No Will But Thine

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Jesus, ’tis my aim divine,
Hence to have no will but Thine,
Let me covenant with Thee,
Thine for evermore to be:
This my prayer, and this alone, 
Saviour, let Thy will be done!

Thee to love, to live to Thee,
This my daily portion be,
Nothing to my Lord I give,
But from Him I first receive:
Lord, for me Thy blood was spilt,
Lead me, guide me, as Thou wilt.

All that is opposed to Thee,
Howsoever dear it be,
From my heart the idol tear,
Thou shalt have no rival there,
Only Thou shalt fill the throne:
Saviour, let Thy will be done.

Wilt thou, Lord, in me fulfil
All the pleasure of Thy will;
Thine in life, and Thine in death,
Thine in every fleeting breath,
Thou my hope and joy alone:
Saviour, let Thy will be done.

-Octavius Winslow

—Octavius Winslow

…dust, bullet points, and rejoicing.

Excuse me for a moment while I wipe the immense layers of dust off of this blog. Whew–it sure has been awhile!

I’m not going to go into great detail about anything at this point, but out of politeness to the three blog readers I might still have, I’ll do a brief summary of a few things that have taken place in the past year…that way it’ll all be out of the way, and I can hopefully move forward with other things.

June 2013 was the last time I wrote, it looks like…ok…

– I had exploratory surgery a year ago and am much, much better than I was previously! Still room for improvement, but I am just so incredibly grateful for the faithfulness of the Lord through all of this!

This happened.

– Little Sister is officially a McConnaughey as of a year ago, and it’s been fantastic. Adoption is a beautiful, challenging, eye-opening, and refining thing–and boy, does it preach the Gospel to me loudly every single day. I’m faced with the truth of my adoption into Christ every day in ways that I’ve never even considered before–and the love that He has for us? I can’t even comprehend.

Well…that was fast. I’ve run out of bullet points. I just don’t know what else to list about the past year and a half–it’s been long and yet SO very fast. It’s been a time of learning to rejoice. I was talking with my roommate the other evening (while we were digging through a Christmas tree lot dumpster after dark with a flashlight) about how I think the word “rejoice” really sums up the last year for me (the last two years, even?) Learning to have a true, deep, abiding joy…all the time. Not merely because of things that happen to me that my human self terms as “good” and thus I respond by rejoicing that God loves me–there’s definitely a place for that. But, I’m talking about rejoicing because of knowing my God and His goodness all the timeKnowing His utter faithfulness. Knowing His complete inability to fail. Knowing that He has never proven Himself anything but everything-good-and-perfect-and-right-and-pure that our little minds can even begin to comprehend.

….and I think that’s an excellent note to end on.

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(So, hopefully I’ll be updating this blog a little more regularly now–look for posts on Jesus, life, painting, and various other things that may happen to come along!)

One Year Later

One year ago this week, I got really sick. Throughout the year, I’ve only gotten worse physically. It’s *hard* to live one day to the next right now.

“But! I don’t like to think about it in those terms. I don’t like to think about most things in the way that us earthly beings normally think about things… ;) God’s way of thinking is much better! So, instead I dwell on the fact that I’ve had a year of intense training of what it is to be utterly dependent on God for every step of the way. I’ve had a year of getting to clearly see HIS strength, because I have none of my own, and yet each day is a miracle when I can get out of bed and function somewhat normally. I’ve had a year of learning what it is to glorify God in every aspect of my life, regardless of situation or how *I* think my life should look.”

(I wrote the above in an email to a blog reader, and it was such a joy to realize the beauty that comes even in such hard times as these. Thank you, Jesus!)

Even In The Details

I was intrigued at some connections I made the other day.

I was thinking about my little sister and all the years of her life that we missed. I was thinking back to specific times in her life and wondering what our family was doing at that point. So often it can just be a vague “Oh yeah…in that month of that year, we lived in that yellow house!” But I was wishing that I could know exactly what I was doing at certain times in her little life.

And then I realized something beautiful–

I know the date that I surrendered my life to the Lord, and it was such a time in my life that I will never forget. I remember the day and the days shortly thereafter in extremely vivid detail.

My little sister was born in Haiti two days after I surrendered my life to the Lord in a little town in Washington, USA. I remember exactly what I was doing the day she was born!

And then I realized something else–

One of the other most vivid memories of my life is the day I left for Africa. It took two days of travel to get there, and they are days that I absolutely will never forget. The details of nearly every hour of those two days (and the ones after!) are etched on my heart and mind with astounding clarity.

The exact date that I was enroute to Africa is the exact date that my little sister was being picked up at the orphanage in Haiti and getting on a plane to the USA. I know exactly what I was doing on one of the biggest days of her life!

It has been such a gift to me (and the rest of my family, too, since they remember these dates just as much as I do!) to be able to look back and have correlations between my life and hers…even way back then.

It was nearly three years after that date that we first met her and brought her to her forever home. And, it’s been just a few days over two months since she came to be part of our family, and what a two months this has been! :) I know it’s cliche, but… I can’t imagine life without this beautiful little girl!

An Outward Focus

(Reposted from December 2010)

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Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a trap of self-focus? You really want to serve and be outward focused, but…you just can’t seem to figure out how to get out of the rut you’re in?

Do you ever get tired of living a life that is filled with selfish pleasures? Do you ever feel like there must be something more out there than just pursuing things that make you feel good and that you enjoy?

I have. I do.

My life is not my own. But sometimes I am faced with a cold, hard fact–I spend a lot of time pursuing me.

Perhaps this is because, in a lot of ways, just pursuing ourselves and our own pleasures is the easy road. It’s easy. It’s fairly effortless–and any effort that does need put into it is worth it to ourselves because we benefit personally from the outcome. It’s fun and pleasurable–at least on a superficial level. It masquerades as being fulfilling.

I’m mortified at the amount of time I have spent in my life pursuing my own fulfillment, my own desires, my own pleasure, my own longings. Me. I feel like I have wasted so much of my time and my life on the wrong pursuits–even while declaring that I was pursuing my Saviour. Even while saying my biggest longing was to be poured-out for Him. Even in the midst of proclaiming Him as my all in all.

Forgive me, God.

I grieve at who I’ve been . . . at what I’ve turned my back on. God has called me to be His hands and feet–how have I fulfilled this command?

God has convicted me on this matter. Sweet, sweet conviction. Painful, yes. But sweet in the realization that God has moved in me and caused me to see myself for who I am–He has opened my eyes to see where I’ve plateaued. How I’ve become calloused and apathetic. And, in that eye-opening, He has claimed an utter jealousy over me yet again. He desires my all.

I desire Him as my all. I long for Him.

I am turning from that selfish lifestyle. It is not a lifestyle which promotes Jesus. It is not a life which glorifies the King.

I cannot live for myself and for God.

A choice must be made, and it is with utter joy and shouting from the rooftops that I declare my choice for You, my Jesus! I am filled with an overwhelming love for You, and I cannot keep silent about it! I look at myself and my own fleshly self, and I have absolutely no desire to cultivate a relationship with me anymore. I want to be completely lost in You!

I choose to turn from pursuing me, and my own wishes and desires. All that You have given me–every faculty, every breath, every day, everything–I employ in Your service. Serving You through serving the least. Using the great abundance that I have been given to bring You glory. I have no desire to please myself . . . I have every desire to please You, my King!

God has challenged me– How much of myself can I truly pour out for others? How much time can I spend seeking to bring joy to another? And, through serving others, to know my God more intimately?

How much time can I spend not pursuing me?

Of myself, I can do none of this. I could make a good effort–I could take a few stabs at not focusing on myself, but it would mean nothing. It wouldn’t stick. It would be done out of self-righteousness. God has placed in me a deep desire to live outside of my own wants and pleasures. He has called me to this, and He will equip. And, let me tell you, I’m plain-out thrilled to see how He will continue to lead me in this path!

This is a lifestyle change. I realize that right now, and I know I will realize it afresh time and time again. This isn’t a lifestyle that our earthly selves want to pursue. But I have exciting new: my life is not my own! This is the life I want to pursue! This is the life I choose to pursue!

The God of the universe died for the world–for me. How can I not honestly spill my very life out in pursuing this God?–through a life of worship, a life of prayer, a life of service, a life of adoration. A life lived with an outward focus.

I invite each of you reading this to ponder this and carefully consider this truth in your own life. It has been deeply impacting and convicting to me, and yes, life-changing. This is not something that only takes place by moving overseas and starting a ministry in a foreign land. It isn’t some vague and nebulous “out there” thing that you’re praying about pursuing. This lifestyle takes place right now, right where you are. Every moment of every day. It’s a choice. It’s a life in Christ.

This is not something that God has challenged only me to pursue. If you claim Him as your King and Saviour, this is what He’s asking of you, too. Will you accept this challenge with me?

Do not choose this path out of a desire to have a good list of “works”. Do not choose this because of backward selfish ideas. Do not choose this path for any other reason than because this is what God has called you to. You were created to fulfill a purpose–that of bringing glory to God! And what a glorious calling it is!

Looking unto HIM and REJOICING

I just wanted to clarify about my last post…. (And spend some more time praising the Lord, because . . . how can I not? ;) )

Though my earthly body may be decaying (aren’t we all?), I am in Christ and being renewed day by day IN HIM. There is no worry or fear in my life–there cannot be, because that is not walking in the light. And where God is, there can be no darkness for He cannot dwell with darkness.

I am walking forward in full faith and the knowledge of Truth. I want to give no room to the enemy by placing any importance or headline space to that which is not true, pure, right, clean, praise-worthy, virtuous, of good report, and full of Jesus.

Rejoice, my friends, for we have hope. We have Light. We have Life…and that more abundantly! And again, I say, rejoice!

LIVING in HIM,
Grace

A life of miracles.

I posted the below, and then was spending some time in prayer, and I wanted to come back and clarify some things: (And spend some more time praising the Lord, because . . . how can I not? ;) )

Though my earthly body is decaying (aren’t we all?), I am in Christ and being renewed day by day IN HIM. There is no worry or fear in my life–there cannot be, because that is not walking in the light. And where God is, there can be no darkness for He cannot dwell with darkness.

I am walking forward in full faith and the knowledge of Truth. I want to give no room to the enemy by placing any importance or headline space to that which is not true, pure, right, clean, praise-worthy, virtuous, of good report, and full of Jesus.

Rejoice, my friends, for we have hope. We have Light. We have Life…and that more abundantly! And again, I say, rejoice!

LIVING in HIM,
Grace

*******

Original Post:

My physical body is dying.

I don’t talk about it in such blunt terms very much publicly (nor, as someone said to me earlier when I mentioned it to them, do I mention it much privately). And I probably won’t mention it much again on this blog after this.

I don’t mean to sound as though I’m merely resigned to the inevitable, or like I’m trying to get a reaction. Neither is true…far from it!

I serve a God who is in complete control and never messes up and has already gained the victory over all, and I rest joyfully in that. It’s a “peace which passes understanding”, really.

My whole life for the past 7-ish months has been completely supernatural from one day to the next. I honestly feel like I’ve been living a miracle every day.

When I was able to continue working and keeping up with responsibilities of life in spite of what I was facing, that was a miracle. When I was able to continue getting out of bed each morning, that was a miracle. When I couldn’t do anything without help, but still had a smile on my face and joy in my heart, that was a miracle.

And it still is. Even these days when I barely make it out of bed–I’m still living a miracle.

And I love it.

I don’t love being sick and in pain day after day or being faced with the fact that my physical body is dying, but as I’ve said on this blog many times: Anything that brings me to my knees before my Saviour is a beautiful thing and something for which I’m thankful.

Living a life of miracles from one moment to the next, well . . . I’m not sure I can truly put words to what it’s like. I wish everyone could know what it’s like–seeing Christ the way I do from day to day. And I long to see and know more of Him every day. More of You in my life, Lord!

Even though I whined all day yesterday about how I wish my birthday would wait to show up until I’m healthy, the inevitable can’t be stopped. ;)

Today, 25 years ago, I was born for a purpose: to glorify God. And what an honor it is to carry such a job description!

I know this may seem like a depressing post to write on one’s birthday–revealing these things about how my physical health is doing. Oh! but it’s not. I’m excited about what the Lord is doing and I’m thrilled to see each and every day just how faithful He truly is!

I’m not perfect. I get weary in the battle sometimes and turn inward–taking my eyes off the One who is in control. I give into discouragement and fear sometimes. I whine and cry in frustration.

But He so gently reminds me of truth over and over. And truth never changes. The promises of the Lord never result in failure. Victory is His! Even death is swallowed up in that victory!

And so it is, here on my birthday as I lay in bed, too weak to do much more than this, that I cry out “I love You, Lord!”

(I realize this may come as a shock to some of you, and there are probably a lot of question marks dancing around in front of you right now as to what is actually going on with me physically since this may be the first you’ve heard of me being sick. I don’t want you to worry or come up with made-up ideas as to what may be going on. If you want to know a few more details, please feel free to email me at acrossfields@gmail.com …don’t just sit there thinking the worst! :) Please know that I do have hope of recovery and the Lord has already granted much wisdom and guidance in everything–doctors, friends, insights, supplements, testing, and the like.)

{musings}

(If you all only knew the amount of unpublished draft posts I have on this blog right now.)

Do you ever have times where things (everything, seemingly!) are just too precious and close to your heart to share? That’s what’s been going on with me lately, and I’m not complaining about it. I love these precious times more than anything else. These precious times of growing closer to the Lord and seeing Him more and more. 

Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed with who the Lord is. I catch the smallest glimmer of His greatness and I’m speechless in awe. And then I see a little more. And then I see a little more. And I never want to stop gazing at Him–even though it is merely the smallest portion of the hem of His garment that I’ve even glimpsed so far. What beauty, majesty, radiance, and truth there is! My little human mind is not capable of comprehension in this regard.

My little sister was with me in the office the other day, and we were discussing the reading of the Bible. She asked how many times I’ve read the whole Bible, and after I told her, she asked another question:

“So, do you know everything there is to know about God and the Bible?”

I laughed as tears of joy filled my eyes.

“No, sweet one,” I said, “there is no end to what we can know of Him! That is the beauty of it all! I could spend every single moment for the rest of my life, and for a thousand years after that, in deep study of who God is and intimately in His presence, and still I would never know all of Him. What blessedness is ours!”

She looked slightly doubtful at such wild statements, but . . . grinned and continued playing.

Have you seen Him? Have you caught a vision of the Master Savior? It’s captivating like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. 

Do you know Him?

There’s been some fairly serious revamping of my life lately because of what I’ve recently been seeing and learning of God. When you see Him, your life doesn’t stay the same, and for that I am unendingly grateful. 

Some of the changes taking place are easy and comfortable. Some of them are quite the opposite. But it is all for Him and His renown . . . and when I think in those terms? The things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

He is worthy.

These words are so trite, but I realized the other day that, when talking about the great King of kings, mere human words will always be trite and cliche. He is the King of kings, after all, and is completely outside the realm of human language to describe. 

What beautiful words and languages there must be in Heaven to use to worship and describe Him! …because my ordinary English sure falls majorly short.

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The Adventure Begins

It’s been too long since I’ve written, and the words feel jammed inside somewhere. As if I need to get a few cleared out, and thoughts might flow a little better.

Changes. Changes full of beauty and a deeper love than I could imagine.  Terrifying changes. Changes that drive me to Jesus in utter dependency and a fresh realization that there is nowhere safer to be than in Him.

Since my last post here, a lot has happened.

The Adventure Begins

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the morning and headed into what seemed would be a normal day. A bit later, I got a terse text that said “Come to the chapel right now.” I’m sure tires were screeching as I careened through the neighborhood. An hour later I was purchasing airplane tickets for my Dad and two other men to go international on a mission to protect the innocent. 7 hours later they were headed to the airport and embarking on a journey which no one really knew what it might involve. I prayed I would see my Dad alive again.

During the week he was gone, we prayed, we stood strong, we excitedly waited for any and every little update we could find.

And, unrelated to anything else going on, we received an email from someone about a little girl here in the States who needed someone to care for her.

A week after he left, I hugged Dad tightly in our living room, so thankful for the Lord’s protection.

The next day, I got another brief text: “It looks like she’s going to be ours.” So fast. What was happening? I wasn’t sure, but I already loved this little girl whose name I still didn’t know, and I was ready to do whatever God asked.

Two and a half days later, I looked for the first time at the beautiful girl who was to be my little sister.

As I looked in her eyes, tears filled mine and I had to turn away before they spilled over. Desperation. Hope. Terror. Emptiness. Trauma. Excitement. Desperate hope. I saw her story written on her face as she turned away from all she had ever known and got into our car. She pressed her face against the window and waved one last time as we drove away before turning forward and allowing a deep sob to escape her chest. There was no stopping the tears in each of our eyes and hearts.

So young, so vulnerable. And ours.

I helped her make cookies this morning. I posed for her as she drew a picture of me. I watched the Sound of Music with her. I sat with my arms around her, her sweet head in my lap. I went shopping with her. I laid on my bed and ate pretzels with her. I whispered “I love you” over and over. I hugged her goodnight. I promised to be right there with her first thing in the morning. I watched my parents fall in love with their new daughter. Tears spilled over again as she excitedly yelled “Daddy!” as soon as he walked back in the front door from the gym.

For nearly 25 years I have been the youngest child, and paradigms are shifting in our family.

This little one looks up to me like no one ever has before in my life. We love each other deeply, and every time she snuggles up to me and wraps her arms around my waist and doesn’t let go, my heart aches a little more. Ever since this little girl stepped into our lives just a short while ago, tears have either been running down my cheeks constantly or hiding just around the corner ready to show up without warning.  How can I already love her this much? How can I be a big sister to one so desperate for love and a rebuilding of trust? What do I do when I see the hurt well up and she closes down and acts in the only way she knows how based on the things she has experienced in her young little life–experiences I can’t even imagine. How can I show her the love of her Heavenly Father?

Jesus. HE is how. Jesus is Who I must turn to. His heart is the only one that can handle such love and such sorrow.

This past several weeks has been life-altering in ways I could never have fathomed when I got up that Friday morning. It has been difficult. It has been heart-breaking. It has been exhausting…

…and it has been filled with JOY. It has been filled with JESUS. I can’t deny the beauty in seeing my own weakness and His utter strength. I’m enraptured.

Seeing the heart of God in my parents through these past few weeks has touched something in me that hasn’t ever really been touched on before. I can’t express how honored and humbled I am to be part of their lives and learning from them the way I have for my whole life–but especially the past few weeks. Their given-ness; their endless love; their pre-decided “YES!” to anything the Lord may ask of them; allowing the door of their life–physically and emotionally–to be flung open to the most vulnerable. Thank You, Jesus. You had a beautiful plan when you scripted the lives of my parents.

And the proof that You know what You’re doing? It’s inescapable. I see it so clearly in the way this little sister of mine came into our family.

It is with great joy and expectancy that I can say my life has changed and it will never be the same. Oh! the adventures the Lord takes us on!

Wednesday Evening at The Local Coffee Shop

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. But, since I’m sitting here on this cozy Wednesday evening with this dear friend of mine, I thought it high time.

Oh, what a joy it is to have this wonderful young lady in my life as one of my dearest friends. Love you, Larsie.

So, here we sit. Same coffee shop as all those old coffee shop posts, and it seems that not much has changed around here in the past couple years since I first started writing about it.

There’s a couple happily playing cards together across the room.

Over on the couch, a chappy with Very Cool dark-rimmed glasses has been playing on his phone for longer than I’ve been able to keep track of. He has his ear-buds in, and every so often he really gets into his music. But then he seems to catch himself, glance around to see if anyone noticed, and then go back to placidly scrolling around on his phone.

My homeless friend is still here. Actually, I can’t verify for sure that it’s the same one I ran into a couple years ago, but I like to think of all homeless people (and non-homeless people, for that matter) as my friends–so my initial statement of this paragraph is true, nonetheless. He was eating what appeared to be a cup of soup when we first arrived, and he’s now comfortably sacked out on the couch behind me, snoozing away in one of the few warm places he’s probably allowed to hang out for hours on end. I’m glad they let him stay and get comfortable and warm.

There’s a sweet friend across the table from me, as I mentioned earlier, and she’s editing photos for some articles she’s working on designing. She’s shown me a handful of them, and oh my! they’re wonderful! I had the privilege of taking her engagement photos earlier this week–much fun was had, and perhaps, just perhaps, I shall share a sneak peek or two here on the blog at some point. (If she lets me, of course. I won’t do the sappy ones, Lars… ;) )

And then there are the random folks studying, working on homework, chatting away comfortably in corners. Typical coffee-shop type stuff, you know.

Oh! Something has changed since I was last here! My super-cool friend, Abby, now works here part-time. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her at work, but . . . I’m determined to make it happen before too long! 

This evening has been one of peaceful studying and prayer. I’ve been doing a study on the purity of God, and I can’t even put it into words right now–I’m captivated with the One I call my King and Saviour. He is mighty and powerful, and He is pure. What a glorious truth! Perhaps once I have basked in and been submerged in the reality of the purity of God for awhile, I might be able to put some words to what I’ve been learning. For now, though? Oh, Jesus, how I love You!

If I were to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life on this earth in the study and pursuit of God, I would never reach the end of His greatness. And yet, after even just one evening, I’m completely captivated and awe-struck. It makes me think–what a glorious place heaven must be! To be in the very near and tangible presence of the King of kings for eternity without end. To see Him, to know Him, to worship at His feet! What we know on this earth is just a bare taste of who He is–and yet, what a beautiful taste it is!

I can’t wait to know Him more and more!