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I’m learning that there is little on this earth more rare or precious than the offering of a glimpse of ones heart to another.  In that moment of surrendering a portion of who you are to the care of someone else, there is magnificent beauty, there is tremendous purity, there is trust.

Honesty

Part of this surrender means honesty even when it hurts.  It means facing my fears.  It means having to admit that I’m terrified of becoming my father, that I have self esteem issues, that I am broken and imperfect, blemished and scarred.

It’s exhausting.

But nothing worthwhile comes without cost.  And if it’s pain I must face to find the freedom my heart yearns for, then so be it.

In these moments

Moments like this, moments of trust, filled with dreams, moments written with the pen of expectancy on the stationery of hope are the moments that make ordinary lives extraordinary.  They’re the moments when unspoken hopes find breath, whispered prayers find their voice and broken dreams find their wings.

These are the moments that make life beautiful, that rewrite our stories and bring clarity to what has already been written.

In these moments when eternity pierces our reality, there is life, hope is birthed, and if we let it, a beauty we’ve never known plants a seed inside of our hearts.  And that seed, if nurtured will grow into new stories, stories of lives intertwining together.  Stories of new hope, new life, new chapters.

If we let it, that seed writes the story we always wanted but hardly dared to dream about.

Wither/Ascend – Stavesacre:  

Watch me fly
Freedom like wings and I will use them
Freedom like wings and I will spread them wide

Watch me fly
Freedom my wings and I will use them
Freedom my wings and I will spread them wide
And rise up

One day my ashes will return to earthly slumber
Spread far and wide across the desert and the sea
Until then I will leave each day in awe and wonder
And look forward to each sunrise


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I think we fear that word.

If you’ve lived long enough and loved hard enough, then your story will undoubtedly reflect most.  Then there will be a moment when you said goodbye to someone and never thought it would be the last words you’d speak.

My family is still dealing with the shock of an unexpected goodbye.

Donald Miller in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years says, “My uncle told a good story with his life, but I think there was such a sadness at his funeral because his story wasn’t finished.  If you aren’t telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died.  But my uncle died too soon.”

Unexpected goodbyes, losing a loved one whose story wasn’t finished rearranges your life, it change your perspective.  If the pain is deep enough our view of the world can be so impacted that we begin to fear saying goodbye.  We become so aware of the fact that loving caused the pain that we try to minimize that risk.  We close our hearts. We stop loving.  We decide that the pain was so intense we’d rather live our lives slowly dying inside because we no longer allow anyone in, than open ourselves up to feeling that loss again.  And a beautiful life full of color begins to fade.

We protect ourselves, we guard our hearts from all pain.  We shut out the risk and because of that, we shut out life, we stop our story.

Hello

Goodbyes aren’t easy because they remind us that life can change unexpectedly, painfully, achingly.  We forget that goodbye must follow hello, and it almost always precedes the next hello.  If mankind never said goodbye Lewis and Clark would never have pushed west, America would never have been discovered, man would never have set foot on the moon, and I would never have met the lifelong friends I have here in Texas.

Goodbyes may never be easy, but they can be beautiful.  When that goodbye is said to someone you love immensely, there is beauty if you know that this person is following her dreams, if you know she is passionately pursuing the next chapter in her story and is stepping out in faith in spite of the questions and the doubt.  It will be beautiful because you know that this goodbye will be followed by new hello’s, new stories and new beauty.  This goodbye will be followed by pages and pages of a life’s story being written, pages that would never be written otherwise.

When the person you’re saying goodbye to has a beautiful heart and you realize that this goodbye is a necessary part of the creativity that will result in a beautiful life; when you can see the hands of the Master sculptor forming her into a Proverbs 31 woman, goodbye may not be easier, but you see the beauty.

You know that this goodbye may increase the distance between you, and it may be hard.  But you know it will deepen your roots and strengthen the bonds between you.  You know that for this eagle to soar, she must leave the nest.  And because you want her to soar, to become all she can be, because you want the world to see in her what you already do, you say goodbye.

It isn’t easy.  It may never be.  But it will be worth it.

Choosing love will open spaces of immense beauty and joy for you, but you will be hurt. You already know this. You have retreated from love countless times in your life because of it. We all have. We have been and will be hurt by the loss of loved ones, by what they have done to us and we to them. Even in the bliss of love there is a certain exquisite pain: the pain of too much beauty, of overwhelming magnificence.  Further, no matter how perfect a love may be, it is never really satisfied . . . In both joy and pain, love is boundless.

-Gerald May, The Awakened Heart

Goodbye

Sarah – your story is beautiful.  Your heart is beautiful.  You are beautiful.  Go!  Step out into your future.  Embrace your life.  Fill it with love, passion, and creativity.  Change the world and be changed in the process.  Live a life worthy of the dreams in your heart!  Benjamin Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  Go, do just that!

I love you!

Future of Forestry – Set Your Sails:

One of my biggest struggles with my faith is the voice I’ve always given God.

I’ve always struggled to understand the tone of Gods voice.  I’m guilty of placing Gods word into the tone and delivery method that my father used.

When I did that, God became a stern, aloof, shell of a being that was present physically but absent mentally and emotionally.  When I did that, life became empty, devoid of any hope and drained of color, excitement and any and all things that made life beautiful.

Realization

A few nights ago, I read Hebrews 11.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

-Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

I’ve heard this verse countless times.  And each time, I’ve always imagined my dads voice telling me I had to be diligent, that if I wanted to please God, it was all up to me.

I always interpreted that to mean I could never seek enough.

I knew that if there was no pleasing my earthly father, then why even bother trying to please the Almighty?  If I couldn’t be diligent enough in my homework, penmanship, exercise routines or mowing the lawn, how was I ever going to please the Creator of the universe?

My dad’s voice was always what I heard.

That evening something changed.  What I read, changed.  The voice I heard started to sound less like my father and more like a real Father.  I began to hear love when I read:

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (Message)

Suddenly it wasn’t about my being good enough, or trying hard enough, or being diligent enough.  It wasn’t about me, or what I could do.  Suddenly, it was about a Father who cares enough to respond.

Fathers

We know what one looks like when we see him.

We know the hopeful expectation of a childlike heart, faithfully waiting for dad to come home from a long day in battle (or at work).

We know the heart of a true father drops his keys, briefcase and sport-coat at the door, and in a moment he transforms from a fearless slayer of office-dwelling dragons into a cowboy, indian, storm trooper, or fixer of broken bikes and skinned knees.

We know the heart of a true father cannot wait to get home and see his kids.

We know he works not to find his purpose, but to provide for his family.  Yes, he gives his all every day, but you don’t see him at his fullest until he’s tackled at the backdoor and in minutes has a grass stain on his trousers.  You may see the employee in his office, but you see the man, when he bends over, picks up his son who’s been waiting, seeking his father all afternoon and says

I’ve waited all day to see you.  And I am so glad I’m home.  I love you.  Now, let’s go play!

At that moment, though dad may not realize it, he’s building in the heart of his children the very foundations they will need for the rest of their lives.

And in that moment He is showing his kids the very heart of a true father.

A heart that cares enough to respond to those who wait at the backdoor, to those who seek him.

Passion – Waiting Here for You: 

There is the joy of having someone save a place for us. We walk into a crowded room at church or at a dinner party and someone across the way waves us over, pointing to a chair he’s held on to especially for us. For a moment we feel a sense of relief, a taste of being on the inside.

Now consider Jesus’ words in John 14:2-“I am going . . . to prepare a place for you.”

Christ promises that he is saving a place in heaven especially for each of us.  When we walk into the crowded excitement of the wedding feast of the Lamb, with the sound of a thousand conversations, laughter and music, the clinking of glasses, and one more time our heart leaps with the hope that we might be let into the sacred circle, we will not be disappointed. We’ll be welcomed to the table by our Lover himself. No one will have to scramble to find another chair, to make room for us at the end of the table, or rustle up a place setting. There will be a seat with our name on it, held open at Jesus’ command for us and no other.

John Eldredge
Sacred Romance 

I’ve been on both ends of what John writes about.  I’ve been welcomed to the inner circle, made to feel like I belong, and I carry the memories of being left out and excluded.

Tonight I am reminded that in this life, in this dance, in this journey to find beauty, we are not alone.

I know I’ve written before about this.  About the wonder of the truth that we do not walk this road alone, but tonight I needed to be reminded of it.  Tonight, I needed to refocus.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Meetings, reports, projects, more meetings, deadlines and preparations for change.  Tonight however, is the end of the sabbath, the end of our day of rest.  And tonight, my heart yearns for His presence.  For the rest, grace and joy that flows from time spent here, realizing, remembering, and reminding myself that I am not alone.

So if tomorrow doesn’t turn out the way we hope or if the changes that are in your future aren’t small, be reminded that this truth doesn’t change.  We do not walk this road alone.

We belong.
We are His.

One Sonic Society – Just to be with You:  

Today was a Monday.

Not just Monday on the calendar, but one of those Mondays.

Today would have been a Monday if the calendar said it was Thursday.

And it was my fault, I didn’t start today as I should have.

It was going to be a busy day filled with important calls, meetings and deadlines.  I had my first dance lesson scheduled for this evening.  And my quiet time, the time that centers me, helps me find the path I should follow, and speaks peace into the situations I face, was all but glossed over this morning.

And Monday ensued.

I had things that to get done.  And I got them done.  Because I was so important.

I arrived early for the lesson.

In the parking lot I took a moment and reviewed the Groupon confirmation.

For Arthur Murray’s dance studio.

I was at Fred Astaire’s dance studio.

Monday.  

Next Monday, things will be different.  Because in that parking lot, I realized what I’d forgotten.

I was rescued from an eternity of Monday’s not to meet or attend meetings, to get things done or arrive early.

I was rescued to rescue.

Hillsong United – Aftermath 

If we are honest with ourselves, we all want our stories to reflect one thing, hope.  We want our lives to show an unending belief in the fact that life is worth living.  We want our history to be a testament of overcoming, of victory.

We want to live on the mountaintop.  And we ignore the valley.

Too many of us have bought into that lie, into the stories of endless mountaintop moments, of perfect lives flying above the storms.  Too many of us believe that if we were just good enough, we would finally find completion, we would know hope because we would know what we were hoping for.

That isn’t real life.

Last weekend I stumbled across a stack of old postcards lying scattered in a box in the back of an antique shop.  As I thumbed through them looking for artwork that would catch my eye, something else made me pause and start over.  I began to read the letters, the messages on the back of the cards.  There were more than thirty, each dated from the early 1940s.  And each one penned by Private Divis, opened with Darling or Dear Sweetheart and was sent to a Ms. Jennie nee Garnik of Chicago, Illinois.

They were love letters, letters of hope.

Sometime in 1944 they were married.  They stayed married, to each other, up until Mrs. Jennie Divis’ death in 2007.

Sixty three years of marriage.

I would love to believe that once they were married, they hopped from one mountain peak to another, each more beautiful than the last.  But real life tells me that in sixty-three years of marriage, they faced hardship, pain, and the loneliness of the valleys.  I would like to tell myself that the young love I heard whispered between the words of each post card carried them through those years, kids, careers and life with a sense of ease, but I know differently.

And so do you.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Christianity pauses to remember a moment in time that rewrote our stories.  And again, I am tempted to paint this memory, this remembrance with the quiet pastels that permeate this season.  But in doing so, the bloody reality of what took place over 2000 years ago is lost.  Tomorrow isn’t about bunnies, ducklings and little baby chicks.  Tomorrow isn’t just the celebration of life, but of a life lived in sacrificial love.  A life lived perfectly, because we were imperfect.

Tomorrow, we remember the death of a Saviour and mans first taste of salvation.

Tomorrow we will read the first of many love letters written to you and I more than a millenia ago.

Promises

And as I sat there and read those postcards, and as I read the story we celebrate tomorrow, I hear the same message.  We were never promised lives full of mountain peaks and empty of valleys.  We were promised however, that we would never walk this path alone.

We were never promised a life void of pain and heartache, but we were promised that if we followed this Saviour who lived perfectly and died in our stead, we would find our true life, real life, abundant life.

I am following Him, Christ.  Because more than anything, that is the life I want.  I want to know that one random Saturday in the year 2074, someone will be walking through an antique shop and will find my postcards, love letters, letters of hope to my future wife.

And I pray that they will reflect a hope greater that my own.  Not because my story was one filled with the pinnacles of life, but because I have found the life, the One I was hoping for.  I found abundant life.

Earlier this week I received an email from a friend that shook me.

We’ve known each other for years and simply fell out of touch. We only reconnected a few weeks ago and as I read her email, my heart broke.

Although I glimpsed only a shadow of what she had fought through, the pain and heartache she endured, I could see clearly that something had changed.  There was something new, something that didn’t exist the last time she and I talked.

There was deep hope.

There was this rare, amazing beauty.

There was a strength in her words, tempered steel behind her eyes and in her voice, and a profound confidence in her heart and her God that was beautiful, matchless, and radiant.

And in that, I began to hear the echoes of an ageless truth.

God restores.

As I read and reread the email, I could see it. I could see restoration was there, healing was there. Through the pain and the hell she fought through, the plan was always restoration. Restoration of her heart, of her life and the life of her son.

I will always question why we have to face the battles we do, why horrible things happen to amazing people and why God sometimes seems so distant.  But in each battle and in spite of the many questions, I am beginning to see the same truth. The heart of a Father, her Father broken far beyond anything I could ever understand.  And through the breaking of His heart, love flows.

A perfect love from a perfect God loving an imperfect person perfectly.

And in that love, restoration.  The plan was and is always restoration.

.

Hillsong United – Take Heart 

ive been thinking lately, about being thankful.

for the things i have, and in some ways, for the things i dont have.

so many of my friends, people my age, have already settled down.  they have a wife, kid(s), dog.  they’re already rockin’ the white picket fence american dream.  and while part of me wants that, yearns for the evident completeness they’ve found, part of me hungers for something more.

john eldredge describes that unsettledness, that desire for something more as the call of God for us to follow Him.  john says “According to the part of the story God has allowed us to see, the Haunting we sense is His calling us forth on a journey.

i wont begin to pretend i know what this journey is or where it will lead.  but i am realizing that it’s not something i’m waiting to start.  it’s something i have already begun.  and thats something you need to realize too.

this, right here, this moment in time, is part of journey.

st. augustine said that the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

you are already on your journey.  as am i.

and im suddenly realizing that part of me was waiting for something to happen.  for someone to come along and give me permission to live life, to chase after my dreams.

i was waiting for something that will never happen.

and if this is true, that right now, im living my story…. if its true that the first pages have been turned, and that the book is already dog-eared, then i need to do everything i can, right now, to live life fully.  to explore, fight, become a better me.

i need to learn to love.  to walk through the fires before me.  to face fears, to dance.  i need to learn not just to tread water, but sail.

i need to learn to be thankful for where i am and for where i am going.

yes, eventually, i want what my friends have.  i want to look into the eyes of my beloved, my betrothed, my bride, my (eve) and see our stories intertwining as one.  i want to see our futures, together.  i want to see hope, abundant life, and love ive not known reflected back in those eyes.

i want to see two books, two stories, two, becoming one.

and even if on the horizon of our future lie gray skies full with the promise of storms, i will look forward to the rain, to the thunder, to the tempest.  because one day, i wont be sailing alone.

hillsong united – aftermath

i hate being alone.

no, its not that, because i cherish time away from the world.

i am afraid of ending up alone.  and i think, if we were all honest with ourselves, we all struggle with this fear.

and if we were to think about it, if we were to really think about it, i think we’d begin to understand that its not being alone that we fear.  it is that we fear we’re not worthy of being pursued.  that there is nothing desirable inside of us.  we do not fear being alone, but what being alone tells us.

that we’re not worthy.  that we dont belong, dont fit.  that somehow we didnt pass the test.  that the sum of our parts didnt add up to a high enough value.

we fear not being loveable more than we fear not being loved.

and that fear hits home.

we cover it, we do our best to hide it.  some of us throw ourselves into a hobby, work, our careers, kids or current significant other.  we look for answers to that doubt, that fear, in everything and anything we can control.

it’s almost like we were born with a deep-seated knowing that there was, is, something valuable inside of us.  something precious.  something deserving of love.  its like we know, even if we refuse to admit it, that our hearts are valuable.  that they are precious, unique and achingly beautiful.  its like we understand that there is something of value, rare and matchless, inside of each of us.

and that knowing, because of our past experiences and past wounds leads us to fear ever letting it be seen.  so we cover it.  and we look for the fulfillment our heart longs for, in the people, jobs and things we surround ourselves with.

and we are never fulfilled.

we were never meant to fill the desire of our heart, to love in a way and be loved in a way we’ve never known, with a career, a relationship, or a hobby.  our hearts were designed, created, for something great.  to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally.  to be free.  to create and love and make music, paint, throw pottery and dance.

our hearts were created for us to find life.  true, abundant, beautiful life.

and when we hide our hearts, when past experiences, mistakes, pain, disappointment and fear cause us to lock our hearts away, we become shells of the lives we were meant to live.  we become puppets.  life becomes a routine, empty, stale unfulfillable.

we need to be reminded of how we were created.

we need to be reminded that we were not created to find our fullness in things, or people.  but in a real relationship with the One who sculpted our hearts and knows their scars, better than we ever could.

we need to be reminded that we were destined to live, to find life fully.  and to be shining examples of a heart fully alive.

so i challenge you, as i challenge myself, to slow down, to ask the hard questions, to feel the aches that our hearts hide, to fight through them.  to learn from our mistakes….

and find ourselves running back home.

to let ourselves, our hearts feel.  to be real, honest living people and not the shells we’ve come to believe equal life.

we are not promised that it will be easy.  but we are promised that if we hang on and dont quit, that if we follow the One who has created our hearts, then we will find that life, that true, real, pure, brilliant life.

we will get there, we will know life.

and it will be beautiful.

Future of Forestry – Slow Your Breath Down

if you leave I’ll still be close to you
when all your fears rain down
I’ll take you back a thousand times again
I’ll take you as My own

I will sing you songs of innocence
till the light of morning comes
till the rays of golden honey cover you
in the sweetness of the dawn
but you’re always on the run

One Sonic Society – Walk With Me

and sometimes the revelations come at the oddest of times, and because of the oddest of reasons.

we all do it.  we all work hard, hoping to be good enough.  praying that this little extra bit that we didnt give yesterday, that the increase in effort or time, the extra energy spent, the attention focused, that all our efforts and striving would bring us success, peace and rest.

its a hard lesson to learn, that we’ll never, in our own strength, enter into that rest.  enter into the joy, the peace, that we know exists if only because our souls remember a time when they existed surrounded by it.

its a hard lesson, realizing, and allowing ourselves to fully grasp that we will never be good enough.  that we are not, right this very moment, good enough.

some of us, myself included, when faced with the reality of that awakening, do everything we can to pretend its not there.  we work hard, we strive more, we sleep less and give everything we have to be just that little bit….. better.

that little bit.  that will catch that girls attention.  or will make you less invisible.

that little bit that will make you lovable.  beautiful.  wanted.

that little bit which will complete the puzzle of your heart.

that will complete the map, show you the way, and lift the fog which veils your destiny.

that little piece, which never fits.

so we try it again.  we start the whole cycle over.  we work even harder, sleep even less, love us less but buy more.  we bend to others wills, sacrificing our own dreams at the altars of desires of those we barely know.

all for the hope that we’ll be loved.  we’ll find peace.  we’ll find that rest.  we’ll be lovable.  successful.  wanted.  worthy of fighting for.

i realized.  just now.  that ive been fighting for all the wrong reasons.  ive been fighting to find that place of peace.  that piece that fits and makes the world a better place.  that piece that unveils the mystery, that blows the fog away and reveals the path in which i should walk.  that one thing that changes everything.  that makes life beautiful.  that would make me beautiful lovable, wanted.

i realized, just now that ive been working towards something i will never be able to have or control.  ive been working, striving, sleeping little, all for the acceptance of those who surround me.  friends, coworkers, church members, in all honesty, it doesnt matter who it was.

what matters is that ive not yet found that piece.  what matters is that monday morning is hours away, and the pressure i exert on myself, to perform, to win people over, to get them to ‘like’ me…. is powerful.

its powerful because i give it power.

its powerful because i believe that its in acceptance of others, is joy.  and hope.  and peace.  and rest.  and the knowledge that i am lovable, wanted, and worthy to be fought for.

i believe all that when there was One who, 2000 years ago, proved all that.  when there was One who fought for me.  who showed me i was lovable.  who offers peace, and rest, and joy, and strength, and….

the missing piece.

i can plan, and strive.  i can work ceaselessly.  i can do everything i possibly can to fill the void that exists in the center of who i am.  but the honest truth, the truth that we all must come to realize…. that i must come to realize, is that it will never be enough.

is that i am not enough.  and i never will be.  but He is.  and He always will be.

and it’s in that realization, not that i’ll never be enough, but that He is enough, its in realizing that He is the missing piece, the one who created the hole in our souls, the one who planted in us the knowing that we were once surrounded by joy and peace, its in realizing that He is it, He is that joy and peace, that we find what we’re looking for.

it’s in that realization, that we see our true value, that we see we are beautiful, lovable, wanted, fought for.

in Your presence, Lord
there is joy, there is joy
in Your presence, Lord
there is life that never ends


One Sonic Society – Walk With Me

author of the world, walk with me
rule of the earth, walk with me
calmer of the storm, walk with me
healer of my heart, walk with me

how i need You
how i need You
oh Jesus
walk with me

light for every step, walk with me
giver of each breath, walk with me

how i need You
how i need You
oh Jesus
walk with me

how i love You
how i love You
oh Jesus
walk with me

in Your presence, Lord
there is peace, there is rest
in Your presence, Lord
there is life that never ends

in Your presence, Lord
there is joy, there is joy
in Your presence, Lord
there is life that never ends

 

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