Michelle Buck

A little peek at things I love

Oceans

I had this song in my head the past 2 days. So much truth in this song. Here are the lyrics:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

Chorus:
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

Chorus:
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Bridge:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior x 3

Ending:
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine

 

The Bridge of this song is my prayer. I am noticing the more I surrender to Jesus, the more he takes me where I could never go–a place of freedom, a place of complete trust in His mighty power and love. A trust without borders…something I have never known my entire life nor did I ever think was possible. Could this broken heart trust another? Could this broken life be redeemed? Could I ever be loved just as I am? Yes, but so much more than I have ever imagined.

What love is it to be known and loved by Jesus.

 

Slaves to Righteousness

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At times, I have to look back at things I have written and remind myself again of something God is teaching me. Today, I looked back at the blog I wrote, Uncomfortable Grace, and had to think through suffering again–but maybe with a few new layers to it.

I realized something about myself the other day.  I had some hints towards this previously, but it sort of smacked me in the face a few days ago and in a sense, ruined me. I want to be ruined, so trust me, it’s all ok. When God ruins me, it is always a good thing.

In regards to suffering, I have turned it into an idol.  You are probably wondering what that actually means, so let me clarify. I feel like most of my life I have suffered. I have lost people I loved. I have faced different kinds of abuses. I have grown up without knowing love. I have faced the loss of friendships and family. I have suffered the consequences of sin. I have been subjected to other people’s sins. I have dealt with anxiety and depression most of my life. I often feel inadequate and small. And when you deal with all of those kinds of things–and we all do to some degree or another–you know how much it hurts to have to suffer. When you burn yourself on the stove, you are extra careful the next time not to do it again. That’s how I am with suffering.

It plays out like this: While on the computer, I see a news article about a child being abducted, Ebola, ISIS, or any other not-so-random events that take place everyday in which a person suffers. I see the headline and I click to a different page and refuse to read it. I see a prayer request come through a group email and I delete it. I get invited to a persons house, but I know their life is consumed at the moment in drama and suffering and so I turn it down. At church, the Pastor is going to talk about hell so I don’t show up. It’s all just too much for me to handle. I maneuver my life in a way that says “I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want to hear how you suffer either”. And that is how I make suffering into an idol. Or rather, how I live to gain a pain-free life.

I avoid circumstances, people, and events that remind me of my suffering. I see everything as a threat to my comfort. That’s why I’m touchy and overly sensitive and it’s why I demonize the person next to me. I can’t get close to a person if I make them into a horrible human being and so then I will never get hurt by them either. But the truth is, I do hurt. I hurt myself everyday trying to avoid the many ways in which I could be blessed. I am hurting everyone I never minister to. I am making myself into this idol where I play judge and jury over my own life and the lives of those around me. I try to dictate who will hurt me and control every situation so I don’t have to listen to or be a part of pain. Like a movie, I play through scenarios in my head trying to prepare myself for the next disaster as if to somehow make it a little less painful with each anxious thought. And if that doesn’t work, I drown out the pain with silly distractions like TV or social media.

I am a slave to suffering–bound up in chains by every perceived threat to my comfort, every sad story I don’t want to hear, and every relationship that could end in disaster (and in my mind, they all do). I am enslaved so much that I can’t walk through doors God opens, or soar above my suffering to find the real source of all comfort. Slowly the chains of my idols will fall off when I remove the old man and put on the new and ask God to forgive me from making idols out of worldly things. In learning to say no to sin and becoming obedient to righteousness, I don’t have to be a slave to the power of sin and death. Instead, I can be sanctified through the teaching of Jesus, the one I want to be mastered by.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  (Romans 6:16-19)

In becoming Christ’s slave, you and I are completely free–free to love, to feel pain, to embrace forgiveness, and to go after holiness with wild abandon. Jesus removes the blinders and opens the doors, revealing himself to us in such a loving way. I’m thankful for how He loves me.

What Can Stand Against Us

Singing this song today with the windows open. Because I’m an adult and I do what I want :)

The Voice

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It’s strange how sometimes everything ties into a theme of what I’m learning–what Jesus is teaching me. It’s like a thousand little messages soaring into my heart and they are all saying the same things–reminders, of what I need to know in this moment.

For the kids school, we are reading a book called “The Tanglewood’s Secret”. I remember reading this to my kids about 5 years ago, when my girls were little. Every time I read it, I am reminded of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for me. It is a message I need to hear over and over, but as things change, it means something different to me than it did 5 years ago. It means more.

In the book, Ruth asks the shepherd Mr. Tandy how he hears God’s voice. She says that she tries and tries to hear it, but she hears nothing. Mr. Tandy calls his sheep but tells Ruth to look at the ones by the hedge. He calls the sheep and all but the ones by the hedge come to him. The ones by the hedge were new to the fold and were once shepherded by another. So Mr. Tandy says this:

They’ve only joined my flock two days ago. But let them walk in the pastures with me for a week or two, and let me put them in my fold and let me put my hands on their heads and feed them, and they’ll soon come to know my voice…Now, there are many voices speaking to your heart, Ruth…

And this is where I am learning too. There are many voices and which one do I listen to most? I’m not a new Christian, but in many ways, I feel like I have just only scratched the surface of the Christian life. I am learning to listen to that still, small voice and to say “no” to ungodliness. It’s amazing what I thought I knew about God, when I knew so little. He’s a wonderful mystery just waiting to be heard and if I open my eyes and ears to Him, what will He say?

I’m reading another book to my older girls entitled, “What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?” by Ed Welch. It’s written for teens, but goodness–it speaks volumes to me. In it, Welch talks about how life comes down to three questions: Who is God? Who am I? Who are these other people?

We all want to think the best of ourselves, but when it comes down to it, I find myself blaming God, using others, and thinking way too highly of myself. In the book, he talks about prayers we might pray like “Lord, please let me be normal”.  But he continues, “Lord, please don’t let me be normal”.  This has been my prayer. My reason is that everyone “normal” is hurtful. I don’t want to be like them. He goes on, “If I can’t fit in, then I’ll be a vampire.” That might sound strange to some people, but to me–it sounded about right. I’d rather be this ugly person who no one likes and make myself mean and spiteful than be “normal” and abused and walked all over. I’d rather have an ugly heart than let someone screw me over. That’s where I have been at in the past 4 years of my life.

Lately, that has been changing. I find unlovable people more lovable. I don’t hate myself so much. I have grace for my kids and family (not always, but that is the goal).  I can take a deep breath and let God’s words soothe me. I stood outside today on my deck thinking, “I don’t belong here” but then closed my eyes and remembered I do because God put me here. He gives me peace in storms. The other night we had a disheartening incident occur and I simply closed my eyes and asked God to help me. It would be easy for me to just fall apart. I did end up feeling sad about it all, but I just kept asking God to help me. It’s his voice that I want to hear.

The world lies to me every chance it gets. It tells me I deserve something I don’t. It puffs up my pride. It makes me think less of humanity and more of myself. Meanwhile, it tells me to think so little of God. It turns my feelings, my pain, my own self into an idol. But while doing that, I become a stone. My heart can’t love. I wallow in my feelings. I am useless as a person. I can’t help those around me. I can’t be anything to anyone. This is why I need God so much. This is why He is so beautiful to me. That was me. But that isn’t me. Rather, that’s not who He intended me to be.

I have so far to go in this Christian life, but when I sit back and think of how God can take someone like me and make them beautiful, lovely, and a blessing to other people despite all of what I have experienced and all of what my sin has done to me, I am thankful. And now my prayer is, “Lord, make me more like you.” And I know He will.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.  Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)

Farewell Facebook

I deleted facebook last night. I had a few statuses that were fairly comical or cute. I thought I’d share them here:

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It’s been fun, but goodbye facebook friends. I will miss you :)

Why I Am Done With Facebook

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Oh, I know the enticement of Facebook. You scroll down the page, you flip through photos, and you comment. Sometimes it all seems so harmless. After all, Facebook is about being connected in a world where we don’t connect. It has sucked me in too. And what do I have to show for it?

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the helpful tips, the advice, the laughs, and sharing in people’s lives. I surely have. If that is all Facebook was, I would stay. But that is not what Facebook is.

Over the past 8 months, I have stood by watching my daughter get sucked into this world of imposters and fakes. She wants so bad to be loved, to be liked, and to be approved of. Her moods rise and fall based on the approval she gets from “friends”.  She has gone from a girl who loves princesses and dolls to a girl who knows about cutting, suicide, and too much about how to attract the opposite sex. I put the blame on myself for thinking so little of the damage Facebook and other social media sites can have. It’s in your face 24/7. It speaks to her heart about being worth something if she has a boyfriend, looks, and good clothes. It says that she needs to be better and that she is not enough. It tells her to grow up and stop loving innocence. It tells her she is foolish for her simple faith. And this mom is sick of it.

Sometimes the choices we make as parents come down to us being good role models. I haven’t been one. I know this. I sit in front of Facebook everyday trying to be “in the know” but never really being “in the know”. I have no new friendships that have developed from Facebook. In fact, I have several lost relationships due to it. It’s easy to be misread on social media and it’s easy to forget who you are speaking to while you are on it. Even this blog post will hit someone the wrong way. That’s why it can be dangerous to air your thoughts in a world where everyone is a fragile snowflake. So what has Facebook or any social media site done for me? All it’s done is create more problems. That is why this week I will be deleting Facebook and not returning.

I very much believe in simplicity. That’s why I try to get rid of clutter and cut out bad foods from my diet. That’s why I wish I lived in a smaller house, in the country, away from the chaos. That’s why I treasure nature and being outside and learning about the world in life experiences. That’s why when things seem too complicated to me, they probably are and I do my best to make them more simple whether it be work, homeschool, or housework. Life comes down to these kinds of decisions. We complicate life when we add things to it that aren’t needed.

I had a dream last night and I woke up crying from it. In it, I travelled back through time and I arrived at my old house, where my husband and I had first lived as a married couple. I walked inside and there we were, talking. My little Naomi, who looked maybe to be 3 years old, approached me and said “Hi Mommy!” and I hugged her. In my thoughts, I wanted to go back to the simplicity, where life was much less complicated. All I ever worried about for the kids at that age was food, clothes, and keeping them safe. I touched her curly head of hair and sobbed. My dream and sleep was disrupted by the telephone ringing and I woke up wondering what that could mean (not that I believe in dreams being prophetic in any way…but when my world is in chaos, so are my dreams). The dream, I think, was about a return to simplicity. It was about cutting back, saying no to things we don’t need, and cutting the junk out of my life that doesn’t produce in me holiness. And further, isn’t a good example to my kids.

I want my life to be engulfed in God’s peace, but it can’t be when I’m adding things that have no value. I want my life and my kids lives to reflect this verse:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.    Philippians 4:8-9

I will still be on Instagram because frankly, I love taking photos of nature and things I love in my life and it’s a lot less noisy over there. And I’ll be here blogging every now and then, not that anyone will continue reading it (as it won’t post to facebook), but if you want to keep reading, please subscribe (see my sidebar on my blog). Otherwise, I hope this step will help both me and my daughters to understand how God sees us, not people. I want them to hear “You are beautiful. You are enough. You are of worth.” but not from people on social media. I want them to hear it as a daughter of the King, who speaks to us. I want my life to simply hear those words, not the thousand voices of people who seem to have it all together, but don’t. The world is too noisy, too opinionated, too in your face. I want to return to a simple faith, with the words of Christ ringing in my ears, when I’m struggling and when I’m rejoicing. And when I need to talk things out with a person, I know who those people are.

Farewell Facebook. It’s been an interesting ride, but I’m on to simpler, yet more beautiful things.

 

White Fences

Need to Breathe is one of my favorite bands. Heard this song today and it resonated with me:

 

 

White Fences – Need to Breathe
My heart is numb
The feeling that I get from
The way you shake your voice
And curse this bitter love

And oh, it’s cold
Living in a fallen home
We were just kids back then
Too scared to be alone

You leave me in the dark
Recounting all my sins
You put words in my mouth
But who is gonna mend
These white fences

Oh, it’s cold
Living in a fallen home
We were just kids back then
Too scared to be alone

Oh, I said oh, the fight
My legs are unsteadied by
The way you close your eyes
I wish we could hit rewind

You leave me in the dark
Recounting all my sins
You put words in my mouth
But who is gonna mend
These white fences

My heart is numb
The feeling that I get from
The way you shake your voice
And curse this bitter love

And, oh, the fight
My legs are unsteadied by
The way you close your eyes
I wish we could hit rewind

You leave me in the dark
Recounting all my sins
You put words in my mouth
But who is gonna mend
These white fences

And, oh, the fight
My legs are unsteadied by
The way you close your eyes
I wish we could hit rewind
These white fences

The Wonder of it All

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I read this today and it made sense to me:

The devil does not want you to wonder. Wonder is deadly to the domain of darkness because of its dangerous tendency to lead to worship. ” -Jon Bloom, Desiring God.

It’s been a process for me to wonder. It’s easier at times to sink deep in my own pain and live there. I put God in a box, tape him up, and label him. Then kick him around when necessary and prop my legs up on him when I’m tired of kicking. But to actually look inside and discover who he is. That is something I feel like I’ve only started to do. I want to always gaze in wonder at God, always looking to find out more about who He is. I want that to grow and I don’t want to lose it. Because God cannot be contained in my boxes.

One of the scariest verses I’ve read recently is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

When I read this, I thought that it showed me there comes an actual time where God will no longer tolerate sinfulness and will speed the process along, causing those who don’t believe in the truth to come to condemnation. Although this is Satan’s work, it will be because we refused God. There will be no one to blame but ourselves. It is because we didn’t wonder about God. Instead, we wondered about sin and saw that as something worth pursuing. This should cause us to wake up and take notice of how we live, even if we are Christians and love God. Sin can so easily drag us down.

God is loving. He wants us to love him back. He wants us to please him. He wants so much good for us. But God is just. He can’t go against His justice and holiness. God will judge the wicked and reward His righteous ones. The wicked will face eternal suffering and torment, which they fully deserve; the righteous deserve eternal punishment, but instead are given eternal life.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29, ESV)

I am thankful that God opened up these eyes to see and wonder, and to keep wondering.  It’s a beautiful thing in that He saved a sinner like me. I am reminded that God is for me through all of this searching–through the very hard stuff when I just can’t seem to “get” it and through the joys of learning more about him. I don’t just gaze in wonder at God. I gaze in wonder and I’m blessed in it. That God reveals himself at all to us is something worth pondering.

Romans 1:19-20

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Saying NO

 

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I can be such an idiot sometimes. Take for instance, my health. Last March, I went on this super restrictive diet. It was supposed to be only for 6 weeks, but it ended up being more like 16. I took out sugar, wheat/gluten, chicken, turkey, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, and cinnamon. There were a few other foods I could only have a few times a week. It was hard, but I was able to do it. I only probably cheated maybe once or twice. I was so proud of myself. I lost about 30-35 pounds. There was so much improvement too. I had a lot more energy, my hormones were better, my digestion was great, I wasn’t dizzy anymore, and I felt better which made me happier. Lately, symptoms are returning because I haven’t been on top of my diet. It’s not that I have to eat super restrictive, but I became lazy and ignored foods that affect me and now my health is going backwards again.

Saying “no” is hard, even if we know it’s going to hurt us in the end. Even though I made some pretty idiotic choices, I know I can always go back to the start. And even though I didn’t say “no” as I should have to certain foods, it’s never too late to start. I notice myself not saying “no” to other things too, not just food. We value our comfort, our desires, and our pride. Here are some ways I fail at this daily:

  • When my kids really need me and I’m busy, saying “no” to what I want to do
  • When someone rubs me the wrong way with their personality or words, saying “no” to my pride
  • When I’m tired and I want to just take short cuts in my job, at home, or with my kids, saying “no” to wanting my own comfort
  • When someone criticizes me, saying “no” to the need to take revenge with my words
  • When I can’t get out of bed and I’m depressed, saying “no” to my feelings of despair (and choosing instead to preach to myself the truth)
  • When I’m anxious and fearful, saying “no” to my doubts and to the lies that I’m choosing to believe

I’m sure you can think of your own list. It’s just hard to say NO sometimes. But I am comforted by this verse:

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

It’s God’s grace that trains me to say “no”. But here’s the thing–we don’t really comprehend grace when we think our sins look more glorious than He does. Seeing our sin in the proper light magnifies God’s grace. With God’s grace, we can see our sin as ugly and filthy. With God’s grace, that sugary donut doesn’t look so good anymore. And with God’s grace, we strive for holiness instead of sinfulness. (Not works, but truly wanting to please God because we see how much He loves us and has given for us to be free).

I have been praying that God would help me to “hate what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).  Sometimes it feels like God is just ripping out the idols in my heart. But then there is a gentleness there too. I expect someone I’ve wronged to “give it to me”, but instead, they say words my heart just needed to hear. I dread a certain situation because it’s painful, but then God shows me how He is working and I’m brought to tears at how much grace He shows me. The laundry list of ways in which I fall short seems daunting and burdensome, but an encouraging word seems to lift me from that place and I can keep going. God is full of grace, ready and willing to engulf us in it. But we can’t minimize our sin while we ask Him to give us grace. We have to say “no” to our sins. For me, that means that God’s word drowns out my own. It means I put His word in focus. It means my thoughts must line up with His (scripture memory, preaching God’s word to yourself). I’m thankful for God’s grace that trains my heart to say “no”.

All I am – Phil Wickham

Take these hands
I know they’re empty
But with You they can
Be used for beauty
In Your perfect plan
All I am is Yours

Take these feet
I know they stumble
But You use the weak
You use the humble
So please use me
All I am is Yours

I give You all my life
I’m letting it go
A living sacrifice
No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

Take this heart
Set it on fire
Shining in the dark
I wanna tell the world of who You are
All I am is Yours

I give You all my life
I’m letting it go
A living sacrifice
No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

I give You everything
To You I belong
Every beat of my heart
The breath in my lungs
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

I lift my hands up
God I surrender
All that I am for Your glory, Your honor, Your fame

I lift my hands up
God I surrender to You

I give You all my life
I’m letting it go
A living sacrifice
No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

I give You everything
To You I belong
Every beat of my heart
The breath in my lungs
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

The Rescue

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The smoke billows and rises
With the sound of their cries
And the stench of flesh burning
Raises itself to the skies

The dungeon of darkness
Wailing, weeping, they cling
To their idols, their masters
From their lips, of death sing

Cursed, this place of torment
In the blackness of hell
A fiery glare, the only sign
Of light that can dwell

Companions and friends
You once called them your own
And treasured their idols
At their feet, yourself thrown

He knew you, He loved you
For himself, made pure
Wrath once your inheritance
God’s enemy—you were

Snatched from that land
Where death called your name
The Liar clothed you in shackles
The Rescuer threw it in the flame

“Under my feet, Satan I tread
Like lightning, he falls from the sky
The curse of the cross, where my Son bled
Taking your sins to the grave when he died”

Suffer in grace, not in wrath
Suffer a cure, not a curse
Tremble you will not, but be blessed
Jesus brings life, not a hearse

Look to the pit, see the place you once stood
Listen to cries you once screamed
Remember at Calvary, He paid the cost
Jesus, your soul He redeemed

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