12.25.2013

christmas

i really have written more positive things recently, but my phone hasnt been posting correctly. the followong is taken from she reads truth: 

[ Had they no friends or family there to take them in? Was there no room in the marketplace or the schools, the temple or the synagogue? Why was this place with the livestock - the crudest of all possible options - the only where they could find room?

Charles Spurgeon had a theory that this was not unusual, that there is very little room in society provided for our Christ. Spurgeon wrote, “There is no space for the Prince of peace but with the humble and contrite spirits which by grace he prepares to yield him shelter.”

Sisters, that’s you. You are where He dwells.

Perhaps you have an objection to this. Spurgeon covers some common ones here:

“‘Well,’ says one, ‘I have room for him, but I am not worthy that he should come to me.’ Ah! I did not ask about worthiness; have you room for him? ‘Oh! but I feel it is a place not at all fit for Christ!’ Nor was the manger a place fit for him, and yet there was he laid. ‘Oh! but I have been such a sinner; I feel as if my heart had been a den of beasts and devils!’ Well, the manger had been a place where beasts had fed. Have you room for him?

“Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive. It mattereth not what even the present state may be if thou mournest it. If thou hast but room for Christ he will come and be thy guest.”

Do you have room for Him, dear Sisters? Oh, how He longs to dwell richly in you. ]

that just spoke to me so beautifully tonight. as the whole idea of advent has spoken richly to me this year: the concept of waiting; of admitting the brokenness of earth & repenting for our hand in it; of rejoicing about the day Christ came to set right the most vital problem we had; & the anticipation that He will come again. death IS dead. but we still face it temporarily.

I find i focus most on what Christmas means for the future & less on the history aspect. then i don't forget that it also means Jesus is coming back. & He didn't set all things right the first time--granted He did THE most needed & important righting by absorbing our earned wrath & giving us opportunity for relationship with God. -but- He is also going to heal & restore ALL things one day. no more broken marriages or relationships. no more abuse. no alcoholism or violence or murder or suffering or sexual identity problems or cancer or death. all of that will cease. 

& it's affects on us will somehow ONLY serve to make Jesus beautiful. shiningly so; His goodness will outweigh all our pain. & how grace will be sweet! 

{{Christmas is hope to me this year}} 

12.11.2013

snapshots // mental fragments








it was a blessed day. God was kind.
I'm grateful I took pictures. (except the pic of us w/ nana is from yesterday but I didn't have a photo of today's visit)
bc right now the silence is whispering & I am desperately trying to fill my mind with lovely to keep it out. 

I'm not good with silence 
right now
because all the quiet
reminds me death is waiting. 

I can't help picturing the book thief character...waiting.
watching us. 
knowing what we don't, being surprised at how unaware we seem.
wondering at the foolish way hope sneaks in on days things seem so much better.

its not like that. i know the gospel. 

damn it. i don't want to mourn the living! i will not grieve while she is yet here for me to hug. pray for. sit with, speak to, laugh with-at...

this is why i avoid silence right now. quiet has a voice, I can hear the wrecked days whispering at the edge of my consciousness. it knows how scared I am. 

but Jesus will be there. 

12.04.2013

apathy hurts in a strange unfeeling way


what do you do, when you know it in your head...but your heart is unresponsive? I don't need preaching-I can probably tell you which book of the bible your fix-it bandaid or your sledgehammer conviction came from. yeah, I've to said it all. i thought hope wouldn't leave me. in all my darkness before, I've had small {sometimes painfully faint} existence of hope within. this time. nada. i fight to believe God is good. a rescuer, restorer of wasted time & making faithful the weary. but my heart stopped. & i never noticed. don't tell me to just believe. I know it's real intellectually...but deeper? I feel like God has done nothing. I KNOW its my perspective! but i can.not open my eyes of faith. so desperately want to remake the choice to always believe His Words no matter what my eyes see. i'd relive the hell of 2012 where I knew He was enough & I knew I treasured Him most over this apathy. my heart is so dead. what good is mental assent? 

something's in the way. perhaps deep rooted things? perhaps not? im the deep overthinking analyzer. but i cant figure myself. i (thought) i conquered bitterness. self-pity, self will, arrogance, unbelief. but apparently i haven't. partly laziness is to blame. but partly, isn't it not supposed to be all about my efforts? oh to find that healthy balance... maybe its fear. I don't know. 
all I know is I'm nowhere near the person I was. I don't care about people. I say I don't have the energy. lame excuse. isn't love a choice? yet true, in feeling. i *feel* a weariness so deep in my bones i can't believe i keep living. i WANT to live! life is a beautiful gift! but how can I enjoy it when just getting out of bed aches?  it's God that my body keeps moving most days. i wonder sometimes if my soul becaming faithless & cowardly saps my physical strength; or if physical weariness came first and has seeped beneath my skin. I pray, but I feel hypocritical praying for others when I'm so numb. 

I know I can't change it myself. I can't fix whatever it is. I tell myself how horrible my apathy is, how disheartening my laziness, how foolish my chasing worldly approval in the guise of fitting in with the majority. 

but I feel nothing. 

I want to be devestated. my sin should shatter me! it does on occasion, but the next day I'm too exhausted to care.

please. God I am waiting on You. help me to keep asking for your grace to smash my heart. don't let me stay cold. don't let me deceive myself. let your Word come to life when I read it; speak to me through the pages.

root out whatever you must. give me back a vivid walk with you? I have absolutely zero passion or motivation for life apart from You. I could care less what I do. where I travel. I don't want to get through school or begin a ministry or move out or stay here. all I want to do is sleep. sleep until I'm free from these tendons & weights & fog. I can't even hurt.

You created me for more than this.

help me. oh help my fatal chronic unbelief!!!!! I don't have to do big things for you. I don't need to be superwoman. I don't have to be seen a spiritual powerhouse. it's ok if nobody knows my warrior's heart, I need it back. to give You my all. in my life. every day. in little ways. I want to keep my sacrifices to myself. and stop seeing so much of my duty as a great sacrifice! ahh God. I just want internal spark. life. 

therapy

I haven't even been looking for beauty in life recently, but Saturday I found some. it was a lovely surprise blessing! bre & i spent the day trail riding. it wasn't the ocean...but there was therapy for my heart in the rhythms & spaces. horses, open fields, forests, even a surprise creek. not bad for Florida! it was so nice to just be. I didn't pray much  or have any deep thoughts; in fact it's the least I've thought in months. but it was stillness. peace.



grateful for that day. we came home to shattering news which had me angry & hurt that night, so in the moment it obliterated the beauty of the day. but that's life. & now I can remember the simple joy of the day untainted. God gave me a gift Saturday. 

11.26.2013

comradeship

this is not going to be well written bc I'm brain fried. just call it a rough draft, & sometime when I'm out of school I will write a much better version.

I told Abi I'd blog about why I love flashpoint... it follows the strategic response unit (SRU) team 1 as they respond to 911 calls that are above everyday police ability. its got a psychological analysis angle, a human interest/personal story angle, sweet equipment, damn fine shooting, & a female sniper named Julianna O'Callahan. what's not to love?! ;) 

now i should say, I'm not a tv person. I'll watch shows if they're on to be with people. but I get bored of tv quick. ive only ever followed Sherlock...& maybe Psych a bit bc i laugh out loud...sidetrack. anyway. one of my good friends family's can watch tv all day long, & I alway ended up doing dishes bc I'd think "I can't take anymore watching other people do things while I'm still!!" just to show how NOT a tvholic i am haha. so why this? why did I watch 4 seasons in 2 months?

one of the reasons I think it speaks to me is bc there's a level of camaraderie to it. its something that is lacking in my own life right now, & i miss it. flashpoint reminds me of a few friends I have who are legit grand teammates.
you can't have the show without the whole team. its hard to pick a favorite bc each one brings something vital to the table. the key to functioning well is to know one another well. No matter what they might disagree about they have each others backs. they're not perfect--there's conflict. realistic fighting .but they understand loyalty. there's no politics, no back stabbing. 

another reason. i feel the show gives dignity to life. it forces you to think about the situations through the lens of its effect on people. crime becomes personal. with nana being sick, I've watched more crime shows the past month than I ever did before. castle, person of interest, bones, NCIS, blacklist, mcsomebody, criminal minds, law & order svu... some of them I hate & some can be fascinating. but they're usually written more from a solve the mystery after the crime perspective. sometimes higher body counts make better shows. not flashpoint. the mystery element is sometimes there but it's more preventative. still fast-paced action & drama. but the goal is save a life. at almost any cost, at great personal risk; priority of life. when people die, the violence isn't gratuitous. the team sees it as a defeat. I love the way they give victims (& often even perpetrators) dignity. their lives have value. the "bad guys" are very human, their actions have thoughts & hearts behind them. some are just awful people. some are hurting, others just desperate. the motive doesn't justify the action--but like real life it isn't always black & white. it's not good cop bad people. it's a lot of frail humans making good choices or bad choices; with a very human team fighting to always make the best choice. its cool how it comes down to whether they'll choose to act out of emotion or whatever is driving them; or the choice to not. I'm terribly botching what I'm trying to say...forget it.

anyway. I admit I love flashpoint. super cheesy season 1, crazy camera season 2,  canadianness, inconsistencies & all. There are aspects i dislike but that's for later.

I actually like the whole team. (that's impressive for me) I love the graciousness & flawed humility of Sargent Parker. he teaches me about grace, almost every episode. Ed's "by the book" law/rules method drives me bonkers, but he's a good leader, & has his team's back. let's be honest he's usually right...Wordy is one of the few quieter personalities, but has no problem stating it when he sees injustice. i love how his toughness has compassion. he's a great dad. Lou was funny, kick butt with bad guys, a great friend. I miss him. stupid writers. he's the only one whose character we don't get to see grow. Jules gets on my nerves with how she handles some things, but she is the "heart" as Parker says. it's cool to watch her grow in understanding & soften a little without losing her edge (ok, my fam is right; I am so her personality-wise) female sniper? kudos. oh Sam. so cheesy! sometimes that kid irritates me with his gung-ho military style, but he matures into a good leader. & he has the biggest heart. he's presh--real presh not charm fake presh. Scarlatti makes me laugh. he watches out for the crew, cool under pressure & cracks jokes at tense moments. wish I had his brain for technology. I might be in trouble if he was real...Raff, dude earned my respect but I still like Wordy better. at least I can somewhat like you now. honestly wish it was Lea instead, she was super cool.
 

the end. promise kept. embarrassing confession over. judge away!

10.28.2013

spilling guts

i'm not editing this (not like i ever "edit" this writing) but i'm not even mentally pre-forming my words.

sometimes i'm really sneaky at lying to myself. i don't like feelings so i'm not always in touch with my own. a silly thing for an introvert to say. sure i can over-think & psycho-analyze toooo death. _but_ it doesn't follow that i analyze my emotions. what i think is far more important, right? ;)

when real things are happening i tend to shove it down. don't think don't go there don't feel.

so i'm gonna spill my guts & maybe get a handle on what's really going on this lil person. i need honesty with myself and the Lord.

i want so much to be brave & beautiful (on a deep character level). right now it doesn't look like i'll get there. that takes faith in Jesus, since both spring from vital, unshakable hope. i don't have hope right now. some days God fills me with it. but then i wonder later if it wasn't just hormones or feelings when i'm back to lifelessness. what if i never reach a point where my joy isn't based on circumstances, shallowness, comfort?

and i'm not talking brave & beautiful in usual terms. not "brave" in that i do fantastic heroic feats. the quiet brave, the kind of inner strength that endures and bears up under discomfort without complaint. bravery that nobody else knows is there. the kind of person who can be shattered inside without shattering totally outside. who still has strength to care for others & not turn self-obsessed inwards or let inner hurt block out the world.
well. this child ain't there yet.
i know honesty & weakness are good things. but i think its a fine line to just being weak in a whiny i-don't-want-to-try-anymore way. i'm not saying i'm there, i don't know. but i know i'm too close to giving up to have a healthy weakness. mine is lazy...

beautiful. not the kind of aesthetic beauty that makes heads turn (although lets be honest, if gorgeous just happened to me i wouldn't complain) but what i want more than that is bright beauty. blech, i don't know what to call it...
i want to bring beauty with me, call attention to the sparkle & color God has infused this broken world with. so much of it lies hidden in the small joys we take for granted. i don't want to *be* the beautiful one; i want to make it & give it & share it.
i'm not saying i want to be the one people look at and see "oh she's beautiful" or even "oh she really appreciates beauty". i want to be the person who genuinely makes other people see beauty. i want to be the kind of woman that when i leave, those left see more light & beauty & Jesus & hope around them. i mean i can't really bring or create beauty; i can only reflect God's, & the sparkle He has put in me. i don't want attention. sure it can be a temptation, but really i'm rather awkward with that & its not satisfying. but i want to be a the one to open eyes to what is already there.

problem: these days i am all complaining negative mess. but i suppose when you're watching a loved one die, it's not a good time to assess your hope/faith radar.

or isn't it?
isn't it supposed to be when things are darkest that true courage, true light, true hope emerge? isn't this the scenario when those most rooted & secure in God shine brightest?

i am not well rooted. because i am not shining. some days i fight. but some days i just crawl back into bed and ache for God to stop the human heart inside me. i'm not even really feeling the pain yet! but i know it's coming and i am so afraid. i don't want to go down this damn stupid grieving road again.

one thing i do see, one way God's hand MUST be upon me? i stubbornly refuse to suit up and prepare for the pain that's coming. i will not mourn while nana lives. i will enjoy all the precious moments i have left with her. i will treasure them & value them more than the 4.0 GPA i'm losing. i will not taint them with any future apprehension. life lesson learned the hard way: you can't prepare for the actual renting of ones heart. all that does is rob you of the present.

well that was disgusting...it's surprisingly hard to write without a filter. guess i'm supposed to feel free-er now? i'm not as hopeless as i sound. or maybe i don't want to admit or confess it. maybe i'm not, because wouldn't that hurt intensely like the year-of-hell-2012? this might all be a bunch of crap stemming from no sleep, impossible deadlines & so much coffee my body is revved strangely in spite of mental fatigue.
on to homework.
i'm a little ashamed of this post. but i need to be honest & open about my most shameful places or how else will the light come in and restore them?

10.19.2013

welcome to the Sahara (& for the first time i am seeing it is love)

here's the deal.
spiritually, i ain't so hot. just sizzling. in a will-there-ever-be-water-again way. i'm in a desert something fierce, since Oct 2011. that's when i think it began. i noticed a distance, a parching. something was less-feeling in my walk with God. i thought maybe it was the boyfriend, but that ended and the heat didn't. i thought it was all in my head; "maybe i'm just hyped on experiences" or "i'm not listening enough". i thought it was depression, but God brought me through that with no renewal of the vibrant, living-waterness. there's been terrain change... pits, different sand, sometimes rocks underfoot. a few mirages, but no rain. no oasis. i tried to dissect where i went wrong. what sin is trapping me here. what mistake did i make...i tried getting out. i started faking. i've started to doubt if i ever even loved God. if God really ever conquered my heart. but in the past few months diff words have been sneaking in an idea:  _it's not about what i did/didn't_
this sermon by {Matt Chandler-- Approaching the Divine} brought clar-i-ty. excerpts:

"What do you do in that moment where you wake up and everything your profess to believe seems so far from you? Because if you spend a lot of time in church, like here’s just one of the craziest things. [...] 
What do you do when you have the right answers, but it does nothing for your heart? Where do we go? Because if we sat down and talked to someone, they’re just going to tell us the answers that we already know, aren't they? That was my experience. I would unpack it and just wait to hear what I knew was coming next. And then, sometimes I would tell them the book they got that from... How do we approach God in those moments?
[...]
[on praying honestly like David] I mean, we don’t ever want to get to the real issue, we don’t ever want to pray the real prayer. You know what? Because I think the real prayer reveals the sinfulness of our hearts. And that’s not a topic we like to deal with. That’s not a topic we want to embrace, look at or even consider. The thing that happens when you set yourself under the truth of God’s word is it begins to flow through the heart and you finally get to real prayers. And real prayers are like this real fertile soil that spiritual growth occurs in.
[...]
Look at the last part. “...but God is the one you must fear.” Solomon ends this whole thing by saying this, “If you do these things, maybe you’ll walk out of the desert, but in the end, maybe you won’t. In the end, God is the one you must fear.” Now look at me because I want to say something that’s wildly unpopular, but in the end it’s beautiful. Sometimes, God ordains the desert. Sometimes, it’s not because of sin and it’s not because of disobedience, but because God put you out there. In New Mexico, for some reason, I began reading through the book of Hosea, a real family friendly book in the middle of the Old Testament. Hosea was a normal man who God came to, and He said "... I want you to marry a woman of ill repute. And here’s the thing, Hosea. She’s going to be horrible to you. She’s going to cheat on you over and over and over again. She’s going to betray you. And each time she does, I’m going to increase your love for her so that you can’t wash your hands of it and walk away. And you’re going grieve and you’re going to hurt and you’re going to sob and you’re going to wail, but I’m not going to let you walk away from her.” [...] But here’s the thing He says to Hosea in chapter 2 [...] He says, “Here’s what I’m going to do with Gomer, your cheating wife. I’m going to take her out to the desert, I’m going to allure her, and out in the desert, she’ll finally get tired of herself. And when she finally gets tired of herself...” You want to know the character of God? Listen to what’s next. “...there I will speak tenderly to her.” So, He doesn't take her out into the desert and go, “Shame on you, woman of ill repute.” He doesn't take her out into the desert to berate her for her sins or to pile on for her poor decisions, He says, “I’m going to take her out into the desert, and when she’s gasping for water, when she’s exhausted of herself, there I will speak tenderly to her and I will increase her vineyards.” In the Old Testament, wine and joy are this parallel, they’re equal. Like, if you see wine mentioned, they’re talking about the increase in joy. ... And He says, “I've got to take her out into the desert. I've got to take her out there, because the only way to kill certain things is to deprive it of water. And so, I’m going to walk her out into the desert, and I’m going to starve this thing out. And when she’s and almost dying, I’m going to speak tenderly to her, and I’m going to increase her joy.” And then, look at me, because the next line to me was so heartbreaking and encouraging. He says, “And out there, out where it’s dry, she’ll finally learn to quit calling me master and start calling me husband.

And so, for some of you, please hear me ... Tonight, your in a dry time not because God’s angry with you, but because He desperately loves you. That’s why. Right now, for some of you, the reason you can’t find Him is because He desperately wants you to really find Him. ...

So, maybe you've been allured out there. Maybe it’s not sin, maybe it’s not disobedience, maybe God just said, “Okay, I've got to kill some stuff in you. Let’s go.
“Well, what stuff do You want to kill?”
“Well, I could explain it to you now, but you wouldn't actually believe that it’s actually in your heart, because it’s really, really deep down. I mean, I've got to take the plow to you. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go to the desert.”
“Well, I don’t like the desert.”
“Well, I know you don’t, but let’s get out there. Because out there, I can really do a work in you, a work that will make you quit coming to church and quit doing Christiany stuff. Because you think in the end, I can kill you or that I wish you harm. It’s out here, it’s out in the struggle, it’s out in the fight that you’re finally going to learn that I love you.”
Sometimes the desert, it’s here for awhile, man. Because I think that’s the question when God goes, “Come on, let’s go to the desert.” “Well, how much water do I need to pack?” Maybe six weeks, maybe six months. Listen to me, maybe six years. This ain’t no Rubix Cube, man. This isn't math. Sometimes with God, 2 + 2 doesn't equal 4. He says, “Come on, let’s go. Out to the desert, come on. It’s dry, it hurts, but pay attention to your feet. Draw near and listen. I have not abandoned you. Pray for real to Me [...] I know you’re hiding in the closet. Let’s not play this game. Be honest. It’s where we have to begin. And when I whisper to you, follow Me because I’m trying to get you out of here. I don’t enjoy the desert either.”

Okay, for some of us tonight, this doesn't do anything because you’re sitting next to the spiritual pool with a piƱa colada in your hand [...] But for some of us, this is where we find ourselves tonight. It’s frustrating and agonizing and we begin to start wondering if we were ever really saved of if God’s real or if maybe it would be better to just walk away. I pray you find your hearts encouraged tonight. I pray that you would look at your feet. I pray that you wouldn't pretend. I pray that you’d be honest before God and man. I pray that you would put yourselves under the weight and the truths of Scripture. I pray that, in the end, you would listen to the still small voice, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit resonating inside your to come, walk this way, this way to water."

it makes sense, why i keep thinking the theme of this season is g r a c e

& how this ties in with abi's letter.
it takes a devastating, a breaking, a long walk in the desert to rid this woman of her fierce independence. her strength in self-sufficiency. her wanting to be enough for everybody.
all the while just to get at a deeper root:
i still view Him as Master only.

& how this quote revealed myself:  "God is a father, and you're His blessing. Some of you say: 'I don't act like His blessing, I don't feel like His blessing;' you ARE His blessing. If you accept the fact that you are, you will start to live like a blessing. it doesn't start with your performance but with His affection."

i am still afraid of Him. afraid He doesn't approve of me. afraid i disappoint Him. afraid to get close, because what if I find out He just tolerates me? how can i ever have worth if God does not see value in me? what if it is based on me?

here. in this sahara. i think maybe one of those deep deep things
is for me to finally stop calling God "Master" and learn to call Him "Husband"
aka
r e c i e v e
a c c e p t
g  r  a  c  e

[this might be a 6 year journey]

10.17.2013

things I learned this week


rough week. but last thursday, mum & i didn't think nana would live through the night and here she is doing better! praise Jesus for small miracles. there's been light, good moments. I want to focus on the beauty. so here are things I learned from spending every spare moment in Apopka with my dads family:

1) family means everything. i didn't know how tight we really were. tragedy tears apart or brings together; we're together. of course, 4 sons with strong & different personalities plus 4 necessarily strong wives; there are bound to be a few small explosions... but. after the smoke clears, we pull together. division is not the lasting note. underneath it all there is strength & loyalty. I've been so impressed, encouraged, & grateful at the way my uncles & aunts & cousins dropped everything. they put their lives in wyoming & texas on pause. they've taken care of Nana and worked through rough days. everybody wants Nana to be happy. we want what's best for her. I'm so grateful to be in a family where love is greater than pride or greed. we're not the family you hear about in the paper.
unless it's the humor section...

2) we're hilarious Bullshitting runs in the bloodlines...my uncles make things up faster than you can blink. we're also fluent in sarcasm, off-key singing, & colorful storytelling. "american girl dolls are racist. the only one with green eyes is the red hair girl." like nana herself said: "we've had some giggles" 

3) my grandfather really adores his wife I already knew this, but they've never been a very PDA couple. so when Buffie calls her honey & holds her hand, it knifes me. so precious, and good to have what I always thought confirmed. he truly loves her like nothing.

4) I've seen new sides to my uncles there are specific character traits that haven't been highlighted in the limited time spent with them over the years. but now they stand out clearly in each of them: uncle Kenneth is steady, level-headed; the rock of the family trying to keep spirits up. uncle Kevin pays more attention to people than I ever knew, & sees needs. uncle Mark is the most compassionate, more bent towards serving. I've always respected them, partly for being somewhat like my own dad. but now I have a stronger basis for that respect.

5) Nana is truly selfless  she STILL tries to take care of all of us! even when talking is nearly impossible, she asks who is where & if they need anything. she so badly doesn't want to be a burden. here she is suffering; & she's concerned about our lives and our comfort & worrying about us. 

6) nana is secretly Sherlock she may be sick, but she can hear somebody in the kitchen or bedroom or talking even with the tv on. she's very aware of who is where & what's going on. she figured things put when we try to avoid telling her things that may add to her worry. sometimes she gets confused, but it's only physical. mentally she is still sharp as a whip!

there are other things that come to mind but I'm tired and I've had my "life is beautiful" for the day. Thank you Jesus for lightheartedness. 

10.12.2013

theme song: what Sarah said.

I never thought I'd be living this song again so soon. I guess 5 years isn't that soon; but it feels that way.  
goodbyes never get easier. watching someone die never gets easier, it's line a character in a tv show said recently: "normal? no. I see this all the time & it's the job; but it's never normal." 

I don't have anything coherent to say. I just thought maybe a few words would release some of the ache. 

I've seen every one of my aunts cry. ((& the daughters-in-law are not wimpy; only strong woman can marry my dad & his brothers))

but seeing my uncles cry kills me most. their hurt compounds my own heartbreak. these boys are not criers. they're hunters who drive big ole trucks, strong personalities & drinkers & tough & storytellers & crazy embelleshers & goofballs & dads. but not criers. 
the way my oldest uncle, who has to be hurting even more than the others, has been so cheerful & goofy & trying to do what's best for nana. my own dad, how he's risen to the occasion & had grace during tense moments & cared for everybody. 

grief is raw. dragged out grief & the roller coaster of better--death's door--again better is killer. even when you know it's a matter of days, or weeks; the cycle is just. brutal. 

I'm grateful for eternal life. & hope. 


9.29.2013

i can't read a letter from myself at 30; so i'll write one to my 19 year old self

Hey.
This is a little weird, but here's a letter from me. Or you... the 25-year-old self. I know at 19 you're trying really hard to put on a brave face. Trying to live up to expectations. But would you admit cancer sucks? You don't have to add "God is good & faithful" as a tagline anytime what you're actually walking through starts to come through in your words. cut all the "happy and you know it" crap. YES God is good & faithful; but ya gotta be a little more honest. It's k that you're bleeding & angry some days. There isn't a single good reason for all the suffering of cancer on this earth. its only going to get worse; so you need to get it straight right now: it's ok to not know. And people who make you feel like admissions of doubt or fear or hurt are questioning God? The ones who stifle you? Well they won't be in your life in 4 years. You'll benefit from gut-level honesty now vs. waiting til your mid 20s. Read Job. Read Romans 5-8, Ephesians 2. I know you think you're honest with God. But people around you need to know. Cause all this trying to be so strong & cheerful for everybody else is going to lead to lying to yourself. Next comes lying to God, and before you realize it you don't even know what your insides look like. The only way to kill doubt is to admit it. Confess it out loud. Don't try to pretend it isn't there. It's eating your heart into numb but you can't see it. Just tryin to save you some hard lessons later on.

Spend every weekend in Titusville. The group of friends you hang with? None of them are in your story long term. Don't avoid the hospital either. I know it kills you to see him dying. I know sometimes you gotta get coffee so you can bite the salt back. but you'll be SO GLAD you were there more weeks than not. Remember what sarah said. you'll regret not being there for the rest of your life so in feburary when you get off work? don't go home to feed the kids. go to the hospital first.

There's no nice way to say this. the nagging voice that says your writing stinks... that it's terrible and nobody would want to read it? it's right. your writing is awful. don't even try to be serious, please? you're gonna be embarrassed. you'll go just a few years and want to delete the whole damn blog! let's try to use spell check? maybe change sentence structure? stop talking about boring details? but don't stop writing. i think it gets a little more livable, (our 30-yr old self is probably laughing), but that's not really the point. whatever you do keep voicing. this place is going to be your only outlet through some deep darkness. because you learn to share the real introvert you here; you'll learn to open up to others. being transparent & raw & vulnerable is gonna make some friendships into a brotherhood. it's also gonna bring you the most intense pain yet and get you cut in the back a few times. but you come through it wiser. so that's good too. you'll be ashamed of some of the things you say now. your whole manner of saying them actually. lol but you'll STILL say stupid things in 6 years so don't stop. just try to think a little deeper. try to be brutally honest.

a lil encouragement...you're not quite as silly as you think. you are pretty dorky. & immature. but in fact. your appreciation for your church & your belief its always going to be a wonderful family; the way you trust the people you love; & your genuine excitement about the future yet LOVE of your mundane little life...those are beautiful things. you're not cynical yet. you haven't *really* tasted the price of your innate loyalty. the world laughs at you & yeah you're a little innocent. most of it's been taken, but you keep some. you'll miss it. Damn you'll miss innocence! there's a freedom in you that gets constrained. there could be more--don't worry about being your total self. not all the friends you think are lifers will be; and the ones that are? love you better when they know the worst things about you. you're too easily influenced. you're trying to be "humble" and less stubborn; but it's not the way you need to grow in humility. you're not confident in who you are in Christ. get that. you don't have to let others influence you; but you do need to welcome correction with a critical ear.

you have some incredible international travels ahead of you! you'll see breathtaking countries & have some insane adventures...yes, you do have "wake me up its too good for reality" moments coming.

i'm still waiting on the letter from me (you?) at 30 to tell me I'm in a better place than I think. to point out all the graces i'm taking for granted. cause i'm staring at cancer again and i already forgot just how ugly it is. but this time i'm not pretending its ok. i figured while i waited i'd write to you instead. maybe figure some things out faster this time. i'm hoping the 30 yr old me would say not to give up. i'm sure she'll have a little more Jesus instead of less so she probably will.

i feel like a narcissist...

9.24.2013

double header

two theme songs today. one is the way i feel i've been acting towards God. and the other is how i feel He actually is towards me. horrendous theology implications aside...

first one: ooohh so me!! i live functionally as if God is my part-time authority. i'm a part-time lover, running to Him when i'm in need and wandering away when i see something else i want. i've never been a full time man. sooo often i think "i've been faithful and God hasn't come through" and i stop. quit. give up. um. word to the girl, you've never STUCK IT OUT! the definition of faithful means *not* giving up when it gets rough. when it looks pointless. i'm willing to admit i'm spiritual Hosea's wife; that's not a new realization. but that my character itself is unfaithful? that something deep in me is a giver-upper? mmm. not me! i'm supposed to be the loyal one, the faithful one. i'm that girl who still thinks about people who walked out of my life in high school & wonders about their stories. i'm the person who doesn't give up on people even when they're just takers. i'm the girl who gets fed up and decides she's done but can't ever make it out the door lol. i'm back, every time. but with my Jesus? nope. no endurance.
it's a hard pill to swallow. that i am not steadfast. i am not loyal. i don't have what it takes to follow Him with all of me. not yet. (we're in process--Jesus doesn't give up on His kids.) of course God doesn't think of me as a fool or a mistake...but really. i relate.
PTL-reliant k
There was a time when I was scared of nothing
Nothing can touch you if you don't look back
I walked away from every good thing that I had


By the time I met you it was 12 past midnight
Told you I'd be the best you never had
You said "Are you serious?" 
I said like a heart attack

But it was far too late before I figured it out.
I never meant to be your, I never meant to be your
One night, one mistake.

I never meant to be your part-time lover
Then again I've never been a full-time man

Never though it'd hurt so bad to see you with another
Guess I'm the fool that ya, ya think I am

I never called you like I know I should of
Thought I could save you for a rainy day
I bet the sun was shining when I let you slip away


I never meant to be your fool
I never meant to be your fool
I walked away from every good think that I had.


but God? oh no. He doesn't leave. He fights for me. He pursues me. He aches for me when He sees me trying to live in my head, trying to work it out, trying to escape reality with my dreams and books. I avoid Him, He breaks in. He is determined to use me. God is charging over my walls. He won't let me go.

wondrous. now i'm not one for chick flicks. i'd like my own love story be as non-dramatic & little complicated as possible. if i even have one. still not positive on that, can't bear the thought of it ending nastily. but it is kind of amazing to realize i am on the receiving end of the most beautiful love story ever. one with freedom and breaking chains and rescue that leads to action & life abundant. one where the Hero is actually the whole focus & central character with no flaws and real genuine goodness. oh, and the damsel gets to join the fight to free more captives. heck. to the yes. come and get me, this child of Yours is laying down her weapons and waiting for You to break in all her walls.

Barricade--lifehouse
I can feel you step away now
Subtle but these things I’ve grown to learn
It’s in the way you’re moving hearts around
But I’m climbing on top
Right over your barricade
Never gonna stop
There ain’t no keeping me away

Did you think I wouldn’t notice?
When you’re building walls outside yourself
When your words leave me defenseless
I'm climbing on top
Right over your barricade
Never gonna stop
There ain't no keeping me away

I’m in your blind spot now
Falling through your cloud
Reaching for you inside out
To bring you back around

Now I’m right back where I started
Here to give you the best of my love
Just when you think I’ll walk away now
I'm climbing on top
Right over your barricade
Never gonna stop
There ain't no keeping me away
There ain't no keeping me away

life is beautiful #304: rainstorms & songs that nail me & remembering i'm not alone

9.12.2013


“When we compare ourselves to other people; what we are doing is not simply lying to ourselves, we are telling God that He got us wrong.
Did you know that before you were even knit inside your mother, God knew you. That means that He knew that you were you before the world did.
Since when did we decide to listen to the world instead of God? The world wants to end you before you even exist. The world wants you to think you were an accident. The world wants you to think that beauty comes from letting your “cover girl” out. The world wants you to find value in the arms of another. The world wants you to be your own god knowing full well that it will rip you apart. The world wants you dead, it has been trying to do that ever since your birth.
God wants you. It is plain and simple, but it is truth.
Find your worth in the one who knew you before any of us, the one who desired you before you were even someone to be desired. Stop listening to a liar and start listening to God. Our ears were, in fact, designed to hear Him first.”

the tumblr i found this on didn't have a source for the quote. it's a concept i know so well yet still fail to implement daily: seeing WHOSE i am and who i am in CHRiST. oh for that to define me! Make me more Yours, and less mine. 

9.07.2013

"no. I know you."


this woman. how she has carried me. how richly she paints the Gospel for me! I don't know how to explain the comradeship God has built between us. the way He built passions into our hearts that we had no idea were similar until later. ah. words fail. 

[^^^]

8.28.2013


Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.
Shauna Niequist
This quote has sparked a lot of thought the past hour...it won't be a logical progression but here's my attempt to put mind-heart muddle into words:
Oh look, its that familiar place again... condemning thoughts lie so well, i make myself sick before i realize i've fought all these and i know all the answers: "i'm a waste of space" + "the timeline of my plans is past so why bother" + "why dream?" + "why didn't i do________" + "why did i waste time pursuing *insert door slammed shut of choice here*" + "so wait. i genuinely tried to follow God and it led me...here? or i screwed up, which is it?" + "maybe i am just not achieving material" 
shut up. 
seriously mind? we've been on this merry-go-ride so many times. God's yanked me off. i've jumped off myself even. i haven't destroyed my life. i'm not suffering consequences for sin. failures are covered by Christ. but i still.end.up. __making myself sick__. letting go of past decisions is a dragon with the genes of Medusa--so often i've thought it was slain, only for it to come roaring into my thought process. again. now with more flame-spitting heads! see i'm repeating myself with different words...case in point! & i think i'm starting to see the root. ultimately, it's a surrendering control issue. (yet another "i've got this defeated--just kidding!" dragon) but a facet i've never realized...
 i have all these standards in my head that i can't live up too, all these dreams & plans that i want to fulfill; (so i'm ok with myself). God loves me too much to let that happen. He set me free from the tyranny of getting what i {think} i want. His plan isn't actually about me. He's included me in the most epic story ever dreamed! but i'm not the focus. He wants to define me...but i want to define myself. i want earthly approval. maybe not even that so much; i want to live up to my own ideal of who i should be. i've swallowed this ridiculous american culture that says i need to be OBSESSED WITH SELF! i fight. i keep trying to cut out all the parts i despise in me & change what offends others. but its a miserable failure. constantly. i can't do it. in fact, some of the things others disdain about me are things God values. & that is not a new revelation, personal holiness is not sexy. self-control, discipline, loving fiercely with all of you, loyalty...those things ain't valued. my strengths are reflective of God. my flaws even glorify Him, cause they drive others toward God & keep me from being sufficient & keep me humble & show what a marvelous God who uses such broken messy vessels!! but His approval isn't enough. not right now. (says my life) i can't bear to think that but my actions yell it every day. 

there was a season when i was rock-solid in my identity. rooted in Christ. when i thought more on Him than on how others viewed me. when these battles of image were smaller, immediately engaged & victorious more often than not. but now...i can't even. i believed God saw me as beautiful? as His precious daughter? i walked in forgiveness & received His gracious love? & yet i was actually less in my head and more aware of others? say whaaaa? 

He hasn't changed. I have. It's as if God is holding out colors He wants to define me with, but i sit here afraid they won't look brilliant once on me. i'm like a slum child seeing silk fabric. i can't touch, or i'll spoil it. but how i want to wrap myself..in cheerful yellow of joy, the aqua of peace, classic gray of courage. rich crimson of redeemed, stronger & bolder than all else. clear green of purity, playful orange of humility sparkling blue of discipline, sky blue of self-control, the iridescence of being fiercely loved. rich purple of loyalty. mint green of trust. deep earthy hues of forgiveness, long-suffering, servant love. He holds these out & says look Daughter, look what Christ died to buy you! Can you not see how I see you? Will you not accept my gift? those best things you think you hold, baby they're trash. faded, dirty, used up." but i'm trapped. in tension. i cannot let go of my rags for fear.

spoiler alert: God's going to win. in the end. i am going to learn to accept all from His hand as beautiful. i'm actually going to let myself recieve the grace i so do not understand. i'm going to stop fighting so damn hard. i'm going to see the Jesus in me and marvel at how cool God is. I'm going to have the courage to say no, actually; i don't regret the choices i made trying to follow Him. i'm going to believe God's path for me is different, strange; but lovely and not wrong. no, i will not be bitter about the pain of disappointed dead-end hopes--they had a sweetness in making me desperate. "life abundantly" "goodness in the land of the living" "fruitful & abounding in good works" "full of joy"  will. happen. partial taste here, full realization in eternity. 


8.20.2013

sea longing*

(photocred: beks)


A thousand miles beyond this sun-steeped wall
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand,
The ebbing tide forsakes the listless land
With the old murmur, long and musical;
The windy waves mount up and curve and fall,
And round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,—
Tho' I am inland far, I hear and know,
For I was born the sea's eternal thrall.
I would that I were there and over me
The cold insistence of the tide would roll,
Quenching this burning thing men call the soul,—
Then with the ebbing I should drift and be
Less than the smallest shell along the shoal,
Less than the sea-gulls calling to the sea.

Sara Teasedale: Sea Longing


8.13.2013

frustrated

I just read this article http://natepyle.com/confronting-the-lie-god-wont-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle/

I agree. wholeheartedly! the verse taken out of context has always bothered me. isn't the whole point of life that we can't handle it alone?

it's where I am. I have questions I need to ask. not bc I need answers, but bc admitting them bringing them into the light will expose the lies I'm believing. I need to be gut-level honest with God about all the doubts I've been trying not to think. 

I know I won't get answers. it's not all going to get from head to heart in one night. but. there will be peace. and God can fill my unbelieving terrified aching heart with hope. he can get me to the place of expectant waiting, the one the article ends with & where I, quite frankly, am sick of being. right now I don't want to go there. but bitterness is a pair of glasses that blocks all the good & beauty in life. all the quietly redemptive works.

psalm 38.8-9, 15,18, 21-22
am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
O Lord, all my longing is before you;

my sighing is not hidden from you.
v.v.But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.
Do not forsake me, O LordO my God, be not far from me! 
Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

He sees the deeps of my heart, even the things I've been not admitting to myself.

also, there is a magnificent thunderstorm right now. grace drenches like rain, no?





8.07.2013

weary & exhausted (or, I'm a wimp at 25)

sometimes, people say i'm strong. ha. i'm not. really. it confuses me when my close friends say it, bc they see more of my frailty than anybody else! 

now, when i was a little girl, i wanted to be "strong" so much. i had a faulty definition. i thought "strong" meant "unaffected", as if i were strong enough i wouldn't hurt or feel or be vulnerable. strong people were protectors & safe themselves. but my definition has since changed...drastically. that process spanned almost 15 years. short story version: i molded myself into my idea of "strong" only to find that i was actually killing my heart. i locked myself into a fortress that not only failed to protect me, but also held me prisoner in her own walls. much of this blog the past 3 yrs has been written from those varying places; as God shattered & remade me. 

I define strength as the ability to let go, from trust not despair. it's refusing to believe God is anything but what He says He is--no matter how circumstances paint Him. its abandoning self-protection (though not wise judgments). strong people are faithful in the everyday, not whining about circumstances. they're humble & quietly secure. strength is honestly feeling without succumbing.

thats not me! i default to questioning God. i'm more insecure right now than i have ever been since high school. I can't remember my identity in Christ for 30 minutes! & tired. I can't imagine living another 25 years this exhausted.
but as i was recalling times i really sought God & He proved Himself I had a thought...i often think ppl have an elevated opinion of how "real" & "authentic" my walk with God is. bc they don't know why He had to be real. if they did they'd see how much deeper it should be. 
in a similar vein, maybe folks mistake depth for strength. like calling Harry Potter perceptive when bc sees thestrals others can't. but he only sees them bc he's seen death, not bc he's wise. it's only that he's had experience earlier than most. maybe ppl just think I'm strong bc they don't recognize experience.

or maybe thats's why when folks call me strong, i feel like a hypocrite. unintentionally--I don't try to fake it. i try to be open about my struggles. I think of all my battles & want to say "if you only knew how often I lose..." if they had any idea how much of my life i spent terrified, running & doubting. how i learned real prayer in long dark sleepless nights at 16. how much shame & hurt & confusion I wrestled with far longer than i should have. how small the situations that wrecked me were. I compare my life to those who've endured real tragedy. I've only seen it from the sidelines, but i forget that some people haven't even had front row seats to real suffering. they haven't yet reached a point in their own lives when they literally had nothing left, actually gave up; & were surprised to find your body still wakes up. you keep living. without anything inside. been there before. feel like I came out only emotionally bc Jesus saved me...but the rest of me is like aahh life takes so much effort.
I'm exhausted. I'm weak & weary. "done" came and went, 20 months back. I'm beyond dry, I've been in a desert for so long I've lost count of how many times I thought a respite at an oasis was actually a change of scene. I can't take any more mirages of refreshment. I don't know how I am not a hysterical mess again. i know I've been drained & knocked down by things so small compared to what others have faced. & they keep running!! don't get me wrong God is SO FAITHFUL. He pours out grace! g emotionally, I'm stable. I'm empty but not depressed. too worn out spiritually, mentally, physically to have energy to feel. I cannot keep living is what I think, every few weeks. but I do. I'm not sure my body or mind fully recovered since that "done" season but I act like it bc what else can I do? I tell myself "this is real life. this is 25, God's prepping you for grown-up responsibility." but I think that's quitting. I'm tired 
of hoping & lazy. I think I stopped listening & seeking. 

it's freeing to admit I. am. drained. I cannot imagine not being exhausted. cannot imagine being whole-meaning feeling good & on my game mentally physically spiritually emotionally at once rather than a few or just one.

(I know it's good to be weak, i shouldn't complain, know all the verses about Gods strength & I believe them I just need a space to admit I need Divine Intervention on a deep level. & I'm asking for it.)

8.05.2013

why it's ok if I'm lost


You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger 
In the presence of my Savior ((hillsong united))

i thought this song was a picture of where I was going. but it just looks like transition to gray. an empty, grayscale season of life is all I see stretching before me. time to suck it up, knuckle down & get through it. wildernesses happen. 25 looks to me like those 20 minute warm summer sprinkles. not lovely like a real rain shower, its not enough wet to do any cooling or watering; yet makes you damp enough to add humidity & make you uncomfortable. _but_ 
God has a purpose. He doesn't send random seasons. uncomfortable in any form--even mundane--is Him giving time to grow, change. it IS a new ocean. it doesn't have to be empty. or gray! I can choose to trust what I don't see. I don't have to fake it, i can admit if it looks gray all around...but. I can always add His color. His beauty & presence will be available. after all, i don't know what these waves truly hold. but i know He won't leave me dispassionate & apathetic for long. He's leading me deeper. always.

7.25.2013

threatened } much

 "my heart, is my keep; and you are threatening me...oh myyy you're the one, I've been holding out for; for so damn long..." (empires// jukebox the ghost)

oh Ukraine.
i don't understand. i don't know what to think about you. logic cannot explain how i feel, or even what i think. i'm not sure what i truly think --haven't made time to *really* sort it out. i'm scared.
why this crazy magnetic pull? even with your harsh abrasiveness, coldness, the vast depth of language/thought pattern barrier, the ways you make my strengths look disadvantageous & don't value some of the deepest things God created in me; i adore you. there are ways you hurt me. but it drives me to Jesus. oh you make me laugh! my lack of ability to cross those culture walls? at times frustrating as hell. but it drives me to honest self-assessment of what is truly good vs desired, what is biblical vs cultural. you're not easy to love, but i never have been either. and how freely you make me sing! i know that you can cause pain in ways i'm not even aware of. i know i barely understand you. i know you'll never get my cowboy boots. or why I need self-sufficient, capable hands. but still. despite every obstacle i think up, i can't help being drawn to you. can't help thinking you're especially beautiful. i see such richness, depth, resilience, color, simplicity... hope even, born from your suffering. 

do you know the only way to describe this is falling in love? the only thing that could get my mind so poetic & my heart so steady seems like it should be falling in love. its bizarre...yet. i know of nothing else to relate it too...i think maybe you could draw the music of my heart out like nothing has before, except Christ & the ocean.
my heart's love is akin to my ocean love...i fall in love like i swim. {slowly, then all at once} as soon as i let my skin touch the water we both know i'll end up way way out, deep, over my head. but i take my time. watchers might think me undecided. i go slow. content to let waves lap my feet, stopping to stand every so many steps. but then i reach a point where i decide--lets prove i'm all in, go-for-broke and boom!! i dive-run-swim fast as I can. & suddenly i'm all under. surprises me every time how far i go, even though i see it coming. 

so um explain this: how does one fall in love with a country, exactly? is it the culture? or the land or the people? in this case it's probably the work. & the orphans & HFO team. but. there are orphans & dedicated Jesus-lovers in other places. i have potentially open doors to missions in other countries. doors easier to walk through, less costly. even ministering to abused woman through dance--uniting 2 things I'm passionate about! but strangely i don't care. i just want to do whatever i can in Ukraine, for Ukrainian orphans & children. for the Ukrainian church--how i long to be grace to you! there's long-term potential here too. but is it God? i can't go there yet. i haven't made the mental dive. i'm afraid it will end; yet equally afraid it's long term. 

I don't do falling in love very well. just FYI.
of all the loves my heart has (there are many kinds)
that love scares me. 
cause it takes me far far longer to stop & climb back out. i love too fiercely, it's the slowest hell. oh Ukraine how you threaten me.
thank You Jesus for holding my future, and my heart. turn both wherever You will.