Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conquering Darkness

I want to be brave, so brave, and yet what I feel is fear. I have lurching anxious filled fears that that hunch in my shadows, hiding from light and waiting for me to notice them. They spill out from the corners of my day threatening to overwhelm my existence. Some days the fears crowd so close i feel like I am suffocating from them. Their presence darkens my path, obscuring hope and joy. Some days I cannot see past the fear of unknown, of past, of present, of future. Some days I am found curled up with tears streaming down my face and I can't explain the problem beyond I am afraid. 

Yet, most days I combat the fears with truth and love. I know love, the love of family, the love of a husband, the love of 3am friends, and most importantly the Love of my creator. I know love casts out fear. On those days, I want to shout and scream I may be afraid, but I am not alone. 

On strong days love fills my life and I revel in simple joys and a heart of hope. Today is one of those days, and I am filled with a message to the world. You are not alone either. You may feel alone, you may feel afraid, but love is there and love casts out fear. 

Whatever you've been through, there is love, what ever you will go through there is love. Step boldly into the light, embrace love and love will cast out fear. 



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Day He Preached

 
The day my senior pastor, whom I've known for over 7 years, asked my husband, then my fiancĂ© to preach I felt my insides fall apart. I had been in the church since the day we decided to form a church in my pastor's tiny living room. I'd traveled with the group through three living rooms, a teen center, and now another congregations spare space. I loved my pastor, his family, and the church. I loved that he was conservative and clear where he stood. I knew that he had no interest in putting a women behind the pulpit. Until that moment I thought I was fine with his stance. 

If you asked was I proud of my beloved's opportunity I'd unequivocally respond yes. He, who had been leading youth for three years, had begun feeling stirrings of braving "big church" as we call it. He was going to be brave and wonderful. And for the record I loved his sermon. I sat in the front row and recorded every minute of it on my ipad. I am so proud of his growth, his courage, and his heart.

Why then did I fall apart inside? Deep down I was mourning the loss of being able to preach in a church that I loved and that I have supported since it's inception. I am gifted in communication and teaching and could do a good job preaching. I have masters of divinity and a background full of teaching youth. I am qualified to do a lot of things in a church, but as a female I am not welcome in the pulpit. 

Did I realize I was being passed over as many young seminarians had an opportunity to wet their feet in that pulpit? yes.
Did I always claim to prefer having a more conservative pastor over a pastor who was more liberal than I? Yes.

But somewhere I changed. This year, I read Jesus Feminist, and began preparing for marriage through more books and prayer. I spent long hours trying to figure out who I was, how I would be a wife and a mother, and how my identity would change when I entered marriage. It terrified me, the loss of singlehood, the realness of becoming the youth pastor's wife. My beloved held me and assured me only labels changed. I would stay who I was. However, maybe that truth made me question again who I was, deep down. 

Then, reality hit close to home.  My beloved was asked to preach at my church. And no, I didn't handle it well. I was angry; I was disappointed. Then I became resigned and despondent. It was like someone had slapped my inner being. I think I went through the cycles of grief. 

Yet I don't want to grieve preaching. I want to live. I want to seek the way of Jesus. I want to share the story of Jesus however God calls me to. Not limited by womanhood. Instead I long to be free to seek his direction even if that leads to the pulpit.

Monday, April 28, 2014

And So We Held Hands

...And so we held hands.

And looked into the future. It was wide open and exciting. We made plans and took adventures. There were small adventures and small moments that became precious treasures. We celebrated weddings and birthdays. We helped each other through struggles that though sad, began to define how we strengthen and encourage one another.

In our beginnings, there were two lives slowly becoming intertwined by moments.

We discovered holding hands was the best way to approach life.

There were walks and trees and ministry. There was laughter and tears. There was more cooking for and with each other. There were books exchanged, dreams and hopes shared, and visions cast.
 
We began seeing that we wanted together to be an always and forever.

So on a cool day in November,
everything changed again.


The Very Beginning


The Very Beginning

by David

In the beginning, the very beginning, before either one of us knew where the future would lead us... 
 
It began when I walked through the doors of her church. 
 
Its a good beginning. 
For no other reason than giving a ride to my younger sisters I found myself at Hope Christian Fellowship, and meeting Bekah. It wasn't love at first sight, she said hello while I was looking through a comic book bible, small talk was exchanged. 
 
It would not be the last.
 
Friendship started with "Bring your own chair" and personality tests and exploding propane grills (much more dramatic in prose than real life) 
With running and chatting and a mutual appreciation for science fiction. It continued with unintentionally matching t-shirts, with high school plays and youth ministry. 
 
 And from that tiny seed, a relationship grew.
 
A seed watered by ska music and never-tried-before recipes, by handwritten letters and the waltz. 
 
Until one day.... 
 
Flowers, dinner, chocolate ice cream, and Stargate SG-1. A long quiet walk around the pond that ended at a ramshackle gazebo. Confessions abounded: I said "I really like you, and I want to know everything." 
 
And then we held hands.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The House

 The House-  A Poem

Insidious foundations
a building crafted on craftiness
The walls a clever brickwork
Steeples designed for public viewing
From the outside beauty 
thick stucco reliefs for all to admire
impregnable fortress 
Firewalls constructed for protection
Beneath facades of misdirection
While hiding inside
The cracks that threaten
A design for solidarity
Trap doors tender brokeness
Hidden rooms fill with doubt
Not mortar or more veneer
The house cannot be mended
Flames higher than rooftops
Implosions and downfall
The building begin again
Using solid foundations


Monday, August 26, 2013

Why I said Goodbye

As I was reading the newest post over at Redemption Pictures, I was reminded of why I said good bye to magazines. I'm not sure how many I was getting, but it seemed so easy to spend $12 and get a new magazine every month. Inside their shiny covers told me everything I needed to be fashionable, thin, beautiful, fit and trim, well fed, a better employee, a better friend, and more confident person etc.

In reality their covers promise things that most of us will never actually follow through on and the few of us that do, will not get the results implied in the slippery pages of a magazine. One day when I was feeling particularly confident in who I was I was sorting this pile of magazines that had piled up. As I flipped the pages of makeup and clothing advertisements I realized I no longer bought into the myth that I needed those things to be beautiful.

I suppose I am one of those people who really wants to assert that beauty shines through from deep below the skin and societal expectations are false realities. These are propagated by consumer driven products filling the magazines I used to enjoy.

Beyond the advertisements are articles that add the the need for new, better, and more stuff
  • mixing and matching wardrobes with 5 new key pieces for the season.
  • The best celebrity best hair cut for your face, which by the way never seems to look like the celebrity when I get the hair style.
  • 5 minutes a day to a flat ab. Which for most people, is not the only issue.

Okay, so there are helpful articles in magazine, but most of those topics one can actually get online for free from somewhere. There are magazines that do not fit this, but I certainly am not one who has subscribed to them.

So, I have said goodbye to magazines. For plane trips I drag along light books and pod casts. For fashion, beauty, and hair, I use a mirror. For exercise I find getting off the couch and away from the computer is a pretty good plan. For healthy food, starting in the produce department rather than the boxed food isle is my suggestion.

To my friends who used me as their source of the new color of the season, the trendiest coat style, or the latest new makeup trend, wear what makes you confident and feel comfortable.

I am finished following trends from advertisements desperate for me to spend more money.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In the Margins- A look at Prototype

Last week I've finished Prototype by Johnathan Martin. The book is currently still echoing in my head and heart. Quite honestly I was a little leery from all the hype, but the perseverance of its virtues and transformational effects wore me down until I was actually waiting with bated breath for the book to arrive at my PO Box. Now gleefully I can say it was worth the wait, it was worth the read, and it is a keeper.

 

Johnathan Martin leads his reader through a bit of nostalgia, a lot of truth, and through the stories of lives who were transformed by the authentic reality of Christ as our prototype for living life. It has the potential of transforming your core understanding of who you are. The other side of transformation is a realization that we are beautiful, and thankfully not perfect, because our brokenness is part of the beauty. 

 

So then how do explain this book? Someone asked why she should read this book and also requested that we be specific. My first thoughts were, the answer is in the margins.

 

And so to the margins of my very marked up copy I will go: So below is excerpts from my margins, with annotations and thoughts about what I wrote in blue.And Red are direct quotes from Prototype.


Names have power: Don't let anyone tell you differently. And isn't that the case. It seems that when someone knows my name, they acknowledge my uniqueness. Recently I was overcome by my name being known at my brother's church. One of the things I've always loved about his church is that they gather me in and let me join in the work when I visit. Now I also know that I am known there.  What is my name? It isn't what I do or portray. Its deep down. God knows it and calls me by it. And here it is our identity is from God and not in what we do or accomplish. No matter how big a failure or success I feel I am, I am still a child of God, who is bigger than anything and loves me.

Fear is an action stopper. And I see that when I'm standing at the edge of the metaphorical  cliff. Yet, How then does the Bible tell us to Fear God? A friend and I had a discussion on this idea that would be worthy of its own post. The short answer is awe and reverence cannot be broken down into the term fear. This is if fear is defined as that which pushes one from God, while God draws us to him.

Repetition - the sure way. Because sometimes it takes a few times to get through my thick head.
Whoa! That's a mouthful. The fact that broken people like us seem far too unstable and undependable to bring the futuristic contours of God's Kingdom of love into the world maybe precisely what makes us the most likely candidates. And then I wrote... People on the margins, Resonates and yet... misfits change the world not superheros. And it is such a relief that I don't have to try and be a super hero. Who wants to try and be perfect? Such hard and impossible work.

Scars= road signs of redemption

Who are the people in your neighborhood? One part Mr Rogers, one part John Wesley. As my own pastor meets and draws people to Jesus at the local coffee shop, I totally understood this, but am I living it? More now. Yeah, this could probably be its own post too.

I am not the authority, God is and that is freedom. and a few pages later. Honesty brings the beginnings of relief. I also underlined breathe again on that page. And its that big sigh of relief. I get to just be myself

Magical places. For there are so many, and they are all OUTSIDE. Recently I've rediscovered the joy of being beneath a weeping willow. Preferable the ones with limbs so long they drag the ground.

Oh no, I'm laughing - because I always feel like the author or speaker will follow it up with a one two punch. 
His resurrection power had already changed the world. Past tense: It has been done. Now we are left to accept it. And that is powerfully wonderful. It changes everything. We accept the resurrection and are free to be. Just to be. No pressure to do anything to obtain it. Grace has done the work for us.

Doubting in the direction of Jesus.

The need for human touch: Touch is redeeming, affirming, humanizing. Loneliness in the crowd of people= no real touch. One of my favorite authors Madeleine L'Engle speaks of the importance of authentic touch. One can make contact without it being real touch. I understand that completely. which is probably why my next note says the future is foot washing And yet that is terrifyingly real.

Indigenous: Meeting people where their needs are. Rather than what you perceive is needed, seek out the real needs, and be actually useful. Teach fishing to the hungry. bring flowers to the colorless. Sit with the those who need a listening ear or comforting arm. 

In conclusion why should you read Prototype? How about because the transformational potential might make you leap off the metaphorical cliff tomorrow, or like Peter leap from the boat. Doesn't sound awesome? Trust me I've been leaping for weeks and it is wonderful, marvelous, freeing, and joy filling. And yet still scary, but God... He is faithful. He's tells me I am something beautiful now, and that he had great things in store for my now and my future.


Redemption Pictures The review that made me give in and give it a go.

Pastor Johnathan Martin The Author's website

And if you like it, there are sermons related to each chapter from Renovatus Church. 


 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Platypus in the Crowd

Second String* was practically my theme song for many of my younger years. I felt exactly that the second place person.

On the fringe of social groups
The person people called when they had nothing better to do
The one tolerated but never fully accepted.

The crazy thing about this is if I had truly looked around I would have realized so many people felt that way. I was alone and I didn't have to be.

Being alone even in a crowd is the loneliest thing I can think of. Countless times I find myself wall flowering it at parties and church events because of fear.

I grew up with a sense of my awkward out "placeness" firmly entrenched in my head and my heart. Really it is true. And when those crazy mixer questions like what animal would you be came up, I always said duck-billed platypus.^ Yep that crazy animal who isn't certain if he is a  bird or a mammal. That was me. That was how I identified myself as the person not quite fitting anywhere.

These are not struggles one shrugs off in a moment, but I am rejecting them as truth.
I found authentic community where brokenness is not hidden behind shutters, where breaking down in tears is acceptable. Where reality is met with open arms and together we move forward.

So here's the truth and I hope you are still reading.

If the people around you are not treasuring your quirks, loving your unique qualities, and also helping you grow into the person you can become fully realizing your awesomeness in the arms of God, it is NOT your fault.

God created us in his image. As his beloved my worth is more than all the flowers of the field and the fish in the stream. You too are worth more than all the precious jewels in the world. You are not alone in your fears.

If you asked me today, I'd say Sea Otter, They are playful, resourceful, and they sleep holding onto each other so they don't float apart.


 Footnotes:
*If you want to give the song a listen there's a link, but I gotta give you a head up it comes with cheesy and mostly unrelated graphics in the YouTube video I found

^The Duck billed platypus is actually a pretty cool animal. They walk on their knuckles and the males have venom.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Trampling the lies of Abandonment

Abandon: give up; desert or leave permanently.


Left behind
Tearfully curled up on the kitchen floor
Tears mixed with mint tea
Its soothing attributes lost on me

Again alone
wrapped in a new melody 
The music a minor key
Echoes in the lonely hall

Abandonment is a powerful and sometimes debilitating feeling. And its hard to explain, and hard to recover from. So many times I've been left for other, and it is a real fear that I live with every day of my life. 

So I consider myself a recovering pity-partyiest. 
I choose to live each day fully and trust again. 
I choose to accept that forever is sincere in the offering.
I choose all the colors of the rainbow.
I choose to renew hope daily, to follow Christ fully, and experience joy in the simple things.

And it in these choices that the demons and lies of past are squashed like a bug; an annoying bug that apparently has friends. I will squash them all. I'm prepared to squash the entire pile of lies and then sweep them right out of my life. 

Faith.
Hope.
Love.
And the greatest of these things is love.

"It's our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" -J. K. Rowling
 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Valleys, not just minor Keys

So, mountain top experiences are all those things one supposes they are, and yes I do love them, but they are only momentous because of the valleys and the hills between. If we all dwelt within mountain top experiences, they would be common place.

NOT big deals
NOT life changing moments
NOT times of extreme enthusiasm

And so often I find myself downplaying the value of the valley. I find them in the minor keys of life. The times when smiling hurts. When the mask is firmly planted in the workplace and only those who've seen me can see can truly still see me.

But the Valleys are MORE than waiting for another hill to summit. I read A Note for Those in the Valley And realized I had I all wrong.

The Valley is were peace is.
The Valley is were rest is.
The Valley is a sweet melody.
The Valley is Joy from the Lord

And though I may be smiling through tears,
And upset at the present,
And scared of the future,
God is sitting next me in the front porch swing.

So today I choose to remain unclimbing, still, and soaking in the sunshine that I see of the world around me that is God's, not mine.

I choose the porch, the cup of tea, and Psalms 25.
I choose Joy in a minor Key.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

David and the Downward Spiral

I'm reading through 2 Samuel, and having also recently read 1 Samuel, I've been repeatedly struck by the consideration David shows for God's anointed ones, an for seeking direction from God. On multiple occasions David chooses to spare the life of Saul, the anointed King of Israel. Interesting especially in light of Saul's repeated attempts on David's life. Of course that could be interesting to, but back to David in 2 Samuel.
In 2 Samuel 1-10, the times David chooses the righteous path is downright plethoric. Or at least it seems that way at first.

Highlights
  • David mourns Saul and Jonathan and avenges their deaths; Ch. 1
  • David seeks God for direction and is anointed King of Judah; Ch 2.
  • David sent Abner away and was innocent of his death; Ch. 3
  • David mourns and avenges the death of Ish-bosheth; Ch. 4
  • David follows God and defeats the Philistines; Ch. 5
  • David brings the Ark of the Covenant home and worships the Lord; Ch. 6
  • David receives a covenant of everlasting kingdom from the Lord; Ch. 7
  • David praises the Lord; Ch. 7
  • David was victorious in battle because the Lord gave him victory; Ch. 8
  • David is kind to Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan; Ch. 9
  • David defeats the Ammonites and Arameans Ch. 10
But then we begin Chapter 11 and everything changes. In the prior chapters David led his men into battle. He was there seeking direction from God and then directing the army in triumph. However chapter 11 begins with "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the kings men." Wait a minute, David sent his army without him and stayed in Jerusalem. Maybe he was tired, maybe he wanted a break, maybe he was busy organizing the city of Jerusalem or accomplishing other kingly tasks. While it is clear that his staying home was incongruous with the norm for Kings of those days, the Bible doesn't say why David stayed home. However it speaks extensively on what happened because he stayed home.
  1. He did not lead his army into battle
  2. He saw the bathing beauty on her rooftop
  3. He sent for the beauty- she was another man's wife
  4. He slept with her
  5. He began trying to cover up his sin
  6. He continues to try and cover up his sin
  7. He has Uriah, the husband killed
And that's how it happened, one step after another deeper into sin until an innocent man lost his life because David couldn't stop his downward spiral. While I'm fairly certain there has been no innocent loss of life due to my sin, I am sadly all too familiar with downward spirals. 
  1. They ruin friendships
  2.  Destroy families
  3. Tear apart communities
However, Chapter 11 is not where the story ends. As one completes a reading of 2 Samuel, David writes Psalms to the Lord, builds altars for God and continues to do as the Lord wills. Such is that God creates a covenant with the house of David. 1 Kings 2.

And I leave you with this:
Even in the midst of trouble and sin, God is waiting for us to turn back hand him the dangerous items we are using and step into his embrace.