writing again

i’m got back together with blogging. AGAIN. you can find me at caragabrielse.com

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My Last Post

Several years ago I was visiting with a group of friends and someone shared their “life verse.” I didn’t have a life verse, and, at the time, thought the idea was a little hokey. Nevertheless, I returned home and scoured the pages of Scripture for something to call my own. After a quick fan of the pages, and not much thought, I settled on John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.”

Although my reasons for choosing it were not divine, (it was short, easy to memorize, and wasn’t controversial), I’ve nonetheless grown into the verse, or perhaps it into me.  In practical terms, this verse means that I should give God the glory for all that I am, and all that I have. Decisions I make should be made with God’s desires in mind, not my own.

In theory anyway. Because however well intentioned, however hard I try, making myself less and God more has proven to be a daunting task. My heart may beat with the potential of it, but my head is in constant battle with what it truly means to live this out on a daily basis.

Take serving others for example. If I’m completely honest, I don’t choose serving because I have a Mother Teresa-like devotion to God, but because I’m getting some sort of satisfaction from it. I know this to be true because when I’m presented with opportunities to serve that make me feel uncomfortable or unhappy, I find a way out of it. If it is easy, and convenient, and in my love language, no problem – but if not, well… more of me please.

Another marker of my me-nature is how unappreciated I sometimes feel. If I am dong something for God, it shouldn’t matter if I get a pat on the back, yet the absence of one can leave a lasting mark. If I’m truly serving to illuminate God, then His is the only thanks I need or should care about.

This is the great tension of my life. I really want to live up to this verse God has given me.  Truly, I want it more than ANYTHING. I want to want Jesus to be the most central, visible thing in my life without wanting or gaining any attention for it. I want to do this earthly life out of total, utter devotion to God  and I’ve come to the point in my life that I am willing to do anything, give up anything, to make that happen.

More of you Jesus, less of me.

God in his mercy has heard my cry and is uncovering several things that interfere with my heart’s desire. One of these is this blog. No matter how I turn it, spin it, or what colored glass I look at it through, I cannot see how having this blog makes God greater and me lesser.  At the end of the day, this blog says one thing: Look at me! Listen to me! Me! Me! Me!

If you are reading this, and you have a blog, I want you to know that there is not an ounce of judgment here. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with blogs or blogging – there are many that I enjoy, inspire me to be better, and teach me things – and I hope my blog has done that for others at one time or another.

But still.

All me.

Not less of me.

Not more of Him.

And so dear readers, it is time to bid you adieu, at least for now. Perhaps someday I will feel God calling me to return. Maybe he will give me a blogging job to do, or give me a peace about all the me-ness or lead me back online for some other reason, but for now, I feel at peace about saying The End.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, encouraging me, inspiring me, and listening to me.

God’s peace and grace and love to you.

Unrestrained

Lest you think I am only interested in surrendering other people’s stuff, today I started on mine. I went right for the jugular: my purses.

I have a thing for purses. (Goodbye male readers of my blog.)

And I have (or had) quite a few.

But no longer.

First, I quickly got rid of the ones I no longer had an affection for: trash or Goodwill depending on the condition.  I was left with 11 darling purses that I loved.

Yes, loved.

I looked at them all for quite a while trying to decide a) how many purses is reasonable for a woman to have, and; b) which of these darlings were no longer going to be mine. I needed help making the decision, so I came up with some questions to help me discern how I was really feeling about each purse.

I whittled the 11 down to 3.

One for everyday, one for travel, and one clutch.

I did not want my darlings to go to Goodwill, so I googled “purse donations denver” and a second-hand shop run by the Jr. League came up. I put those purses right in the car and tore down there immediately because I knew I would think of reasons why that cute orange shoulder bag or my *sob* fantastic purple bag were absolute necessities.

I put Jeremy Camp on in the car to calm my nerves.

I wish I was kidding.

After a few minutes I realized the anxiety was coming from my lack of trust in God. I was thinking that somehow I was not going to be okay without these bags. Or that one of the three purses I was keeping was going to break, or that I was going to feel bad the next time I wanted to use that dang purple purse. It became obvious to me at that moment that I absolutely had to get rid of them!

God blessed me in a couple of ways. First, when I got to the Jr. League store, there was someone I know from church volunteering there. I didn’t know she worked there, and I told her a little bit of my story and we were able to laugh together. And then she started adoring my orange purse. Smile.

When I got in the car to leave, I felt so good and so relieved! Then Jeremy started singing the song, “Unrestrained” which really spoke to me so I kept hitting repeat all the way home. Here are the lyrics. I hope they bless you:

Another day that is lost
A moment that I’ve cost
But I can feel Your arms of hope and grace

I’m holding on so dear
A promise You are near
Your loving kindness never fails

So take this selfish heart of mine
I want to give it all
I’ve wasted too much time
And melt away everything that’s not of You

I want to know You more
So much deeper than I do
Completely unrestrained

I’ll give my life away, every single day
A price too small for what You gave
I’m desperate for You
Shape my heart into the very image of what I’m to be

I’ll give my life away, every single day
A price so small for what You gave

Another day that is lost
A moment that I’ve cost
But I can feel Your arms of hope and grace

Because that is what this is all about, why I feel the need to let go of things…so that I am free to focus on God and his plan for me.

Keeping it real post-script:

Later that afternoon I pulled up to an intersection where a guy in a wheelchair was panhandling. I opened up my ashtray and there was a $5 bill and two $1 bills. My Starbucks money. In my spirit I heard, “give it all.” So guess what I did? I game him the two dollars and drove off.

Just a work in progress I guess.

Surrendering My Stuff

I’m in the process of surrendering much of my stuff. I was inspired in part by this article by John Piper to move towards “simplicity rather than accumulation.”

Also this, which says to me, “I have so much stuff that I can not care for it properly.”

I’m trying to be heavenly minded about the things in my house and get into a mindset of “simplify and serve, simplify and serve,”  (Piper). God has been showing me how my possessions can be burdensome (obtain, maintain) and hinder my relationship with Him.

I see this concept bleeding into other areas of my life, including the blog, which will probably be less wordy and cluttered, although in person I may still be both of these.