Sunday, July 6, 2014

new blog

So I recently started a new blog.  Because it was just time for a new start and because I like wordpress a whole lot more than blogger.

Maybe I will update this site occasionally and maybe I won't.  Maybe I will keep this site up and maybe I will delete it... I'm not sure.  But for now, you can stay posted at: http://shelbyloves.com

I am seriously contemplating letting this site retire permanently, but no final conclusions have been come to as of yet.  

So head over to the new site because it's a lot prettier.  ;)  

because we are His and He is ours. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

fruit bearing life

Lately conviction has been poured out on me in copious amounts.

I have felt compelled at times, to prove myself.  To prove that just because I am a woman, doesn't mean I can't be strong, smart and capable.

I have also hated myself.   I have hated that I am vulnerable, lighthearted, goofy and sometimes just a full blown idiot!

In my weak moments, the enemy has convinced me that I need to fix myself and become a person that I am not.  

That in order to protect my fragility, I need to be more harsh and defend myself in a way that could potentially intimidate others and make them feel that I somehow possess some sort of power to obliterate their heart at the drop of a hat.

I want a steel door, with a guard and maybe some dragons at the entrance, to keep watch and protect me from hurt.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to be the one to create these dragons, doors and ferociously intimidating guards.

And you know what?  These things are created from anger and bitterness.

So to properly manifest the desires that I have, I would need to cultivate things in the soil of my heart, that would inhibit a greater work. 

And. that. is. wrong.

That is not the fruit of the spirit. 

The spirit of Jesus Christ that resides in the soul of my being.  The spirit that whispers sweet truths to the ears of this heart, that burns red with a heat that is being fueled by pain, pride and anguish.

Right before Paul talks about walking in the spirit, he tells us... "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."  {Galatians 5:1}

That is probably my favorite verse in almost the whole Bible.  And even though my favorite verse changes almost daily, that one will consistently be one that brings tears of sorrow and joy to my eyes.

We. are. free.

Free from death, sin, bondage, slavery, oppression, fear, doubt, anger, bitterness and any other thing that is the result of sin.  

So after Paul tells us we are free-- that we are free to be and belong, free to live and to love, free to love-worship-honor-serve-obey-follow and rest in the bosom of the Savior who suffered all for the sake of our souls.  Our souls! 

After Paul establishes that truth, he tells us to walk by the spirit and then lists off the fruits of the spirit to us.  The fruit which shows Who we belong to.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." {Galatians 5:22-23}

Paul lays it out for us in simple words.


l o v e 

j o y

p e a c e

p a t i e n c e

k i n d n e s s

g o o d n e s s

f a i t h f u l n e s s

g e n t l e n e s s

s e l f-c o n t r o l



This is life and love.  This is what it means to be redeemed.  It doesn't matter how well I can debunk a falsehood or how well I argue my position on preferences, or what kind of job I have.  What matters is if my life is bearing fruit. 

If  I am showing evidence of a heart planted in the Lord, cultivated by the Great Shepherd and watered by the fire of the Holy Spirit.  

That is what matters.  And this?  This love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control?  They should be the air I breath and the foundation of my entire soul's existence.

Life isn't about promoting ourselves.  It isn't about defending the weakness that we stare at every day or about gaining some sort of place that we feel we deserve or need.  It isn't about exalting our name, boosting our egos or padding our pride.  Because to do most of these things, there are people we need to be putting down.  There are crevices in our flesh that we are feeding, and before we know it, they will own us.  They will dominate the broken ground that Jesus has worked to tenderize for the work of His love, and they will callous all tenderness and beauty that was being wrought in a heart that was purchased with scars, blood and flesh tears.  

So surrendering to this beautiful work... surrendering to this beauty that lies at the foot of the cross and that beckons us to open our hearts to let love do it's great and passionate work, is one of the most challenging things we will ever face.  It means slaying our flesh and putting to death the passions of our sin that scream at us to indulge them and to nurture them in the core of our soul.  It means loving Jesus and having a faith in Him, that can never be shaken.  

Because guys, having Him break open the cell that your soul would otherwise be a prisoner in, is the greatest and most fulfilling rescue that will ever be done for you.   






Sunday, February 9, 2014

the soul's winter

{my little birdhouse is ready for spring}

 The wicked queen cursed Narnia with an eternal winter.

And I understand why that was so miserable.  We're buried in snow right now, and even though it's beautiful and enchanting, it is also exhausting.  It takes twice the effort to get off to work in the mornings and everything is lifeless and dormant.  Sometimes the snow is just mesmerizing, and at other times, I find myself massively frustrated with the never ending icy cold. 

But for me, my tendency to be excessively introspective, is like winter to my soul.

I see good things, but it also causes me to see the amount of work that is to be done.  I see how easy my feelings get hurt, and I wish that I had tougher skin.  I see how I have a tendency to choose relationships that drain me, and how I lack the strength to just say "no".

I feel angry at my own heart.  I feel angry that my heart hurts.  I want winter to go away and spring to come.  I want to smell the sweet fragrance of blooms and green growth.  I want to feel the warmth of light on my face and forget the icy blast of my own hang-ups.

I want to start looking at my life as a progression towards the beauty of the Throne, instead of a series of things I could never find a place to forge a path for.  I don't want to be a wanderer in the wilderness; searching and roaming to find a home for my heart... I want to be a pioneer on a journey that is bursting with experience.

... and most of this is in the eye of the beholder. 

Without winter,  life can't rest so that it can later grow fragrant life blooms.  The blooms that produce the faith to believe God's promises -- to hate your sin when you know it separates you from the Savior -- to know that His love never ends, and that though we are undeserving of His grace, He still pours it out over our spirits... the kind of faith that shows the pure light of life, that others living in darkness, can be touched and changed by. 

I have three single girlfriends, who have shown the fruit of life... who are three of the most strong, admirable and best friends I could possibly have.  All three are vastly different, live in three different states and have jobs that are as different from each other as Alaska and Florida.  But the one thing they all have in common, is that they love Jesus with a passion that moves mountains.  They all struggle with the kinds of things I do, like bad churches, repercussions of holding dear, different beliefs than you were conditioned to believe and trying to figure this life out when you have scars as deep as the ocean.  They've been tested in fires and tried in furnaces and God has not let them slip from His hand.

They remind me how beautiful it is to be a woman and how sometimes being on the outside and having to walk by yourself, is where you find the ugly turns the most radiant beautiful.  We've all suffered the sting of rejection and still do; but the strength and confidence they exude in Jesus, inspires me to cling to Him above all else.

And when I feel lonely and like I can't fit in the place that I'm told I should be fitting and when being put on the outside burns wounds in my soul, I remember the church.  I remember these three friends, who know what it means to love like Christ and follow Him.  Who are Marys at His feet and tomb and Johns resting on His breast and who's voices sing of His praises, with a sound sweeter than the most delicate bird.

Tonight, my thankfulness for them and their transparency and love is deep. 

God is good to provide.  He is good to love and cherish and take us through the winters and storms and bring us into His loving embrace, and if we just look at the good gifts He has given us, we will see His face and feel His tender care, and every season will pass and we will know the unfailing love that has been bestowed on us as the redeemed children of the living God.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Heart Peace


It's a beautiful thing when the heart trusts God so fully, it explodes with joy... when Jesus takes your hand, steadies your uneasy spirit and lifts your soul to a place that you formerly thought was unfathomable.  Having total confidence that the Holy Spirit is leading you down the path the Lord has laid out for you, and knowing... totally knowing, that in the shadow of His compassion, is where you have found the sun.

Even though I was blind and deaf in my rebellion, and I hid myself from Him with the leaves of broken trees, and my independence was drowning me in shallow waters, and even though I pursued vanities to melt the stone heart, He pursued me.

To be so loved when you are at your worst, and so undeserving of the breaths you take for granted every second, is something that often can take those breaths away.  To know that there are people who don't know this love, breaks my heart.  To know that people live and die every day, without experiencing an overwhelming joy that can make all sorrow seem miniscule, is a tragedy that will never be equaled. 

Why?  Soul, why?  

Why do you care about things that will melt when you die?  Why do you care about your place when this world has no place for you?  You fight for a plot of ground for your spirit to reside on, in peace and comfort, and your plot is beyond the galaxies, in flawless perfection, in the bosom of a loving Savior.

Let it go... 

God gave us love and joy.  Love and joy that should overflow in us and into others.  A love and a joy that hold so much power and potential to move others with a grace and compassion and mercy, that can move mountains and change lives in a way that can alter the course of history forever... that can alter the fate of a soul... forever. 

Hold it close... 

Everyone loves.  But the object of their love is as different as a bustling city and 400 acres in the middle of nowhere.  Love of self permeates everything we are surrounded by.  Most of our decisions and preferences are based off the object of our affections and what will leave us feeling the most comfortable.

And this echoes in my ears.  Over and over I hear this...

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another... And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful."  Colossians 3:12-15

These words seep into my heart and melt the stone into tender flesh.  Put on compassionate hearts and love.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  And then, in one sentence,  "And.be.thankful."  Three little words which can make life the most glorious journey you have ever imagined.  Love, kindness, peace, thankfulness.  How beautiful are these gifts that we can claim as ours.  Because we are His, and He is ours.  All the good things that are a part of God's perfect character, can belong to us, because we are a part of Him.  And He dwells in us.  He gave us His Holy Spirit, to lead us, guide us and to shine His glory and light in the darkness that inhabits this earth.  The darkness that eats all goodness and consumes lives before they have time to live.

Hope.  Hope is the message I was given to spread, and spread it, I don't.  I get so caught in the net of what the world says I need to do in order to live, but I just want my flesh to die, so that my soul can live and the One who reigns on a heavenly throne, after being three days dead, can breath into my spirit, the light of life. 

To be selfless, compassionate, kind, and loving... to have these things be so powerfully exercised in my life, is something I feel as if I will never see.  I so often seek only the things I desire, and not what Jesus desires.  He didn't save me so that I could further my vision in life!  He saved me so I could show others how good... oh, how good it is to be saved.  To be free.  To no longer be a slave to the sin that makes miserable your heart.  The heart that so tenderly bleeds with pain, because sin separates us from the God who fashioned us with His very fingers.  The God who created the beauty that causes our heartbeats to pound like symphonic drums at the sight of the ocean, or the mountains, or when we hold our babies in our arms, fresh out of the womb.  The God who holds so much power and who beholds so much beauty and placed it on this tiny planet for us... is who our sin separates us from.  Grief and misery are the constant emotions that inhabit the hearts of the ones who will never be in the presence of the Maker of all things beautiful.  

God forgive me for having eyes that only see what I hold dear. 

"And above all these, put on love."

What a wonderful thing to be consumed by...   




Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Living Heart



Life is confusing.  Everyone knows it and I doubt there is a single soul who wouldn't agree that trying to sort through life is just that... life.  It isn't easy and sometimes it becomes so stressful you just want to cover your eyes, scream, cry and just start over.  

And I've done that.  

I've started over and sometimes you have to stop starting over and just learn how to make things better.  

That right there.  That is where the heart seams burst, because it can't take the pressure.  The heart doesn't know how to take the tangled strings of rocks and make them into a delicate string of pearls.  

Then it breaks.  

The heart.  The pearls.  Everything.  The river of grief spills out the windows of your soul and you just want it to be... better. 

Not great, amazing, phenomenal, or just plain old good.  Just. better.  Just bearable.  Just being able to cope.  

If you're like me, you start evaluating all of the different facets of your life.  You look around you and you say "what is contributing to my misery?"  Because I belong to the Savior who suffered all pain so that I might have joy!  So there has to be a roadblock.  

And there it is.  You see it, and even though you want to deny that as a possibility to your state of misery, you know- you know that you know that you know.  

You know that you're drowning in the shallowness you subject yourself to.  You know that dropping your vulnerable heart into a den of daggers is going to make it bleed. You know that searching for love and acceptance, among people who burn rejection into your soul, is going to scar.  And you want to deny it.  You want to say that it isn't true and you're just imagining it, but you know.  You know that Jesus Christ has provided solace and love for you, and you just have to grab it up. You just have to swallow the clump of pride in your throat and admit that just because something holds the promise that it is what you need, doesn't mean it is what you are searching for.  Your heart is searching for the place that Jesus resides, and if Jesus isn't found, it's time to move on.  

I have so many things I want to do and in a rut is where my free spirit is.  I want out and away.  But I just need up.  Up out of the rut and on the path towards the home the living God has for me.  

That's it.  

It isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack.  It's just about giving up an idea of what my life as a single person is.  People try to tell me what it is, or who I should be; and even though it is cliche, I am me.  God gave me two things that overwhelm me and that's love and passion.  And as tempting as it is to fall into the rut that was dug for me, I have to... I have to, make the choice to follow my Master.  To be free.  To love.  And to live with an unquenchable passion.  

So this is it.  This is my stake in the ground of life.  To *not* not live.  To not be boring and lifeless and not love what I love and express myself because I am afraid or because I am in a demographic.  

I'm just going to be brave and say it.  Shoot me if you will, but I have the heart of a truth teller and here it explodes from my lips:

Groups created to "help" people because they are not married or dating, are 99% of the time, a hindrance.  They're not a hindrance to marriage, they're a hindrance to life.  They are the rut.  We get stuck and can't move.  We wait and wait and wait for life to begin and it's right here!  It is right in front of us!  Begging us to pick it up and enjoy it!  Life is so hard.  God gave it to us to shout from the bottom of our lungs, the love and joy He has given us.  

So we need to scream it.  We need to sing it and laugh it and dance it!  

I'm trying so hard to not use this opportunity as a podium to proclaim my hurts and blows.  To not seek pity for how my heart burns with grief and sorrow, but to use this as an opportunity to see how powerful and strong life can be when we live it in the face of God and to express His love.  Not to advance our names, but to spread His joy.  

Have joy people, because Jesus died and rose to life so that we could live.

So let's live. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Soul Vulnerable



It's been awhile since I've been motivated to write anything.  Life is crazy, and not always the good kind.  I barely have time to respond to text messages or emails from dear friends, let alone sit down and pour my heart out on this neglected blog.

But...

I am laying here, sick in bed and thinking over everything that has transpired with a deep introspection that is bordering dangerous, and I realize that I need to mush some of these thoughts onto cyber paper.

Sometimes things hurt.  Sometimes we don't even know why.  Like that mysterious splotch of purple and blue that suddenly appears and makes you feel like you were in a battle, but you don't even know where it came from.  Or the red that pours from a wound which magically made its presence known with no recollection of the trauma.

Sometimes scars hurt.  Sometimes you run your fingers over the disfigured parts of your skin... or your soul, and even though pain is physically absent, the haunting memories flood you with pain.  And in those moments, you know you are alive, and you remember-

Grace.

The grace that allowed you to be affected and impacted, but not destroyed.  The grace that allowed you to be submerged in suffering, but not drowned.  The grace that allowed wounds to penetrate your soul, but not kill it.  The grace that flows from the veins of Jesus and pours out of the heavens onto and into His children.

And then I feel it...

I feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit ignite in my spirit and I feel at one with my Creator.  I feel my heart fuse to His heart and every scar is a memory of what has been done for me.

Tragedy forced me to flee a movement that was denying grace and love.  God ripping my heart from something I was so deep in and saving me from what I didn't even know was happening... a lifestyle that promised something more than the pure Gospel and yet, was crumbling underneath itself.  Whole lives established on sand, instead of the Rock.  And before the pillars of false truth could cave in on me, the hand of the Almighty tears me away, and scars are left... but so is life.  Life in the pure truth.  Life in the love of Jesus. 

Words from the living Word soothe burns in the heart flesh-

"For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He causes grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.  To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.  Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?"  -Lamentations 3:34-39

I see lives scattered through the course of this life and we lose focus.  Our eyes are upon our gain here, and not our gain there.  Our gain with the angels and the saints.  Our gain with our Savior and our Father.  A gain which will never be equaled.

We.are.His. 

and

He.is.ours. 

So why do we hunt for whatever will please us?  Why do we forget that there is a world dying, while we seek what will make our living better?  Why are we seeking to exalt our lives, instead of laying them down?  Life is fleeting, and I am guilty.  I am guilt ridden with losing myself in my own world; of recoiling within myself when comfort isn't my friend.  I consume my time with thoughts of how things can be better for me, instead of what I can do to help others see life is better with Jesus.

I want light to consume me.  I want it to penetrate the dark corners of my soul and illuminate the dark shadows that eat those void of redemption.  I want others to see that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (Romans 5:3-5) and hope... hope.  Those glorious four letters which express the Christian's entire sense of being and dwelling in the Vine.

This. this hope. It does not put us to shame.  

It gives us joy.  It gives us love.  This is what it means.  It means that "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom..."  What kingdom?  The kingdom "of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

We.  We as children of God, we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.  My heart is exploding, because I don't deserve this.  This love.  Why?  Why can't I forget it all?  Why can't I forget those pains and this pain?  Why does it distract me and inflict blurry eyes which can't see Heavenward?

God gave us so much beauty! Why do I only see the ugly?  Why can't I get past the ugly and see how it can be the key ingredient to seeing beautiful?  I think about the woman who will go to more of her children's funerals than weddings, and shattered is my heart.  The grief.  And a grief that can't be comforted because Jesus is not known.  Searing loss.  Oh God, how?

My heart feels pain, and not just my own, but others'.  I can't describe how easily I am affected by others suffering.  It's like their ghost is my ghost, and tender doesn't begin to touch the delicate state of this heart, when grief floods and mercy feels far away.  Sometimes it feels like a disease, because it hurts to feel this much.  To go from extreme happiness to extreme sorrow is something not easily understood and dark moods rule my life more than they ever should.

But Jesus weeping in the garden, knows this.  Jesus, beside the Almighty, is whispering in His ear "I know what that feels like, Father have mercy."  And that is more comfort than I could ever ask for in a lifetime.  To know that He knows, to know that He cares and that what is required of me, is that I stop trying to do it myself and I trust Him.  I stop trying to rescue, and show others how to be rescued.  God loves to be our deliverer, but in order to be delivered, we need to be in trouble.  

And that makes it all worth while.  I have to stop worrying.  Worrying about what people think, or say... it.does.not.matter.  What matters is that I belong- I belong to Jesus.  Acceptance.  Love.  Admiration.  Those are all things we crave, and me more than I ever should.  But He is patient to work this out of the stubbornness it is grown into and use it to manifest His glory.

And that brings overwhelming peace.  




He is so good.  He is so faithful and He loves with a love that causes mountains to tremble.  His voice is everywhere.  It is in the roar of the sea and the whisper of the moon.  It is in the scream of pain and the laughter of abundance.

We belong to Him and He is real.  We just need to live in a way that tells others this singular truth.  It's not about us.  It's about Him and His love in redeeming us.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Thousand Gifts

   
(One of my beautiful little sisters)


Lately I have been reading a great deal of Ann Voskamp's Blog

There are no words to describe how it makes me feel to be reminded of the importance of living in the face of our Savior. 

I can't find a post on her beloved blog that doesn't make me cry--that doesn't stir in my heart a desire to be closer to my Lord.  I find myself challenged and convicted.  I feel this stirring in my insides... a stirring to strive for something more

I become blind.  My job blinds me.  Being single blinds me.  Trials blind me.  Life blinds me.  It blinds me to my precious One. 

I want to rant about the fundamentalism that haunts me.  The remnants of my scars plague my heart out and tears blind my eyes to the beauty that is right in front of me.  Past ghosts from the life of legalism that God called me to leave behind, rise up and echo the whispers of pride that beckon me to find unhappiness on the path my feet now tread. 

And then I read this...

And my heart breaks.  My heart breaks because I have succumb to the temptation to live in the sphere of myself.   I can't write this without crying.  Crying because I know it isn't about me.  It isn't about how much I need to feel accepted, loved or happy.

It is about giving every ounce of myself to the cause that Jesus spilled His *perfect* blood for. 

Which leads me to this...  Here is a quote from that post which made my spirit weep with both joy and sadness. 

"One of Katie’s daughters had whispered it:

“Mommy, if Jesus comes to live inside my heart, will I explode?”

And Katie had said —“No!” and then —
 
“Yes, if Jesus comes to live in your heart, you will explode… That is exactly what we should do if Jesus comes to live inside our hearts.

We will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice. We will explode with a desire to be more, to be better, to be close to the One who made us.”

YES!  That is precisely what should happen when Jesus is in our hearts.  I have found this battle raging inside of me.  This desire to point my finger and feel as if I am better than others.  Or to be exceptionally disappointed when I have been sinned against.  

But yet He who was perfect did no such thing.  He made us!  He is amazingly holy and just and I sin against Him and am filthy before Him, and yet I only feel His gentle love beckon me back into His arms and feel His righteousness rush over me.  He condemned and chastised, yes!  But He had a disdain for those who were oppressing His precious sheep.  He was tender towards His sheep and aggressive with the wolves who threatened His delicate and vulnerable lambs.  

But see, I lose this passionate vision I have.  It becomes cloudy and hides in the darkness of fear that overwhelms my heart whenever my world shatters.  Whenever the earth quakes beneath my feet, I hide and cower, and the light that illuminates my zeal for love, vanishes when I close my eyes.  

And every day, my Father pours His Spirit on me stronger and stronger, and I see that His faith and love are to be my weapons against all that the enemy seeks to destroy.  All that Jesus has cultivated in my soul and nurtured, are to be protected and fought for, because they are the tools He desires to use to minister to the weary, to weep with the broken, to fight for the helpless, and to love the unloved.  To further His Gospel and show how He can take a busted, flaw invaded, dirty, scummy, worthless soul like me, and love.  Compassion my soul has seen, and mercy my eyes have beheld.  

So to help in my journey towards a deeper and stronger faith, I have decided to partake of the challenge.  I will make a list of One Thousand Gifts.  A list of one thousand things I am thankful for.  One thousand things that will remind me of all the good God has shown and given me.  One thousand things that will burn in my mind that I have been shown more love and mercy and grace than any one or any thing could possibly promise me.  

And my purpose is to share it with others...  

My purpose is to declare how Mighty the Living God is and be transparent enough that others will be amazed at how Jesus' fountain of purifying blood, can transform a despicable creature.  

So I will endeavor to share how it works with you, and I hope you will be inspired to act on faith and move with more grace and compassion, than is ever fathomable. 

Because Jesus is all we need... and frankly, Jesus is all I want.