Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Living Fully

I am reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, and I can't say enough good about it. Ann paints glorious pictures with words and leaves you feeling as if you have spent time in the greatest museums of the world experiencing incredible works of art. You are left staring at the words as they swirl about you in such a way that you can almost smell them, taste, them and reach out and touch them.

As I corralled my swirling mind and troubled heart last night so that I could sit down and read, I found my mind clearing, my breaths deepening and my heart opening back up again. Her subtitle is "A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are". Isn't that funny? The Lord, through Ann, was daring me to live fully right where I was in the midst of feeling hurt, abandoned and betrayed. If He was daring me then surely it must be possible, right?

As I was reading, small book light casting shadows and hubby snoring softly beside me, I stopped with a small intake of breath as I read these words...

"'Just maybe...maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds.'"

Did you just find your breath catch as mine did when you read these profound words? Words that came from Ann's brother as he buried his second young son! How many times have I wished that I might insert a chapter into this life I call mine? A chapter penned solely by me that would contain no suffering, no pain, no stinging words or emotions other than simple joy. Sometimes I want to write a chapter in advance and just have Papa sign His name to it at the end...give it His blessing, if you will.

How ludicrous, not to mention insolent, to even infer that I might be able to pen a story that would have a better outcome than the One Who created me and allowed my first breath to cross my lips! He is the One Who sees the big picture, knows what I need and sees how it all one day plays out! The joys and the milestones are a huge part of this life I am living, but the pain, the hurt and the sorrows are what He uses to shape me to look just a little bit more like Him.

Stripped of myself and my own ability to see the final outcome, I am forced to trust Him. I am forced to realize that when I pick up my own pen and attempt to get a head start on Him, I am participating in an exercise in futility. It's as if I have just written a great masterpiece (in my mind) in vanishing ink! Even Job saw this truth clearly in Job 42 when he said...

2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.

Another version of this passage says that the Lords plans cannot be thwarted. Reality is, we can thrash around in the midst of our story, fight what we find around every corner and tell Him all we want that our way makes much more sense. How senseless to think, though, that my version would come anywhere close to bringing joy and contentment in this life. How dare I not live fully right where I am, trusting that He has a reason for everything I encounter in life!

Lord, I am sorry for all the times I, in my foolishness, thought I knew better than You. I am sorry for all the times I mentally pulled out pages of Your plan for me and tried to insert revisions penned for my own comfort. The only life I want to live...the only life worth living at all...is the one You have ordained before even one of my days came to be.

Lord, please help me embrace this life not fight it. Help not rush through it mindlessly, looking for counterfeit lovers to numb the pain. Help me to be intentional with each step, each relationship and each choice I find myself facing. Thank you for daring me to live fully right where I am! May I be found faithful when all is said and done!!

1 Cor. 2:9 ~
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”


  1. Such good words, Barb. I have that book and have not picked it up in about 2 weeks. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance because I don't want to try to read through it ... I want to drink it in (and it's not easily sped through anyway) ... I must carve out some time today. Thanks for your always-encouraging words!! (((HUGS)))

  2. I just started this book yesterday too...and Papa's timing is so perfect...navigating thru another season of fear, He knew just what I needed to lift me up. He is so good !

  3. I love you, girl!
    Papa is messing me up with Ann's words. I can't read it very quickly, I have to engage it in smalll chuncks because there are so many truths I have to wrestle with. It is a double dare and a balm to my heart at the same time.

  4. I find the references to God as "Papa" offensive, and even blasphemous. I know your intentions are good, but you never hear our Holy Most High God referred to this way in the scriptures. I know it's currently "in vogue" in the religious community to call Him this, but I think we need to be very careful and refer to Him in terms of respect. Jesus taught us to pray "our Father" and we are so blessed to have this relationship as His children.

    Helpful notes from the ESV study Bible:
    Matt. 6:9 Father (Gk. pat─ôr, “father”) would have been “Abba” in Aramaic, the everyday language spoken by Jesus (cf. Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). It was the word used by Jewish children for their earthly fathers. However, since the term in both Aramaic and Greek was also used by adults to address their fathers, the claim that “Abba” meant “Daddy” is misleading and runs the risk of irreverence. Nevertheless, the idea of praying to God as “Our Father” conveys the authority, warmth, and intimacy of a loving father’s care, while "in heaven" reminds believers of God’s sovereign rule over all things.

    I'm not trying to be argumentative, I am actually one of your friends, but it's something to think about.

  5. It's funny that you say you are a "friend" yet you are anonymous!! A true friend would be okay with letting me know who they were if they were going to accuse me of being offensive and blasphemous!

    I am a 47 yo woman who still calls her earthly father Dad or Daddy. My chronological age has nothing to do with the relationship being less loving or less father-daughterish! Don't see how that is any different with "Our Father"!

    And while you claim you are not trying to be argumentative, your approach is anything but loving. I HAVE thought about this A LOT and will continue to call the Lord Papa at times because I am talking to Him! Sorry you seem to have missed the whole point of my post, but I am going to live fully in this moment even still and pray for you!

    Have a blessed day!

  6. Wow, Barb, such a beautiful post...funny ironic, just this am when Dee and I were praying for you and Tim on our commute ....I spoke the very words, "Lord I love how intimate and personal They
    ( you and Tim) are with you, calling you Papa"...It spoke volumes to me heart that you "Know" him not know "about" him. There is a HUGE difference most people even walking "closely" with him havent had this realization.

    And WOW this blog describes what I’ve been blogging as my own personal "lessons" from Father God in my journal blog for months.
    I mean verbatim! Crazy isnt it?

    Kim Pickens

  7. Beautifully written, as always! A good reminder to us all. I am going to be more purposeful in 'living fully' within my circumstances, knowing I rest in His love.
    Thanks, Barb!

  8. Thankful for the way that you have referred to Him as Papa. It has given me a whole new level of thinking and has brought me closer to knowing him as a loving "daddy" - something that I have never really understood. I have often thought to myself - "how dare I think that I know better", He knew me before I was even knit together in my mother's womb, He knows me better than I 'think' I know myself - and yet, He still loves me. Thank you for your words of truth and encouragement.

  9. Barb, Great post! I started reading Anns book over the weekend. The part that you mentioned about changing our story hit me really hard. Things in my life seem so hard sometimes but she is right. It definitely changed my perspective.

  10. Hey Anonymous.... you know who you are.. the staunch one who was "offended" by Barb's "blasphemus" use of the term "Papa"
    Look.. you say you are a friend of Barb's etc, if you truly were, and were offended by something like that, you owe it to your friendship to first of all, not post it on a public comment board and second, take it up with her person to person or at minimum, over the phone.
    Barb's blog is a wonderful thing that touches many lives in a very positive way. In fact, I have met few people ,if any, few in my life with a deeper passion for loving people, relationships and God, Abba, Yahweh, Jehovah the Alpha, the Omega, Christ, Son of the Living God, I Am, and PAPA, in my life.
    What term she uses to speak with her Lord and Savior is between HER and (pick a name from above)... Frankly... it ain't your place to get offended.
    Sorry Barb to create conflict on here, but the more I read that comment after a beautiful blog post.... well, that just really chapped my donkey...

    love ya

  11. hang in there sweet dear friend ... and know that if you have offended, you are in good company. jesus offended many ... praying that anonymous will also feel a reprimand of mishandling confrontation ... and will correct herself/himself immediately. but if not, you continue on with the high road and what He's called you to ... :)