Thursday, February 9, 2012

Alabaster Jars

Forget CAM. I’m not killing the concept but I’m not limiting it to one month. I’m dropping the formality and the attention given to it. Besides, the theme of CAM is how I want to live my life all the time. I’ve wanted to write since I was eight years old. So I'm writing, starting with this blog. Now for the important stuff!

Alabaster jars: what happens when you hold nothing back?

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. (Matthew 26:6-7)

The nard was costly, about a years’ worth of wages. For most of you, that could be anywhere from $15-100k. Think about that. Mark 14 is clear that she broke the jar and poured it over Jesus’ head. She didn't say to herself, “I’m going to take off the cap, pour out a little, cork it and save the rest for later.” She broke the jar because she was going to spend every bit of the contents on Christ. There would be nothing left for the jar to hold when Mary was finished. She gave it ALL in one moment, one setting. It was decisive and potent.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt 26:13) Every time I hear that I think, “Yeah, Mary!!! Way to set the standard for worshipping Jesus and giving your all!” She gave up a year’s worth of wages, her tears and her dignity and she is remembered “wherever this gospel is preached” – think of that scope. Her story is included with the gospel of Christ. How many times has the gospel been shared across the centuries – billions? Trillions? What she did had serious impact.

I resigned from my “dream job” in December 2011. I had a jar of treasures, specific desires, hopes, and answered prayer stored up from the span of thirteen years or so. Before I knew it I had hit the ceiling on what I could learn and what I could contribute at my workplace. My alabaster jar was worth a great deal and didn’t come cheaply. I sought counsel and chose to quit before having another job lined up. That meant fully letting go and feeling the void of surrendering everything.

I don’t quite have words to explain the way in which I cried on the way home from work the day I quit. An unwrapping of my soul replete with energy and emotion, exhausting the fibers of my being to release deposits placed there by hard work, sobbing like I’ve never sobbed, letting loose memories, accomplishments and achievements and releasing them to the Lord without knowing what would replace them. I poured out everything I could – more than I thought I could give, in fact. Some of you have been in that place before. In that moment of surrender I told God I couldn’t have imagined a better fit for everything I wanted in that job… and I was giving it all up because I think He can give me better than I can imagine. In fact, I know He can. Rather than being safe in the known I chose to let the unknown overtake me and rock my world because of who God is: He never fails, He is never unfaithful. We are always secure in Him. We may not feel safe, but we are always secure. That is one key to surrender: WHO we surrender to matters.

By no means do I have this figured out. I have much to learn. For this instance, I don’t know where or when I’ll be working again, just that God’s got something in store for me. Surrender is inherently difficult. However, if you want your soul to be satisfied you need to know that we were made to worship. We were made to give and we often don’t realize how freeing that is. What if I lived a life of continually collecting and saving so I can bring alabaster jar after alabaster jar after alabaster jar to the feet of Jesus? What if I gave everything I had and didn’t have to worry about managing it myself? I want the contents of my life to be available to be poured out without reserve. I want to taste the joy of not holding anything back.

How’s your surrender? Do you have an alabaster jar you’ve been holding on to? Do you have a collection of jars that need to be surrendered? What needs to be broken without holding anything back? What do you need to be filled in your life? Where would God like to bless you with MORE if you could give up what is LESS?

If you have an alabaster jar to break, what's keeping you from letting it go?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's time for CAM again...

Feb 01 2012

[I haven't been on here for a year and reading the 2011 post cracks me up. Some things haven't changed much! I.e., the Lord's still working on that stubborn shell of mine....]

If this is your first time here, it may sound indulgent. Sure, I created a holiday that’s an entire month long and I named it after myself. Where the rubber meets the road, February is my time to explore life with passion and intentionality. Instead of Christmas cards and New Year’s announcements I wait until February to really catch up with people.

CAM is meant to be a blessing. My goal is to be more aware of myself and more aware of others. It’s an invitation to know the depth of the riches of Christ and what it means to live this side of heaven. I don’t have all the answers but I enjoy inviting others to journey with me so we can learn together. I prefer that to journeying alone.

Awareness, defined by Webster: (n) having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.

Quick disclaimer: this is not new age or general spirituality. There’s a great deal of mindfulness and “become like a god” thinking that abounds these days. I’m not into that, nor do I promote it because it only takes you so far. We are spiritual beings but we were created by Someone who is bigger than we are. He is a person and His name is Jesus Christ. We are limited; He is limitless. What I share is based on personal experience rooted in a relationship with Christ. My goal is to lose my life that I might find it in Him. When we let Christ live through us we experience more life than we could ever create on our own. The life you see in me comes from a source much greater than myself, and it’s available to anyone who wants it. Jesus said come, all you who are thirsty (Isaiah 55) – so I implore you: drink from the well that never runs dry, fully satisfies yet always leaves you craving more!

CAM has a timeline for the month that usually proceeds like this: Intro, updates from the past year, theme, discussion, conclusion and reflections for the next stage. The “schedule” might be thrown out the window this year. I have no idea right now.

As I write this I’m on a high-speed train from Paris to Delft, Netherlands. I’m enjoying a few weeks in Europe visiting friends and having adventures, I haven’t been working nor have I been searching for work. I’ve been letting the Lord slow me down and wash over me with His love. It’s not easy. His love is powerful, and I like to build walls around my heart and be in control. I’m a graduate student in Colorado State’s MBA program as of three weeks ago. I submitted a late application Dec. 16th and prayed for doors to be opened; intended to start in the fall but had my GMAT waived and open doors for a spring start. I’m still catching up to the reality of it. There’s so much richness in everything the Lord does. I’m just one person with one life; He works in many ways.

There’s your introduction. Welcome to CAM! Consider journeying with me. I wouldn’t invite you if I didn’t want you to be here with me. I promise it’ll be good.

Send me thoughts and reflections throughout the month. I like dialogue. I like hearing from you. That’s what this is for. Let me know how you’re growing, what’s going on in your life. I want to hear about your struggles, your loss, your victory, your heart. There’s life to be found here and I dare you to explore it with me.

More to come!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CAM 2011: Here we go again. :)

If you’ve never experienced Catherine Awareness Month, it’s not what you think it is.

If you have experienced CAM, it’s not what you think it is. I hope it’s better.

A few years ago I began to realize how much this impacts people. CAM started as a joke in 2005 and morphed into something people ask about year-round. It's remembered; anticipated. It promotes truth-seeking, deepened friendships and healing. I never thought it would change lives in those ways. That humbles me.

To CAM newbies: I continually thirst for truth and life, but in February I really dig into it. February is my month of heavy-hitting accountability for how aware I am of others and how honest I’m being with myself. Hence, Catherine Awareness Month. Forget Christmas newsletters and New Year’s resolutions - I take an entire month to purposefully connect with people and make changes in my life (keeps me occupied when the holidays are long over and I'm going stir-crazy with winter cabin fever). It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important in a fast-paced world. I want to be aware. My heart is to bring people along with me as I drink deeper of life. I want to see us tangibly spurred on toward love and good deeds – so I created a whole darn holiday to promote that.

Paul said to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” (Heb 12:2) That is what this month is about. It’s about what is true, noble, excellent, pure and lovely (Phil 4:9). It’s about offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). It’s about taking thoughts captive (II Cor 12:5). It’s about running the race (Heb 12:1). It’s about life and it’s about Jesus. If you know me, you know I love asking questions and uncovering the heart of the matter. Come explore with me – I invite you!

Last year was nothing like I thought it would be. I didn’t celebrate CAM 2010 because I effectively fractured my right radius January 31st, landing myself in a splint/cast/brace for weeks after. Life slowed as I transitioned to tying shoes with my teeth, applying eyeliner with my non-dominant hand, and carrying around pillows and ice packs until the swelling went down. I couldn't even cut my own food. It was awesome... and humbling. Then commenced the year of “nothing going according to [Catherine’s] plan.” Thank GOD!! It’s about time He cracked that self-sufficient, stubborn shell of mine J I am not where I thought I’d be, and entirely grateful for it. I’ll give you The Update next time around, along with The Theme. Oooh, you know you look forward to the Catherine Awareness Month Theme. Here we go. CAM is on, baby!

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do… I press on….”