resolutions & relationships

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This morning, I was contemplating the connection between keeping up friendships & keeping up with Jesus.

As 2014 wanes, I’ve been thinking about 2015, and filling up with aspirations–expectations–that I sort of know will crumble (but still hope they won’t); I’ve been saying that in 2015, I want to “double down on people.” Relationships have been so exhausting the last few months, but part of me knows that a lot of my wellness depends on continuing to interact with people, especially dear loved ones.

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I realized that my relationship with God is the same way–though there’re years of history between us, I can’t just depend on that to see me through, I’ve got to continue to prioritize interacting with/time with God. My new internet crush, Katharine Welby, writes about the same kind of thing here.

Happiness List

Another Friday, another Happiness List!  (the first, second, third...) Keeping our focus and continually remembering good things cultivates gratitude and helps our minds get used to seeing goodness and beauty around us–I’m using these weekly lists to train my mind and heart to see light.

1. Seeing Grandma & Grandpa

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(1a. being in the Twin Cities, 1b. St. Paul having a heat advisory at 78 degrees)

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2. After a long week, a bit of encouragement in Jeremiah 1:7:

“But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.”

Not least evidenced in my post this week on the Covenant Blog…

3. a trip to Lush while in the Cities…

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Since there isn’t a location of my favorite cosmetics store at home in South Carolina, I tried out lots of new products and loaded up…

I fell in love with their solid shampoo when I bought some in Canterbury this summer; so I tried Seanik.  I also grabbed Jungle, a solid conditioner, to try (I’m flying, so I couldn’t get lots of liquids).  Angels on Bare Skin is one of their most popular cleansers, its scent and exfoliating ground almonds were amazing, but I wanted to try something with a little more power, so I got Dark Angels.  It’s intense!  But I haven’t experienced the tightness and itchiness that usually accompanies cleansers that are too powerful (like salicylic acid cleansers–for me at least).

I was unexpectedly taken in by a jasmine scent and decided to try some solid perfume, “Lust“!  In my defense, I thought I wanted “Karma,” because I so love the smell of the Karma Koba, but when I tested the other few solid perfumes, the flowery-yet-grounded jasmine scent did me in.

The Israelites, My Bros & Sises

Deuteronomy 5:23-27

23When you [Israelites] heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you approached me [Moses], all the heads of your tribes and your elders; 24and you said, ‘Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the fire. Today we have seen that God may speak to someone and the person may still live. 25So now why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, we shall die. 26For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and remained alive? 27Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then tell us everything that the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and do it.’

The people feel like they can’t bear to listen or to be near to God’s voice.  They’ve got a healthy respect–even fear–of God, which is sometimes missing from our modern understanding of the Creator of All That Is.  They’re convinced that God’s presence will consume them, burn them up.

Isn’t that what we should desire?

And yet, I feel just like the Israelites–“let me have my little life in my tent at the bottom of the mountain (Deut 5:30), leave me alone to my regular, everyday stuff; don’t upset everything I know now by the all-consuming flames that are part of experiencing you, God.  My reality right now is bearable, I don’t really want to know what would happen if it was all burned up.  I don’t even really want to know what would happen if it all rose from the ashes again.”

They ask Moses to go and listen for them, so that God’s presence and voice isn’t quite so close, so that they themselves don’t have to go through the agony of truth and transformation–someone else can do it for them.

We see and know from Scripture as well as our daily lives that no one else can transform for us–we’ve got to go through the changes ourselves for them to have any real power in our lives.

Shouldn’t we want God to be near?  Shouldn’t we desperately desire for the transforming heat to melt away the extraneous parts of our lives?

The problem is that when the heat comes close, when God starts burning things away in us, it’s uncomfortable.  Any time something hurts, whether it’s stretching us, or poking us, or singeing us, there’s an opportunity for growth.

Though I want to close my eyes and hum real loud and drown out the invitations to grow, the only way to be close to God, to be transformed, to get out of the little, narrow, grey everyday lives we live, is to let the difficulties wash over us, to let  God come close to change us and to pour his strength into us–that’s what Moses let happen to him.