No Will But Thine

IMG_0160

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.

walk-the-walk

(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)

***

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.)