Wednesday, April 15, 2015

the difference between the head and the gut

I've grown up knowing what my family refers to as the "Sunday school answers." I grew up going to church every time the doors were opened--and even times when they weren't, because my parents had a key even before Pop became a pastor.

I was in Children's Church, Sunday School, Girls in Action, Bible Drill, Kid's Choir, Acteens, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, Summer Summer...you name it, I did it. I could sing the books of the New Testament (To this day I still have to sing them to know the order) and recite the books of the Old Testament. My Bible was underlined and highlighted. I had the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer memorized, along with countless verses.

I had the head knowledge down pat.

The thing is, when times get tough the head knowledge isn't enough.

Now, don't get me wrong--the head knowledge is important because it helps you know where to turn. That's what makes verses pop into your head during the rough moments and reminds you where to look when you're struggling.

As I was reminded Sunday morning at church, though, there's a difference between knowing something in your head and knowing it deep down at the core of who you are, from your gut.

The stuff in your head? That can be forgotten or reasoned away. That can be pushed aside and ignored when life has you knocked flat on your face.

It's the stuff you know deep down in your gut, the stuff that's a part of you, that sticks around when you're down in the pit, lost in the darkness. When life has you wrung out and trampled, it's what you know in your gut that matters.

You don't have to remember all the right answers, but there are some things that you can't ever forget.

1. You are loved--deeply.
    At the core of who He is, God is Love. His love is unfailing, no matter how many times you fail.

2. You are not alone.
    Even when you feel abandoned, God's promise stays the same: "The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8)

3. He is more than enough.
    When things seem impossible and you don't have anything else to give, God has more than enough strength to carry you through. Ephesians 3:20 tells us, "Unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we think or ask, according to the power that works in us.'

When all the head knowledge in the world doesn't help, cling to what you know in your gut--God's promise to be with you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

He is risen...

"When He had finished praying, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and He and His disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'
     'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied.
     'I am He,' Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
     'When Jesus said, 'I am He,' they drew back and fell to the ground."
~John 18:1-6

We talk a lot about the fact that Jesus was crucified, and with good reason. It was His death on the cross that saved us, His blood being shed that covered us and made us pure in the eyes of God.

We talk about the Pharisees and Pilate and Herod. We quote the crowd who yelled out, "Crucify Him!"

But we tend to forget one major point: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." ~John 10:17&18

Jesus was crucified, but it wasn't the mob or the Pharisees or the rulers in Jerusalem or the nails holding Him to the cross that day.

This was the One who simply spoke "I am He," and those who had come to capture Him fell to the ground, the One who put a man's ear back on his head when Peter cut it off with a sword.

This was the One who willing laid down His life for us,
"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made Himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!"
~Philippians 2:6-8

His love for us was so great that He allowed Himself to be crucified--the very action that gives us the word "excruciating"--just so that each one of us could be saved.

As is said in the Passover Seder, "It would have been enough." 
But the story doesn't end there.

On the cross, looking out at the people who put the crown of thorns on His head and the nails through His hands and feet, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

In the midst of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for God to forgive us.

"It would have been enough." 
But again, the story doesn't end there.

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.'' Then they remembered His words."
~Luke 24:1-8

Again, it would have been more than enough.
The amazing thing is, the story doesn't end there, either.

He is risen indeed. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

best laid plans...

I pulled out my quote notebook this morning (yes, I have an entire notebook dedicated to the quotes I find and love and just have to write down somewhere--doesn't everybody do that?). I was looking for a very specific quote, and I had a post planned that would fit nicely with it.

The thing is, my quotes aren't organized. Kind of like in my life, physics and writing and Bible verses are all jumbled together with no real rhyme or reason. I can usually remember which side of the page a specific quote is on, but that still means I have to scan through at least half the book before I can find what I'm looking for.

This morning, while looking for the Mark Twain quote I was going to write about, I came across this:

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O LORD, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of Your hands.
~Psalm 138:8

I've struggled a lot with not knowing what's in store for me. Here in just over a month, I'll finish my Master of Science in Education and Physics, which follows my Bachelor of Science in Physics...but I have no idea what I'm going to do with my degrees.

Teach? Maybe, but I've come to find out lately that to be able to teach high school I will have to go through an alternative license program (despite the fact that I've taught and that part of my degree is education--gotta jump through those hoops, though).

Write? Maybe, but I've come to find out that it doesn't go very far in paying the bills.

To be honest, I'm scared about the future. I'm not good at not knowing. I told my best friend that not too long ago, and she told me that apparently that's something God is wanting me to be good at since that's the lesson He's been trying to get through my thick skull for so long (those weren't her exact words, but when you've known somebody for 20 years--wow, that's a crazy thought--you know what they're really saying when they're trying to say it nicely).

The thing is, even though I don't know, God knows. He has a plan in mind, and He's working every little thing in my life to bring me to where He wants me. Maybe I'm taking the long road because I'm just so stubborn that I fight against Him trying to shape me into who He needs me to be, but no matter how many twists and turns there are in the road, it still leads to His purpose for my life.


Yes, sometimes--most of the time--I wish God would clue me in on His plan. I wish I had a road map, something to show me the whole path planned out nicely. But God doesn't work that way. He does, though give me a promise:

"...He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 1:6b 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

laughter in tears

This past week, my family said goodbye to one of the best men I've ever known, Charles Edward DeLozier. I've been trying to find the right words, but they don't come. Last summer I wrote about both my grandfathers and how blessed I am to be part of the legacy of each of them, and those words are no less true now that both those men have stepped from this world to the next.
 
While there were tears at Papaw's, there was also something that might come as a bit of a surprise--laughter.

Lots of it.

It filled Papaw's house as old friends told stories and family dropped by to reminisce. It came from tales of stock car races, mowing escapades, and rescues from possums. It came from finding trays from t.v. dinners, bowls from frozen pot pies, and popsicle sticks--all neatly organized and saved just because you never know when you might need them (popsicle sticks make great splints for broken fingers, you know).

It was at the funeral home office when they were straightening out all the details and my uncle asked, "Is that your best offer?" because his dad always haggled for everything. It was at the funeral service when my dad said that maybe Papaw's comment of "That boy could tear up an anvil" was meant as a compliment when taken in light of Papaw rolling a dump truck, getting a mower stuck in a pond, and falling through a roof with the chainsaw still running. It was in my cousin's words in an essay read at the service, saying if you weren't doing something Papaw's way you weren't doing it right.

It was at the graveside when the family stood around talking for far too long, remembering good times and people gone on before us. It was in the thought of reunions taking place in heaven and the memory of "singings" held at houses long ago. It was filling the church building as people ate food prepared and brought by loving hands to serve as a comfort.

In the midst of tears, there was laughter for only one reason--because in the midst of our tears, there was God. Because of Him, there was peace in the knowledge that one day we will all be together once more, for eternity. There was comfort knowing that Papaw didn't have to struggle to breathe. There was joy knowing that he was reunited with his wife, brother, grandson, nieces, and a whole host of family who were all there to greet him, and I bet their laughter mingled with ours was a beautiful sound in Heaven.

Beauty above the storm

On the ground looking up, the sky was gray and dreary. The forecast was calling for thunderstorms with damage possible from hail and wind gusts. It looked like it could get rough, something every farmer was hurrying to get ahead of. It was supposed to be time for the sunrise, but the clouds kept it hidden from view. We flew up into those clouds, and the pilot warned that we were about to hit some weather. Out the window, all you could see was gray.

But then, we passed through the clouds.

The sky all around was bright blue, the sun shining so brightly that t was almost blinding to look out the window. Below us were those clouds, that ones that seemed so dreary from below. From above, they were thick and fluffy and white, the sun reflecting off them with a brightness seldom seen from the ground. In the midst of the storm it was ugly, but above the storm there was incredible beauty.

It didn't stop with the fluffy clouds, though. We rose higher, and the clouds spread to form a solid blanket beneath us. As strange as it sounds, they almost seemed to be protecting the world below. The radiance with which the sun shone off of that blanket of clouds was unbelievable--I wish I had had my camera with me to capture just a hint of what I saw.

When you're in the midst of a storm, everything is dark and dreary. The Light seems so far away, and beneath the clouds it's easy to wonder if it's still shining.

But above the storm--up there, God's light still shines even brighter than you can imagine. His radiance is blinding, made brighter by its reflection off of the storm.

So hold on--the Son will come again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

on being a lady...

So, I want to start a project (there's nothing like adding another pot to the stove, right?). This one's different, though, because I'll need your help to make it happen.

Growing up, my mom taught me that I would grow up to be a woman simply because I was born a girl, but that it takes more than that to become a lady. These days, it seems like people have lost sight of that. The world seems to depict ladies as weak, powerless, and insignificant, when those things couldn't be further from the truth.

My own little girl is growing up now, and I want her to know what it means to be a lady. That's where you come in--I want your stories. I'm sure you know someone who is the epitome of a lady (because I know some of the ladies you all know!), and I want to hear about her. I want your stories of women who are ladies because of their strength, dignity, compassion, perseverance, kindness, hospitality--all those character traits that set them apart from the crowd.

From all your stories (and some words of my own), I want to write, "On Being a Lady." The book would be made available in paperback and on Kindle, but that's only if we can get enough stories. If your story is used, I'll send you a copy of the book for free once it's finished. Don't worry about your writing skills, because I'll make sure everything's polished (and I'll make sure you're happy with how your story is included) before everything is finalized. Also, everyone who submits a story will get a discount code to use of CreateSpace for the paperback once it's finished.

Like I said, I can't do this without you all. So send me an email at ajkilbourn.ajk@gmail.com . For those of you back home, if you want to you can drop off your story at Green Forest Flowers & Gifts and my mom will make sure it gets to me.

So please, share this post and send me your stories! Let's show everyone what it truly means to be a lady!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

just a catch up...

So, I haven't been keeping up with things here on the blog for a while--sorry about that. I'll try to do better!

To be honest, I don't really have a lot to say today, either. I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you in on what I've been up to lately. As tends to be the case, I've got a few irons in the fire (maybe too many, but that's pretty par for the course around here)...

I've started working on book 2 of the Sons of Tundyel series. It's called The Darkness and continues the story of Paodin and Syndria where The Prophecy left off. I'm enjoying writing it, even though I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised by where this story has taken me. Here's the tentative cover:
I'm also in the planning stages of a new devotional. Right now it's called Walking with Peter: following the Way when you can't see the path. Kind of a long title when you include the subtitle, but things could change. Here's a tentative cover for that one, too:



The other news on the writing front is my longterm goal of creating a series of 28-day devotionals to follow Glimpses of His Magnificence: A study of God's power. The plan is to do Glimpses of other attributes--and that's where I need your help.

Are there other aspects of God's character that you would like to see a study on? I could just come up with some on my own, but I really want these devotionals to be on topics people find helpful so I would love some input!

I hope March is off to a great start for everyone...it's definitely the start of a busy season for our family.