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Miss the Mark {Five Minute Friday}

In high school, my two best friends came at a time when I had been broken and beaten down, and had newly moved to a new state and found a fresh start.  But I was in a strange school, a strange church, and I had strange new things to learn about what love, and truth, and “safe,” meant.  These two swept in and captured my young girl’s heart, bringing laughter and prayer and encouragement, not to mention a tripled wardrobe, and Friday night dates for shared fettuccine, with salad and breadsticks.  We attended each other’s youth groups, started a Bible study in our school, and sang together – barefoot – but that’s another story.  We drove to the beach, sunroof open and our favorite a cappella music blaring, and we ate ice cream and we cried when our hearts were broken.

 

Sometimes, though, because our lives were so interwoven, the hurts we knew were caused by each other.  Sometimes, in our effort to be all that our young hearts and minds already sensed we were called to, we would miss the mark of the heart of it all.  We agonized over right and wrong and we held each other to a higher standard than the rest of the world (I am good at pushing, even when I can never live up to those standards), and many times, I remember my sweet mama saying, “Honey, you need to learn to accept, and to give, grace.”

 

Flash forward, and I’m a mama with a girl (and four boys) of my own.  I have high standards.  I know that the stakes are life and death, and I don’t want to waste a moment.  I’m sharpening arrows (well, I’m presenting them to their maker to be sharpened), and I have high hopes those arrows will fly straight and find the hearts of those who so desperately need love.  As our world grows darker, I have a growing sense of urgency for those who have answers to step up and be light.  It’s easy, though, for me to trample headlong right over hearts and forget again the grace.

 

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I don’t want to ever miss the mark.  I was created to offer truth in love.  To embrace the never-ending, never-wavering pursuit of my Papa, and to offer it right back out to those around me.  It’s not cheap grace we receive or give; it cost the Creator everything.  It requires of those who yield to it, everything.  But that everything is not an effort to grasp that love, nor a tool to win or earn it.  That everything is a response that can be the only fitting one, to ultimate grace.  Grace says, “you are enough, because I made you enough.”  Grace says, “run after me, because I am all.”  Grace says, “yes, die to self, but gain LIFE.”  I want to say hard things, but say them for the good of another.

 

Those heart-friends and I shared a favorite song all those years ago, and its refrain still plays in my head:

 

To Love God, love people
That’s the center of the mark

In this life some things
Are bound to change
But one thing remains the same
We all need love

Time goes on, it moves like a hurricane
And through all the wind and rain
We all need love

As this world just keeps on turnin’
round and round
There are treasures to be found
If we just let compassion lead the way
Draw back your bow, let love go
Shoot straight for the heart
With all of your might, set your sight
Take aim from the start
To love God, love people
That’s the center of the mark

Every day, through what is and is to come
When all has been said and done
We all need love

So Jesus came, a gift from the heart of God
He gave us His life because We all need love

And the love that death could not
keep in the grave
Is alive in us today
So we must live to show the world the way

For the world is the target
And the arrow is the cross
As we set out on this journey
Lets obey the call from the heart of God
Let us Love at any cost

Songwriters: KOCH, DONALD A/KOCH, DONALD A/HARRIS, MARK
Center Of The Mark lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group
Is there a way you’re being challenged today, to live out a lesson that maybe you “learned” ages ago, or maybe is brand-new to you?
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{On Fridays I try to keep up with a wonderful group of writers who challenge themselves to free-write for five minutes on a shared topic. Click to Kate’s page Five Minute Friday to see what others are saying!}

Unite | Fellowship {Five Minute Friday}

Once a month I meet with a group of ladies for the purpose of challenge and encouragement, specifically in the area of encouraging other women.  Each woman in this group (including my daughter, the youngest by a decade), is in a place where God is calling her to speak words of life and truth into other women’s ears and hearts.  Together, we are reading Esther, mining the depths of this story to find truths for our daily lives.

 

Unite_Five_Minute_Friday

 

Last time we gathered around my table, I got excited over a point of discussion and blurted out a comment, and my sweet friend quickly replied, “Hang on!  That’s not right!” about a point I made.  My process-aloud-personality had resulted in my mouth moving faster than my brain, and the statement I made didn’t quite line up with the truth we were discovering together.  It occurred to me in the moment, and I told the ladies around the table, that it’s a precious privilege to have the kind of sweet fellowship that allows us to safely think aloud, to speak challenge to each other, and to receive that challenge, pointed back to the source of Truth to re-discover for myself.  It takes trust, but trust built on the fruit of a life of honor (not perfection), to speak and to listen in that way.

 

This time together is painting for me a new picture of what it means to unite our hearts, genuinely, in friendship that is family.  There is gentleness tempered with boldness, and there is always a humility that says, “The world isn’t centered on me.  It’s centered on the One who made it, and the rest of the people He loves, and wants me to love in His name.”  That kind of mindset frees us to be real.

 

Do you have a “safe place” in kindred spirit friends who allow you to truly fellowship – meaning to challenge and encourage each other to think and act in love – genuine love?  If so, I’m dancing with you – because in these seasons, we get a rich illustration of the out-living of our purpose on earth.  Are you in a season where your Papa is calling you to unite more deeply with Him – putting your trust more completely in the One TRULY “safe” place?  Then I’m cheering for you – longing for your faith to grow – for your hope to be soundly placed in the unfailing Love of your soul’s best friend.

 

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{On Fridays I try to keep up with a wonderful group of writers who challenge themselves to free-write for five minutes on a shared topic. Click to Kate’s page Five Minute Friday to see what others are saying!}

The Limit | Praying for the Elections {Five Minute Friday}

In talking with some mom-friends today, we of course circled round to politics and the current state of our nation, and to praying for the elections.  As I sat and listened to the varying thoughts of a beautiful and diverse group of ladies, I was moved by how little control we have over the “big picture.”  We have the voting right, of course, and we have the ability (and the responsibility!) to wield influence both as individuals and united in groups, in a positive way in our nation.  But ultimately, time passes on and if we study history, we realize that the choices of those who came before us, and the choices we ourselves have made leading up today, have far-reaching consequences that we often simply can’t control.

 

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:1-3, ESV)

 

I’ll be honest, sometimes as a mom especially, I can go into panic-mode when I think about the almost unavoidable consequences that loom before us as a nation; ones that may cause harm to my children.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord.

 

No matter what may be “chosen” as the path our leaders take, there is a limit to the effect they can have.  In fact, my Papa’s love letter tells me time and again that He has His glory and the best interest of His people in mind.  He will work out His purposes, and He does not fail.  Ever.

 

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There is, apparently a limit to what can happen here in the Shadowlands, and I don’t need to strive, or worry, or panic.  I am called to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God.  But I needn’t be in fear that anything can happen to me that is allowed, because in this world, there are limits, and the One holds them can ultimately be trusted.

 

{On Fridays I try to keep up with a wonderful group of writers who challenge themselves to free-write for five minutes on a shared topic.  Click to Kate’s page Five Minute Friday to see what others are saying!}

 

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