Tuesday, April 27, 2010

fumbling little hands attempting to

I
fumble

over this little patch of dirt
called earth
a token of responsibility given me
falling to
p i e
c es
in my hands
dry -- peppered in - between - the cracks

I
attempt
recreate (to) using my palms and a little pool
of water
making and remaking with imperfect clay
outcomes
unknown
unknowns
unbecoming
I come to and remember
realize

I fumble.

Gripped by my own Weakness

I'm sort of at a weird standstill.

Sometimes, I'm gripped by fear. Then I'm reminded that,
"There's no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear." 1 John 4:18

Sometimes, I think I have to do it on my own. Then, the Lord swiftly reminds me,
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain...
In vain you rise early and stay up late." Psalm 127

Friends, this support-raising business is ready to weary the heart that has been conditioned by the world. I attempt to cling to the wisdom of Henri Nouwen who urges me to begin my support-raising journey in prayer (from The Spirituality of Fund-Raising).

"Prayer is the radical starting point of fund-raising because in prayer we slowly experience a reorientation of all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others."
yes.
"People have such a need for friendship and for community that fund-raising had to be community-building."
amen! yes!
"Community...grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another."
i am completely on board.

...so why do I feel like falling to pieces?

  • I have to compile a list of 150 names and addresses to send out an initial letter. I spent the entire day yesterday and the better part of this morning coming up with 50.
  • Those letters must be followed up with phone calls.
  • We are also attempting to meet with people from May 17-May 29, and so those e-mails/phone calls/appointments must be made.
  • In the meantime, there is the impending reality that by May 16, my time at Starbucks will be over, which means no more income will be generated from me until July 1st, if God grants us any supporters. Plus, half of Elliott's current paycheck will go towards our new health coverage.
I am weak. I am very weak, and I am scared. I need the Lord to sustain me, to sustain us, to show us his power, especially in our weakness. I feel like I'm about to break.

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank goodness for that promise,
because I'm certainly giving him a lot of room for perfection-making.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Putting to sleep the ugliness

Last night, my true ugliness came out.
It was the type of ugliness that only the closest person in the world to you sees, if anyone sees it at all. In this case, my husband.
It was a self-indulgent, sinful ugliness that came spewing out of me and my despair. I allowed myself to buy into my wretchedness as a person without taking into consideration the grace of God.
Thank God for my husband's love, and patience.
Thank God for his Grace.

This morning was like being reborn to the world. I went to sleep in the tarry-black of the night--thick with devastation and tears and anxiety. I awoke into streams of light beckoning my eyelids open, whispering promises of forgiveness. A new day.

The old has gone, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

It swells like the rising sea bottled within my chest, salty and torrid and mistily-grey. I swallow the sea down, praying my throat will serve as a lasso to choke it back to an "appropriate" size.
I have to let it go--
let it go spinning freely and wildly into Light.
I can do nothing on my own.
The Light will shine and weaken its power.

I have been trying to fight fear with optimism. Of course, I know that my "will to be optimistic" has no power over the reality of things, but I have still bought into some twisted idea that the Lord will provide for our needs through my will alone.

The reality that faces us is our diving headfirst into college ministry. The reality is support-raising. We have a goal, but there's no way to know when or how the Lord will provide for our financial goals, set forth by the ministry we work for. It is one of those epic times that each of us face throughout the course of our lives: marching into the dark, the unknown, with nothing but absolute trust and abandon at our side.

I, however, need a change of attitude, of heart.

I acknowledge, Father, that you alone are Sovereign.
I acknowledge that sometimes you do not give us what we want, and that sometimes you take away.

The amazing and wonderful reality is that when you choose not to give in the way we think we need, this action does not make you any less good or loving.

I trust that you will not give us stones. I know you have promised us bread.
Please give me the eyes to see that bread that you provide,
and not to interpret the bread for stones.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Covet

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Exodus 20:17



When I was a little girl reading those words, I found them to be very odd.
Why would I covet my friend's donkey?
No one I knew had a donkey anyways. I mean, maybe I'd covet someone's pony, but no one had a pony either.
So, what's the deal, God?

Obviously, as I grew older, I began to understand this command's relevance to my life. Honestly, though, for a long time, it really wasn't up on my list of things I struggled with. Maybe, in a way, I was too focused on myself to notice what other people had around me. I didn't covet too much because I was just concerned with me me me.

Over time, the struggle has certainly become apparent.

It started small. It was imperceptible at first. I let the sin take root because I wasn't on guard for it. It was normal to strive towards something else, right? Then suddenly, I was caught in a cacophony of wants, a web of voices clogging my brain and sapping my energy....

I want her skinny legs I wish I had those boots Why can't we have a baby yet I wish we had enough money to buy a house I wish I looked like that -Then I would be happy- If only I enjoyed my job I wish we had more money If only I could eat wheat like a normal person -Then I would be happy- Why wasn't I born in California I want to move to New Hampshire Why do they get to have babies now Why can't we be in a more stable financial situation I wish I could've "made it" as an actress It would be easier if I had naturally red hair I just want to fit into my size 2's again -Then I would be happy-


It's not edifying in any way.
It doesn't help me spiritually, it doesn't help my husband, and it doesn't lift up the person I covet. I am sinning against God, and against that person, when I indulge in these thoughts.

I've found that the absolute only way to combat these coveting thoughts is to pray. It's sounds so cliche--how could it possibly work, right? But it's true. Confessing might help a bit too, but sometimes confessing to that person might only make things worse. Some things they don't have to know. Maybe confess it to another friend, a family member, a significant other, etc. Sometimes signing off of Facebook helps me (no joke). But overall, I've found the only way for my insides to shift and have a different attitude is to pray for the Spirit's power to change me. Just try it. And trust. See what happens.

Friends, we have to let these things go, and the first step in doing so is naming and denouncing them. Holding on to these things will only embitter us. God has his own purpose for each one of us, and we need to "be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7


Guard my heart, Lord!
And let YOUR desires be MY desires.
Amen and Amen!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why I write

In partial response to Elizabeth Esther's brilliantly worded post.


1) To Meet with the Eternal.
My main reason for blogging is to come into closer relationship with the Lord. If I stay in my head about spiritual musings, I have found that I just don't really grow. I forget easily. I stay complacent. No one else knows what is going on, and so I just remain stagnant. I write to challenge myself and my views.


2) Because I have to.
Seriously, God created me as an artist. I have stopped acting, so my impulse is to do something else creative, and God has led me to write. I write in response to what he teaches me. I write to draw near to him, to worship him. I write because I have to; it's who God created me to be. If I did not write, I would deny an enormous aspect of my being; a part of my self would probably just dry up.


3) There is power in the written word.
God recognized it. His Word has been written down. It is unchangeable, and yet it lives and breathes and speaks truth into our lives.
My words are small, and meak, and maybe sometimes wrong. But they are my words. They are in print. There is power in it. There is beauty in it. There is some truth. It deserves to be read. Maybe. :)


4) To connect. To form relationships.
Another main goal of blogging is for me to have the spiritual connection with other women, in particular. My mentor once said, "You were never meant to do this alone," during a time of great struggle. I can't do this alone. I crave your responses, I crave your thoughts, I crave your input. I was not meant to journey alone, nor can I. I can't do it. I need you.


5) Change.
And besides my own words, I have begun connecting with other bloggers in the world who have begun to really shift me internally. I am becoming irrevocably changed and encouraged by the written words of others, and I wouldn't have encountered this world without started my own, modest blog.




off to church!

Friday, April 16, 2010

When inspiration is lacking...

Some days, I sit here, and I try to meditate. I try to find some inspiration--just something small, a brief glimpse into the Lord's wisdom--something to hold on to throughout the day.

Some days (maybe most days), it doesn't really happen this way.
Some day (most days?), I just have to trust that God has me, even when I can't feel it.

Today, I'm trusting, and resting, and praying that God will sustain me, despite myself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When God's answers aren't our answers.

A sprained ankle doesn't fit into my plans.
It just doesn't.
I'm training for a 10-mile run. I have a presentation today in class. My job requires me to be on my feet.
So what's this sprained ankle all about, God?

I have to name a suspicion that's been on my heart since August: God has been using physical things to slow me down. I can't shake it. Every month, it's something else. Generally, I've been getting sick. What you probably don't know is that I used to never get sick. I could be surrounded by sick people, and I wouldn't get sick.

And I know what's going on in my heart when I get sick. As soon as I start to think about the dreaded "thin myth" I've bought into-- as soon as I tell myself I'll just exercise more, eat less, and compare myself to every skinny girl around me-- that's when - BOOM - God tells me to sit down and be still. Just like that.

To be honest, it's really annoying. It's not what I want. It's not the answer I want to the prayer to be closer to God. I want to always be moving, to always be independent, to always be supergirl.

God says, "Let go. Let me be in control, and draw you close to my heart."

I think these physical standstill moments go beyond just being still in the Lord; I think God is teaching me something about the lies I focus on. He's literally making it impossible for me to lose weight the way I used to. Hm. Probably not a coincidence.

Apparently, my desire to be more attune with God-- my prayer to be close to him-- is a more painful process than I thought. Emotionally and physically.

"Turn my heart towards your statutes, and not towards selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."
Ps. 119:36-37

When we pray, God answers... especially when we pray to follow him.
When he answers, we should listen. Even when (or especially when) it's not the answer we want.
Ok, God.
Here I am.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In the Beginning: Today's View

Begin.

Every day, we begin. We have a beginning--a chance to start. We choose.
How do you choose to begin?

Most days, I rush out of bed. I walk through our (usually-messy) apartment, and consider how I don't have time to clean it. I see the dog, hoping my husband will take her out this morning so it won't take away from my time. I brush through the list of tasks in my head, and either praise myself for getting up super early to get them done, or curse myself for sleeping in until the sun wakes me up.

Most days, at the beginning, I don't consider the Lord.

Since returning from the retreat, it's as if a slowness has taken over my center. I am so used to forcing myself awake before the sunrise, but these days, I welcome in the extra sleep next to Elliott. This morning, I rejected my alarm, and instead felt as if I were opening my arms to embrace a happy, childhood-esque dream of peace. It was colorful and playful and made me smile as I chose to stay slumbering in bed, cozied up next to my best friend, our dog rolled happily in a ball at our feet.

This morning, at the beginning, I allowed myself to first acknowledge the Lord:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Thank you, Lord for the extra sleep.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Please help me get things accomplished today.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Help me to rest in you and not to squander the moments before work.
Or after. Or during.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Draw me closer to you today.
Amen. Amen.

How do you choose to begin?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Recuperation or Laziness?

I wonder why, when I have just experienced God's healing in a powerful, exhausting way, I then turn and run. Yesterday, I gave into exhaustion. I prayed and prayed that I would use the day wisely, but I feel like maybe I just squandered it. I don't feel more rested today; I feel like I've been hit by a bus. Maybe instead of giving in to recuperation, I gave into laziness.

Today, again I feel completely wiped out. It's taking me hours to get a move on the day. The thing is, I feel like I went to a different world this weekend. It was a world of beauty and healing and intimacy, and now that I'm back in reality, I want to crawl into the covers and shut myself away.

Break.
Heal.
Put the sticky notes around your mirror, remind yourself of the healing.
When the mirror breaks again,
Use the stick from the back to piece it back together.



Monday, April 12, 2010

Self-Talk Vs. God-Talk

Pardon the hiatus.

I didn't make this blog a priority, as other priorities (school, work, church, etc.) seeped its way in to the immediate-sphere. However, I just returned from a Spirit-filled artist retreat, and inspiration led me here. I found myself amongst a group of Christian writers, and I was explaining to them about lack of inspiration to write, but they reminded me that it's not the point. You just write. Every day. You just do it. Some days, it will be absolutely inane and awful, but you get something down.

So I'll try. I might not post every thought here, but I will attempt to be a more disciplined writer, in hopes that my discipline will merge into spiritual discipline as well.

Alright, so the above was my disclaimer/explanation. Now onto something substantial.

A lot happened this weekend. God met us on that retreat--every one of us. Each person left the retreat irrevocably changed. I want to share one small moment of transformation.

The music group led us through a time of Self Talk Vs. God Talk. They asked us to write down at least five things we say to ourselves on a daily basis. I wrote mine down without blinking an eye. I knew the constant self-bashing that goes on in my head day-to-day, and so I quickly spewed them out. I had no intention of sharing them out loud, but then when the leader asked people to share, suddenly I heard my own voice piercing through the dense silence.

As I read each ugly sentence out one-by-one, my voice started to crack. I was startled. Tears started flowing. I hadn't expected to cry. I was ashamed by this unexpected vulnerability. These people around me knew the darkest things I say to myself. The lies I used to speak in darkness were now spoken into light. Matthew 10:26, "There is nothing [...] hidden that will not be made known."

Afterwards, we were to write five things we knew God was trying to say to us. I wrote them down--truths from the Father--and they posted them up around a mirror. I had to look at myself in the mirror as they read the truths out loud. Matthew 10:27, "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."

You are loved. Fully.
You are my daughter.
You are fully beautiful the way I made you.
I created you specifically.
I adore who I made you to be.
You are no longer broken.

I have to admit--I have never had so much trouble facing myself in a mirror. How ready I am to believe the lies I speak to myself daily; how difficult it is for me to accept the truth that God has offered to me since before I was born. It shook me.

Then, my dear, dear sister-in-law came up to me while I was bent over in sobs. In response to all of my self-talks, she posted five truths she wanted me to hear:

You are precious and beloved. Unique.
You are gorgeous.
You are precious and amounting to a great deal.
You are a blessing to all who meet you.

I won't name the things I say to myself. They are vulnerable, ugly, and have been sacrificed onto the Lord. Literally. We took them out and burned them in a fire.

Amen.
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