Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Through the morning fog.

Maybe it's because my dad grew up on a farm and still arises at 3:00am. Maybe it's because I'm used to barista hours. Whatever the case, I've always gotten up way too early. Often Jesus speaks to me in my most early and exhausted of moments. Tired. Sore. Only halfway through my first cup of coffee. Barely functional. Blaring some kind of Kim Walker or Beth Moore at too high of a volume. And just waiting for Him to breath life into me for today. 

In those moments I often have this strange clarity that blares through the fog. I'm betting it has something to do with not thinking too much or being awake enough to analyze everything yet. Whatever the case, something hit me this morning in the midst of all that......

This whole mindset we all tend to go back to time and again. This way of thinking. This emotion we live under. This pattern of "In a perfect world, I'd be doing_____. If only I was good enough. Smaller. Bigger. Younger. Older. More. If I had the money. The education. The smarts. The gumption. The guts. The bravery. The ability. If I knew for sure that's my calling.......but not everyone gets to do big huge amazing things. Not everyone is called to be powerfully dynamic, audacious, drastically different and world-changing. I wish I could be like those people. Most of us don't have what it takes. That's for a select few.......Right?"  

WRONG. I may still often be a mess. I may have a long way to go. I know I have so much yet to learn. But I'll tell you again and again what I do know.......
YOU ARE MEANT FOR INCREDIBLE THINGS. Y-O-U. 15 years old or 80 years old. Single or 6 kids. It doesn't matter. His design and desire for each of His children is for them to continue His work here on earth. Powerfully. Intentionally. Differently than the Christianity we're often shown. So so so much more than all that. He has the greatest and wildest adventure for you and is itching to give it to you. You CAN be that person you look up to. That person you've always known is in there somewhere. It's more than a reality. And it's waiting for you. All you have to do is allow Him to give it to you. Allow Him access to all of you. And allow Him control of your future. Jump in the passenger seat and let Him drive. It'll be the greatest ride of your life. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A little chat.

Recently I've been having this conversation with myself, with high schoolers, with college students, with young children, with friends, with parents, with co-workers.
it's that important. It's that constant. It's coming up over and over. And so here I document it. I have yet to find a human who hasn't needed this on a loop. And of those humans I need it the most......

You are not too much. 
You are more than enough. 
Not all is lost. 
There is more than hope.
It is not too late.
You haven't screwed-up too much. 
You are strategically woven together to be exactly who you are. 
Nobody can replace you. 
It would matter if you weren't here. 
There is indeed a glorious purpose for you.
You can still choose that path. 
You can still change the world.
You have an irreversible role to play. 
You can be undaunted.
You can be powerful.
You can do as much as that person you so admire.
That is His desire for you. 
Not to live in "nice" normalcy.
But to live a crazily and wildly adventurous life.
And when you let go and submit to that, you'll begin to experience life as you never knew it could exist. Beyond this realm. Beyond anything you imagined. 
that is the real you. 

"By faith Abel...."
"By faith Enoch......"
"By faith Abraham....."
"By faith Noah....."
"By faith Sarah...."
"By faith Isaac...."
"By faith Jacob....."
"By faith Joseph...."
"By faith Moses....."
"By faith Rahab the prostitute..."
"By faith the people passed through the Red Sea..."
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell..."
"I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again........ All these people were still living by faith when they died....."
[All taken from Hebrews 11]

"Blessed is she who has faith that what the Lord has said to her shall be accomplished."                      [Luke 1:45]

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lessons from Pixar and Katy Perry.

Call me crazy. But every once-in-a-while I get a very large revelation from something very small like a dumb movie. Today I watched Monsters U. No surprise there. It was an "I really need the type of cleverness only Pixar can make" type of day. Then I was watching a few music videos. Yeah. Sometimes I do that. I'm a nerd. Anyway, I've been stuck on Katy Perry's Roar lately. (Oh gosh, am I admitting that out loud?! Hopefully it's worth it to make my point.) I can't help but totally love the song. Don't snicker-apparently I'm not the only one. It has 565 MILLION views. What's my point to that? Well, just that I had a moment of clarity as I watched it. I had a flash of understanding that the story today's audience has gotten through every form of entertainment is that it all depends on you. It's all about your ability. Your strength. Your self-motivation. Your "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality. Add to that any form of a childhood in which you were taught that life is all about slaving away for retirement, and you've got a possibility for some serious bondage. I caught myself today feeling quite guilty. Guilty about many things. About where my life is. How I look physically. The fact that I am returning home and have nowhere to live, no apparent "job" set in stone, and zero money. Something about the combination of the movie (If you work hard enough you'll get to where you wanted to be. It all depends on you) and the music video (muster up your inner lion strength to become the beautiful & powerful person you want to be) didn't sit right. I became agitated. I felt like I am just not enough. I even began wondering and questioning what I'm doing. The commitment between Jesus and me. If I am really supposed to be in hardcore full-time ministry, why does it feel like nobody is interested? Nobody is knocking on my door? Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I need to prove myself more. Maybe I am just not finding enough places to apply to for my future. Maybe I ought to put in more apps. Work harder at this. Be even more loud and vocal. Get myself out there more. Self-promotion. That's what everyone does nowdays. It's a vicious fight to have the most people follow and know you. Be online more. research more......more. more. more. And suddenly I'm in a swirl of being so busy trying to "get in" somewhere that I am missing all the things that are happening right here in front of me for the next two months. If I do all that, my head will be in the future instead of the present. I won't fully immerse myself in the beautiful ministry I'm with for a short time. I won't enjoy my coworkers. My bosses. The amazing woman I am staying with. I will just be stressed, tired, and anxious. Is that the kind of thing He wants for us? Or would He rather us plant firmly in this season and moment, giving every ounce of ourselves to those before us, flourishing where we are, and fully trusting and believing that He's already mapped it all out? Isn't the striving just another form of unbelief? Of telling Him we don't trust or want to give up control of our future to Him? 

The truth according to God's word is that He established a specific purpose for each of us before He even began forming us with his hands. And that purpose is beautiful and huge and intense.  More than we even know. He also promised us that He will never leave us of forsake us, that He has already given us all the power we'll ever need and then some in the form of His Spirit. A power that allows the most earth-defying things to take place if only we'll agree to use it like that. What we could be a part of is seriously mind-blowing. He promises us that His desires are to work all things out for our good and that He has a role only we can play in His grand adventure. None of these promises say anything about "IF you can be a good enough worker", or "IF you're powerful enough". Nope. Quite the opposite. He makes us strong. He makes us powerful. He makes us beautiful. He gives us that brilliant future filled with adventure and fulfillment beyond our comprehension. Nothing in that equation depends on our work or what we have in us. And I for one am currently rejoicing & extremely thankful for that. Because it is the most hope-filled thing any of us could possibly need to hear today. None of it depends on you. He's got it all covered already and it's brilliant. Let's just open up those clenched fists,  let go of the control we're grasping, and allow Him to show us incredible things today. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Stirrings.

Whenever there's a big move or change I get a bit emotional. I think it's because I'm naturally overly passionate. I end up super all-in with anything I sign up for.
That's not always a good thing. 
If I'm not careful to look out for it, I can end up captive to many issues:
The things I do being too much to me. Too important. Working overboard, too long, too worried about what my bosses think. Allowing what I do to become my identity. Being afraid to fail or not do things well.......... Dangerous water to tread. 

It's hard not to give in to these things right now. It's hard because I've never before been finished with a season in life and just hung out. Since I was 14, I had a job. Most of the time several at once. When I began thinking about staying around Houston a bit longer, I realized that meant I wouldn't really have a specific "title" to identify with. That's kind of a big deal. I didn't know how to handle that at first. Just being present and helping a ministry I believe in. Learning from them. Doing life in the trenches with them for a while. Being infused with the DNA of a group who live in the pit of an extreme battleground. And trusting that as this changes the very fiber of who I am and am becoming, there's a specific purpose for my future that doesn't rest on my figuring out a position or my provision. My position is now simply to be who he meant me to be. To fully know who that is and undauntedly stand in that authority. A loudmouth for change. A woman unashamed to be messy in my passion to see the Church rise up. And an advocate every day for those with no voice. A challenger of the normal. Walking through each day and doing this everywhere I step foot. That's all. The provision-where to live, income, etc..... He's got that. Some people are called to be the support and encouragement and "family" of those in the mud. The ones in the mud can't be there without them, right? Others know that their purpose is found in the thick of the sticky, deep, dirty places. Oh, why do I  have to be the one to tromp my pink cowgirl boots in the muck? I wouldn't have chosen this for myself. I was set on a career. I'm still in shock. But that's my purpose and I can't deny it. 

So much has happened within me this year that there is absolutely no going back now. I have to do this stuff with all of me and all my days. It would be easier if that weren't true. The reality is not easy to swallow. And I'm very scared. This unknown before me (and at my age!) tries to daunt and terrify me. Even tries to whisper daily that I'm a slob and a failure. But it won't win. Emotions can try all they want. They aren't my decision-maker and they aren't my dictator. (Remind me of this when I'm freaking out tomorrow for who knows what reason, okay? Thanks.) 

I'm beginning to process this last year and what I'm in the middle of now. It's still all a jumble and I'm a bit everywhere. I feel like I need some time to recover from the year but before I could consider it am dealing with some intense attack. People are broken and mean because of it. And the enemy is even meaner.
By the time I'm finished in Houston I'll need a secluded Island, endless PiraƱa Pools from Trader Sam's, (if you know what that is I will kiss you), and about a month of sleep, Disneyland, and counseling. It takes time. And time is okay despite what I feel or think. I may not know what's next. But I know this..........He doesn't call you somewhere and then fail to provide for it. And He doesn't put you in a place you aren't equipped to be. He promises that with Him, you can risk absolutely everything and He'll give you the wildest most perfectly fulfilling ride of your life. And I'm hanging onto those things with all I've got. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The thorn in my side.

The other day yet another person made a comment to me that I'm just so positive and happy and my life is so fun. I hear that a lot. In that particular moment, the comment hit me in the gut like I'd been punched. While I'm madly in love with Jesus & He is my everything, I don't get that way by having some sort of glamorous life. It's quite the opposite. Ministry, singleness when I want a family, alone-ness, working in deep and dark places, financial strain. These things are daily life for me. One doesn't fall madly in love with Jesus & get to know Him intimately without going through trials that equal that depth. So while I may have an adventurous life, it doesn't always feel that way. I have in fact had a hellish week and my emotional and mental state at the moment is, well, mud.  Oh, don't get too worried. That's the drama queen in me talking. (I lost count of how many versions of me live in my head at any particular moment. Welcome to womanhood and a former crazy.)

Here's the thing. I'm mostly a sanguine. I'm mostly ridiculously joyful. Now.  That wasn't always the case. That wasn't always me. Besides, y'all know how social media works. You show the good and never the hard. "Hey-look how amazing my life is! Look at all the cool things I'm doing!" Lies. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? We'll post about every little good thing but Heaven forbid we speak up when we're a mess. We're only causing isolation and false representation of ourselves with that process. So, I have to say right now that I'm sorry for any way in which I have represented myself to be doing so so great and just skipping through the year like I'm in a musical. That's a lie. It's been beautiful but also one of the hardest years of my life. One that's left me exhausted & even wounded. Maybe that's why they say when you're a missionary you're "on the field." 

This week. This week was difficult. Very very difficult. Rather than posting pictures of the skyline or sunset or whatever, I'm going to be totally real here. I'm exhausted. I'm emotional. I've spent days painting some rooms in the former brothel that I work in. Things happened in those rooms. I had flashbacks of these things even though I couldn't have possibly known what they were. Yes-yes I'm serious. This is a thing! It happened.  This coming week I am ending my year-long apprenticeship with a missions organization and staying in Houston a bit longer to help the anti-trafficking ministry with some projects. I'm figuring out when I'm moving home. I miss friends. I'm lonely. I'm worn. I'm trying to let go of some things. I fight constantly not to work too hard for the approval of others. I still mess up and fail at a lot of the things I do. My past is being brought back up with full-force and I'm facing it, hurting, dealing with it. Yet again. It's exhausting. I'm dealing with a large array of emotions about that and leaving "the field" I've been head-first in. I'm trying to find where to go and where I fit. I have so much to process. Many people from one side are taking the "God says do anything as long as you are saving people" mentality.  People from another camp are steadfast in their "God has a specific design and purpose just for you" belief.  I'm pretty sure I know which opinion I'm going to cement myself in, but there sure are a lot of voices everywhere to wade through. 

Today was beautiful. I didn't even want to go to church because I'm a bit of a mess. And honestly? After being so involved at BVG for 17 years, one of my biggest pet peeves in having to be a newbie at church. I kind of butt against that with everything in me. But I went this morning. The greeter found out I've podcasted for 3 years but am new on campus and just enveloped me. She insisted I sit with her. And then the message. Oh, the message! I'm pretty sure Vernon followed me around with a camera before writing that. It took every ounce of energy I had to keep from sobbing all over the place like a baby. What a view! He talked about Paul and "the thorn in his side." He dissected what the transliteration meant. And he explained WHY the Lord didn't remove it. The thorn keeping Paul from being proud or boastful. And he speculated that maybe-just maybe-the reason why God doesn't just take away that one thing we're constantly wrestling with is because in it, we become desperate for Him. We long for Him. We need Him with everything in us. In a way we wouldn't if we just stopped struggling. Before Jesus radically rescued me, I was crazy. I was severely depressed and unstable. I ruined relationships. I was unhealthy. I lied all the time about everything. And that's only the beginning! I'd have to be a fool to expect that I will never struggle with falling back into any of this again. Many times I begin reverting back into a behavior of old. But now I see it. I recognize it. The Spirit doesn't let me go live in it. And as painful as it is, I'm thankful for my past. Because without it, I wouldn't see how beautiful Jesus is. How much He's redeemed. And while they're humiliating, without the occasional slips back in that direction, I wouldn't remember how human and frail I am. I need that reminder. It keeps me tender and real. Grace is God's kindness descending upon our midst. And if we aren't functioning in that spirit, we best be checking ourselves right quick.
Yes, talk about it. Yes, work hard towards a correction of it. But don't allow the setbacks and the slip-ups and the rejection you receive to dictate anything. Because they will only show His glory  even more.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday's Super Simple Secret Summer Skin Saver!

Sorry for the dorky title. I couldn't help it!

Earlier this summer I was in LUSH drooling and dreaming over all I'd purchase if I had a job and normal income. On the way home, I realized that I've been studying herbalism for a while now and I could start making more of this stuff on my own. I came up with this mask recipe and have been using it lately and it's one of the things that has truly helped my skin be healthier. I believe in it because all of the ingredients have amazing benefits on their own. Together they are kind of a powerhouse. 

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you. 
Try it a few times a week.
Tell me what you think! 

Raw unfiltered honey. 
Raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar 
Calcium Bentonite Clay. (Healthfood store, Sprouts, Online.) 
Blueberries ( I like frozen during the summer. Feels good.)

Place ingredients in blender until consistency is able to be blended. 
(Like making a smoothie.) 
Blend in a blender. Done! That simple. 
Make sure you wash your face well before putting it on. 
Let it harden/dry. 
Wash off.
Place remainder in tupperware in fridge. 

Happy Healthy Skin to you! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Silver Linings.

Without beating around the bush, I'm just going to come out a say it. I deal with significant loneliness and deep heartbreak off and on. While I don't doubt in God's perfect plan for me, being a nomadic bohemian woman in her 30s and never having really even dated is not what a lot of my friends and acquaintances picture it to be as their minds paint a life of unusual glamour.  It actually can be severely painful and strangely isolating. Even when I'm at home, somehow it always feels like being a fish out of water. Now, I'm not saying this to be depressing or claim I go through things nobody else could possibly understand, blah, blah, blah........if you've read my recent series of shorts you'll see I am keenly aware of the fact that I am not alone in all this. (And the irony that I am saying that when speaking about loneliness is not lost on me either.) 
In fact, quite the opposite is true. Whether you are a globetrotter or a beautiful mother who rarely leaves her town and kid's schedules, we all struggle with these things and almost all of us have a strange sense of shame over speaking up about it. 

I was ranting this morning. I often wake up way earlier than I'd like because my mind clicks on and I begin obsessing and psycho-analyzing everything. (I can't help it. I was actually only a few classes away from a Psych degree before quitting college. Yeah. I'm deep, guys. Now give me some Disney!) I was telling God this morning that I really hate it when entering a season of specifically feeling like you are invisible. Of questioning whether you really even matter to the people in your life. Of seeing their newsfeeds and wondering whether they ever wish you were in that picture with them. (Yeah, it's lame. But we've ALL been there-fess up! Social Media is such a double edged sword. Great for communication. Horrid about making us insecure.) 
And I was kind of knocked breathless by what happened. 

He gave me a picture in my head. An imaginary scenario. In it, I was working for Him. He was my boss. We were at the office. He had handed me a certain job to manage. It was perfectly tailored to my gifting and talents. I loved it! There was beautiful chaos at work. People and noise everywhere, getting things done. It was a delight. 

One day, I arrived at work. Nobody else was there. The hallways were dark, quiet, and eery. I began wondering if I missed something. If everybody was off doing something I wasn't let in on. I tried to call some of my friends. No answer. I texted. Nothing.  I began feeling hurt. As if nobody cared about this work set before me. As if nobody wanted to hear, see, know, be a part of this thing that was extremely important to my life. This thing I felt my identity was kind of wrapped in. I got angry. I yelled. "Lord! Nobody cares! Nobody's around. This hurts. A LOT. I expected more from people. I expected to matter more.  And not one person shows up to work with me! I want who I am and what I do to mean something!" And you know what happened? Jesus quietly and gently sat down across from me. He listened completely. And He didn't say anything for a minute. Then, He leaned across the table, took my hand, and said "My Darling. I gave you charge over this task. You love what you do. And you love everyone buzzing around. But I told everyone not to come into work today.  Because I long for you to learn that waiting on and looking to those around you will not fulfill anything.  They are empty and human and looking to be filled too. They do not have the answers. They don't know anymore about what you're doing than you do. They don't really have anything to offer. You need to see me and me alone. I have every drop of whatever you need. And by not allowing others to be here right now, I get to have you all to myself. I get to renew you. Fill you. Love you. Be overjoyed by you. You are too special for me not to get you to myself for a season.  Can you be okay with this? Can you stop fearing? Can you believe that I am enough? Trust me. I have more for you than anybody else ever will." 

Well, that's one way to look at a season of loneliness! 
He's wild.