Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Finding my voice

I have to write a paper for a class.  It's a fairly easy assignment as it is a response paper to the class. But it is supposed to sound/read like a blog post.  And it dawned on me that I haven't blogged in over a year.  Sure I write prayer letters every month but they are not quite the same.  And I realized I'm not sure what my blogging voice sounded like any more.

So as I was figuring out what I was going to write for this paper I just decided to come here. And type.  And type. And hope to find my voice.

And then I just remember that my blogging voice is my regular voice.  I write how I speak. I once got a B on a paper because of that.  Even though I haven't blogged in a while I just have to find a point/passion/thought and just let my fingers do the work.  And hopefully it comes off coherent.

So thanks blog.

Maybe I'll come back here more often.

If you were hoping to find something deep in this post I promise you, you won't. But hey. I've broken promises in the past.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Cold

Everyone here has been cold this week. Go ahead and laugh. It's not a winter cold to me (though most Floridians are bundled and have brought their plants inside).  It's that transitional cold between winter and summer.  Inevitably when a chill like this blows through so do memories.  So I felt that writing them down would be a good inaugural 2014 blog post and the first in over 6 months.

Cold like this.
That doesn't freeze your breath but chills your nose brings, back memories.
Memories of soccer games.  Dewy grass. That place between your flesh and your shin guards that is the only place to warm your hands.  The way the grass sounds when you twist it in your cleats. Little kid giggles. The inevitable kid stuck in a goal net. Parents huddled under blankets with hot cocoa or coffee.
Memories of lacrosse.  Early February lacrosse practice where you cram 16 people in your SUV because...well just because. Weather too cold for hands on bare metal. Where rubber balls pelting you feel like someone is shot putting with you as the target. Loud 1980's one hit wonders being sang/screamed across the field.  Mile runs with people running up next to you urging you forward past the trees, past the bridge.  Yelling until I was hoarse. Celebrating until someone gets hurt.
Memories of horses. With that smell of dust, hay, and general wonder that only they can possess. The fact that every time you dug your hand into their shaggy fur it came away covered in dust and you didn't care.  That shaggy fur that was comforting, warm, and home for those few moments they would stand still enough for you to hug them. Velvet faces with snorts of warm breath against your face. Silly outfits. Slobbered on tack. Early morning photography.  The movement of another animal bigger and stronger that you that is docile enough to let you hang on and lead them around a field.
Memories of seasons. Flowers poking out of ice. Leaves falling from trees to blanket the yard. Buds on limbs just a few months later. Snapping off faux peaches off of that weird faux peach tree and trying to skip them down the driveway. Dusty roads. Those same roads slushy from spring rains.

Most of these things existed outside of this cold but the cold made some of these memories stick. Made them blessings. Made them aches that remind me a lot of these things I won't experience them again like I experienced them those times. Most of them are nostalgia from when I was a kid. From Missouri. They're things I'm thankful for.

But now...time for new memories in this cold. Of mirror images of sunsets on lakes. Strings of white lights hanging from the trees. Sandhill Cranes bracing themselves against the wind. Citrus trees wrapped in plastic. Finding new things to be thankful for.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I made this!


I made this using footage from the Jesus Film Project's women's version, Magdalena.  It tells the stories of the women Jesus impacted in the bible.  It is Karyn Williams' official music video for her song "This is Freedom."

Go to magdalenatoday.com to find more Magdalena resources.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

God Found Me Again on Valentine's Day

For this post you'll need some background.

First, I like to notice reoccurring patterns, verses, phrases in my life.  The one that stands out and is relevant for this story are "incline your ear."

Second, the Psalm that God used to pull me back to him when I was in high school.  I barely remember where I was (except that it was at some sort of CIY mini-conference) or anything that happened.  I do remember part of a sermon where he mentioned Psalm 31.  Whoever was talking mentioned the imagery David uses in Psalm 31:
"my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away."
I don't remember why it was mentioned or the rest of what was said.  All I remember is staring at those lines and thinking, "He gets it.  He knows me."  I won't go into why those lines spoke so deeply to my heart at that time but if you want to hear my testimony I encourage you to ask me.  Well the rest of that talk I read Psalm 31 over and over. What resonated wasn't just that imagery of wasting away, distress, and frailty. What resonated was Psalm 31:16:
"Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!"
Through the rest of high school I clung tightly to that verse in Psalm 31.  I still look back at that moment as the beginning of my walk back into a deeper relationship with God. My return to life.

Now flash forward to Valentine's Day 2013.  My first Valentine's in Florida. The day itself was great.  I made chocolate covered strawberries the night before.  I got really sweet cards and gifts from friends, ministry partners, and family.

But that night I just felt the need to confess some fears to God.  So I did.  I spilled it all out into my journal.  I didn't realize how much fear I had been holding in my heart for this whole week.

Whenever I journal I read a segment of scripture.  I alternate between a passage from a current book I'm reading and a psalm.  I have been doing this for almost 4 years.  I have gone through the Psalms almost 3 times.  I don't know how but I didn't register what Psalm I was about to read when I wrote it down in my journal.  Also, at some point I switched my music to Swedish House Mafia's song "Don't You Worry Child" (this is important).  The first thing I know about this Psalm is that verse 2 says "Incline your ear."  I was tuned in.  My patterns were appearing again.  Well I continued through the Psalm.  Got to verse 7 (which somehow I have never noticed before) which says "you have known the distress of my soul." I felt distressed. I felt it so deep into the core of my soul.  I continued to read.  I read those verses that caught my eye in high school and still did not recognize the Psalm.  Instead verse 12 caught my eye, "I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel."  That went right along with the distress of my soul.  The feeling of not belonging.  The feeling of loneliness   The feeling of being a broken vessel that could not hold any part of God.  And then the realization that as David had those scheming against him I had Satan scheming against me.  All those feelings were lies. Ugly ugly lies.  And then the veil lifted.  I read verse 16 and suddenly realized that the whole time I was reading Psalm 31. My Psalm.  The moment I read the word "make" was the moment the first "Don't you worry, don't you worry child. See heaven's got a plan for you" of the song played. I collapsed into sobs.

I don't think I'll forget that moment for a long time.  The specifics may get fuzzy like when I look back at the first time that Psalm came into my life in high school.  But God found me again on Valentine's Day.  He wrapped his big arms around me and reassured me of all the truths I needed to hear.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Strands

In the past two months four people in my life have passed away.

In the past two days three couples in my life have gotten engaged.

I am so blessed that the week that cousin passed away that I got to hear that three couples in my life got engaged.

I've been reminded death and life are two strands of one cord. With life comes death.  In sorrow of death there will always come joy.  In joy of life there will always be sorrow.

Death and life cannot be experienced without the other.  Even Jesus experienced both.  He celebrated with those celebrating a beginning (Marriage at Cana).  He mourned with those mourning an end (Lazarus).  He was born.  He died on a cross for all of our sins.

But Jesus overcame the cord of life.  He rose from the grave.  He ascended into Heaven.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Because he was fully man he experienced the two strands in which our lives are woven.  But He is fully God. We are able to come to him in our joy and our mourning because he overcame it all.  We can be with him in life and in death. He is present in both.

With the four deaths, I praise the Lord for their lives.  For the two men of faith, who lived full quality lives and influenced those around them for the better.  For the two women of faith, that even though their lives were half the length of the men I previously mentioned they got to influence so many people.  In sorrow there is joy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Lord Answers

Not in the way I way I want him to mind you.

Today has been rough.  Not the roughest by far but rough. Basically things just keep building upon one another and then toppling over. But I didn't come here to write a blog post about how hard MPD is and how badly I want to give up, even though all those things are true at this moment.  I wanted to just mentionhow God answers.

Last night I went with our high school seniors to the youth group night at one of the ministries on Mizzou's campus.  One thing that was mentioned was not all our thoughts are our own.  That's why we need to take them captive and judge whether they are from us or not.  So when I was getting more and more and more frustrated with how today was going I stopped and thought it through.  And the ones I singled out were the ones telling me to quit.  Which led me to thinking about the whole "curse God and die" thing in Job (a. bad advice b. my thought process can be a little dramatic).

Well just because I isolated the lies in my head didn't mean things got easier.  They got harder (the normal progression of things, really). But I kept coming back to Job. One thing that thinking about Job helped was that he had a harder day than me.  I haven't lost anyone, any property, animals, health, etc. Just patience and a whole lot of energy and optimism.

So I am lamenting my lot in life, "Why did God make this so hard if he called me to this" etc.  Then in pops this thought, you must have done something wrong for God not to make this easy on you. Hold up. That is an exact opinion of one of Job's friends when they're trying to "help" him.  Take every thought captive, remember?

So I pull up Job on my computer (instead of getting a physical bible because mine are all packed) and went to the chapter that starts "The LORD Answers Job." First off God answers Job out of a WHIRLWIND. If you live in CoMo, have you seen the weather today? It looked like whirlwind weather. No, thank you.  But then God goes and is God. I love and hate when he does that...like when He calls us dust in James.
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
God continues this until Job promises silence (good move) and then God challenges Job to adorn himself in dignity, majesty, glory, and splendor. As well as practical things like drawing a Leviathan out with a fishhook (my favorite).  But then Job does where I feel I am at now.  Job confesses and repents.  We know from the previous 41 chapters that Job is righteous man and has really done nothing wrong but what Job has done wrong, and what I have struggled with today, is putting words and thoughts in God's mouth that were not his. And trying to fathom the unfathomable. This is what Job says:
I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.
"Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."  Whenever I get frustrated and utter the words "Why'd God make this so hard if he called me to this" I call in to question things too wonderful for me.  Things I do not and may never know.  But the Lord can do all things and no purpose of His can be thwarted. So I gather myself up. Confess and repent.  And start this day over.

The Lord answers.  Thankfully, this time it didn't take an actual whirlwind.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Lord is my Shepherd*

There is just something about those words, "the Lord is my shepherd."  Yesterday, Forum Christian's high school youth minister, Justin, said something that stuck with me.  God is the shepherd and the lamb.  He can lead us and he dwells with us.  He doesn't just "lord" over us picking out what we do wrong and punishing us, he knows what we go through as he has gone through the same things. That is in part why he loves and takes care of us so well.

So this morning when the devo I have just started reading on a daily basis is about the idea of trusting in God with your whole being and is based around Psalm 23, that idea of Jesus as the shepherd and the lamb came up.  The devo, called Jesus Calling for any who are interested, finished today with this:
"Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way.  Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done.  Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day.  Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you encounter."  
"I go before you, as well as with you, into each day."  A shepherd and a lamb.  The part of Psalm 23 that went with this devo was "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."  Fear has been a big stumbling block for me during this support raising process.  Fear of calling. Fear of new people.  Fear of who knows what.  Fear of disappointing.  Recently it's been the fear of the unplanned.  I never planned for my support to take this long.  I don't even have an idea what going through this season during the summer even could look like. Along with this comes fear of disappointing.  I want to commit to things but I don't want to disappoint anyone if I have to drop out at the last minute. But what I'm realizing is I can't plan right now.  Not far ahead anyways.

But with that is the fact that I'm not supposed to be planning that far ahead.  James 4:13 and 14 even says "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  I laugh as I write that because 3 years ago I wrapped up my time with the Jesus Film Project with 14 on my heart and mind. And now I struggle with them.  And when I go back to Psalm 23 it says it in another way "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."  HE restores my soul. HE leads. It goes on to say that HE prepares a table before me.  Psalm 23 has very little to do with us doing or planning anything.  We are the mist. We are the lamb.  We have no place as the shepherd.  That is God's part.  Only he is the lamb and the shepherd.  So what have we to fear.  He has gone before us.  He is with us. With every day.  Even if we have plans for it or not.


*(as a geeky sidenote I kept spelling shepherd shepard, because apparently I have been around too much Mass Effect as of late.)