Love

Leaving Security; Why It’s Time For Me To Be Scared

cymera_20161011_062647I read an article in 2014 about human trafficking.  It shocked me and quite literally threw me off my axis.  The following months I spent hours researching to see if it was true or some sort of overhyped emotional ploy that was actually quite rare.  Sadly, it wasn’t over hyped or rare.  Human trafficking is, in reality, a global evil that is rampant and involves people being trafficked for labor, sex, and/or organ harvesting.

If you have followed me for very long, you know that I am passionate about supporting people and organizations who have stepped in to rescue and rehabilitate victims, who are working to prevent victimization to the poor and marginalized, and who are working to change laws and partner with governments to stop the exploration of  humans.  It’s a messy and complicated situation which makes it hard to talk about, but I have felt that it’s important enough to take a deep breathe and talk about it any way.

These last few years have redefined me; they have shifted me. [pullquote]God has broken my heart.  Now he is carefully using those sharp and crumbling pieces to create a more beautiful and useful one for his glory.[/pullquote]I am headed to Moldova at the end of the month to learn about and support a ministry with orphan care and transitional housing. It’s a small piece of this ugly puzzle, but it is a piece.  You see, I no longer feel comfortable sitting behind my computer and educating people or raising money.  There is an indescribable tension that I’m living with now.  It’s the tension between knowledge and action, God-calling and comfort.  I am mature enough to know that if I avoid or ignore this tension, I am not only betraying myself but God.  So while Moldova is far away and in a scary part of the world, I am choosing to leave the security of my Southern California life and go.  Bob Goff recently sent out a challenge to those who want to be change makers but don’t know how to start.  He said “Buy a plane ticket and go.  Let God break your heart and show you where to find a new one.” And that is exactly what I am doing friends.

In the next few weeks I will be answering the Why Moldova? question, but for now, can I ask you to do something for me?  Would you pray?  I would love for you to pray for Jesus to:

  • protect my heart from fear
  • provide a close connection to someone living in Istanbul
  • provide all of the supplies that I need for the work I will be doing and the time to put it together
  • cover my family in his deep and precious peace

With great love and affection for all of you! XOXO

Summer

PS I want to share with you my new favorite quote…Hope it rocks you too!

“There is a difference between being too scared to do hard things and doing hard things scared.” Shannon Martin

and my addition to the quote is…Lean into the fear, lean onto Jesus and let it all go.   So hey!  Let’s do hard things scared!

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Sunshine

My dad started calling me Sunshine 2 weeks before he passed away. The first time, I thought I had just heard him wrong. The second time, I figured he was confused, maybe the stress of his illness and news that his days were short, had caused him to mistake Sunshine for Summer. But when I arrived and he called out on that 3rd early morning, “There is my Sunshine!” my heart melted because I could see in his eyes that my new name was intentional.  This intentionality allowed me to feel so loved that it changed our relationship.  I found it easy to be with him and care for his body when previously it would have scared me.  It made me strong and secure in who I was as his youngest and only adopted child.  It also gave me the peace to let him go as he finished his life here with us. 

Nicknames, whether they are good or bad, have such an impact on us, don’t they? They can humiliate or belittle us if used in hatred, or they can offer inclusion, affection, and confidence if they come from someone, like my dad, who loves us.  Nicknames have the power to permanently label us and sadly, we often find it easier to accept the labels that are harsh over the affectionate or true ones given to us. I often dismiss the truth and uphold the label-lies.

Friends, what if we silenced the voices of self-hatred in our own heads and listened only to the names Jesus has already given us? Beloved, Forgiven, and Daughter are true and life changing names that he is intentionally whispering in our ears and  writing on our hearts.  If every time I approached him I heard him greet me with his love-names for me, I would begin to live in them and the reality of them over my life would change me,  just as I began to do with my sweet nickname Sunshine.  Allowing these truth-names to replace lies will enable us to live with full hearts, more stable self-worth, and the confidence that comes from being more fully focused on the reality of who Jesus is and who he says we are. 

The too few weeks my dad called me Sunshine broke me in the best way. My heart became softer and I was able to experience deep joy in the midst of deep pain.  Easily setting myself aside, it was simple to be light to my dads darkness because of the new name and reality that he bestowed on me. Honestly,  I had no idea that these death weeks would cap off my disappointed relationship with my dad with this precious and longed-for daddy love that he openly gave me. 

Sisters, I know this is exactly what God wants for us too. He wants to fill our lives full with the truth of his great affection so that we can live in and live from his unending, unbending love for us.

Xoxo,

Summer

Love

Bookmarks and Closing Chapters

img_20160904_153609This week has been bookmarked by marriage celebrations.  Sunday started things off with my niece’s beautiful wedding and today it ends with my own 27th anniversary.  In between these two occasions, I have spent hours observing and quietly honoring the final few pages of my parents 45 year marriage. The timing of these has made it a bittersweet but thoughtful week.
[pullquote]Marriage starts out with a hopeful celebration,  continues with spouses working through cycles of stretching, brokenness, and rebuilding, and closes it’s final chapter, with a sweet whisper of gratitude.[/pullquote]

My niece’s marriage is beginning like my parent’s marriage most likely did, with two people believing that life would be better together and hoping that the joy they found in each other would last a lifetime.  They must have believed that their love would be enough to overcome step children, ex-wives, adopted children, a multitude of past hurts, and a sizable age difference.  Then as they moved through the ordinary years, I’m sure that they encountered, as my husband and I have, the marriage cycle of struggle, brokenness, and rebuilding–all  covered with grace, tears, laughter, hard work, and periods of deep connection and loneliness.  And now as they  finish this final chapter, their love for each other has again been adjusted as they sacrificially love each other with kindness and grace.  Marriage now for them is gentle and sweet and letting go of almost everything else, they find joy in smiles, kind words, touching each other, and their nightly devotions.

My parents have never sat down and shared with me the secret of a long marriage, but I’ve seen them live it.  My dad and mom have encountered good times and bad and through it all they have remained committed to each other because they remained committed to Jesus.  He is the sacred tie that binds them together.  Both of them love Jesus and because of that, they have learned to love each other well.   While I am heartbroken that my dad will not be with us much longer, I am forever grateful for the example of marriage that they placed before me.  Today as I celebrate my marriage, it only seems fitting to recommit myself to Jesus and my husband in their honor.

XOXO,

Summer

 

Faith, Love

and so it started

CYMERA_20160831_224851We found out my dad had cancer 20 months ago.  We were saddened by the news, but because it wasn’t very advanced, it didn’t seem real or terribly pressing.  He made the decision at the time not to fight it because of his age and his desire to maintain a good quality of life.

Yesterday though, it all got real.  As I stood next to my dad’s hospital bed he told me that the doctors had given him a more specific amount of days left.  All kinds of emotions came flooding in as my mom and I tried to process this news. I felt stunned.  I had no idea how to react.  Many of you know how this feels and can recall the exact moments in your life when you heard similar news.  It is nothing short of surreal.

During the last 24 hours I have held back tears numerous times.  When I talked to my daughters, I tried to remain factual so that I didn’t trigger panic in them.  When my mom started to get scared, I held back the tears so that she would be able to rely on my strength.  And today, I held back tears as my dad talked to his Palliative Team about my faith and writing because I didn’t want to ugly cry in front of strangers.  I decided tonight that I don’t need to hold them back any longer though. This crying is a gift.  This crying allows me to feel the sadness and to process the loss that is occurring.  It tells my dad that he matters to me and that I love him and will miss him greatly.  It supports the emotions of my mom and my girls and says that I’m here, fully present, and you can let go with me and be vulnerable.  My friends will also get to see me cry, not to make them feel awkward, but to open myself up to humbly receive kindness and care.  My hope is that by receiving this care, others will know that I am available for them when they need it from me too.

Y’all know that being authentic is really important to me.  I am no longer able to put on a happy face and pretend that life isn’t filled with a large spectrum of emotions and experiences.  And this time will be no different. My blog will be devoted to honestly seeking Jesus while grappling with this grief.  I know many of you have been here and I long for your support.   I know the last few weeks of his life will be hard as I wade through family emotions, give courage to my grieving girls, love and support my mom in the ways that she needs, and crown my dads life with gratitude and joy.

This journey I’ve just begun demands faithful companions.  I hope you’ll join me as I rely on Jesus hour by hour to hold me heart and my hand.

XOXO,

Summer

 

 

 

Love

One Big Lie We Have to Stop Believing

At the very core of ever person there is a desire to be loved.  God has given us both the desire for and the fulfillment of love in himself. We are dearly loved and cherished.  He has created us and desires an intimate relationship with us because of how loved and precious we are.  When we believe the lie that we are unloved, the consequences color everything about our lives and leave us hurting and lonely instead of living in freedom and joy.

Here are 3 false thoughts that lead us to the belief that we are unloved:

Love is revocable. This comes from the lie that I have to earn God’s love.  But friends, there is no amount of ministry, sacrifice, good deeds, or right living that will ever earn even a drop of God’s love.  We  can not buy or gain his favor, therefore we can not lose it either.  His love is freely given and his grace is always available.  God promises that his unearned love will never be taken away.

CYMERA_20160424_170952

Love is scarce.   Often we live in guilt and shame–as though our mistakes and sins are just inches from being too much for God…inches from him saying that enough is enough…inches from him using some tough love on us and throwing us out until we clean ourselves up. In our shame, we often believe that God just doesn’t have enough love to cover our darkness. But God is actually nothing like that at all.  He loves us just as we are.  When we ask, he cleans up our messes and sets us right again himself. He never gets to his wits end or withholds his love from us.  This is because his love is based on his goodness and not of us.  God’s unending love for his children is ours regardless of the number or severity of our mistakes.

Love-Blindness Our pain and negative self-talk can steal our perspective leaving us unable to see all of the ways that God shows his love for us.  His creation-love is on display for us daily and is felt as a cool breeze on a busy afternoon or a beautiful multicolored sunset. His companionship-love is given in the form of a phone call on a lonely day or an encouraging word from a stranger.  His providing-love is evident as we eat, pay our bills, and sleep in our homes at night.  His great love for us is overwhelming if we purpose to see it.

God’s word says that all things are brought together for and through Christ.  This means that those things that we often think are a coincidence or are brought about by our own abilities, are in reality always God. Turning our thoughts into grateful acknowledgements of his love in our lives, changes our hearts from the inside out.  As our hearts soften, we begin to see his fingerprints all around us, see his love played out in us, and feel more closely connected to him.  God meets us there and heals our black and white Love-Blindness and replaces it with his multi-color vision of true love for us.

Our broken hearts need to know the truth about God’s love for us.  It’s not wishful thinking, it’s Biblical truth that brings freedom, joy, and peace.  God, indeed so loved the world…Yes, God indeed loves you.

 

XOXO,

Summer

 

Love

Soul Thirst- 3 Steps to getting the connection that you long for

My soul longs for connection.  I love people and want to be close to them. Connection is important to me because I want to be known and seen by others as much as I want them to be known and seen by me.  Sometimes this longing for connection places too many expectations on those closest to me– and I begin to sense that it’s not really people-connection that I’m longing for, but Jesus-connection.

It’s a little like being thirsty.  Physical thirst triggers in us a longing for water and without it, we might not take care of ourselves properly.  Longing for Jesus is similar, and instead of spending time with him when I feel disconnected, I often misread this signal and give myself a somewhat unhealthy diet of good sweet people– like the coffee I tend to chose instead of water.  These people aren’t bad for me, but it’s easy to see that they aren’t and can’t be Jesus to me. In order to shift my perspective, I approach Jesus with these 3 steps. 20160412_200839

Recognize the thirst When you start longing for connection, ask yourself this question.  Is this desire about being disconnected with the person/persons I love, or is this about my soul longing for truer connection?  They are similar questions, but the first is focused of loving others well and the second is focused on your own needs, longings, or loneliness.  If this is about your own needs, acknowledge that your foundational thirst really isn’t for people.  Then, let go of the expectations that you have for others to fill that hole, and turn all of your attention to Jesus.

Clean your cup Spending time with Jesus isn’t just about his companionship. Tell him about your longing and your misguided need for the attention of others.  Confess your struggles and your thirst, and let him meet you right there.  Let him begin the work in you that he wants to do to make you whole. Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you sit and let Jesus clean your motivations and intentions, your longings and insecurities.  Confession  clears the way for healing. If you don’t clean your cup the yuck gets in the way of Jesus giving you all that he wants too. [pullquote]Confession clears the way for healing.[/pullquote]

Drink in truth  Jesus is our living water.  His words and The Word are some of the ways he fills us up.  These aren’t just hopeful words, they are life, security, and peace to our souls.  *If you don’t know where to start, I’ve listed some scripture at the end to help.  Here is a good method for drinking in Jesus when your primary purpose is to fill your loneliness and feel his connection.

  1. Pray- Ask Jesus to meet you here and to fill you up.  No elaborate prayers are needed.  Keep it simple he doesn’t need anything more.
  2. Sit quietly- take some deep breaths.  You are meeting Jesus, don’t let your life distract you.
  3. Choose one verse or thought to focus on.  I often read until something grabs me and then I focus on it.
  4. Reread the verse or short passage .  Yep..4, 5, 6 times if you’d like.  Read different versions but don’t make it a Bible study.  Read aloud.  Sing it if you feel like it.  Plop down right in the midst of God’s word and take comfort in it.
  5. Sit and listen.  Jesus probably has a lot more to say to you.  Be still and relax.  I often begin to see pictures in my mind, others see words, and some here whispers in their souls.  Soak it up.
  6. Praise God for meeting you. Praise him for his love.  Praise him for any and everything he brings to mind. Thank him for filling you up with exactly what you needed.

Spending time with Jesus will calm and fill your soul. When you have asked Jesus to fill you with himself, you can’t help but love the people around you better and more freely.  Drink deep of Jesus friends, his love and presence are the only things that will leave your soul satisfied.

XOXO,

Summer

*Here are some of my go-to passages when I want to get connected to Jesus:

Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 19, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, and I John and Psalms

Love

4 Reasons to Love Monday Mornings

For a really long time, Mondays have been my favorite day of the week.  I crave a restart button in my life, and Mondays often provide just that.  Here are my 4 reasons that I hope will help why you should love Mondays too.

New Grace and Mercy  Mondays mornings are a great time to reflect on the previous week and create new intentions about the coming one.  I look at areas where I have failed or have gone off track, and start a new dialogue with God about them. I seek his forgiveness and mercy, and he pours his grace over the “should have and should not have beens.”  It’s a gift to start fresh and I am able to recommit to the important things without dragging the failure of the past week along with me.  Grace is available every day, but I often feel the need for it most on Monday mornings when my negative self-talk and tiredness want to bring me down.

New Faith   Looking at the previous week, I get to see where God has been at work.  I ask myself some questions to help me get a right perspective and take away some of the blurriness.  Where do I see God’s fingerprints?  Where are my prayers being answered?  When am I accepting God “at work” as coincidence?  Did I respond the same way I always do to situations, or was there God-growth in my hardness? Do I see change in hard situations? Is God revealing a new calling or gifting?  Where God provide what I needed? What did God do that was unexpected? Delightful? Hard? All of these questions lead me to refocusing my heart on the kingdom and produces in me a deeper faith.

New Opportunities Peering ahead and planning a new week is exciting.  Sure, we all have the things we have to do and need to do, but if we are honest, we have lots of extra time too.  Mondays get me excited about all of the things I hope to do, and they give me the opportunity to plan ahead to squeeze the goodness into all of the fringe time I can find.  Looking at my calendar I start to squeeze in things that make my life good, beautiful, and full.  This week I’m looking for time to do these things:

  • Coffee with a very old friend so we can encourage each other on our journey as families with Autism.
  • Reading the Lego Brick edition of some Shakespeare with my family.
  • Cook a good dinner.
  • Pray about the details of a mission trip I believe God is calling me to.
  • Send out encouraging post cards to friends I know are hurting.
  • Soak up the Pacific Ocean.
  • Go for a long beach walk with my hubby.

Fringe time is the best and Mondays give me the opportunity to use it to its fullest by planning ahead. Planning is important and comes very naturally to me, but God also wants me to be flexible.  As I plan, I dedicate the week, and all that it will be, to the Lord for his glory and his purposes. I also dedicate my heart to him asking for help to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit so that I will be willing to set my plans aside when he asks. When my heart is right with God, I can embrace change as a new opportunity for obedience and not as an inconvenience. [pullquote] When my heart is right with God, I can embrace change as a new opportunity for obedience and not as an inconvenience.         -Summer Green[/pullquote]

New Praise  When I regularly refocus my eyes on God and kingdom life, I can’t help but praise him.  His work in my life is intimate, tangible and beautiful. This becomes a new living praise that is based on my very own relationship and encounter with God himself and not on the experiences of someone else.  Worship becomes real and not rote, and it not only pleases God but it opens my heart, out of gratitude, to living the life he sets before me. New grace, mercy, faith, opportunities, and praise are all beautiful byproducts of Monday mornings spent with Jesus.

Happy Monday Friends!

Summer