we are perfect. Far from it! It is because we serve the most MAGNIFICENT GOD in the universe, and by His grace, we get to serve Him TOGETHER!

This has been a year of abundant blessing, of crazy love, of much learning, and at times – painful personal growth.

But it has been the most beautiful year of my life!

How can I begin to thank God for giving me my Aaron? He is truly the most amazing man I have ever met….his gentleness toward me, his constant loving forgiveness, his depth of God-given wisdom, his servant’s heart, his passion for our God and zeal for truth, his romance and friendship – I can hardly write this post without feeling tears well within me. I have been given a man who lives a life of worship – a man who has completely consecrated himself to God, and then – (here’s the crazy part!) to me.

I will not cease to praise my God for His provision for Aaron and I this year, as we stepped both into our first year of marriage AND our first year of full-time ministry – on our own this could have been a disaster, but God has been SO FAITHFUL and SO GOOD, and this year has been the coolest thing ever!!

I PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS AND FAITHFULNESS TO ME!!

There is always SOMETHING to praise God for. I praise Him today for a husband and a marriage beyond what I had even imagined!!

WHAT ARE YOU PRAISING HIM FOR TODAY? =)