La Douceur du Foyer

Flowers from SethI just got home from Paris last night, greeted at the airport by Seth’s smiling face. He’d offered to pick me up and left work early to do so, showing up looking handsome in a blue-and-white plaid button-down tucked into khaki slacks. He wrapped me in a hug and then, from behind his back, pulled a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers dotted with tiny purple daisies. My favorite.

He insisted on carrying my luggage, kissed me sweetly when we were alone in the elevator, and made dinner for me while I showered at home, washing off more than 15 hours of travel. Other than my daddy, I’ve never had a man meet me at the airport with flowers – and certainly not cook dinner for me as well. Seth makes me feel like a princess.

I’m still processing everything I saw and experienced during my whirlwind of a trip to Paris, but in the meantime, my travel-fogged brain has been musing over a couple of things.

I got sick my first day in Paris, and I am not sure if it’s because:

  1. I was stuck in a petri dish of an airplane for ten hours with coughers and sneezers,
  2. My body subconsciously wanted my French to sound more authentic (i.e. more nasal-y), or
  3. I am allergic to socialism.

With the EuroCup going on, Rachel and I made a lot of new friends – British, Welsh, Polish and German, but no French. I was disappointed to discover that Parisians were just as rude as all the stereotypes. I’m wondering if this is because:

  1. They’re bitter about only being back-to-back World War Champs because of American rescue,
  2. They have stale baguettes stuck up their butts, or
  3. They are living under the stench of European socialism.

In the 18 hours I have been back in America, I have already experienced some reverse culture shock. Most notably:

  1. When someone passed me on the street this morning, I surprised myself by automatically clutching my purse closer to my side, wary of pickpockets.
  2. I walked past two women talking in the office and heard one begin her sentence, “We pardoned…” and was stunned to realize that my mind heard, “Oui, pardon!” I think I need to purge my brain of the last week of French speaking.
  3. I passed by a TV screen declaring Hillary is picking up votes. Not that I’m exactly a Trump supporter, but I’d thought I was escaping socialism when I came home and was disheartened to realize that  – in actuality – perhaps the difference in culture is not quite as significant as I’d hoped. Regardless, I am beyond thankful to be back home in the Land of the Free & Home of the Brave.

Yay ‘Merica.

thatcher-socialism

Authentically Aurora

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Identity: Remembering Who You Are

Princess - Daughter of King

My dreams are not too big. They are too small.

Sometimes I wonder if the hopes and dreams I have for myself are unrealistic and unattainable, but hearing the story of Levi Lusko at the Passion conference reminded me that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His dreams for us are often bigger than the dreams we have for ourselves.

We operate in the visible realm, but God operates in the spiritual realm. We set our eyes on earthly things, but God is concerned with heavenly things. He has eternal purposes in mind for our lives, and He is the God of “infinitely more”. God is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or imagine (Eph: 3:20-21). Our dreams are too small.

But often, in order to bring God-sized dreams to fruition, we must first undergo a time of refinement. It’s possible to walk through valleys of suffering without any good coming from them, but if we fix our eyes on God, He will create purpose in even those circumstances that feel purposeless. What the devils intends for evil, God can use for good (Gen. 50:20). No season of life need be useless.

There is purpose in the pain. To take away our suffering is often to take away our ministry. And there is purpose in the waiting. Seasons of waiting are how we are refined. As frustrated as I felt after being convicted of my impatience to prematurely leave the sheep field for the throne room, I was also encouraged to be reminded of God’s good purposes interwoven into even the most painful of circumstances – be they the heartache of a broken engagement or simply the monotony of a paper-pushing desk job with seemingly no end in sight. There is purpose in the pain, and there is a reason for the waiting.

An important revelation for me at the Passion conference was that our Identity is not our Calling. We live in a culture where people tend to believe that what we do defines who we are. Sometimes when I’m in a stagnant season of life where I don’t feel like I’m doing much good, I start to believe that am worth less to God. But my Identity is that I am a Daughter of the King. I am a daughter of God, and my calling – my anointing, the good works I have been ordained to live out – are secondary to my Identity as His child. Our level of intimacy with God may ebb and flow over time, but once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, our relationship with God remains constant, and therein lies our core Identity: unconditionally loved children of the God of the Universe. 

God loves us and has good plans for us, but fears and doubts sometimes keep us from believing that God has gifted us for His Kingdom work. If I’m honest with myself, I often worry that I am the problem; I am the reason I am stuck in this season of waiting instead of walking out my anointing. God wanted to do great things in and through me, but I am beyond hope of healing. I’m afraid that I can never change; I’m doomed to this intense personality with all its flaws. I’m afraid I’ll never fully recover from my bitterness and cynicism. I am shaped by my past, never to fully heal. I am not married because I am not marriageable. I don’t have a job I enjoy because I am incapable of being a joyful person. I am the problem. God cannot make me usable, and that is why I am stuck in this season of waiting.

These are lies from the pit of hell. God is good. He loves me, and He has good plans for me (Rom. 8:28). He has begun a good work in me that He is carrying out to completion (Phil. 1:6). I am being sanctified, little by little, day by day, being grown and developed and refined to be more like Christ.  Who do I think I am, to be powerful enough to thwart the plans of God?! How ridiculous, ignorant and narcissistic to believe that I am capable of getting in God’s way; that I am beyond God’s power to redeem! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; the new has come. It is God Himself who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

It’s imperative that, as God’s children, we know what our Daddy says about us. When Christine Caine spoke at Passion, she told a story about when her daughter was in kindergarten. Evidently, one of the boys in the daughter’s kindergarten class called her “dumb and ugly.” According to the teacher, Christine’s daughter – instead of shrinking back or crying – threw her shoulders back and declared, “No, I’m not. My daddy says I’m smart and beautiful!”

And that made all the difference. We must know what God our Father says about us. We are not beyond redemption. We are not beyond the hope of healing. I am not too broken and bitter and hard-hearted to be used by God. He is able to transform me, and He is able to use me for good purposes in this broken world. Yes, Lord. Take my imperfect ability and do a perfecting work!

Authentically Aurora

Courageous Kindness

cinderella-movie-2015As a little girl, I never liked Cinderella. She was too quiet, soft and subservient. She wasn’t feisty, passionate and adventurous like Belle or Jasmine or Ariel.

Cinderella-dadI always wanted Cinderella to stand up to her stepmother and stepsisters. I never understood why she was such a doormat, blindly tied to a promise to her dead parents who, at the time they asked it of her, had no knowledge of how her situation would develop and change after they were gone. Cinderella seemed foolhardy to me, incapable of adapting to the dynamic nature of her situation.

cinderella-headshotBut I recently watched the new Cinderella movie, and it landed differently with me than the animated film I grew up with. In this new, live actor film, Cinderella inspired me. Her story stirred me and actually moved me to tears. “Have courage, and be kind,” she repeated to herself over and over again, through the death of a mother, death of a father, servitude to her stepsisters and incomprehensible cruelty by her stepmother.

Cinderella-ragsAs an adult watching the movie of Cinderella, I am struck by her response to suffering – intense, terrible suffering. Cinderella didn’t pretend everything was okay, mindlessly skipping through a field of wildflowers and humming with bluebirds while her so-called family abused her. No, we saw Cinderella hurt, frustrated and broken. We watched Cinderella struggle and almost fail to keep her courage and kindness as the pains of life continued to roll in.

cinderella_horseBut Cinderella resolved to keep her heart soft; chose not to betray her true self to the all-too-easy bitterness and anger over circumstances beyond her control. Cinderella also chose kindness – and not just kindness, but courage as well. She chose to be strong and gentle; noble and compassionate; brave and tenderhearted.

The complements of courage and kindness united in the person of Cinderella are a strikingly beautiful portrait that remind me of another story: one of a God who is both all-powerful and loves without reservation. Power belongs to God, and Loving-kindness is Yours, O Lord.” -Psalm 62:11-12

There is power in courageous kindness. Some might even call it magic.

Cinderella-dress-transformation

Authentically Aurora

Whispers to God

b5a8332fd15c4ce89870d054041e0ceeYou love me.

You are for me. You are working for my good.

You love me.

You will never walk out on me. You will not reject me. Even when I am faithless, You are faithful.

You delight in me. You cherish me. You rejoice over me with singing.

You love me.

You deem me worth pursuing. You pursue me endlessly. You are always waiting with open arms. You lead me into the wilderness and speak tenderly to me there. You draw me to Yourself.

You love me unconditionally. You see me as I am, know me intimately, and love me exactly as You created me. You created me beautifully and with purpose.

You are in my corner. You declare me worthy. You believe that I am worth fighting for. You have shown that You find me worth dying for.

You are strong, and You love me.

I am loved by You. I am cherished, delighted in, rejoiced over, pursued endlessly and loved unconditionally.

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Authentically Aurora

Dragon’s Hide

Dragon PrincessYou almost convinced me you were safe.

You almost had me trusting you.

But one mistake is all it takes

And now I’m on to you.

I remember now why my walls are up.

I remember why I’m alone.

My mind stands guard as my heart’s sentry

And no prince or pauper will gain entry.

If I let you in, you’ll steal my heart

And dash off on another quest.

You’ll vanish into nothingness

Just like all the rest.

My marble tower is cold but safe

With armor, you can’t wound me

You alone may see the princess inside

But you can’t pierce this dragon’s hide.

You alone may see the girl within

But my heart won’t abide being hurt again.

Authentically Aurora