Aug 12, 2015

the state of my spirit

I’m breaking through some afflictions today using the proven strategy of amazing-worship-on-repeat. Today’s blessed weapon of choice:

Oh, this song. This song!
“The skies lay low where you are. On the earth you rest your feet.
Yet the hands that cradle the stars are the hands that bled for me.”

God is big, and He is good. And no matter what I face, He is there. 
And though I know this, I still fall apart at times. 
Like, fall… and hit the ground completely broken. 

But today I’m just stricken with pure overwhelm as I remember His nearness, and what that proximity actually means.

For He is not only above or around me, but BESIDE me. 
And I don’t just have access to Him by some luck of the draw or chance occurrence.. 
I have access because He went out of His way to make Himself accessible. 
He came down and wore flesh and loved me all the way to His last mortal breath.

And then He came back--to show this world that His promise was real and His covenant is strong, and His death was the best thing that could ever happen to us.

I think of the two men being crucified with him.
One called out..  “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus replied..  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Even as He faded He was merciful. 
He was beaten and bloody, but only really broken by His insane love for those that stood before him and hung next to Him.

I imagine the position of those three crosses, and wonder whether the thief could see Jesus’ face as he spoke to Him. I wonder if He caught a glimpse of his Savior's gracious gaze as he faithfully asked for His consideration.

And then I ponder what is not written.. what happened after that.

The silent conversation between their human hearts.
Dying eyes suddenly brought to life.
Two strong silhouettes meeting God side-by-side in a fury of light that evening.. 
the first of many that Jesus would escort home.

A torn veil served as the reminder of the moment He made a way.
Blood-soaked earth lay like a pot of gold; precious currency for each soul that was and was to come.

And I, too, am found in this aftermath.
For Jesus is with me here.
Whispering promises to a dying human heart.
Tempering a spirit desperate for its homecoming.

May 22, 2015

i saw her today

The girl with like, two bibles and a crumpled study workbook sprawled across a Starbucks table.
Little multicolored pens speckled that space like confetti. Fitting.. it was a party, after all.
Because I didn't just see a girl neck-deep in good book -- I saw a girl who was just thirsting for a word and a hope. I saw a girl letting her text messages ding and all the people walk by as she stayed focused on the only One who could speak the very message she needs today. She sipped her coffee, and she glanced at the screen, but she boomeranged back to the bound book in front of her, scouring scripture for her treasures, promised.
It wasn't a fellow Christian woman who recognized the hunger of that posture. It was a tired momma, drudging through the thick of it, seeing her and saying "that one is anchored to something right now." 
And in that moment, my heart asked to be anchored, too. It begged me to stop seeking approval and acceptance elsewhere, and just dwell in the warmth of grace and true love. 
I saw her and my heart settled, knowing I had access to the same tranquil appointment.
I saw her and my hope swelled, remembering who I was and why I am here. Telling me that the restlessness is good, because it gives me space to choose and move and live. 
I saw her, and I saw the only place where the weary could rest, and the broken could heal, and the lost could find refuge. 
because in seeing her, I saw Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Oct 22, 2014

firstfruit (a 31 Days post)

today's joy is both simple and complicated in nature. 

it came in the form of a completed project--the first major project i've been part of in my new position--and it just feels plain great to see it in hard copy. 

at the same time, i cannot help but recall the past couple months of wondering if it would ever make it to this. 

the process of waiting on God's message, leaning into valued leaders, considering the hearts and minds and faith walks of thousands of attenders... it just became overwhelming. even a bit scary!

we are a big church prepared to do big things. we've been given much and so, we know God expects much from us. this project reflects that. without spoiling too much i'll just say, it's a spiritual formation piece for a stewardship event. it bridges the goodness of God's blessing with the struggle to be obedient. it's more than an elaborate request, but a humble invite. 

getting to this point, however, was so hard. in one ear we had the wicked one telling us that we were crazy and ineffective. in the other, we had an ear trumpet, hoping to catch God's messages amidst enemy fire. day in day out we wavered between confidence and conviction. we never gave up, but bordered on becoming careless--which is pretty much the same thing.

seeing it through meant seeing God around every corner. each draft submission carried fresh faith with it. each approval meant thanks, and lots of them. this is the firstfruit of our big project at NorthRidge, and my joy is in sharing this picture of its completed form.

Oct 21, 2014

sibling love (a 31 Days post)

he drew his first picture of himself and "Baby Ella." 

(if you don't already know, we are not finding out the gender of this baby. but since day one Eli has referred to my belly as "Ella" and so we go along with it)

i loved this little demonstration of acknowledging a relationship. before he even knows what it is to be a big brother, he sees that he is big and strong, and the baby is smaller. he sees that they look the same. he sees that they are close.

maybe i see too much into things, but how could i not? he is so pure and innocent, and as deeply rooted in the present as he'll ever be. whatever he does, i hope i never miss seeing it through his eyes. today, this little image of him and his sibling-on-the-way brought me so much joy and hope and love. 

little one, we cannot wait to meet you :)

Oct 20, 2014

proof of life (a 31 Days post)

:: bedtime at the Cho House ::

Me: Eli, let's lay down.. it's time for sleep..

Eli: Momma I'm trying to get the sand out of my pocket.

Me: What sand?

Eli: This. ::he pulls tiny bits of gravel out of his pocket::

Me: oh my gosh! Where did that come from?!

Eli: From the park with MinJoon. I saved it.

We hadn't been to the park in over a week. 

I quickly unzipped his hoodie (the one he begged to wear to bed) and headed to the bathroom to clean out his pockets. as sure as he explained, he saved some of that last visit.  

i had to laugh a bit. i mean, we can never really understand what is going on in our little people's minds. we think big toys and elaborate jungle gyms are what entertain them.. meanwhile, they are stuffing rocks in their pockets with their friends.

it's a small mess.. thank God i hadn't yet washed that sweater.. but it's the proof that we are living. it's proof we are getting out of the house and enjoying the world. it's proof we are experiencing time with friends, and helping Eli meet new people and create his childhood memories. 

today's joy was found in a pocket full of the stuff we would normally shake off our boots at the back door. so much so that i staged it on my bathroom counter for this post and laughed the entire time. 

(and of course, i cloroxed that counter after...

Oct 19, 2014

smitten by the city (a 31 Days post)

today was the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon. our man ran the half in just under two and a half hours. i couldn't believe it.. he made the commitment back in January, trained and then completed his goal. he continues to amaze and inspired me.

while that was a truly exciting moment, it's not where i found my joy today. i found it in a moment i usually fear.. a moment that often brings me great anxiety; visiting the city. 

we rarely head to downtown Detroit. it's never that we don't want to, it's just that life is busy and we do more on the local level. but whenever we do, i often feel nervous and protective. i've lived in the Metro area my whole life, and through the news i've been shown the negative side of the city. so naturally, heading down there makes me a bit shakey.

but this morning was different. the city was alive with thousands of people, motivated by a common goal and filled to the point of overflow with the feelings of encouragement. everyone was excited. people were cheering. 

and Eli was soaking it all in. 

at first the masses scared him, but soon he found his little place in the big world and began looking outward. we held hands as we followed crowds to the starting line, listening as wave after wave of runners was sent off into the dark of the dawn. after one last kiss from papa at the gate, Eli was ready to eat and sightsee and just do everything we possibly could for the next couple hours. as his wonder expressed itself, my comfort grew. 

this shot of him looking outward from the people mover was my true joy moment. he is oblivious of the things I know of the city--of the darkness in the world at all. he only saw big buildings, moving cars, rooftops, and a skyline. he saw the world from a different angle and maybe had the thought that he would want to visit that place again. 

and because of his peace in the unknown, so did i.