In the spring of 2002, our family became part of a church plant. In retrospect, I see what an enormous undertaking it was to be called as a grower of a church instead of a reaper of one. With this 8 1/2 year endeavor has come many blessings and deep relationships. One of which has been with a woman I now consider to be one of my best friends in life.
The first time we hung out together, I remember her asking me what I like to do for fun. I answered that I was a reader. The very next thing she asked me was if I had ever read the book Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart. It was almost “knee jerk” in the way she presented the title. As if it was assumed that if I were a reader then, most assuredly I would have read this book.
Well, I had not read it, and I confess that just the name of it offended me. Deeply. Greatly. What a patronizing title. And who was this woman, the author, to even suggest that there was something better than living the life of an embittered cynic?!
One week ago today, I had the great privilege of meeting Paula Rinehart and introducing her as our retreat speaker to 85 women who had gathered together in the mountains of NC for the weekend. I broke the ice Friday evening telling the story of my first reaction to her book. I felt it was only fitting, since God used her immensely in breaking the ice around my own heart so many years ago.
I am still processing all she shared with us, and am at a loss on how to articulate the wonderful blessing of receiving her wisdom and hearing her deep laughter. Most of my notes were simply bullet points of her personal quotes and those of her favorite writers.
Any one of the following thoughts could be pondered indefinitely.
“Power does not win love.”(This was referring to Kierkegarrd’s(i think) analogy of a King falling in love with a peasant girl. In order to win her love, he became a peasant himself instead of demanding reciprocity….which would have been his right.)
“Home is our greatest emotional longing.”
“The real stuff of your faith must sink into the deep places of your heart.”
“God is interested in redeeming your life out of something.”
“There will be good days and bad days as I live out my calling.”
“Most of us are about as happy as we choose to be.”
“Lies are irrational thoughts that the devil slips into the youngest parts of you.”*love
“There is something about a relationship with X that gives us courage to live risky lives.”
“You learn scripture so that when your heart breaks, the Holy words will fall into your deep places.”*love
“Knowing myself as the woman Jesus loves allows me the freedom to be disappointed but not devastated in human relationships.”
“What is my small part in the drama that God has written?”
“The place God has for you is the place where the world’s deep hunger and my deep gladness meets.” Frederick Buechner
“God does not give us a list of things to do and then check in at the end of the day to see if we have accomplished it all. That is the relationship between the master and his servants. As a child of God we have the freedom to work, serve, and give. And rest, play, and receive.”
“God is faithful, but not predictable.”
“Trust and love are two sides of the same coin.”
“Satan’s words always begin with “If you are…” “God speaks to us from the standpoint of “You are… already loved.”*love
“We stumble upon gratitude when we do not wait for God to fix our life.”
“Chosen aches are the ones that we did not choose, but we do have to make choices to have/live life in the midst of them.”
“God wants to take me out of this world on His arm. It is He that wants to dance with me.”
“”It is God who wants to dance with you. He will take you out of the back alley where you have looked for life in anything other than Him”
“It is fellowship with Him that is the prize, not the fulfillment of my dreams.”
“I know the parts of the Bible that I love.” F.Buechner(i think)
“There is some kind of truly interactive process when you bring the real desires of your heart to God and he literally reshapes your inner being.”(Better Than My Dreams.)
Thanks for sharing Carrie. Although I rarely respond, I occasionally check in with you here when I am able to slip away. Your writings are wonderful and so encouraging to read. They are always such a refreshment for me and reminder of His love. Thank you for your openness and letting us share this journey with you. I loved all the quotes from Paula…so many good ones. I think my favorite one though was “It is fellowship with Him that is the prize, not the fulfillment of my dreams.” I get so wrapped up sometimes in all I think I have to do, when really all I need to do is worship Him. Hope to see you on Dec. 3rd. Miss you guys!