Wednesday, October 24, 2012

what God has been saying: Genesis 1

Sometime mid September, I started attending Bible Study Fellowship with my neighbor Danielle. I looked forward to Leilani having some time in a Sabbath School environment with children her age, and I was glad for an opportunity to get into the word more consistently. I really did not expect for the Lord to meet me there like He did, and to have prepared my heart and life for this specific study.

This year, BSF is starting at the beginning and studying Genesis. While I have read through this book many times and am generally quite familiar with its contents, I have never gone in depth. I did not realize how much I missed in just a read through, and I was not prepared for how relevant to my life this study is.

BSF incorporates lecture, personal study and small group discussion for each lesson. From the first lecture on Genesis one, the Lord had my attention. I want to try and document here some of what I have been learning. Going back through my notes helps me to remember what I have covered, and writing it out again helps me to process it. I hope that something in what I ramblewrite will bless you too.

Genesis was written by Moses to remind his people of Who their God is, and who they were and where they came from. It is a God-centric story that clearly shows us that we are in His story, not the other way around. Unlike every other creation story from every other culture, there was no struggle. God simply spoke, and it was. Part of the beauty of Genesis is how clearly God demonstrates how much He wants us to know Him. Even from before the moment where He took Adam's face in His hands and breathed life into his nostrils, He has been calling out to us. We were created to know Him, personally and intimately. We were created in His image, to be a physical reminder to everyone and everything, of Who God is. We were created to bring Him glory and to point all of creation to Him.

Spending time focusing on who I am as a child created in the image of God with a very specific purpose has been very grounding. Slowly, the Lord is showing me who He created me to be, and what it means to be "created in His image," living with a clearer sense of purpose and intention is something I am striving to master.

Another lesson brought out in our first study was the process the Lord used in creating. His creative work began with a separating work. He separated light from dark, water from sky, land from water, night from day. "He prepares for the fullness of life through His separating work."

Our speaker said that first week during her lecture "Maybe you have just moved to Memphis, and you are separated from the familiar... you are feeling the pain of that separation. But these things are not wrong. They are preparing you... This separating work may feel severe, but it is a severe mercy... When all you have is God, you will find that God is enough. This is our God. He is our Father, and He is forming your life to prepare you for fullness."

Bam. Straight to my heart as if she was looking right at me in the midst of some discouraged homesickness.

God first formed before He filled. On Day One, He formed Light, before filling the light with the sun, moon and stars on Day Four. On Day Two, He formed the skies and sea, before He filled them on Day Five with birds and fish. And on Day Three, He formed the land before filling it on Day Six with animals and lastly, man.

Before He could form, He had to separate, and before He could fill, He had to form.

I recorded in my journal that day how "formless and void" my heart felt, and the Lord brought my attention to Genesis1:2. Over the face of the deep, in the midst of the nothing, His Spirit hovered. There was life in that darkness, and a future for that void.

He showed me that week how He was in the midst of my void, His "severe separations" in my life were in reality "severe mercies." God is carefully, intentionally forming my heart and my life in preparation for fullness. Yes, I am in many ways empty, but He is separating my night from day and forming land and sky from my murky waters. I can not experience the fullness that He intends without the separating and forming coming first. I was so encouraged by this look into His plan for my life and heart and so blessed by this study.

"Emptiness can be good... IF you allow God to fill it. The problem comes when we try to fill it ourselves. Sometimes we need to wait on God."

Monday, October 22, 2012

the way things look these days

October is drawing to a rapid close. Technically, it is fall. And some days it feels like it. But Memphis gets confused, and so we are having another week of summer this week. Hello 80s.

I am feeling much more like myself lately. In keeping with the roller coaster pattern of my life/emotions, I have been feeling generally pretty chipper. The house has more frequent "Oh look, someone takes care of things in here" days, food is cooked most nights and Leilani looks less neglected when she goes out in public. Here she is walking through a community garden in Germantown the other day. Thats right. I drove to Germantown to go look at a garden and chickens. MAMA IS BACK YALL.

This child is delicious. Look at her. Shes like a big piece of cake. (I think about food a lot these days. But really. She is scrumptious.) And seriously, does anyone have cake? It has been 30 minutes since my after lunch snack and I am starving.

I really needed fall this year. The cooler temperatures (generally) and the overall "fallish" atmosphere to things have been so refreshing to my heart. After a few years of summer loving, I am remembering my roots as an avid fall savoring, sweater wearing, chilly appreciator.

We get outside a bit more these days. Nothing like fresh air and the smell of nature to calm a person down. Leilani has discovered a penchant for pulling up weeds, wandering behind the shrubs, and digging in the dirt for rocks. It makes my heart happy (yet sometimes a bit appalled) to see her covered in grass clippings, dirt and leafy particles.

Although Memphis does not really "get" the whole Fall thing, she still manages to remind the occasional leaf to spruce up a bit. I can count on one hand the number of fully turned trees I have seen, they typical pattern that I usually notice is green, brown, then they fall off and manage to turn some shade of rusty something once they hit the ground. 

These little gentlemen are such blessings to my girl. She sure has been missing all of her cousins and aunts back home, but Simon and Harvey do a great job of keeping her occupied during the week. Thankful for these friends, and the laughter and mischief they bring to our mornings. 

We are all sleeping better these days. Leilani goes right down for her naps all by herself and has been sleeping through most nights. The insanely loud train still startles me awake, but she has seemingly adjusted.  Hugely thankful to the Lord for His grace in this area. Yall know how much Mama has had to fight the sleep monster with this child, I'm so relieved that for now, the war has been won.

Thankful too for sweet neighbors who spoil my smallish one with new tights and stripy, hooded tunics. We really have some of the greatest people to call neighbors. It is crazy, and so clearly the Lord's provision. Over the late end of the summer, while I was battling the first trimester woes (and some selfish self pity and homesickness and discouragement and...) these friends helped me keep sight of the rightness of being here, and daily make Memphis our home away from our other home. God knew we needed these guys, and it amazes me how He called us to all be here together.

Watching Leilani grow and learn and play every day gets me more and more excited to welcome our new little one. Motherhood sure is challenging, but she proves it every day to be worth it. Thankful for her grace with me as I blunder along, for her cheery companionship and conversation, and for how she shows me Jesus.

That's our lately. I really don't know how to catch up on all the months I missed documenting, but perhaps it is better to move on with the present. I was a sick crankypot for much of the past while, and I know my perspective was shaped by my physical circumstances.

I think the most consistent thing (perhaps the only consistent thing?) that kept me somewhat buoyant despite my droopy attitude, has been Jesus. I can not explain how faithfully He has been calling and wooing and encouraging these past two months. "The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen could ever tell." Every day I see myself more clearly for the child I am, and Him for the patient Father that He is.

That's all for now folks.

Coming up: What God Has Been Saying and Oh Look, I am Pregnant.