FMF- Freedom

free-600x600 Freedom.

We live for it.

We die for it.

We fight for it.

We marry for it.

Then divorce for it.

We abort children for it.

We march in parades and wave flags for it.

We sign petitions, email representatives, and call for it.

Sometimes we catch freedom in the eye of a stranger. We shape our lives after theirs… maybe then we’ll have the equation for freedom.

Can you buy freedom?

Can it be wooed or persuaded or pinned down?

Does it come at the end of a gun or the planting of a flag?

In some ways, under some definitions, yes.

But there have been a few jailed men who knew more freedom than most “free” men. There has been freedom among the oppressed, the enslaved, the humiliated, and the beggar.

At the very heart of the Christian gospel is the strange truth that real freedom is found only in giving up everything secular culture touts as freedom.

There is a power… a Love, that is way bigger than this world and what it offers. And that Love extends freedom from His throne to our hearts. It’s free… and it’s not.

It costs everything you think freedom is.

The idea that freedom is synonymous with your happiness. That freedom means you have a right to say and do whatever you please. That freedom is for the unchained, un-imprisoned.

That is the freedom of toddlers (okay, and of teens) when it’s lived out.

We have an opportunity to grasp freedom at a greater depth… the freedom that calls to restraint, thoughtfulness, selflessness, joy in suffering, and eternal rewards that this world can’t touch.

This is what it means to be free… to know that our chains (self-imposed or otherwise), our marriages, our children, our disease or illness, our social status, our bank account are not the defining narrative around our freedom.

1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything.

I choose to be free.

FMF- The Fear I Want

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300When I think of fear, of course my first thought is of all the fears that threaten me. Death of a child. That I’m truly unloveable. That people will hate me for my values and opinions.

Then I think of how I shouldn’t have fear, because perfect Love casts fear out. I know these things.

Each day, the news seems to bring us more and more reasons to fear for our lives. Fear for our children, our communities, our world. If we all want lives of peace and security, how is it the media finds so much to cover? Perhaps our fear drives us to harm, bully, threaten, diminish, even eradicate others in order to fill our small sense of security, however twisted it is.

When our fear is without the hope of Peace, we lash out in a self-protective, fight-over-flight, ironically self-destructive, way of life. A life that promotes the things we fear most…

That’s not the fear I want reigning in my life.

A number of years ago I had the life-changing opportunity of studying in Jerusalem. I remember the day I first visited the Western Wall… a remaining wall that surrounds the Temple Mount. The sacred atmosphere of the place was silencing. Mind you, as a follower of Christ, I know that God doesn’t live in an earthly location any longer. When the Messiah came, He gave us the Holy Spirit to reside in us. I didn’t approach that wall in the same way that many of my Jewish brothers and sisters do. Yet, I learned something from them.

That day I met, for the first time, my God as the Ancient of Days.

God has been my Present. Relevant. Current. Part of my everyday world. Yes, He is the God of forever also… but I experience Him in the now.

Not that day. That day when I approached the walls that scream silenced of all they’ve witnessed… I met a very old God. An ancient God. Not a God with dementia or Alzheimers or blindness or a cane or the other things we think of when we think of “old.”

I met a God who’d been around a long, long time. Like, forever.

And I felt small. Humbled. Amazed. Awe-struck. Yes, He’s my Present. He’s my Now. He’s the I AM.

And He’s the Alpha. The Before-Time Existed. The One who breathed life into the very first man. The One who separated light from darkness. Who passed before Moses on the mountain in all His glory.

I met Him.

And I’d always known Him.

This is the fear I want in my life.

The fear that I find before the throne of an almighty, terribly holy, just and merciful Ancient of Days.

The fear that reminds me that I am created.

The fear that calls for deepest respect. Admiration. Awe. And a healthy sense of my place.

Not the fear that threatens… but the fear that speaks security.

The fear inspired by One who is able to keep His promises.

And whose promises are GOOD.

The Hole in our World

SHOP1-600x600 The world is a heavy place.

More and more, we are swept away by confusion, pride, self-righteousness, anger.

Our emotions have us chained as their slaves, yet we think we’re the master.

We seek to fill voids and holes and unhappiness with whatever promises to fill it the fastest… only to be left more dissatisfied than when we started. We plunge deeper, dig further, compromise more… until we don’t recognize our own faces in the mirror.

The suicide rate increases. Depression and anxiety medications help us get through the day. The hour. Sometimes the minute.

Really? Is this all there is?

Then I have them over for dinner. Or we go out for coffee. Or I eavesdrop on their conversations from the bench. Or read about them.

The Korean couple who serve as doctor and nurse in Jordan.

The missionary kid who became a mother and her heart expanded beyond her home and into a South African community- again. Or maybe it never left.

The ceremonies that bring in families from over 52 countries where they serve as orphanage directors, well-diggers, church planters, hospital help, language teachers, school maintenance staff, counselors… friend to the lost and lonely and hurting.

There is still light in the world.

And it shines bright. It refuses to be put out.

Because there are some, imperfect and insecure and fragile as we are, who know our weakness leads to something bigger and more beautiful than we can imagine.

Who know that the impossible is possible with One.

Who, having tasted WHOLEness, want to extend wholeness, in all its joy and freedom and rest.

Whether it’s through a meal to a hungry child. Or to a small group of hormone-crazed teens about to take over the world. Or through clean drinking water. Or a community center. Or a smile to your German neighbor.

We who know that no amount of physical transformation, sexual “freedom,” the “right” spouse or the clean house or the perfect kids or success or… none of it will make us whole.

That void in our souls and in our world is meant to remind us that we are all foreigners here.

To draw us into our homesickness.

We are meant to feel uneasy in our skin. But we have become a people so reviled by discontentment that we’ve forgotten its purpose. Forgotten the treasure waiting for us. We keep settling for false quick-fixes that leave us less.

When He’s handing us every bit of what our soul needs.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 This has been another Five Minute Friday :)

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.

Rise – FMF

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 Those who’d like to participate in Five Minute Friday will write for five minutes on the topic of the week, post it on their own blog and link up the post here (via the InLinkz button at the bottom of the post). Make sure you add the actual permalink to your specific post, and not your blog’s homepage (e.g. http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ and not just katemotaung.com).

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.

Start:

I’m beckoned into the throne room. I’ve been summoned. Trembling is an understatement.

How did His Majesty find out?

I keep my head bowed- that way I won’t have to see the sickle before it connects with my neck.

I cringe.

Is this really to be my end?

My clothes are filthy. My hands and feet and knees… my hair, all filthy from the work of surviving. Of staying under the radar, maintenance free, easy.

But I must have failed.

Because here I am, approaching the throne of the king.

I have not gone unnoticed.

I shuffle in and kneel at his foot stool. I still don’t dare to raise my head.

I see his feet… his perfectly sandaled feet. He has been a good king and I have tried to be a good subject.

But what is in me that is good? What can I offer that a good king could need? How does my sowing and reaping and spinning and living benefit him? And now he must’ve realize how little I’m worth.

The room is silent.

“Rise, good and faithful servant,” his voice booms.

I stay kneeled. He can’t mean me.

“Rise,” he says again. I dare to lift my eyes… and meet his. He’s looking at me. Does he mean me?

“M-m-me?” I barely get the shaky whisper out.

The king rises from his throne. He steps down to me and I cower. I feel his arms come around my sides. Softer now, he says, “Rise, friend. You have been good and faithful.”

I stand to me feet, the kings arms embracing me. I look into his face and find a smile.

“I have watched you. You work hard, care for others, are loyal and true. You give to those in need, though you have little. You encourage your countrymen and comfort those who suffer as you have. When you offend, you seek to make amends.

You don’t think I see… but I do.

I have prepared a feast of thanksgiving and you are the guest of honor.”

I glance at my filthy rags. “Not to worry, I have a trade for you, if you are willing. I would like your clothes in exchange for these robes.”

A servant presents the finest fabrics I’ve ever seen. “A trade?” I ask.

“Yes, all I want in exchange is what you have on now.”

What undeserved grace!

May we all, on that day, though filthy and unworthy, be found to have been good and faithful, and made whole, in the presence of the King who calls to us, “RISE!”

Tomorrow {FMF}

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 Tomorrow.

That elusive day.

Always beckoning, promising, wooing. Like a temptress with hair spread in a slow-moving halo, arms drawn out, calling with silent words and meaningful gazes.

Hope glistens in her gown. Opportunity her jewels. Permission painted on her lips.

But she, the Temptress Tomorrow, cheats us of Today.

They war, these sisters.

Warring over our hearts, our time, our breath.

The promises of Tomorrow are whispers of nothing.

But Today holds true gold. It’s her crown. Honesty. Her heart beats with the tink-tink of the falling sand, counting down to the end of the day.

The long, long day.

Today smiles with that longing look, wishing we could see beyond the persuasion of Tomorrow, and grasp what’s right in front of us.

Right now.

Here.

But we look past her.

To what will never come.

And miss Today’s gifts.

Stories of Trauma and Triumph

TraumaToTriumph It’s a boy!
I mean, it’s a girl!
I mean… it’s a BOOK!!!
A NEW one!
And I’m so excited to share it with you.
I have written one of the twenty essays included in this book, Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Trauma and Triumph. 

And I have to tell you that this essay is a special one to me… it’s an excerpt from a book I’m revising called, “And Then There’s Hope,” about the tragic loss of my mother-in-law.

Which occurred in my home.

While I was sleeping.

By one of our own.

To know more, you’ll have to get the book ;)

This essay (and book) are special to me because they’ve been key in helping me process, understand (what I can), and heal from such a devastating situation. At the same time, the Lord used it to give me eyes to see His handprints all over our story and to show me the power of HOPE. The hope that carries us through the darkest of valleys and toughest of roads. Without this hope… well, I’d be lost and the story would be different.

What I’ve written is my story. Not my mother-in-law’s. Nor her husbands. Nor her son’s or daughter’s. Mine. They have their own stories to tell.

As if that weren’t ENOUGH… :)

Dorina Gilmore, one of my dearest and closest friends on the planet (as well as gifted-writer-friend, chef-extraordinaire, cross-fit junkie (and the reason I’ve ever run a day in my life), heart-for-the-orphan, fellow co-laborer for Christ… well, the list goes on and on) has also contributed an essay to this book. It’s one of my favorite pieces of her writing EVER and now it’s memorialized in the pages of this newest gem.

That would be enough to make my heart swell and swoon over this compilation of stories full of God’s glory. But then my sweet, new friend, Glenda Alvord, also contributed an essay on how God has carried her from deep trauma to triumph. And it’s beautiful. And so is she. And I’m so, so glad to share the pages of this book with her. The first of many, I’m sure.

Finally, the last story is… well, enough to slam the stake of God’s goodness right into my very soul. A reader of our previous book, Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Hope and Faith, wrote in a testimony of her experience reading my essay in that book. And it’s powerful.

In ways I can only hope you can understand.

Start here… buy the book. Then Read my post. Read her testimony. It’s the last story of the book. But you must. read. this. post. first. Once you’ve read my word-theme for 2015… read her story. I hope it gives you goose bumps like it gave me!

You can get the book on Amazon… kindle or print. And really, I don’t make a penny on what sells over there. I only make a few dollars on books I sell personally (so if you’re in Europe, wait to get yours from me! :D) But that’s honestly not why I’ve contributed to this book.

I write these essays with the hope that my journey with self and God will encourage others. Like my post says… I want to extend any comfort that I’ve been offered. So read! Enjoy! Share the book! My hope and prayer is that more lives will change and more women will see realized in their lives the hope that can carry them through trauma.

It did me.

To Open Here or There

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300Open.

A hand with fingers curled tightly

clenched.

Slowly unfurling like the petals that turn outward, revealing a best kept secret to the sun, the sky, the bird.

The warm breeze sweeps across the palm, drying the sweat of hard work… the hard work of clenching, fighting, holding.

Drying the tears that have fallen in fear.

In the dark and quiet places where silence rings loud and whispers overwhelm.

Where open feels like safe twirling with terrifying.

But it’s here… here in the light of day, fully exposed, where security rings true.

There’s nothing in the shadows.

No faceless voices.

The only suspense lies in how you’ll respond to the grace poured like sweet milk and honey mingled over your precious soul.

When the terror of being discovered washes away in the Light that frees.

That saves.

That redeems.

Here in the sun, open hands freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Free to believe. To dream. To sing. To dance. To create.

Free to receive the goodness pouring from a thorny crown.

The fear promising safety in our closed-off-world is the lie of liars. There’s no peace there. No security. No control.

Only smoke and haze and mirages of good and visions of bad. Whisping through fingertips. Teasing.

No. The only security is knowing there is none… but for Him. FMF-Open--600x600

And we can’t hold Him with closed fists.

He washes over.

Coaxing. Wooing. Waiting. Drawing. Patient. So patient.

Then we flash our best kept secret to the sun, the sky, the birds… and we wonder what took us so long.

Because THIS.

THIS is beautiful.