The beginning of Wisdom…

…is the fear of the Lord.

What exactly does this mean?

Well, just recently this means that I made a frick-ton of New Year’s Resolutions, and by day 9 into the New Year I feel like cuss because I am neglecting not only the core of who I am, but the core of what makes me feel the ability to get up every morning and live with purpose.

And that which I am neglecting is the fear of the Lord.

Ah wisdom, that far-off desire. If I could have money, fame, power, knowledge, or wisdom, truly wisdom is above and beyond the prized possession here.

To know God, and to seek God. To be saturated in truth, and to not be afraid to say it at the hard times.

Father help me fear you. May I understand my place in the family of things.

May I choose discipline in scripture over discipline in any other aspect of my life.

Soften my heart Lord.

May I grow in the knowledge and fear of You.

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Death

So I’m studying Colossians 3: 1-17 with my bible study girls and the following verses just really got to me for some reason:

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” v. 3-4

Over the summer I felt loss like I haven’t felt it in a long time. The death was removed from me, a coworker’s friend was involved in a car accident and he died from it, he was my age. But seeing or rather feeling the loss of another life in this world was overwhelmingly acute. Death can be an incredibly unfair bastard. Death leaves us with the why and where are you, god? It leaves us with everything and nothing at all. Death makes living hard. It makes breathing hard. Death makes us take a magnifying glass to life and figure out what exactly is holding us all together at the end of the day? What are the details, the genetic makeup of our days that keep us going?

Reading v.3-4 of Colossians speaks to death in a way I’ve never thought about death before. I know Jesus said some crazy things while on this earth and among them was asking us to die to our selves. That concept, death to self, is incredibly uncharacteristic of our characters. The self, the ego, is so engrained in us. We grow up ‘looking out for #1’ and I know in my own life that has taken its toll and that sentiment has damaged many relationships in my life.

These verses are telling me to die to self. To be the one that goes against the grain. To be different, just as Christ was different. But the reward, the reward is incredible. I die to self, but the promise is that my life is hidden with my Savior. And that’s just verse 1.

Verse 2 is even more incredible. Incredible meaning ‘hard to believe’. When Christ who is our life, both in the literal sense and the emotional one, appears, we are guaranteed an immediate presence in the heavenly realm with him. We die, and we are with God in that very next eternal heartbeat, without missing a beat He is there in all glory, and we get to experience that with him. It’s crazy. It’s God being the only thing he knows how to be. Eternally loving, eternally pursuing, ever shaping with his potter hands. Refining us. Removing self, and “when the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

A Prayer

You feel your heart beat loudest when it’s breaking.
You and I both know our fatal flaws
We both know love is what you make it,
All or Nothing at All.

God, it’s like I hear you but I choose not to listen!
Like I want you, but only to bless me.
It’s like I use You only to abuse the benefits.

God, I want to know You,
I want to be broken at your feet,
But Oh what a desert soul cries out to you.

Beauty in the broken, disheveled, not put together, suffering, soul.

Oh the gravity of You draws my soul unto its knees,
I will never be the same, no, I am lost but found in you.

God soften my heart and open my eyes,
Let my ears hear what people don’t say, my lips speak truth,
My hands serve, and my feet bring good news.

Help me love even when it hurts,
Help me serve with no strings attached,
Help me hope amidst the pain,
Help my heart heal even when it’s breaking.

Thank you for being true, faithful, flawless, loving, fierce, and forgiving.
Thank you for never breaking your promises.
Thank you for being a forever friend, and a father to the fatherless.

May I truly believe that you are exactly what I need,
That only YOU can satisfy.

I am Trippin’. (AKA Pre-35 Day Journey).

Dear Friend, yes you, the Reader,

I live a contradicting life. I don’t really understand who I am or where I want to go or what I want to do in life. The struggle is real yo. I mean, I just go through life easy-breezy and haven’t been thinking about the big picture.

I’ve already decided I’m posting this to FB, (and ashamedly my initial choice was to post this at a time I hope not many people will read this- aka when I’m finished writing which will be around 1:40am), but what I’m about to say causes me to pause and be saddened by the fact that if you’re my friend (even if you’re an acquaintance), and you’re specifically a non church friend, then do you know I’m a Christian?

At this point I just have to cry a bit. In my head, the answer should be a resounding ‘YES! Of COURSE! How could I Not know you’re a Christian?’ But the reality is, my life has not been a good reflection of who Jesus was and is. This is what I mean about being a contradiction. All my life, I’ve been raised as a good Christian girl, and I was told that when people see me, they should see God. I think this is a good and true and honest goal in life. But I am physically unable to live this life. I will fail. And people in this world will see me, and they’ll hear me cuss, and they’ll see me get angry, and they’ll see my insolence, they’ll experience my road rage, they’ll see my disregard for my family, they’ll catch me in a lie, they will experience my pride, they’ll see me put myself over others, they’ll see where I put my money, my pride in possessions, and they will say ‘Look at that so called Christian, what a lie she lives.”

I am physically unable to live this life. But that’s because on my own, I can’t. I was born into a fallen, messed up, broken world. And I, myself, Joanna Lynn Drake, cannot be a reflection of God by my own willpower alone. Physically- my body, my words, my mind, my eyes, my hands will betray me and I will physically contradict living a Christian life. But… I believe in the supernatural. Call me crazy, but I believe in God; and public school, college, secular thinking, and social media hasn’t changed that about me.

This post, and the decision to share it publicly and get at least one comment on it, is a cry for accountability. I am a Christian. And what I mean by that is: I love Jesus and try to live a life that points back to the life he lived.

Every year my church does this thing called the 35 Day Journey. It’s 35 days of fasting and prayer before God. We do it all together, and have a sermon series on it and everything. Fasting can come in the form of fasting from: food, TV, social media, negative thinking, getting on your laptop, your phone, basically anything that consumes your time and is a distraction from the bigger picture, which is God wanting to know you, and you getting to know God, and his story being shared. God.. the big man himself, wants to get to know ME and YOU. And he wants US to share his story. Right. That’s cray cray.

I have forgotten this. And just the fact that some people in my life might not know I’m a Christian is why I’m writing this, and why I’m asking for YOUR help on my personal 35 Day Journey. Yes you, reader. You. Don’t be shaking your head now. Don’t be like, “oh she will never know I read this so I shouldn’t ask her about this later”. No, no. Please, it’s 2014, we’ve all resolved to do big things, little things, in-between things. Well, count this as one of your things in 2014 that will be different than 2013. I want your help in reminding me on FB, on Twitter, through a text message, through a voicemail, through a phone call, through FaceTime, through awkward real life face to face involvement, through commenting below, on my resolution to be a reflection of who God is.

The 35 Day Journey starts on January 19th, but I’m prepping for it now. You, reader, need to call me out on my bullsh*t, I mean my bull crap, or my bull crud. Wow that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. <Rewind>…You, reader, need to call me out on my character. We all want to be better people, right? The way I personally am the best that I can be is when I’m in a daily, by the hour, by the minute, relationship with God. It’s that simple. But, I can’t do it without your help. My resolution to be a reflection of who God is will just fly ladeeda out the window if I don’t have people reminding me… oh hey, how’s that thing going for ya? your resolution?

Really, the most basic thing I need from you, is a like. Or a comment on FB. Or if you’re feeling bold, maybe even a share. Knowing that you read this is enough. I want to change the world, and the people in it, and a way I can start doing that is actually changing myself.

“Awake O’ Sleeper, arise from death, and Christ will shine in you.” -Eph 5:14

Dry Bones

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There are a lot of things on my mind right now. For one, the above picture is reminding me of the battle of an everyday Christian life. I have felt like dry bones a lot lately. And I know the only way to revitalize Christ’s breath in me is through an active, consistent approach of getting to know God through His word. I am 100% the best me that I can be when I’m reading the word of God and focusing my mind on eternal, heavenly things as opposed to finite, earthly things. But it’s a moment to moment struggle. It is actively praying before work, before interacting with my friends and family, before any social situation where my conduct could potentially dis-align with the truth of the Gospel. That’s hard. And I fail again and again and again. But God, in his infinite grace, reminds me to persevere and pick up again where I’ve fallen off.

Today, His grace became evident in reading two passages: Ezekiel 37 and Psalm 51. These passages speak to the condition of man and the struggle of sin in our lives and God’s spirit which dwells within us. In Ezekiel 37 Israel says: “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.” God responds in saying: “Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” Basically, I am being raised from the dead, from death into new life with God. He then places the Breath of Life into me (the Holy Spirit, which is God himself) to be with me for the remainder of my days, to guide me in my pursuit of righteousness as a child of God. That is crazy. This passage reminds me I am indwelt by God, and as such, this truth should change my self-based conduct into grace-based conduct.

The other passage that has been on my mind a lot is Psalm 51. David is crying out to God to blot out his transgressions (after sinning against God by taking Bathsheba as his wife and killing her husband). “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” David seems to only see his sin. He realizes the weight of sin against God and despises what he did. But instead of wallowing in his sin, he prays for God to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

This passage reminds me that my pride stands in the way of God working in my life. I know that my disobedience to God leads me away from Him. What he wants to do is break my bones. He values humility and brokenness and wants to create in me a clean heart and a right spirit. I need to Awaken these dry bones, I need to Awake O’ Sleeper, and realize that Christ has saved me from destruction and I need only call upon His name and foster higher affections to see the power of God in me.

Awake O’ Sleeper (short film): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1xvoD-sP3k

Alan & Morrigan

With flashes of light life passes us in bursts of color. And with every burst there is a brush of commonalty, of the string that ties us together. Fleeting and monumental conversations can last a lifetime, can change a person’s identity. Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? With flashes of light life brings us into bursts of color.

Alan_Winslow

Serenity found within the touch of a breeze, or the voice of a friend, or the flight path of  a ladybug. Joy brought by the precision of a squirrel cleaning his tail and feet seated within a nook in a tall oak tree. Surprise found by strangers on a path around the world. The disbelief of a chance encounter that impacts your day. The kindness extended by the smiles of two people. Glorious divinity shines through the kindred spirit, through the welcoming eyes, and spreads out warm: to hug without touch, leaving you thankful, and content, and blessed.

alan & morrigan2

Alan Winslow: http://alanwinslow.com/
Morrigan McCarthy: http://www.morriganmccarthy.com/
The Geography of Youth: http://www.geographyofyouth.org/

Native Out!!!

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Thank God for good music. I mean, he was the creator of it, and there is just such good music out there. Take for example, One Republic. I know, I know, totally mainstream but I have bought all their albums (3) including the one that came out today that I have been listening to non-stop called “Native.” Every song I listen to from One Republic is just beautiful, I love their tracks. I can say the same for “The Fray,” “NeedToBreathe,” and “Future of Forestry.” Every album, every song, gorgeous. It speaks to my heart and is music to my ears.

I love to hear what other people love and brings joy to them, so for the few people who will read this post, what music moves you?

Contradictions

Sometimes I’m not a very nice person. And the one person guaranteed to call me out on it is my oldest sister Eileen (far right). 

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She’s right about it too, even if I don’t like to admit it. She told me yesterday that she has a problem with mean people because if you say you’re a Christian then you’re supposed to love people and treat them with respect and kindness and not be rude or disrespectful or mean. When she sees Christians who are mean, she can’t help but not like them because they’re a walking contradiction.

Christian contradictions are everywhere, and that’s one reason why so many people in this world have a negative association with Christians because they don’t act like followers of Christ. Galations 5:22 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control…” These characteristics are sometimes a part of my life, but with my family and some of my close friends, it’s often not. I have a sassy and smartaleck mouth and I speak my mind even at a cost to other people’s feelings.

I have a problem with feelings. This is something I’ve known for a long time but am just now facing. At my current stage in life I get easily irked and annoyed by people who are super sensitive. Now don’t get me wrong, sensitivity is a good thing, but overly sensitive people grate my nerves. I just want them to grow tougher skin. Is that too much to ask? Yes, it is. I have to let people process and be who they are and not try and change them. I have to be mindful of people’s feelings and how my actions come across as insensitive and uncaring.

This will be a hard thing for me. I will need lots of prayer. Just thinking about it causes me to feel anxious. Its weird right? I’m nice to a lot of people, and I love a lot of people, but I’m also insensitive to a lot of people and disregard their feelings. I am a walking contradiction, and that’s not ok. The golden rule basically comes from scripture: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Mark 12:31. This was the second greatest command according to Jesus. Out of ALL the commands in scripture this was the second most important. Eileen reminded me of that too. Sooooooo… I need to be mindful, patient, kind, respectful, willing, and humble.

*Deep breath* Ok—- God, may I do my part by studying your word and seeing what you hate and what you love, and Spirit may you do your part by opening my eyes to how the world sees me and how I should live a life that points back to you.