Monday, March 29, 2010

Tender Hands

I cannot begin to express how much I love my Mom.
Mom, I love you.

Her birthday is coming up, and this post is devoted to her - to her love, her faithfulness, her never failing devotion to her children. This past year, when my father was no where to be found, she was always there. When some of my friends and my sister Taylor's turned away in selfishness, my Mom was an unfailing friend. She put everything on the back-burner to make sure Tay and I got through this time. She did it with such empathy, such patience, such gentleness. Hers were the tender hands which made this time bearable! From my earliest memory, to just now eating dinner with her - her warm and soft way has always nurtured my spirit in a way nothing else has.

I will never be able to understand how she does it all. She truly is the most perfect woman I have ever met in my life. Even with all the hurt, and all the suffering, God has seen fit for her to endure. She knows that God has seen fit - and that's all she needs. She embraces the suffering, because it has drawn her ever closer to her children, and to her God.

Yes, people have gossiped about her through this situation with my Dad. I've heard it myself. Yes, people have torn her down. But still, she keeps a level head, and focuses on making sure Tay and I are doing alright. We are her life - she is ours.

I have been exceedingly blessed . . . Although my father has hurt me deeply, I have a mother whose love is deeper still, than any hurt anyone could inflict. Even when my dad lived under the same roof as us, she always honored and respected him. There was not one time, ever, that I can remember her being disrespectful - no matter how deep the hurt. And the hurt was very, very deep. She truly has an amazing gift to endure.

I have never known a sweeter person. No matter WHAT wretched sin I've done . . . . She forgives me with open arms. She has never been harsh or angry with me . . . ever. But despite these things being said about her, she continued in faithfulness. She didn't fight for her reputation, when people from our church came to her with the legalistic "divorce is NEVER allowed" mindset. She knows that time will eventually bring out the truth. She lives her life to please God rather than men.

Another thing that I have truly treasured about my Mom's heart, is her love for home . . . and everything to do with the home. Her southern hospitality manners are nonetheless prevalent, even with our things in boxes and bubble-wrapped. Though life has turned upside down for us, she still loves to cater to people, and enjoy them. She loves keeping the place in order and cooking amazing!! meals. She loves tea parties and dresses and fires in the fireplace. She truly has a servants heart. Whenever anyone walks into my mother's home, they sense peace, and they KNOW they are welcomed. Any of our friends will surely tell you - That Cindy Lee can light up any event. =)

Last month was my sisters 13th birthday party. Mom went above and beyond . . . and made a special dinner for Taylor. Several friends came, and Mom and I had a blast creating a seven course meal for the little girls. Each was unique and special, and Mom loved creating each one. Serving truly brings her joy. And it brings me joy to serve alongside of her! I pray that when I'm a Mom, that I will have the skills, but also the joy that comes with them. That I will have the doors-open policy that she does, and that I will truly have a love for my husband, children, and my home. Just as she has modeled for me!

She is a role model for me in so many ways. My hero, more than anyone else. Without her love, and guidance in the Lord, I don't know where I'd be. ❤

~Lauren Lee

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. ~Spanish Proverb

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? ~Milton Berle

The mother's heart is the child's school-room. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When the Ferris Wheel Stops

It was a long time ago . . . I was five years old. Yet, I still remember it all with perfect clarity. It was the first time in my life I felt truly on top of the world . . . like I could fly. I was at Disneyland with my family, and I was on my first ferris wheel ride.

Seated by my Mom, she held me close as the car swung back and forth. I felt secure, because I had her there. And I felt invincible. Even though it was dark, I could see everything around me for miles around. It was like one of those fair scenes from a 1950s movie . . . The carnival music was playing, the smell of hotdogs was in the air, and all the various games and rides were illuminated with colorful lights. The joyous screams of children on rollercoasters pierced the nighttime air, and gave me a sense of adventure. Yes, I loved that feeling of being on top of the world. I thought that ride would go on forever and ever . . .

But no, the Ferris Wheel eventually stopped, and we got off. It didn't even park us at the top for a while as I had hoped. The fun was over, for the time being, until we made our way to the tea-cups or some other kiddie ride.

I am an eternal optimist. I love to hope, and have much faith. Even if what I am hoping for is as fleeting as time spent on a carnival ride . . . I somehow talk myself into trusting that it will continue endlessly. I end up breaking my heart on that which is unrealistic . . . Even though I know I've been hurt before, and will be hurt again, my heart so longs for the utopian senario which somehow is unfortunately entrenched in my mind.

There are times in life when we're lost in the thrill. Lost in a heavenly diversion that seems as if it will go on forever. Then, we're suprised, even shocked, when it comes to an end. Even the realists among us tend toward this. We all get caught up in the "what-ifs" of life, hoping that one day, our dreams will come true. One day . . . all of a sudden, we find ourselves not on top of the world as we thought, but rather, stuck in a long line . . . awaiting the next ride.

What happens, when the ferris wheel stops?

Hebrews 13:5-6 says, "Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things that you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," so that we may boldly say, "the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me."

I think this verse takes care of our ferris wheel dilemma.
When suddenly I am pulled back into reality, after my blinded heart has once again been hurt, it is so easy to turn to other things for satisfaction. After my glorious ride on that wonder wheel, it is easy to become dissatisfied. But the Lord tells us to be "without covetousness and content", because He ALONE should be enough to fulfill the desires of my wounded heart. Why do we turn to idols?

For different people, it may be different things. I tend to bury myself in work when I get stressed. Work becomes my idol. I'll stick my nose in my algebra textbook for hours on end and try not to think about my problems. But God has said, "Hey! I AM your helper. Why do you fear?" Yes, reality is scary. But we're not in it alone.

I am so grateful that when I stumble off the ferris wheel, I have Christ waiting for me at the "Exit" sign. An even greater adventure awaits, when the thrills of this life are left behind, and eternal ones are sought in their place.

Lord, please make me content in you. Thank you for being eternal and forever, when my worldly hopes are only for a moment.

~Lauren Lee

Fun Fact: (well. Actually. Not a fun fact)
Two poor souls have been taken from ferris wheel accidents in the last 23 years. Not as bad as rollercoasters, though - 16 people have died from those. Explains the cliche statement, "life is like a rollercoaster." Slight chance of you getting killed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Humbled . . . And Broken

Lord, who am I? That you care to know my name, and care to feel my hurt?
Right when it is that I think I have been bringing You the most glory, just when I think I am fulfilling my purpose as a witness to the cross . . . Just when it is, that I am so in love with You . . . My heart is broken again. Lord, please show you what you want me to do. Show me Lord, if I'm wrong.

These past couple days, I've been . . . hurt. I've been told that I'm changing for the worse by a friend of mine. Please, pray for me as I seek God's guidance on these things . . . my heart has been broken, but I know that God is using this to humble my heart. How I want to know His will! How I wish to know His purpose through this.

Although my friend feels I've not measured up . . . I know that in my heart I do so seek to live a righteous life for Gods glory. I never want my speech reflecting anything but the heart of a young lady owned by her Heavenly Father. I am not sure if I have failed here, and it is confusing. I am searching my heart, but haven't found anything yet.

However the knowledge of what my friend is thinking, is enough to make me wilt inside. I am hurt, yes, but how I want to repair things. I think it is ironic that my last post was one on failure. Here I am, and I myself have failed! Thank goodness my Father doesn't love me based on my speech, or my good deeds.

It is not by my works that Christ accepts me . . . How grateful I am for that!! Thank you, Father . . . let me live for you alone, let me conform myself to your standard alone, and discover where I've violated it. Make me holy, as you are. Please take away the hurt, Lord . . .

~Lauren Lee

I love you, O Lord, my strength! ~Psalm 18:1

Monday, March 22, 2010

When All Else Fails

Hey everyone =) This week I was featured as a guest writer on "Meditations of His Love" .... It was a pleasure writing for them. I thought, hey, why not kill two birds with one stone ;) So I'm posting it on my blog as well.
Enjoy :)

When All Else Fails
By Lauren Lee

I don’t mean to start out depressing – usually I am quite an optimistic person! But optimism doesn’t necessarily disregard reality . . . and reality, unfortunately, is that our world is corrupt. Abandonment. Bitterness. Selfishness. Pride. Deceitfulness. Neglect, lies, anger, abuse, fear! The list could go on and on and on. As a result of sin, each and every man, woman, and child grow in wretchedness and iniquity, apart from Christ. What is the result?

Everyone in this world will fail one time or another.

Failure comes in all forms. Friends will stab each another in the back for sake of self-preservation, complacency will deter personal success, self-service will give way to unimaginable immorality, and greed will lead people to steal. These are just few examples of failures, but worse - all of these, are sins.

Man will always sin. It is an inevitable consequence of that rather unfortunate Eden episode (you just HAD to take a bite of the apple, didn’t you Adam)! In this life, we will always have times of upset, letdowns, and disappointment. How do we get away from it all?!

Lately, I have been so inspired by reading and studying the names of God. One that caught my particular attention was Abba Avinu or Abba, our Father. Wow – the Creator of the world, mighty beyond description, is also . . . my father.

"We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!" (Hebrews 12:9)

Think about your own relationship with your earthly father. Has it been marred by selfishness or abuse? Have you been betrayed, by one commissioned to protect? I personally know this feeling, since I don’t have a Dad in my life. It’s empty – a space that, for a long time, I felt could never be filled. He failed me.
Or, perhaps you have an unbreakable bond with your father, one that assures you will never be alone or unloved. What joy and peace you must have, my sister in Christ! That relationship of trust and love is reflective of our status as children of God: "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." (Ephesians 3:14)

Psalm 58:2: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's UNFAILING love for ever and ever.” There it is, folks! The entire point of this post summed up in a single verse (isn’t it awesome how the Bible can do that?!) God’s love NEVER fails! Imagine having eternal patience and kindness – never worrying harboring envy, never boasting, always humble – never seeking for self, never getting angry, never holding a grudge, always despising evil, always rejoicing in truth, always protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. With a love that never fails. Imagine living THAT. Having perfect 1 Corinthians 13 love. It blows my mind! But yet, our Father, Abba Avinu, is all that and more.

When people fail us . . . When we don’t know where to turn . . . our Father welcomes us with open arms, because he is unfailing. No matter what, he is steadfast, and will NEVER leave, never abandon, never neglect His daughters.

Abba Avinu, my Father, you are worthy of ALL praise. You have perfect love, even when all else fails.

~Lauren Lee

A thousand times I’ve failed
Still your mercy remains
Should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in your grace

In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing you praise

Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring you praise
From the inside out of my soul
Lord my soul cries out

Friday, March 19, 2010

He Is Bigger Than My Problem!

Sometimes, don't you just wish you could escape? Get away from . . . life? Detach yourself from those situations that you're way over your head in? I tend to echo Scarlette O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind."

"I won't worry about that today. I'll worry about that tomorrow."

In a way, I suppose this could be both good and bad.
Good in the sense that my emotions don't come into play so much, until I'm forced to think about it. . . And often, when emotions dictate your actions, not-so-good things result.
However, this Scarlette O'Hara attitude is bad in the sense that it's running, instead of confronting. You can run, but you can't hide. Right when you think you're at a safe place - you turn around to find at least a dozen more issues ready to getchya!
In my literature class recently, we've been studying the poetry of Virgil. In his "Eclogues," he talks about the ease and pleasures of farm life . . . and how wonderful it is to get away. It seems to consistantly be the case that whatever I'm going through in real life, somehow the issue comes up in class. If only my teacher knew!
Back to Virgil.
People from the city often long for greener pastures . . . To be free from the fast-paced stress of living urban. I've never been a city girl - I'm much happier living on a ranch. I suppose that concurs with my "escapism" mindset. I tend to want to retreat to the "greener pastures" in my mind, instead of living life and dealing with the struggles as they come.
The wonderful thing about my weaknesses is that Gods glory is shown to be even greater in comparison.
Matthew 6:30 says, "and if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"
Good question. Why do I have so little faith?
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." ~Philipians 4:6-7
When I trust in Him, I don't have to shrink away from problems. I can face them with Christ as my strength. By pushing away my troubles instead of dealing with them and praying about them, it is defying God's sovereignty. Defying His ability to overcome MY struggles!
Right now, I'm facing a certain difficulty in my life . . . one that I am very tempted to ignore. I'm tempted to run to green pastures, and not live in the season God put me in. Taking things into my own hands sometimes seems like the right answer (to me!) . . . But He is bigger than my problem.

Lord, make me trust, make me see what it is you want me to do. Help me to take things as they come, and lay them at the foot of the cross. I want to surrender to you, Father - but even surrendering I cannot do in my own strength. Enable me, Lord. Amen.

~Lauren Lee

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."
~1 Peter 5:7

Sunday, March 14, 2010

His Princess

Every little girl wants to be a princess. Years of youth hold the greatest potential for imagination; Carefully she'll place that paper crown on her head, and excitedly she'll wave the cardboard sceptor. Her wish is to to be admired, and delighted in. She longs to captivate those around her, and relish in the affection of those closest to her. She wants to be beautiful, enchanting everyone with her ribbons and curls.

Somehow, our culture has squelched and perverted this innocent desire for beauty. As our little princess grows, she is told that she's no longer accepted as herself, and that now the aid of make-up and revealing clothes are needed to get her the attention she craves. Instead of being satisfied and confident, as she once was, twirling around the kitchen in that tutu, suddenly she finds herself staring in the mirror, wondering "how on earth did I get so many freckles?"

“The Kings daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her campanions who follow her, will be brought to You.”

Psalm 45:13 – 14

God made us girls to love the beauty in ourselves - not a prideful, arrogant self-love, but rather an enjoyment of that which is lovely and pure. We are daughters of God - daughters of the King of Kings! In truth, we are real life princesses. As such, it is so important that we outwardly display the work He has done inwardly.

Nope, I'm not talking about vanity, here. We don't have to obsess over ourselves, in order to understand our beauty . . . God created woman as a manifestation of His beauty, grace, and charm (something man is simply not - sorry, boys) . . . Our glory should not be in ourselves, but should point to Him. This is why it should be easy to feel comfortable in our own skin . . . All girls are created with absolutely perfect beauty. I'm far from our culture's beauty standard (way too many freckles :P) But I know that I am exactly as my Father would have me . . . that I'm loved and cherished by Him, just the way I am.

When a girl is loved, she will feel secure in herself. When she feels secure in herself, she doesn't need to "improve" her looks, out of vanity, or resort to immodesty. I won't lie - Not having a Dad to compliment, enjoy, and admire me is very difficult at times . . . because that is what my young heart yearns for. God has created me with a desire to be enjoyed. Gratefully, our culture's unrealistic claims for beauty haven't gotten to me too much - So I'm still, at the core, in that tutu stage. I still wish for the admiration of my father . . . and, I will perhaps never have it. But my Father, the King of Kings, can fill that hole. ;)

Last week I did the dress challenge put on by Feelin Feminine, where I had to wear dresses or skirts for 7 days in a row. Mom joked with me, saying that this really wasn't a challenge at all . . . and it's true, normally you will find me in a dress, rather than in jeans. Unfortunately, this morning, thrown off by Daylights Savings Time and far too lazy to put effort into my appearance, I waddled into church wearing pants. My friends were shocked and said, "Wow! Lauren's . . . . Normal! She's actually dressed like a normal person!!" Haha . . . Thanks Heather ;) But usually, dresses are my thing.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to be beautiful. Not necessarily the made-up look our culture has concocted, but sometimes just the freckled young face that's far from model material. He has fearfully and wonderfully made each and every young lady out there - he delights in our beauty, and wants us to, as well. What a thought . . . that I captivate my Father! That I am His princess!

That's enough for me :)

~Lauren Lee

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Impressing God - Part 2

Just Because We Don't Have To Impress Him, Doesn't Mean We Shouldn't Praise Him!

My last post was talking about how as children of God, we don't need to be concerned with "impressing" Him in order that we might be acceptable in His sight. However. That doesn't exclude our efforts to please Him. That is what I'd like to focus this post on. Now that we know we "can't" impress Him, what can we do to please Him?

A father loves his son as a baby, even when that baby can't do anything for him. But as the child grows, the father expects that his son will excecute certain actions out of maturity and love. While the actions of the child don't "earn" his fathers love, it is something that is required of him. Similarly, our Father loved us when we were worthless, but now having accepted Christ, we have grown to a place of maturity and He expects us to keep his commandments. God doesn't just want us to throw up our hands, say "well, Jesus loves me, so I'm all good! I don't have to do anything." He loves us, knowing that we don't have what it takes to get to heaven on our own. But He expects that we do our best in the strength of Christ - because we love Him.

My pastor spoke on this on Sunday. Here are five sacrifices we can make, to please our heavenly Father:

1. We can offer our entire lives.
Romans 12:1 says, "I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Usually, in the old testiment, an animals was killed first, before offered as a sacrifice. Why? Well . . . try keeping a live bull on the alter while the flames arose. He'd simply jump right off! However, now under the new covenant, we are living sacrifices. Lets not jump off that alter . . . but give all of ourselves to Him who made us.

2. We can offer praise.
Hebrews 13:15: "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that gives thanks to His name."
After creating us (even with the knowledge of sin), killing His son for us, and continuing to have mercy on a fallen and perverse world, don't you think He deserves praise? What an awesome God! If our purpose on this earth is to bring God glory . . . . then this is one of the biggest ways that we ourselves can glorify Him. With thanksgiving!

3. We can offer up doing good and sharing.
Hebrews 13:16: "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased."
As the body of Christ, we are the physical manifestation of the compassion and love of Christ. This should be shown through our empathy and giving, to others. It is a sacrifice on our part? Yes. Don't jump off that alter. ;)

4. We can offer self-sacrifice.
Philipians 2:17: "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all."
The Christian walk is sacrificial. At times, it hurts . . . because after all, we're not living for ourselves. Our desires, our comforts, will be stripped away. Will we still be willing to sacrifice even more of ourselves, for Him?

5. We can offer material resources to meet a need.
Philipians 4:18: "I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having recieved from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God."
Remember, the Philipians could barely feed their own families. And yet, they saw the work of the Lord as SO important, that they provided Paul with everything he needed. This selflessness truly pleased God!

Being acceptable to a father, is always something a child yearns for. But we're already accepted, through the blood of Christ:
Galations 2:20 - "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Now that He has accepted sinners, for no reason besides His infinite love, it's time to give back to Him.

~Lauren Lee
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