Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Longing for Peace

It's kind of crazy how often you can feel alone, even when you know that there are many people out there experiencing the same thoughts as you. You know, the nagging insecurities that haunt your thoughts, or taint your vision. It like a huge cloud over your head- sometimes, the sun shines a while, but out of no where the rain pours again. And then you feel so confused. How is this happening- AGAIN? Why is this happening- AGAIN?

A month ago, I felt that piercing of the heart as I read 1 Corinthians 10: 20-22: "No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealously? Are we stronger than he?" This may not be what the passage directly relates to, but as I read that, I realized that I had been trying to sit at both the table of the Lord and the table of demons. I had certain idols in my life that whether I wanted to admit it or not, were sometimes more important than God. Even though those idols were not necessarily "ugly", they were idols; a form of beautified idols. And so, at my moments of loneliness, jealousy, and hurt, I realized that I was in the same place I have been before; this vulnerable place that exposes my desire to be loved, to feel needed. Before I know it, my self-worth and value shifts from God's beautiful perception of me, to what others think or make me feel.

And then I think about my jealous God, who violently chases after me; does he need that verbal affirmation too? the same kind of attention? It's that lightning that strikes you when you realize, "Wow, God. I have failed to see you again. Is this how you feel?"

All the while, He keeps telling me that He is my lover. The Lover. There is no one else who can be put before Him. He is a jealous God.

So I run in passionate pursuit of Him once again- far far away from those demons, the same ones I have struggled with for a lifetime; from making those things idols.

So for the past couple of weeks, I took a break. I became like a bear and hybernated for a while, spending some much needed time with my family, and with God. I experienced that soul rejuvenation I had been longing for. As I read through 2 Corinthians, Scripture once again came alive to me. And I found myself falling more and more in love with my God. As I spent time with Him, tears flowed down my face. The love of God brings me to weep like a little baby. And I cannot grasp it, nor contain. But I love it. "My Abba loves me with abandoned delight, and He longs for me to be abandoned in my love for Him."

So how is it, that after all that, I find myself right back where I hate being. Trying to hush the lies I just cannot shake. Getting hurt by little things I know are stupid. Where I want to withdraw, for fear of getting hurt. Thinking, "Wait a minute. I hate this place. What am I doing back here?" It's that loneliness, jealousy, and hurt all over AGAIN.

In reality, it is a choice. I may forever be haunted with these insecurities, but I will forever be loved by a jealous God. And those insecurities mean nothing, because my security is found in Him. And while it is not always easy, it is truth.

I can believe the lies, or I can choose to believe the truth.

So as I start this new year (woop woop), 2009, I long for peace: Peace with God; Peace with myself; Peace with the past; Peace with the future; and Peace with the right now. This "place" that I despise so much, helps me to fight through these battles within. I continue to learn how to let go and surrender to the One who is Everything. I quiet myself so that God can become louder.

God in my living

There in my breathing

God in my waking

God in my sleeping

God in my resting

There in my working

God in my thinking

God in my speaking
Be my everything

God in my hoping

There in my dreaming

God in my watching

God in my waiting

God in my laughing

There in my weeping

God in my hurting

God in my healing

Christ in me

Christ in me

Christ in me the hope of glory

You are everything

Jesus, Everything

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's about time for the 101...

Creating your own 1001 Day Project

The Mission:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days? Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as new year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Drum roll please...

1. Get a six-pack.
2. Read a book per week for 4 consecutive weeks
3. Get a tattoo
4. Fast from sweets for 6 months
5. Run a half-marathon (13.1 miles)
6. Play in the rain
7. Get dreads
8. Go back to the Mathare slums in Kenya
9. Take a road trip
10. Tour California
11. Go on a cruise
12. Back pack through Europe
13. Live downtown in a city
14. Find dark chocolate peanut butter m&ms.
15. Learn to play the guitar
17. Take a cooking class

18. Learn sign language
19. Make a DVD of my trip to Kenya
20. Visit Colorado
21. Take a horse and buggy ride
22. Ice skate in central park
23. Walk bare foot in the snow
24. Stand in two countries at once
25. Train myself to drink black coffee
26. Write a song
27. Not buy clothes for a year
28. Ride the trolley downtown
29. Participate in a slip and slide
30. Make my own peanut butter (all natural)
31. Master chapatti making
32. Pay for the person’s food behind me in the drive-thru
33. Work at a 24/7 diner (night shift)
34. Write send letters to my Kenyan friends
35. Have a reunion with my dinner group from the summer
36. Go to the Ramos wedding (James and Sara)
37. Watch my sister get married
38. Taste every kind of chocolate ever made
39. Get a massage (a real one)
40. Volunteer at a soup kitchen with my dad
41. Pull off a surprise
42. Go sky diving
43. Learn to Skateboard
44. Fly to Kansas
45. Put on a talent show
46. Send a card to everyone on my team this summer
47. Start a cook book collection
48. Paint a wall-size mural
49. Be one of the first customers in line at a grand-opening of Chic-fil-A
50. Finish my reconciliation process with a letter
51. Download Skype
52. Make pizza on the grill
53. Start a blog
54. Have a dance party
55. Get a piggly wiggly t-shirt
56. Spray paint a shirt
57. Eat like a vegan for a week (only)
58. Finish an entire journal
59. Make a ginger bread house
60. Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate
61. Take hip hop dance classes
62. Change the oil in my car
63. Try soy ice cream
64. Develop my pictures in a dark room
65. Visit Tim and Alicia
66. Visit Portland, Oregon
67. Swim with the dolphins
68. Host a Kenyan-themed party
69. Work for an airline
70. Learn all the dialogue for Nacho Libre
71. Go to the movies by myself
72. Spend an entire day in solitude
73. Tease Bethany’s hair
74. Read Pause: The Message Remix
75. Wear the same outfit for a whole week (except for undies)
76. Get a waffle house coffee mug
77. Visit Alquippa, PA
78. Sleep in the nude
79. Buy a bong (hookah)
80. Start building supporters and making connections for Juja Java
81. See one of Lindsay Jones’s shows
82. Try every flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream
83. See the “E” go up on the Ziegler wall
84.Visit Yoni’s family in Ethiopia
85. Listen to Mark Nelson on the pod cast (every lesson from the first Sunday of Crossings to the present)
86. Wear a funky costume and go roller skating
87. Spend the night with my grandma
88. Go visit my step-mom’s family in West Virginia
89. Sleep under the stars on a trampoline
90. Go to a Hillsong and Coldplay concert
91. Buy a coffee grinder
92. Pick coffee beans from the plant
93. Get a dog (black lab or golden retriever)
94. Set and Stick to a budget
95. Welcome Jennipha to the states :)
96. Write my mom a letter
97. Visit Josh and Julie (post-graduation/marriage)
98. Ride a Harley (by myself)
99. Ride a jet ski
100. Bake a 6-layer cake
101. Buy and fix up old furniture

*The ones in red are the ones I have already done and can cross off my list.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shouting the Gospel with my life

I'm am continually praising God for the way He is moving in my life. I have been completely emotional lately. The more I learn about God, the more contagious He becomes to me. As I lose myself in Him, I fall deeper in love. He reveals Himself to me- who He is, what He has done and is doing- and I can not help but be overwhelmed. He is indescribable.

This morning, I am missing Mathare like crazy. Thoughts of this summer keep replaying in my mind, and my heart longs to be back there. I felt it started with the theme of brokenness last year. God had to break me first, in order for me to relate to his brokenness. He broke my heart, I believe, for what broke His, and is still doing so.

This year, that theme continues to expand, with a new emphasis on the vision of His Kingdom. I look around and picture what God created the world to be, and see the perversion of what it has become. I get frustrated and discouraged. My heart aches for His Kingdom. And I cry out for forgiveness to my God. What a mess we have made of this world!

A couple of weekends ago, I was visiting some sistas of mine in the ATL. Jesus radiates in them. We all desire to be the hands and feet of Christ. We yearn for something more...something outside of ourselves; bigger and better than anything we could have ever imagined. We are passionately pursuing Christ. And when I am with them, I stop, thank my Father, and smile. My heart is filled with this consuming peace: thoughts of spending an eternity praising God in community. It's in these moments that I realize this is what it's all about. It's in these moments I catch a little glipse of heaven.

And while I am at times saddened, I stand strong behind the vision: The vision of dancing God's revolution; saying "yes" to His request; being swept off my feet in this divine romance. I am captured by His love; I am astonished by this aggressive forgiveness we call grace. I am captivated.

I have been reading further in Romans, and have fallen in love with this book. Romans 6:10-11 says, "From now on, think of it this way: sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God." And I have been hanging on every word, every whipser from God.

Romans 7:4- "When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to "marry" a resurrection life and bear "offspring" of faith for God."

Romans 8:1-2- "With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificiently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death."

After reading these passages, I was overwelmed by the thought of salvation. Do we really get it? If we truly understood our salvation, what Jesus saves us from, that "fated lifetime of brutal tyranny", would we not proclaim the life we have in His name? Would we not live as undignified, passionate people?

With that said, every moment of every day is another chance to walk in His footsteps, to get my hands dirty, to shout out the Gospel with my life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Break free

My mind is filled with so many thoughts right now, it is hard to even put them into words. My summer in Kenya awakened my soul; knocked my unconscious spirit back to life. It created a fire inside me that burns bigger and brighter for my God each day. I gasp at His presence. I marvel at His ways. He is high and lifted up.

And now I find myself constantly thinking: thinking about the heaven on earth that Jesus prayed for; thinking about what God had created our world to be and what it has become; thinking about those who have not yet experienced his peace, his grace. I was reading in Romans chapter one this morning where it says in verses 21-23, 25,28-30, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles...They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen...Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless."

And I just cried. I read this and the tears immediately flowed. And this is no where near the first time I had read this passage, but it is the first time I responded in this way. When I think about God-his love, his mercy, his grace, his good intentions for us- I can not help but mourn over the way things have become. How is it that we could know God and fail to glorify him? If we truly knew Him, would we not fall at his feet in complete reverance? And yet, at some point, God has to let us go and give us over to those sinful desires. He has to let us walk away. There is great joy and yet great sorrow in that freedom.
My mom was telling me yesterday that she had gotten the flu and could not go to work for a week because of it. After showing her doctor's excuses to stay home to her boss, she was still put on the second to last step before termination because her machine (she works for Rubbermaid) was not running while she was gone. He explained to her that her absence from work meant that less product was made and less business was done. When I heard this, I began to boil inside. What has happened? When we become so concerned with business and money than with people, something is seriously wrong.

And so I continue on this quest to love and know God; to find out what makes Him smile, what makes Him cry, what makes Him tick, what breaks His heart. I'm filled with complete joy, yet I'm broken. I'm discouraged, yet hopeful.

My heart longs for something more. God has given me life, passion, desire. It's time to stop talking and start living; to lose myself in Christ; to become so much like Him you can't tell who's who. It's time to stop complaining, and become the change I want to see. Because if people really knew, if they really encountered the Living God, they would NEVER be the same.

Break free from society. Break free from the ordinary. Break free, and let God reign. Break free and LIVE.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Journey of desire...

I am on a journey: a journey to know Christ, to exemplify his beauty and character, to be his hands and feet. I do not always understand what exactly that means or entails, but I am in this never-ending quest to figure it out; to look like Jesus, to smell like Jesus, to speak, listen, think, and obey like Jesus; to have a mouth that speaks a reflection of His heart; to LOVE like He loves with the same eyes He sees through. Quoting Bethany Dillon's song "Waking Up", she sings "I was dead, so you became my life; I couldn't see it, so you became my eyes. Imagine what it would be like- to realize that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; to have life in His name. What would it be like- to have eyes that see, that truly see?

It has been one amazing ride so far; stepping outside of myself to look in, to see my story; to see where it fits in regards to His story, the story of God's amazing love for me, his passionate pursuit of me. He desires me. Wow...my Most High God desires to know me, to have a relationship with me, to use me. And I desire Him. So here I am: alive, free, on a journey of desire.