Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Harvest Moon

The moon was humongous last night, golden and buttery... melting over the horizon to pool there in the darkness.

I stopped and stared at it for a few minutes, because I love when you can actually watch the moon rising, and imagine the earth turning beneath you. Tilting, tilting, toward the east...

Isn't it interesting that the moon gives off no light of her own?
Isn't it interesting that the moon's majestic glow is only a reflection of the sun?

There's a profound illustration to be found right here, about Jesus Christ and Christians.

In the very first chapter of Genesis, as God breathes out the galaxies, He says, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night." (verse 14) And again in verse 16, "God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night."

While Jesus walked the earth, Earth didn't even know that day had broken.

Well, creation cried out and exalted... but so many people despised and rejected Him. Because He wasn't what they had expected. And their hearts were cold.

Earth, you had about 33 years of day!!

And after Jesus conquered death and ascended, he gave Believers a great responsibility.

Night was falling. And it was time for the moon to shine.

Not with a light of her own, but as a reflection, an absorption of the light from the Son.

I look up at the night sky when the moon is full, and this is what nails me in the heart. Because the reminder is RIGHT there. How do I forget this?

--God, I'm supposed to reflect You! And as Christians, surrounded on all sides by this darkness, we need to be looking to You. Spending time in Your word, absorbing Your Love, so that we can shine it outward toward the world. So that by Your light through us, those worn and weary travelers who seek may find, and make their way Home. 

In this vibrant Autumn season, I think also of the Harvest Moon. And how Jesus said...

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37&38 NIV)

We need to be a bright moon, we need to be a full moon. Also, we must remember that we are a harvest moon. And we were hung in the sky to serve as a sign, to mark the seasons and days.

It's time to stop letting the clouds cover us up. It's time to stop being pale and cold. It's time to take this role seriously.

Let us pray for the church, for our fellow believers. Let's not only go about "being a light to the world" but being a light to each other. Let us uplift one another, let us oil each other's lamps.

And let us pray for the leading of our hearts by the Spirit, and an awakening of believers to go out as workers into the harvest field.

To quote Miss Clara from War Room, "Raise 'em up, Lord! Raise 'em up!"

Friday, October 16, 2015

3 Questions to ask your Sweetheart

As we grow and go through seasons of life, we change.

We gain new perspectives on life matters, new perspectives on ourselves, and develop new goals and ideas. Relationships are mainly hard for this reason.

You're two different people, both changing and growing at your own rates, living inside different heads.

Prayer is so important in our daily lives, because it keeps us connected to The Head, Christ. And when a couple prays regularly together they can stay in tune with each other through Him.

I have listed a few thought-provoking questions below. These aren't light survey questions.

These are meant to help start meaningful discussion. And as we go through life, they should be asked over again. Because we are constant works-in-progress, and we're changing. Your boyfriend's answer to one of these questions could be vastly different over the course of a year.

Not all of these need to be asked at once, and some don't need to be brought up as often as others.

Use your discretion, and hopefully you'll find one or two of these helpful for initiating good, vital conversations.

What do you think I could work on? 

This is one you could utilize often. Just check in with him. When you feel like you could improve on something, but you're not sure what, and could use a point in the right direction. Open your heart and prepare yourself humbly for a truthful, lovingly constructive answer. Remember, you're in this together. Pray about it.

What is a goal/dream that's really important to you?

Goals and dreams change. Just as he changes and matures. You want to know his heart, and to stay in tune with him. The things that are important to him should be important to you, because they are a huge portion of who he is. When it comes to goals, meeting them is a big deal. It takes a lot of commitment and energy, and there is nothing more invigorating than sound support and a hand to hold. Strive to understand, to listen, and always remember that without fail, the correct direction to point him in is ever towards Jesus.

What makes you feel loved/appreciated?

Zachary asked one night, while we were watching the blood moon eclipse, "If you could ask me one thing and I had to answer, what would it be?" I don't think he expected me to ask this! XD But truly, I wanted to know what made him feel loved, and what I could do to let him know I Love him. This struck up a conversation about the Five Love Languages, and was a topic we actually went back and forth on for a couple of days. People are so different! What makes me feel Loved by him is not necessarily the same as what makes him feel Loved by me, and so it is important to strive for understanding of each other. Don't just assume. This is fun to figure out! ♥

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Craving Fearless Authenticity | a blogging foundation

Project patience is a blog I really felt God inspiring me to pursue some three or four weeks ago. I was pumped, excited, and ready to write about all sorts of things- relationships, singleness, lessons learned, and even parts from my own personal story- but right from the beginning, I felt a check.

Instructions to use caution as I write this blog. 

Don't run away with this, Hannah, this is Mine.

You see, this is meant to be a God-lead and God-centered project. From that very beginning, I sat back from the laptop on my bed and said,

"Okay, God. This is for You. Before I write anything, I will spend time in the Word, and in prayer with You. Lead me..."

Well, I began writing on dozens of topics, all of which remain half-finished thoughts, saved as drafts because of the constant wall I kept hitting. I would just come to a place where I couldn't write anymore: inspiration left. And I knew I was being told to leave that particular topic alone, to come back to at the proper time. If at all. 

For some reason, things weren't flowing smoothly and that was frustrating...
So far, there have only been three posts published on here, the only ones I've felt peace about, and heard the gentle, "Go ahead and click publish, Hannah." And they have all been very introductory posts, just explaining what this blog is about, the motives behind it, and the goals set before it.

And I struggled, because I wanted to see this get moving! 

Project Patience is a two-edged sword for me, because in my eagerness to see it move along, I was forgetting that I needed to have patience. It became quite evident that I needed to slow down and take my time (or God's time!) with this. 

Ironically, you can't rush a patience project. 

I addressed in my most recent post my dealings with something I'm going to call Writer's Anxiety Syndrome- let's abbreviate that to W.A.S.- because I proclaim that it shall no longer exist!

I'm booting fear out the door. Because, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 NIV)!!!

And what have I always been afraid of? Displaying my flaws. 

Here's the problem with trying to portray a perfect, neat life: IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ATTRACTIVE CHRISTIAN TO A LOST WORLD.

If anything, doesn't it frustrate people? Make them envious?
And doesn't it cage you in a corner, suddenly balancing your secret life while keeping up the veil of falsehood for everyone else to see? Doesn't it make you... a liar?

That sounds pretty bad.

Here's the liberating truth:

The point of being a Christian is so not to look perfect! It is to glorify God for His mercy, which is available to everyone! It is to show the World what a work He is doing in you! To say- Look! I am so imperfect! And yet Jesus Loves me, just as He Loves you.

My weaknesses and my flaws are such an opportunity. Because once I acknowledge them, I am able to welcome God in to do something about them. He has an amazing project to do in me. And I don't think He wants me to keep His awesomeness a secret.

We're called to shine the light, not suppress it. And sometimes we get it into our heads that our flaws, somehow, have the power to dim His light. As if!

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 11:9-10 NIV)

This isn't made up! This is true!!
And isn't it awesome?

I want to be real. Recklessly.
Who I am with my friends is who I am with my professors, is who I am with my grandparents, is who I am with strangers, is who I am with my siblings, is who I am at home, is who I am in prayer- it's all the same person. There are no masks. No impression management.

This is where I want to get to.

I crave a fearless authenticity. 
And I crave to walk closer with my God. Because I can't do this if I'm doing my own thing. I will become my only focus again, and then I will focus on what people see of me.

When I began this blog, I was using a pen name.

But then I felt Him, I heard the calling. I wanted in my heart to be authentic, did I not? Well, first step: don't hide. I had a mental war about this. But the answer was always be still... and God won. :P
None of my worries matter, because everything is going to be exposed in the Light for what it is.

This is not about me. This is about HIM.

I may feel like this blog is taking a while, but I'm beginning to see that this is because I am taking a while to get to where God wants me. I need to completely surrender to Him. Again and again. Morning by morning.

All of these preliminary posts have a purpose. They are laying a foundation for this blog. And I am being prepared for what is to come.

I'm getting heart-ready first. Waiting, praying, and being still.

Friday, October 9, 2015

"Writer's Anxiety Syndrome"

I have written blog posts so many times in the past where I would whip out everything I was thinking and feeling- good and bad- and flood my words out through a keyboard.

They were let loose, only to be accompanied by second guessing myself, the feeling of nervousness, hasty editing, and anxiety clenching my insides...

"What if someone finds a flaw with what I wrote? What if I said something wrong?

It sounds ridiculous, I know. But I struggle with intense anxiety about pleasing people.
I should write that in past tense, because I'm on my way to kicking this thing right our the door of my brain! And I want to view it as an issue already discarded.

I say this a lot: but it is hard to share your writing. Because it makes you vulnerable. You're handing over a piece of your soul when you hand someone your notebook. Your writing is a reflection of you, and is just as subject to flaws. You don't want people to catch them.

When it comes to blogging for me, there are two probable causes for my past anxiety:

  • What I was writing was totally of myself. It was not God-led, and therefore not God-centered, and therefore ultimately not of His will... and my Spirit was trying to tell me that.
  • I was allowing myself to worry about what people would think of me for it, rather than caring about what God thought of me for it, letting the enemy whisper Fear into my mind.
I am so done with that crummy way of existing!

People pleasing. We all do it to some extent, but to those of us with a high tendency for it, we need to step back and ask ourselves, "Are we serving God, or man? Is the purpose of our actions to make us look good to everyone, or to glorify our Heavenly Father?"

If you choose God, then follow Him with reckless abandon. That's it. Even (and especially!) when it conflicts with man's approval.

And it's a process. A tough one: undoing all your tangled past ways of thinking... this will take a while. But it is worth it.

To know rest.

If I am allowing myself to heed that still small voice, and am being led in my writing by the Lord, then I am going to know His unshakable state of peace. I rest here in His arms, content with His will, His plan, and His perfect timing. 

This is something I know God wants to instill in me. And I want it so badly, too. Peace! The skill to stop worrying. And more specifically, the ability to cease worrying about how others perceive me. 

My focus must be Jesus's gracious acceptance, not man's temporary and fickle acceptance.

That said, I want to be real.

And that's the topic of my next post. :)