Friday, January 27, 2017

I read The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

I was at a Christmas party recently sitting at a table between my  husband and a man I had never met, a lawyer. I asked him every sort of question and his answers were equally deep and hilarious. I asked him if being a lawyer was his dream job or if he had something else he’d like to do with the next leg of his life. You know there were wild dreams in his heart. He turned the question back to me, quid pro quo. First, let me say that I have something I am working on for the next season of my life when my kids are grown. This question he asked was about the work we do at our house. Do I ever want to not do that anymore. That hit me. I couldn’t imagine a life without hospitality. I looked at him maybe a little too serious and said, “I can’t imagine a life not sitting among the broken.” There is this sacred space that pain brings us to. It’s a rare window when the walls come down and the heart opens up. You don’t find people like that often. In the quiet of the home, I am humbled to be in these moments. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and I want to be too. 

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way and settled onto the paragraph and read it again and again.

Somehow I wonder if it’s in shattered places, with broken people, we are most near the broken heart of Christ. What if we only find our whole selves through this mystery — the mystery of death and resurrection, of brokenness and abundance? Could this be what it means to live in the encircling embrace of communion: broken giving way to abundance — and then abundance, which is broken gives way to an even greater abundance. Why are we afraid of broken things? What if the abundance of communion is only found there in the brokenness of suffering — because suffering is where God lives? Suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy. 

Out of the fullness of grace that He has received, He thanks, and breaks, and gives away — and He makes a way for life-giving communion. A broken way.

Brokenness can make abundance.

I read and kept reading about her learning to let her pain surface so that she can have deep communion with people. Most of us never get there. We never let our soul appear threadbare enough to help anyone that is hurting, I too am learning. I identified with her past of struggling with agoraphobia. I could not even lay out for you the pain I have experienced in this life, but I am learning a lesson. If I thank God for it and lay it out there for others, bitterness erodes and healing begins not just for me, but for the community of women around me that are hiding their pain. Shame is a liar. We are to be co-suffering communities. Like Paul says, "Suffer with me." Teach me how, God. Teach me how to take all of the pain deep within and shape it into a safe place for a heart. 

This is easily the best book I have read in several years. Buy it. Read it. Listen to it. Learn to share the unique path that you have seen and offer it as a love offering to divine fellowship.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I chose this book to review because it is about a woman who does restoration for a living. Restoring a one hundred year old house, that piqued my interest. In the beginning, I trudged through it somewhat. I do not like things that are designed to manipulate me emotionally and this felt like that typical romance novel. Sad girl gets swept off of her feet by an Italian man and moves to Italy with him. As the story went on, I started to embrace it more. It became about family and how loving people in all of their imperfection is part of our beautiful story. Sometimes we get stuck in a textbook version of life and forget to love people through and in their messes. . . and ours. It's how we grow. 

I thought the end of the story was rich and powerful as it slowly revealed Jesus and forgiveness. Most of the story purposefully barely leads to church. Its a seeking and finding. Of course, Italy is lovely too. You can follow the family through truffle hunts, wine pairings, pasta making, and painting. I enjoyed reading how our tortured restorer became who she had wanted to be through vulnerability and allowing herself to hurt. Pain is often a great gift and gives grand capacity for great joy.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for graciously supplying this book for review.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Permission to Hope

We buried our sweet cat in the back yard today. Each of us thanked God for how he loved us through some rough times this year. Watching your kids grieve is truly difficult. It's an ache multiplied. As I sit here and think back over the year, I realize how hard it's been and equally how lovely. God has grown us all. The thing is that when you get wounded or things don't go how you would like them to, you are afraid to trust and dream. I keep hearing this phrase in my head.

You have permission to hope.

By definition, you have authority, authorization, sanction, approval, blessing to hope. There's beauty in all of this. Through grief and hurt, God will come and meet with us. You can plan for good things in the year ahead with out fear. You can trust Jesus with the secret things you yearn for. Mark tonight a sacred new beginning. Start asking what you would like to do and give in the year ahead. May you find balance in your work, play, prayer, and rest. Enjoy those around you. One of my favorite Christmas cards read, "The true ornaments of a home are those who frequent it." Love people in 2017.

I love doing Jennie Allen's Dream Guide. It asks several simple questions in different areas of life. It's a great visionary and retrospective tool to give clarity and focus. You can download it from her blog.

You are always welcome to the table. Holy things can happen when friends and family gather around the table for a meal.  

I love y'all. Thank you so much. You have helped us build and pay for all of our dreams of loving others. Don't resist giving to those around you because of fear. Of course some people will take advantage of your generosity. Love them anyway. That's the beauty of the gospel.

If you would like to support us one time or monthly in 2017, we are grateful to receive from you.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Declare a Year of Beauty

I have sort of abandoned my post here. I think the last few years of children and homeschool have taken a toll on my brain. I also spent my year redoing most of our house because I love my husband and his dream has been to have a family reunion here. More than that, I have been dealing with some hurts. I completely opened up my heart to several people for friendship and came face to face with deep hurt. Another pastor cut me to the core and I watched as pain spread through a group of people. Oh, Jesus, not again. We constantly throw open our doors to love people only to have a huge hunk of our ministry budget stolen. So many personal things are gone. During all of this, we notice that we have an area of termites in our dining room floor. Several pest guys later and they all say they have never seen anything like this. It's a coastal termite. It must have been brought in via infected wood or furniture. They may have to tent our house and fill it with toxic chemicals to the tune of ten grand. 

Through all of this, I kept writing myself a note in my day planner. "Write the words, my dear." Even if it is just a few every day. I have been trying. It's sometimes the longest journey and the most painful to pursue what you love. These are the days you just have to be brave. So. I'm here. I'm writing the words. Sometimes with tears and others with joy. Often both. 

Then God gave me a picture and pressed it on my heart. 

I became a bit obsessed with the idea of beauty this year because I wanted to see it so badly amidst my hurt. I kept asking the Lord what this beauty from ashes looked like. Surely it could not be this fluffy idea that the world holds up as beauty. I think when you have been through throbbing, guttural pain and you have been scorched and charred and made to be ash, something fierce emerges. Surely this is a beauty that is mildly terrifying in power. I mean. It has been hurt so badly that it was charred to ash and then it was resurrected. That sounds pretty intense to me. Show me, Abba. 

You know. Beauty is everywhere. I see it. I see these people wounded and hurting who are raising weary hands to restore justice. People without the capacity to care anymore are caring by the power of the Holy Spirit. His hope drifts in like a butterfly carried by the wind. He dwells among us. 

I have a vision in my heart to declare a year of beauty among the churches rising from the ash of internal hurt. Beauty over rogue pastors and beauty over the wounded. Your shrapnel is seen, beloved. Now, we rise to declare the fierce, humble, merciful beauty of the One who made us. You belong here. You are not alone. Gather in. Desperately seek the healing. 

If you think about it, pray for us. My business is doing well at we are about halfway to replacing some windows that are falling out. Also pray against termites. We have been spraying the house with beneficial nematodes (they eat their brains) and praying for an organic solution that doesn't involve tenting our house and filling it with toxic chemicals for 7 days. Our hearts are heavy after being hurt badly in ministry this year. If you would like to help us replenish our budget, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your love and care as we have served and loved and been fortunate enough to be in cahoots with the Holy Spirit as he restores and revives his chosen people. We truly are humbled to get to be involved in serious and sacred areas of hurt in people's lives. Thank you kindly from the bottom of our hearts.

Donate one time or monthly to support Gomer's House:

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Intercessory Healing by Dutch Sheets

This book was much different than what I expected. I believe in miracles and healing and many things that nature because I trust who God says he is and I have seen too much to deny it. That being said, any Reformed book reviewer would chew this up and spit it out. It's full of the miraculous that the cessasionist would refute. I believe in the miraculous. As I traveled through this book, I saw it as much more of a biography of this man's prayer life than anything else. I think it should be seen as such. God is different with each one of us. I don't really see a need to name personality traits anointings, but to each his own. I don't see a need for things like prayer cloths or other tools, but I also can't say God would refuse to partake in the symbolism. I think it's just important that we remember where our hope and our healing come from. Christ alone.

That being said, I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with how our author preached the gospel relentlessly. He kept the focus on Christ throughout the entire book. I read story after story of prevailing in prayer. I was deeply encouraged by many things he had to say. I greatly appreciated his work to keep us focused on our real enemy. 

We are reminded over and over that our enemy is not flesh and blood in Ephesians 6. We also can rest and be challenged by the fact that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. (2 Cor.10:4) 

Thanks for preaching the gospel, Dutch. Even we who know need to hear it.