Thursday, April 2, 2015

Good Friday

If I am honest, one reason I usually get excited for Easter is the candy...seriously. Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter don't faze me because I grew up in the church and have become somewhat desensitized to them. This Easter season has been different for me.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go down to Mexico. A group of us go once a month and this was my second opportunity to join them. The ministry is called, "Love Fearlessly" which is something you have to be able to do because it is hard on your eyes and heart. If you know me at all, you will know that I have an irrational fear of Mexico so the name of the ministry means much to me. We visit three places in one short day: a drug rehab center for youths, an orphanage for kids who have lost their parents to HIV and most have HIV themselves, and a hospice for those with TB and HIV.

The day was going well, and God was surprising me with my ability to comprehend the Spanish that was being spoken. We end each trip at the hospice, and this time I was left in tears and heaviness. To say this trip wrecked me would be putting it lightly.

We were talking with one man when another began to cry out. We went to ask him if we could pray over him when someone informed us that the man was deaf and blind. My heart broke. He was crying out for help because he was in so much pain, but we couldn't even say that we heard him in his pain and were doing something about it. How incredibly lonely and isolating during a time when you need people the most. We laid hands on him and prayed over him. The tears were falling from my eyes and onto his small bed where his frail body lay. I knew he couldn't hear my voice, but I prayed that he would hear God's voice comforting him and letting him know how much he has been missed by his Father. I couldn't take my eyes off this man. It hit me in the moment what Jesus' ministry entailed when He was here on earth - he healed the death and blind. He didn't stop there, he healed their innermost parts they didn't even know needed healing.

The second man that broke my heart was whittled away to skin and bones with big eyes that spoke of pain and fear, such deep fear. It was then I became pretty angry, but I think the anger I was having was coming from my sadness. This isn't what God intended for His children. I don't believe this is what He had envisioned during those first days of creation. I know this man probably made some life choices that brought him to this place, but I know he was once just a boy who probably had life happen to him. In that moment, I realized it was for this pain that Jesus came and suffered. Jesus saw this man's pain and sin when He bled. It was for this man, He died willingly.

The next day at church, we talked about the significance of Palm Sunday. The Jews understood the prophecies that Jesus was fulfilling, and they knew Jesus was entering in declaring He was their Messiah. He was the Messiah they had been waiting for their whole lives. As they waved those palm branches, their hearts held expectations of the man on the donkey. He came bringing what they actually needed, and they missed Him because he didn't meet their expectations.

I don't always have the words to express how I am feeling, and this week I have gotten the chance to have several worship songs express what is in my heart.


Hear the sound of hearts returning to You, we turn to You
In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new, You make us new
'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away
Hosanna, hosanna -You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, hosanna - Come have Your way among us

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings
Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings
Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory
This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave

Jesus, I don't want to miss you this season or any other day. I want all that you have for me. Bring healing to my blindness. Bring healing to my deafness. Most importantly, heal my broken and battered heart.

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. 
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. 
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beauty Once Again

Well, I didn't have to Uber myself to work this morning thanks to some songs that played while I was getting ready. I love that music has a way of helping you put into words what is happening in your heart. You get to belt it out and feel it in your gut. It has the power to let you know everything is going to be alright.


"Porcelain Heart" by Barlow Girl


Broken heart one more time
Pick yourself up, why even cry
Broken pieces in your hands
Wonder how you'll make it whole

You know, you pray
This can't be the way
You cry, you say
Something's gotta change
And mend this porcelain heart of mine

Someone said "A broken heart
Would sting at first then make you stronger"
You wonder why this pain remains
Were hearts made whole just to break

Creator only You take brokenness
And create it into beauty once again



"Let Go" by Frou Frou


So, let go,
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It's alright
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown
So, let go, yeah let go
Just get in
Oh, it's so amazing here
It's all right
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What the?

Have you ever come across news you wish your eyes had never seen? The kind of news that feels like a sucker punch to the gut? The kind of news that makes you yell expletives in your head? Oh, it’s just me? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

In the stuff of life, I continue to learn more and more about myself and my makeup. As the ugly/crappy news hit, I was in shock and disbelief. My thoughts began to ruminate. I can’t always put to words what I am actually feeling - to identify those specific feelings is rather difficult for me. However, God created us rather uniquely because in my dream last night I was able to get it all out. I was throwing punches, I was using colorful language, and I was able to cry and speak my feelings. It was pretty awesome and messy but feelings can be just that…messy.

As I drove to work this morning, after ugly crying in the mirror, I realized I need a designated driver when my emotions are at work. Tomorrow, I might Uber.

I was straight up, Claire Danes ugly crying.
Here are some raw thoughts that came while I drove:

My grace doesn’t extend that far. My love stopped 2 cm short of you. Luckily, God’s grace covers the rest. His love flows past all I can give. You, who have caused me such deep pain even still, are a fellow child of God and so His grace and love applies to you as well. As much as I want the sayings of karma to be true, I know God sees you, knows you, and cares for you like He cares for me. Can I just say we are all so lucky I am not God?

There are parts of my heart that wants this person to experience the same pain they have caused me. Which is funny because at the same time I never want anyone to experience that depth of pain ever. I have these two parts of me, one that wishes suffering and the other that wishes happiness.

How do these two wishes co-exist in this little heart? Ah yes, because not all is as it was created to be. The pain that we cause and wish upon one another was never supposed to exist. God had other plans.  We now get the pleasure of living in the fallout. My need for Him is very evident when I see glimpses of my heart like I did this morning.

Today, I am going to allow myself to feel the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, I am going to cling to Truth even more so I will be like the cable car that grips onto its power source- thanks Jim for that imagery.

Father, soften my heart and may it reflect the way you love. Remove those ugly parts that get in the way of me extending grace and love to those I don’t think really deserve it.

***UPDATE*** 20 minutes after making this post, this popped up on my Instagram.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MORE


ROCKHARBOR, I bless you to more. As you continue to be "rooted and established" in His love, I pray that you will discover and claim even more... More love, more power, more freedom, more adventure, more mission, more lives awakened, more leaders raised up, more communities released, more and more God stories to come. 

                                                -Todd Proctor

When I received this blessing I was brought to tears. It was beautiful, and it reminded me of the life Christ promised - one of abundance. I have been settling for less than what was promised. The world has convinced me to live an ordinary life while searching to consume whatever might make me happy for the moment. I'm done.

A couple months ago, I thought of the word "extraordinary" and what it could mean for my life. The first things that came to mind were a family of my own, a great career, and a life worth re-telling. BUT, what if I took my ordinary life and saw it for more? Taking the everyday blessings and sitting and lavishing in them. I believe they could become extraordinary. When I look at the word "extraordinary" at face value I think some extra of the ordinary.

As I let go of a relationship this past year, I have been trying to sit with hands wide open. Hands open to what God might have, what He wants to do, and just a life ready for MORE.

One image I received during this difficult season was a little girl in a field of tall grasses, and her Father was holding out his hand, waiting for her to take it. The girl was having hesitation because she was afraid to let go but what was waiting for her was adventure. She knew the moment she grabbed her Father's hand they would begin a run to something more, more than what she could ever dream or imagine for herself. There was a sense of freedom, excitement, and adventure that had been waiting for her.



Friday, January 16, 2015

J O Y


Several months ago, I had a fear that I would become an empty shell of who I once was. I feared that my joy would be stolen. I couldn't imagine ever being happy again, and I wasn't being dramatic. I know I didn't want my circumstances to ever cloud how I viewed God or prevent me from experiencing joy in the midst of hard times so I pressed into those feelings and prayed about the fears. God met me. He is meeting me.

It hasn't meant that I am happy 24/7 and don't experience sadness. I just know that God is bringing peace in the midst of the sadness and therefore joy is found. Kay Warren said, "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."

A couple of years ago, I was given a book called, "A Long Love Letter." The author took scripture and turned it into a love letter. The friend who gave it to me told me to randomly open up to a page, and it would be what I needed for that day. I was obviously skeptical. The first time I tried it, I bawled because it was exactly what I needed. I then laughed because I can be so skeptical sometimes. She had told me that she had given it to several strangers, and they all had similar reactions.

I pulled this book off my shelf today, and I flipped to the last half. What do I turn to? Joy. This portion stood out, "My gift of joy will never leave you. It has come to stay. I have given you a double portion of joy, enough to keep, to share and to give away, an overflowing abundance. My joy will radiate out from you like a healing balm, anointing everyone who comes near."

I had someone share with me this weekend that every time he saw me interacting with people he saw how they responded to me. Their faces had smiles, and they were usually laughing. It warmed my heart because God is giving me joy unspeakable, a joy I get to share with others.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter

I have been avoiding this blog for quite sometime now. It's one thing to have to live everything I am feeling in this season, but it is another to write it down. It makes it real. However, I am reminded that it is also healing and allows others to not feel so alone in their own difficult seasons.

I am not sure about you, but the holidays were tough this year. I knew going into them they might be, but I didn't realize how tough. Holidays can remind you of loss, what you don't have, and what you desire - this sentence was my holiday season. I spent the month of December trying to fight the reality of that sentence.

I didn't win. I lost and fell flat on my face. I tried to stop feeling, and it didn't work. I had been learning contentment, and the holidays seemed to take it from me. I hated it. I was upset with myself for allowing my contentment to be stolen. 

My one saving grace was a friend who saw me drowning in my stuff. I tried to push through on my own, but she didn't let me. She called me over and told me to start talking. The dam broke. The feelings that had been trapped inside came spilling out. I felt a little more free to acknowledge that the holidays were hard, and I don't have to pretend they were "good".



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Surrender to Love

Whew, it has been awhile since I wrote a blog post. Books tend to get me thinking which gets me to write. It is too bad that I spend most of my time reading fiction that doesn't require thinking. I just started "Surrender to Love" by David Brenner. It had been recommended to me, and I happened to have it in my library of books. I thought I would spend my lunch breaks reading so I could feel productive. I am a fast reader, and this book is short. However, I just spent an hour reading 18 pages and getting choked up. This book might need to be a cry yourself to bed read.

Here is where it started for me, "Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?" (pg. 16)

Try it. You might be surprised.

I thought I had made some progress on receiving and feeling loved in the past couple of months. Wrong! I came in confidently with a pen to paper, and my hand surprised me with what I wrote. I was shown that I still haven't learned this one yet. My list described that God is disappointed in me, frustrated, and I believe my sin is the first thing that catches God's attention. I even tried to think of a positive thing to write because I knew I should have one, but I knew even if I wrote it, I didn't truly believe it.

Brenner explained how life circumstances do shape what we believe about God. Yes, I have heard that one. Then he overwhelmed me with these words, "The truth is that when God thinks of you, love swells in his heart and a smile comes to his face." I got choked up again as I typed those words. They overwhelm me, and I don't understand how they could be true. 

Sin is an issue but just as kids mess up, parents can be disappointed but it doesn't dilute their love for their children. God is slow to anger and rich in mercy.

I volunteered at VBS this summer, and my issue with love came up...again. There was a child that I had a very difficult time loving. I didn't know so much attitude could come out of such a little body. Leading into that week of VBS, God had impressed on me how much he loved these kids. He was going to use me to show them how much he loved them. 

Every night, I would think of these kids from VBS and pray for them. Whenever that difficult child's face came to mind I kept thinking that God's love didn't quite reach to them. Yes, I had that terrible thought. I realized the thing that bothered me most about this child is that I saw myself in them - prickly and slightly unlovable. At the end of the day, I believed that God couldn't love me either.

So I am going to keep reading and asking God to breakthrough to my scared heart. 

"And he loves you deeply, recklessly and extravagantly - just as you are. God knows you are a sinner, but your sins do not surprise him. Nor do they reduce in the slightest his love for you." (pg. 18)