Painting heart-cries, word by word

What I Love To Do June 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 9:49 am

“Great writing is unnatural. It is not simply a gift. It is not genetic. The power to use words–to tell a story, to make poeple understand what they do not know, to make them see what they could not imagine before–is a talent, and talent is not given or taken. Talent is earned, through dedication, hunger, care. It is born of a desire to share the fruits of imagination and experience with the readers, just as you have been educated and entertained by the labors of other writers. It grows from a commitment to making others see and appreciate what you have seen and appreciated. Thoughtful writing is a way of replenishing the well from which sustenance has been drawn.”
~Pat Walsh, 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”
~Philippians 1:9-11

I love to replenish that well of sustenance. I love to give the gift of insight to someone else. I love to provide help and encouragement and a word-laced kick-in-the-pants for those who need it. I love to see people grow, maturing in their faith and ideals, galvanized towards acting out their destiny by the power of words. This is what I love. This is what I long, yearn, dream of giving.

My passion for words, knowledge, insight, discernment, and all the rest of it–that is why I read, why I blog, why I journal, why I compose letters, why I use the best word instead of the easiest one. Anytime I am in the process of words and ideas, my heart is full and overflowing. My desire to share what I learn burns bright in me, fanned by a God-given love for people.

This is what I love to do.


Freewrite [5] June 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 12:21 pm

Love like a hurricane? As in it blows you away until you reach the center where everything is calm, eerily calm? I’ve thought this was a strange metaphor (or is it simile) for a while now. When referring to God’s love, the destructive, implacable, ruthless, raw power of a hurricane isn’t my first thought, but so many people seem to identify with that description. What does that say about how we know Him? I’m not saying God is not like a hurricane. I think it is interesting how we’ve chosen that imagery as the latest in acceptable comparison for Christian worship songs. A hurricane? Really? Do people on the hurricane coasts find that an apt description of God?

I know God is not comfortable and I don’t want to pretend He is. He is wild, and definitely full of raw power–His love does break me down before it fills me up. I think what confuses me is the way songwriters and singers have romanticized what a hurricane actually does. I love the song “How He Loves”, especially Kim Walker’s version. “He is jealous for me/ Love like a hurricane, I am a tree/ Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy…”  I love it, but part of me still smirks a little. A tree bending before the gale-force winds of a hurricane of God’s love? I think a more accurate picture would be a tree that gets totally uprooted and ends up shredded like string cheese on the side of a flooded street, which then becomes the nutrients for new saplings to begin growing weeks after the waters have receded. I don’t know, I guess what I’m looking for is reality in the wrong format. I mean, who addresses reality in song lyrics?

Okay, okay, that was facetious, I admit.

God. GOD. Not some indescribable feeling or some cosmic intuition. GOD, Himself. Personality, power, action, creativity, productivity, jealousy, hate, cunning, wisdom, mercy, peace, battle-ready, triumph, and yes–the biggest, most insane kind of love we could ever begin to fathom. GOD! Have you ever heard Him speak to you in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? He isn’t mute. He has a voice and He uses it.  Have you ever fallen to your face in fearful reverence, in near despair from your imperfect state, only to realize in wonder that He’s covered you with His grace, completely changing WHAT you are? You went through His holy fire, came out on the other side, and now He’s got a job for you.

That is the God I praise. That is the God I work for.


What Would You Give to Be Close to God Again? June 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 3:16 pm
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Many of us have given up quite a bit to be close to God. We’ve stood between demons and our families, we’ve asked God to demolish besetting sins, we’ve given our time and money to serve Him and His will–all kinds of things.
But really, how many of us are willing to give up Starbucks coffee or Angry Birds to be closer to God? It’s not that those things are bad (although I personally dislike Starbucks and find the taste disgusting). The problem lies allowing anything, ANYTHING, to come between us and Father-God.  Jesus says in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (emphasis mine)  I don’t know for sure, but I think He was in part referring to anything, even the good things, getting in the way of our devotion to God.

We had a speaker, Gordon Wright, come to our church last week who comes about once a year. His message to us was, “You Have Need of Repentance.”
Naturally, I squirmed. But then he addressed the idea of repentance in a way I had not considered. He talked of it from the perspective of freedom, of bondage-breaking, of something to embraced rather than something to make us cringe. Because really, if the strongest desire beating in my heart is to bring joy to the heart of my Father-King, what could keep me away? And what wouldn’t I give to stay in His presence?

We don’t just repent of sin. I mean, you could argue that being distracted from God in any way is a sin at its root, but in terms of specific confession, God asks me to turn away from some very good things. An example that comes to mind is when He challenged me to turn away from calling my closest friends and family whenever I had a rough day. It wasn’t that calling them was bad or that getting encouragement from people who love me was inappropriate in those times. Those are both good things. The problem was the availability of those people was distracting me from listening to what God had to say. My knee-jerk reaction was to call someone, not to ask God about it or at least tell Him how I felt. I was settling for something less than Him and so I had to repent.

Repentance is not a guilt-trip by the way. Repentance is looking up from your feet to see you have veered off-course and are heading into dangerous waters (or sometimes heading straight into a whirling vortex of destruction). It is recognizing the future destination of that path as other than God’s will. In that moment of realization, repentance is a sense of loss. The loss of time that could have been spent serving God’s will, the loss of progress that could have been made, the loss of living without recognizing God’s presence, and the loss of opportunities to bring glory to Him. But once that grief is recognized, acknowledged, and accepted, repentance continues to work. Grief is not the end, it is the beginning! After the mourning comes joy! Confessing, speaking aloud in specific terms where you went wrong, exposes that particular aspect which needs to be purified by the grace of God. Then, when your mind is renewed by the words of God and His Spirit at work in you, the way back to Him is made crystal clear. And you are filled with new determination to pursue God wherever He leads.

What really snagged my soul as I listened on Sunday morning was the criteria of those things from which we should repent. Mr. Wright quoted Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. …” Things that hinder and entangling sin are listed seperately. Anything that hinders should be cast off. So the liberties we have by Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection are available to us ONLY so far as they do not become distractions.
I’m a fairly open-minded person and I think you can watch R-rated movies and still have a clear conscience as a Christian. But if those movies are in any way an issue for you personally, CUT IT OUT. As Mr. Wright put it, “If you can’t do it in moderation, cut it off.” Either fast from it for a time or completely keep it out of your life. And in doing so, recognize that it is not inherently sinful for everyone!

An example is my issue with wasting time online. I could easily spend (and have spent) literally all day focused on whatever is happening on my favorite websites. My husband is also sometimes distracted by the internet, but it doesn’t have quite the same influence over him as it does over me. For me, I have to fast from it at times and have considered many times just getting rid of it altogether (but that isn’t the answer, according to God). For my husband, it is an occasional need to place higher self-discipline over time management and that’s about it. It can turn into a stronghold for me, but for him it never seems to get worse than a minor distraction. I struggled with this for awhile until I realized it’s a liberty in Christ that is different for me than it is for him. Simple as that.

In a similar way, some people can’t listen to secular music AT ALL or it gets imbedded deep in their minds and sticks there. I don’t have that much of an issue with it, so sometimes I listen to secular radio. It’s not that I’m delving into the work of artists who do nothing but sing about sex or violence or hating God. I steer clear of that stuff. But for some people, even the happy songs are a distraction from God’s presence. It’s just a difference between individuals.

What pulls all of this together is Mr. Wright’s emphasis on moment-by-moment repentance. Instead of saving it all for that prayer before you fall asleep, repent in the moment. It requires heightened awareness of all your choices in the day. You chose to have a sugary coffee for breakfast instead of a banana and water, and you knew better. Is God showing you how that was a choice to depend on cheap sugar to get you through the morning rather than His provision for your health? I know that seems extreme or heavy-handed, but again I ask–what would you give to be close to God?

Listen for His voice, look at what you choose to do, and repent every moment you turn away from Him. He leads us on better paths.


Freewrite [4] June 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 2:28 pm
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Success. A single concept that embraces every variation conceivable to the human mind. The representation of achievement, of a thing acquired, of accolades deserved.

“What is your definition of success?” The definition remains the same, but the reason for applying it ceaselessly changes. There is always success to be had. The true question is what will it take for you to receive the success available?

I will be successful if I have a presentable house before this evening. I will be successful if, starting after dinner, I can yield to a true Sabbath rest until Sunday night. I will be successful if my children are fed, well-rested, loved, and listened to. I will be successful if my husband can enjoy my good attitude and industrious activity when he gets home. I am already successful for having written this down at all.

That’s a lot of success for one day, and I didn’t even throw in any long-term goals.

My usual trouble lies in the fact that there are always two ways each of those small opportunities of victory can go. I can be successful in lots of stepping-stone goals or–and this makes me cringe–I can be a small failure over and over and over. All my life I have let myself be defined by a fear of failure. It’s been an ever-ready trap, a mountain looming over me, a web of snakes around my ankles.

But I can see it for what it is now. I’ve known for awhile but have not named it, and there is power to be had in naming the monsters in the closet. No matter how big it is or how deep into my life it goes, it has been exposed to the light of God and cannot stand. It may not be a miraculous recovery. It may take years to undo the most apparent damage and only by God’s grace will I keep my children from being infected with the same fear. But the success lies in the fight, for me, not in perceived perfection.

Victory is already mine because I am aware of the battle, I am engaged in it, and I am learning. My desire to train is fierce. My motivation is beyond myself. My glory is the Lord’s. And my faith is constant. No power of hell or scheme of man can stand against the Christ-bought victory. I am NAMED by it.

My God loves me too much to let me settle for less than His Kingdom shining through me. And not in the cutesy “This Little Light of Mine” kind of way. No, He plans to keep me working at it until my very flesh is white-hot and translucent with the fire of His Spirit at work in me. He plans for my fleeting life on this earth to be as a spark in the night sky, whizzing past the eyes, leaving an imprint of flame on the vision long after the spark has disintegrated to whisping smoke. And that flame is not me, never me, but only Him, so that all of us will burn brightest for Him alone, reflecting His very nature and purpose, long after this world has been made new again.

Let Him be remembered! By me, by my life, by the choice to be consumed. Let me be another scintillating point of commemorating His holiness. Let me be sweet incense, as my every day life zooms through time, leaving trails of Holy-Spirit-light in my wake.

Glory, glory, glory to God Almighty!
Glorious Name, that conquers death and destruction;
Glorious Love, that burns brightest in the black of night;
Glorious Will, that inexorably reduces all things
To their original design.
His alone is the song of mankind!
His alone is the Voice of victory!
His alone is the ownership of Truth!
To Him my life is consecrated,
To Him my life rises on the wind,
To Him, all to Him.