Monday, March 29, 2010

Seasons of Change & Growth ~ Selfishness, Unforgiveness, & Surrender

I think I'm in a season of change & growth. A season of clearly seeing the changes that need to be made inside my heart. And to be perfectly honest I'm not particularly thrilled about it. I feel like I've been re-learning some very important lessons recently. Lessons that I thought I had learned pretty well the first time. But it seems just when you start to think you have that area of your life taken care of .... well is when you realize .... you don't. And when there are issues in your heart that need to be taken care of God will do whatever He can to make sure you're reminded of it....over and over again, until you finally decide to do the work, and take the time it takes to dig up all the over grown weeds and start over again. Below is a list of three things that I feel God is wanting me to take a long, hard look at all over again....

~ Selfishness. Lately I have been able to see with pretty clear eyes just how selfish I can sometimes be. How much I tend to think about my needs, my wants, my comfort and my happiness....and how often I use the words "my" or "I". I have been feeling really convicted of this in my relationships. Sometimes I find myself thinking "Yeah I know you may need this, but what about what I need, what about what I deserve?" Especially when I have been hurt by this person and haven't quite forgiven them (I'll get into that in a min.). If this is how I am now it scares me to think it might be how I am someday in marriage as well. So I definitely want to take care of this issue now. I've heard it said that friendship is preparation for marriage, and thinking about that can sometimes be a scary thought. A good marriage can only happen when both people are thinking more about the others needs more than their own. Most marriages end because of selfishness. Not being able to see anyone else's needs but your own is what will ruin any relationship. Am I learning from the friendships in my life? I hope so. I feel so challenged to try and think more about what others need more than what I need.

~ Unforgiveness. Ah yes forgiveness ... or my lack there of. I would like to think I do not have a problem forgiving and letting go anymore but unfortunately, I think I still do. I have had problems with my anger and the temptation to hold grudges in the past. It ate at me till I took care of it. Till I went to God with all of my anger and bitterness and gave it over to Him. It was a process but I really felt God release me from the prison that is unforgiveness. But sometimes I still find myself holding onto things I should be letting go of. At times I find myself telling God things like "But you don't understand, they hurt me! Aren't I justified in how I feel?" and I always feel God whispering in my spirit "You have to forgive, you have to let it go." It just seems unfair, ya know? But I know it's truth. I know it's where true freedom lies - in the letting go. If you don't it will end up consuming your life, your heart, and all of who you are. I am truly only hurting myself when I choose to not forgive. The scariest part of harboring unforgiveness in your heart is that it puts a wall between you and God. The Bible says if you don't forgive, God cannot forgive you. I don't know about you but the thought of that is really scary to me. I make too many mistakes in this life to not have the forgiveness and mercy of my Jesus. Consider these two scriptures on forgiveness - "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you of your sins." - Mark 11:25, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Luke 6:35 - 38. Yikes! That last part makes me squirm. I've heard it said that when you do not forgive you break the bridge that you too have to cross. Forgiveness is a choice. Love is a choice - not a feeling. In Jesus' name I choose to forgive and love.

~ Surrender. The last lesson I've been learning is a seemingly obvious one or so you would think. The lesson is that - I am NOT God. I know this was obvious to you but I had to state it for me. The thing is I find that I have a hard time giving an issue or person over to God and just let Him be God. Let Him do the work that I know I cannot. I can't seem to surrender. I have to realize that I can't control life. Things happen and no matter what God is on the throne and I have to trust that He sees the bigger picture that I don't see. I also need to realize that I cannot save anyone. That is not my job, it's His. I cannot make them see that the choices they're making are detrimental to them. I cannot make them see that they are choosing a wasteland over a castle. I cannot make them see that they are on a wrong path, especially when they know better and have gone down that road a hundred times, and it's caused them nothing but heartache everytime. I cannot do this. I can love someone, I can give them good advice, I can pray for them but I cannot make them choose what is right. And I cannot out of love take on the burdens of their mistakes. I must surrender it to God and let Him be God. There is lyric by The Devil Wears Prada that says "I'm gonna hope for you, I'm gonna pray for you amongst the reckless and the black. My time is yours my friend." Everyone needs and deserves to be prayed for and hoped for but you can't save them. It's not your burden to bear. You can only give godly advice, pray, and hope. And let God be God.

I think so often we as Christians can get a bit comfortable letting these and other behaviors slide. I'm not judging anyone here, but being a pk who has seen first hand how the church can let petty and immature behavior get in the way of their relationships and their testimony, I've come to realize we need to face issues head on and let God change us. When we don't we not only hurt ourselves but others as well. We will not be able to have a strong, life changing walk with God if we hold on to our old destructive habits and behaviors. Jesus wants more for His children, He wants us to grow, learn, and thrive in Him.

I know that it will be a process to getting there and that at times I'm sure I will fail, but I believe that God wants me to submit to His loving transformation. I need and want to grow in these areas. Though I'm under no illusions that it will be easy. The growing and learning process rarely ever is. I know God will call me to do things that will go against what my flesh feels like doing, but if I choose to obey Him I know beautiful change will be on its way.

Below is a lyric I wrote a few years ago on the subject of forgiveness.

The Three Hardest Words To Say

When you've been burned it's hard to pick yourself up off the ground. Anger is a sickness that can take you down. Blame is a disease and we pass it around. They say that time heals all wounds, but is that really true? Is it possible to put it all behind you or will we stop the water under the bridge from passing through?

"I forgive you" are the three hardest words to say. Mere words simply can't take the anger away. I could say it till I was blue in the face but without love I'm just a loud cymbal clanging away.

I know it's all in the past but I still remember. Oh how long will this memory last? You hurt me but I admit, I hurt you too. It's so easy to cover up the mirror and just choose to see through you. Why do we hurt each other this way? Maybe we have grown up enough to say that being right isn't worth the pain of the fight.

(Repeat Chorus)

Oh if I choose not to forgive I break the bridge that I too have to cross. Without one man's forgiveness we would all be lost. Crucified on a tree, humiliated and degraded for all to see. But before He died He prayed for me and you, Jesus said "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

(Repeat Chorus 2x)

(C) Krystal Celeste

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Travel Lightly and Deeply

This week has been such an emotionally draining week for me. It's been a week of dealing with secrets, truth, anger, forgiveness, and the hardest thing of all...letting go.

I was so angry yesterday. I hate being angry, it really takes so much energy and completely drains the life out me. Without going into too much detail, my sister and I were asked (if that's what you would call it) to give up something that is very important to us. Something that is rightfully ours, by a person who should understand what that thing means to us. I was so hurt that this person would ask what they asked, and go about it the way they did, I have to admit that I was so seething angry that I couldn't see or think straight. But as I was feeling this unbelievable anger something really incredible and unexpected happened.... I heard a still small voice whisper in my heart saying "Let it go."

I just thought "Let it go? What do you mean let it go?" Because let me tell you, I was ready to go to the mat for it. I was stubbornly prepared to hold on to it with a death grip. But I just felt God saying for my sister and I to let it go, and in the place of that thing He will be faithful to give us genuine peace and freedom. At that moment I was speechless by the amazing way I could feel God just working in my heart and softening my heart. I just felt Him saying "Yes, that thing is rightfully yours and your sister's, but you don't have to be bound by those material things. Instead you can just be free." I have to tell you when the realization came over me that I don't have to be bound by that thing, by material things, I felt an overwhelming, almost giddy joy come over me. It was seriously the strangest thing! I kept thinking "Wow just a second ago I was feeling seething anger now I feel complete peace. That's crazy!" All of the sudden I found myself praising God for that.

I just started thinking about how fighting for this thing would only get me stuck in the mud with this person-who has been stuck in that mud so long that there's barely any peace in their life. God lovingly let me know that fighting for it would be opening the door to their craziness and down that road I would find nothing but turmoil. I can either have that material thing or I can have internal peace and freedom, but I can't have both. Getting into the mud with this person would in essence mean I would become like them, and I do not want that. My peace and freedom is way more valuable to me. Plus these material things are temporary, I can't take them with me when I die.

It reminded me of how Jon Foreman (Switchfoot) once talked about how there's a plaque in the guest room of his home that says "Travel lightly and deeply". I love that! That's how I want to travel through this journey of living my life for Christ, lightly and deeply. Nothing weighing me down, living for way more than this world has to offer me. I can't follow Christ and be lugging a suit case full of earthly, material things behind me. It will only serve to weigh me down and trip me up. I have to let it all go and be free of it.

I told my sister what I felt God was telling me and even though she was just as angry as I was, she agreed that we need to obey God in this. So that is our choice in that matter, we are letting it go so we can be free. We're letting it go to have peace.

I told my mom what our choice was and she teared up and said she was proud of us. And as good as it felt to have her say that I know that it really isn't anything we did at all. This my friends was all the work of Jesus. Him and Him alone. And if the spirit of God is truly authentic and alive inside of me it has to still remain authentic and alive in these tough situations. I just know without Him our decision would have been different. Trust me, my flesh does not want to do this at all - but in my spirit I know it's right. I know my heart well enough to know that I would and could stubbornly fight for it. But only Jesus could soften my heart so much that I now feel like I can give this thing away with a willing and even joyful heart. Only Jesus. He's so amazing folks, He just never ceases to totally floor me with what He does. It's so incredible I feel like gushing.

So this thing is going to be a gift to this person from my sister and I. We're not giving it in a spiteful way, or in a self righteous way either. We want to give it with a joyful heart. Knowing we are not bound by such things but we are letting it all go to be free. There are too many things in this world that are worth fighting for, so much injustice exists in this world we wake up in every morning. Those things are worth fighting for, this however is not. I wanna be the type of person that fights for things that matter, not for things that don't. I want to fight for and live for what is eternal. I want to travel through this life lightly and deeply.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toward The Spring

Is there anything left? Any ground that's still green? Cause after the fire burned up this scene, through the smoke, no signs of life can be seen. And all that was beautiful has turned to ash and soot. I walk on the barren ground yet can't feel it under my foot. Everything that was green is now brown, oh Spring rain come turn it all around.

Summer and Winter have swallowed me whole and now I walk toward the Spring to a story untold. Summer and Winter have swallowed me whole now I walk toward the Spring to a new hope.

I don't want to live in the shadow lands anymore. Though ironically it's the place we grow. It's an amazing yet uncomfortable experience for him to chip away at this statue of stone. And when you finally break through will this cold piece of clay be renewed?

(Repeat Chorus)

On the break of this Spring day my story unfolds in a new way. Life in the midst of death is hard to find. Hard to journey forward and not rewind. As seasons change and the swirling Spring air carries me to a new place, I see change happens in it's own time. Only you can make something beautiful out of this coal mine. And when you finally chip through will this cold piece of clay resemble you?

(Repeat Chorus 2x)

(C) Krystal Celeste (Written in Spring '06)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Listening & Reading List

February was a month filled with a lot of good music rediscovered and amazing books revisited. So I thought I would put together a list of all the music and books that kept me company through all the cold February days. I hope that you'll check out these cds and books cause they make my life a little more lovely and I think they'll do the same for you. Also, leave me a comment if you've read or listened to any of these books and cds. And tell me what you have been listening to and reading lately as well. Here's to March and the hope of a sunny spring day sometime soon. I am more than ready for some picnic weather. :)


Without Condition by Ginny Owens (1999) ~

Here's a cd that I bought back in 2000 when I was only 15 years old. I had heard her song "If You Want Me To" on the radio and loved it. But at that time it was the only track that really caught my attention. I listened to it a few times and didn't touch it again .... until a few weeks ago, when I came across it and decided to pop it in my cd player. I was in the mood for music that was a bit unfamiliar to me, something that was raw and real. What I discovered was a cd full of treasures that fed my soul in a way that it desperately needed at that very moment. I thought "I can't believe I've had this cd for years and never realized how amazing it is". I just didn't really get it then I suppose. Now at 25, these songs have come alive to me. I think sometimes you have to be at a different place in life to fully grasp certain cds & songs.

Ginny Owens' beautiful piano/pop songs are filled with honest, venerable, and thoughtful lyrics, sung with Ginny's signature delicate, pretty voice. A true artist that explores her faith in Christ in the stories of others as well as her own. This has been the cd that has walked through February with me. Somehow, I think I'll always associate these songs with this month, and this time in my life.

Stand Out Tracks ~
"Own Me"
"I Wanna Be Moved"
"Without Condition"
"Someone Searching"
"Land Of The Grey"
"Springs Of Life"

Lyric Excerpts ~

"What is wrong with this picture? We applaud this behavior. He's a hero if he makes mistakes. Oh it's so clearly cloudy in the land of the grey." - Land Of The Grey

"You can't find the answers till you learn to question; you won't appear stupid just ask for direction. You're insecure and it clouds your perception. So stop and listen, and learn a lesson in love without condition." - Without Condition

"Got a stack of books so I could learn how to live; many are left half-read covered by the cobwebs on my shelf. And I've got a list of laws growing longer everyday; if I keep plugging away, maybe one day I'll perfect myself. Oh, but all of my labor seems to be in vain; and all of my laws just cause me more pain; so I fall before you in all of my shame; ready and willing to be changed." - Own Me

Postcards by Cindy Morgan (2006) ~

I'm sure I've mentioned before how much of a fan I've been of Cindy Morgan ever since I was a child. Still to this day, she remains to be one of my very favorite artists, and one that I would venture to say has had the biggest influence on me. "Postcards" was released back in 2006 and was the first cd she had released after a six year hiatus from recording. I purchased it almost instantly, and fell in love with these songs upon first listen. I've been listening to this cd a lot lately. All through February it was a constant in my cd player. There are so many stories and experiences to be shared in these songs. Her singer/songwriter brand of honesty and heart seeping from each song. Even sharing a song about the rocky relationship she has had with her mother in the past. My favorite song is "The River", the lyrics are so powerful. This song is one that you must listen to with your eyes closed, hanging on every note. The sound of the piano and cello, along with her passionate vocal, makes this song heart breaking beautiful. I've always believed Cindy to be one of the best songwriters that music has seen, especially Christian music. And "Postcards" most definitely showcases that honesty and artistry that makes her music so timeless. You cannot help but be inspired and moved by her songs of life, love, pain, God, and redemption.

Stand Out tracks ~
"The River"
"Come Home"
"Eternal Sunshine"

Lyric Excepts ~

"Oh meet me down by the river, let's dive in like children do. And let our trouble wash to the Father. He'll wash you clean and make you new." - The River

"I'm not like them, I'm just like me. I don't fit in, she said so tragically. When I close my eyes I see your arms reaching. And somewhere inside, I hear your voice speaking... Come home, come home. Haven't you fought enough on you own? Don't turn back, you're not the outcast. You're who we have been waiting on to come home." - Come Home

"Crawled through the desert and swam in the ocean. Tried meditation and a few magic potions. Marched at the White house against the attacks. Sent a call out to Buddah but he never called back. And I'm thinking there must be something I have missed. What do you think of all this? If you can't find the answers from anyone else you'll just have to see for yourself" - Postcards

"Hey there, preacher oh you're looking so tanned and trim. Please send money, money, money. What for? Your brand new Mercedes Benz. Salvation for pennies a week. Oh just call and you'll hear Jesus speak, and I'll bet He'll say, Enough!" - Enough


Here's To Hindsight by Tara Leigh Cobble (2006) ~

I just spent the last two days with my nose in this book lol. Tara Leigh Cobble is a singer/songwriter and author in her twenties. She travels all over the U.S performing her songs in churches, colleges, and often in living rooms. In her first book, "Here's To Hindsight", Tara Leigh shares openly and honestly about her life stories. She talks about how she grew up in a strict Christian home and how that shaped her relationship with Christ. The ways she tried to run away from God and how He brought her back around. She shares stories of falling in and out of love, and getting through the heartaches. Finding her calling as a touring musician and the highs and lows that come along with that. This book centers around the idea that sometimes only in hindsight can we truly see what God was doing and how he was working in our lives all along.

I had given this book to a friend of mine a while back and missed it terribly, so about a week ago I ordered it on Amazon. My sister and I were both saying how it feels like your reading the journal of an old friend, and how this is a book that just seems to walk through life with you. You will find yourself picking it up often for a little perspective. With so much honesty, wit, and humor Tara Leigh shares her heart, and in doing so, inspires you to put your trust more fully in Jesus. To know that He sees the big picture even when you do not. To say in the face of trials "Here's to hindsight".

Except from the Back Cover -

"Life would be easier if we could see the road ahead with spotless clarity. But it's not until we look back that the important stuff comes into focus - in my case, I found the evidence of God at every turn. I discovered it in unmet dreams, broken hearts and desperate attempts at contentment. Join me as I retrace that journey. Maybe you'll find God's hand in your story too, quietly creating something beautiful. We'll see it in the end."

Mosaic by Amy Grant (2007) ~

Amy Grant was one of my favorite singers when I was a kid. I listened to her tape "Collection" constantly, and knew just about every song by heart. So I was thrilled when she released her book "Mosaic - Pieces of My Life So Far". In "Mosaic", Amy gives us a peek into the stories that have made her into who she is, and have colored her life with depth and beauty. I seriously learned so much from this book. I have always thought Amy had so much wisdom to be shared. Through out the years, for various reasons - namely her very public divorce, she has been through a fire storm of criticism. But I have always said for the people who judge her to please listen to the words that she speaks. When I was young I remember reading interviews in CCM Magazine and seeing some on tv, and being moved and impacted by the way she spoke honestly about her mistakes, and about the grace God has shown her in the midst of them. I remember thinking I had never heard anyone speak on grace the way she had. She understood it because her life depended on it. And I learned from her. This book is no different. In these essays she speaks with honesty and humor about the lessons she's learned in the everyday mundane as well as in extraordinary moments of life. I love how she can take a seemingly simplistic experience and see the wisdom and knowledge to be garnered from it. Some of my favorite stories are "Moonlight Conversations", "Thistles", "Mothers Day", and "The Brazos River"- in which she talks about being baptized for the first time as an adult. This story brought me to tears, and for the first time made understand what baptism is really all about. "Mosaic" also includes photos, song lyrics, and poetry written by Amy. I loved reading her stories. Amy's charming personality really comes through as she makes you laugh, cry, think, and remember. It makes you take a long look at the story God is writing in your own life. It inspires you to keep your eyes peeled so you can also see the truth and wisdom that is hidden in the pages of your own story.

Excerpt from the Cover ~

"Thanks to writing and remembering, I'm re-inspired to value both the mundane and magical moments. In trying to capture a few memories as best as I can, I give myself the gift of treasuring what has been so far a very full and meaningful life. I hope you will do the same with yours."

"A Man Worth Waiting For - How To Avoid A Bozo" by Jackie Kendall (2008)

Who is writing your love story, you or God? This is a question that is explored in great depth in this book by author, Jackie Kendall. Girls, come on, don't you just love the title? lol When I saw this book the title alone intrigued me and I had to purchase it, and I'm very glad I did. The wisdom and truth that Jackie shares in this book is absolutely priceless. She shares from biblical truths as well as stories, personal and otherwise, how to beware of a Bozo guy. She also explores the story of Ruth and Boaz in the bible, and how women can learn a great deal of what a Godly man is through that story. So in this book "Boaz" becomes the biblical counterpart to the "Bozo" guys. Both are identified and compared in detail. I love how she got real opinions from both guys and girls, some married and some single, about what characteristics a "Man Worth Waiting For" has. We take a good look at what a Godly man is and what he is not. Now I must mention that Jackie is careful to say that no one is perfect, and that a Godly man will also be a flawed man, but that he will be someone who is striving to live his life for Jesus everyday. Jackie said she was inspired to write this book after seeing so many smart Christian woman dating guys who didn't treat them right and guys who did not know the Lord. She believes this is due in part to women being impatient and not believing that a Godly guy is ever coming along, or if he even exists. And guys, don't worry, this book isn't just focused on the flaws of the male gender. Jackie makes sure she identifies behaviors in us women that make us what she calls "Bozo bait". As a single Christian woman I cannot even express how much appreciate the wisdom that women like Jackie Kendall have to share. The truth in this book, if applied to our lives, could save a lot of us girls from bad relationships.

Full of so much truth and wisdom, it's crazy just how much you learn and how much you take away from this book. A book that every girl, single or dating, should read. No, really ladies, run to your nearest bookstore right now and pick it up!!! :)

Excerpt from introduction ~

"I have met thousands of single woman who are very intentional about becoming the best they can be - but they seem to be unsuccessful in finding a man who is striving to be godly. For more than three decades, I have been repeating one phrase so incessantly that it is a wonder that people have not come after me with duct tape. I not only have taught it as a constant theme, but I also have signed countless copies of "Lady In Waiting" with this remark: "Wait for God's best and avoid a Bozo!" Why does a brilliant woman say "I do" to a jerk? How does a woman with two doctorates pick two terrible husbands? How does a woman who's shown exquisite taste and high standards in every area of her life choose a man who will bring her nothing but heartache? I am knee deep in a pool of tears from those women who have chose poor dates and mates. After three decades of listening to thousands of women sharing their heart breaking experience with loser guys, I decided to write about the characteristics of the man who is the opposite."