Thursday, July 28, 2011

I left my heart in Flekkeroy...

I gallivanted around Norway from April-August in 2001. It was truly one of the greatest times in my life. I went to attend a YWAM school, confused as to why God wanted me to do a school in Norway. This was not on my list of Countries I'm Passionate About. If I made a list of my top 20 countries I wanted to someday visit, Norway wasn't on that list. The only time I’d ever randomly think of Norway was when I’d think about the Vikings, which, you know, was really not that much. It didn't make much sense as to why God was sending me there. People would repeatedly ask me, “Why Norway?” and I would just answer, “I have no idea. I just know it’s what God wants.”

But I was there for less than a week, just enough time for the shock of my journey to wear off (that’s a story for another day)...when I suddenly became aware that I had been given a precious glimpse into this treasure chest of the North. Besides the integral relationships I made during the school, I felt like God took me there, just to show me one of His favorite places. I swear, Norway is where God chooses to just...hang out. It is the most breathtaking, most stunning, most gorgeous land you have ever encountered. And the Norwegians are some of the most fantastically fabulous people you will ever meet.

For the most part, Norwegians are extremely peaceful. As a whole, (with exceptions of soccer matches or if you're my friend Katrine) they aren’t a loud or boisterous people. (a fact I was told REPEATEDLY before flying there…out of fear my sometimes exaggerated personality would send them fleeing in every direction.) They may be somewhat shy and reserved, but they are definitely friendly and have genuine hearts to want people to feel welcome. They are THE best host/hostesses I have ever encountered. 10 years later, I’m still wishing I could make my home as koselig (best translation, cozy, but it's so much more, AND was the first word they made me learn in Norsk...thus it's importance) or set a table with as much thought as they have regarding presentation. Even just hanging out sipping coffee or tea at night, was usually made complete with music in the background, candles lit, and an impromptu centerpiece put together for the occasion. And, they are a people who dearly love their country. It was an honor and privilege to spend May 17th (Constitution Day) with them. The day truly celebrated their nation and their heritage. I was ashamed when they’d ask me if our July 4th was celebrated in a similar way, and my response was “No, we tend to acknowledge beer and barbeques more than we acknowledge the literal specific celebration of our Independence on that day.”

Before 2001, Norway and her people were barely on my radar…but they quickly found their way into my heart. Deep in my heart, in the depths reserved for the sacred treasures I hold dearest…and shall never be moved or replaced.

And so my heart has been ripped and broken last week because of the tragedies that occurred there. It was absolutely unthinkable. I gasped when I read the first headline. I felt that dreadful fear rise and catch in my throat, wondering if someone I knew from Oslo had been hurt or killed. I was so thankful for facebook, as I quickly went down the list of my Norwegian friends, finding most of them had already posted that they were safe and sound. But even after learning they were safe, my heart still wept, knowing the dreadful violation they were all now dealing with.

The thought of Norway being the target of a terrorist attack seemed preposterous…but the thought that one of their own could do such a thing, completely unfathomable.

But in true Norwegian dignity, they are rising out of the ashes, and we should take a lesson from them. Their reaction called for love and unity, not violence or vengeance. My friend quoted this on one of her updates from an article she read: "Even in their deepest sorrow the Norwegians don't get hysterical. They resist the hate. It is amazing to see how politicians and the whole country reacts. They are sad to the deepest thread of their souls. They cry in dignity. But nobody swears to take revenge. Instead they want even more humanity and democracy. That is one of the most remarkable strengths of that little country"

My friend Katrine, who lives in Oslo and has been out and about all week among the people, has had several posts throughout the week that I’ve loved, “I’m very proud of our leaders and amazed that the madman got the opposite of what he intended - love, generosity and closeness in the nation instead of fear and pure hatred.”

She also quoted one of the victims at the camp, “If one man can bring so much hate, imagine how much love we can give together.”

Beautiful, touching, inspiring words.

Even their media has been part of this unified stance, not blowing things out of proportion or saying inappropriate things. The negativity that’s coming forth is coming from outside their country. And voices from our own America media have been the most horrific. (Glenn Beck, really? You should have your fingernails ripped off for your comments comparing their camp to Hitler’s youth camp. Utterly. disgusting.)


Even though today’s Norwegians seem to be described as a calm and placid people…they are not too far removed from the ancestors of their past. Make no mistake, they are warriors through and through. They will not be kept down. They will survive. They will stand together and fight. They will rise up, in dignity and honor, and become a stronger and more unified nation in spite of the recent trauma.


So please take a moment to pray for the beloved Norway. Pray that peace and hope will be restored. Pray that justice is served. Pray that the nonsense of the media is silenced. Pray that they will know when to stand in quiet strength, and when to shout from the depths of their warrior’s heart. And pray that God’s promise will come forth- that He will turn bad to good…that He will give beauty for their ashes...and that His glory will shine upon the nation of Norway.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Break our hearts...

A couple of weeks ago, in some sort of internet bunny trail...I came across a comment posted on a YouTube video that really broke my heart. The video was a guy sharing his story about how his church hosted an anti-Christian concert. It's an amazing story actually...one that can shake your core beliefs in what's supposedly appropriate and inappropriate. I questioned my own thoughts and motives...wondering if I would have let the extreme anti-God band give a concert in my church. I don't know what I would have done, honestly...but I do know that whichever way I would have chosen, it would have caused a deep wrestling match in my soul...and I wonder if I would have made the right decision.


I glanced down at the few comments that were posted, which I seldom do on YouTube...and was completely overwhelmed by this one: 


"I am an atheist, but I really enjoyed hearing your beliefs concerning what God is. Your God of love will do a lot more for the world than the Christian God that I hear about most often, who seems to be mostly concerned with hate."

Two weeks ago that comment brought tears to my eyes. And now, as I just reread it for this blog, tears flowed again. 2000 years, and we've done a crap job of showing who Jesus really is. Why? How can we get it so incredibly wrong over and over again?

It's such a hard balance in finding the heart of God on issues of sin and sinners. Knowing what's truly right and wrong in His eyes, and not through the eyes of what our Christian culture declares right and wrong. But when will we really get it? When will we cause the world to want to embrace a relationship with God instead of run from Him because of His people?

When will we begin to show the truth? When will we let go of our religious blinders and truly walk like Jesus walked? When will these comments from the world not be the norm because they see their Creator as someone who deeply loves them and embraces them exactly where they are. God hates sin...despises it. He tells us repeatedly to get our sh*t in order and act appropriately. I don't believe we've even begun to comprehend the level of holiness He is calling us too. But there's something deeply not right about the God we've portrayed to a lost and hopeless world. There's a balance we have obviously yet to find because we continually push people away from God...not to Him. And I fear standing before Him, as a people, and being held accountable to that fact.

Our hearts must change. Our walk must change. The image of Jesus we've showed in our past cannot be the Jesus we show in our future, or most importantly, in our present. This has to be an issue that breaks our hearts, causes us to cry out in repentance, and changes our walk. I cannot imagine anything worse than portraying the wrong image of God to the world.

Sadly, even when this balance is found, people will still choose to stay away from God. But we, as His followers, should not be the reason they stay away from Him. Our lifestyle, with love oozing out of pores, ready answers of hope and redemption...should be the reason they want to embrace Him...and become more like Him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Counting....counting...counting...

Alas, I am again lamenting at my lack of proper blog-posting-timing. I hate that I don’t do it as often and as quickly as I want. Trust me, if I blogged like I want to in my head…this would be the greatest blog in. the. UNIVERSE. At least it would be…in my head.

Someday, I will reach this seemingly out of reach goal.
Someday.

And today…I’m gonna count my gifts. Because I have a long non-published list going and I’m ridiculous for continually putting off a published list. So here are just a few highly precious moments from the past couple of months…


255-  Getting to go to Amber’s sonogram appt with her! Her husband was out of town, so she let me go in his place. And it wasn’t just ANY sonogram appt…it was THE sonogram appt! We found out she was a carrying a loud and proud baby of the male persuasion!! It was a slightly shocking moment since everyone was convinced it was a girl...but the news couldn't have been more perfect! It was the first sonogram appt I’ve been too…and of course was in tears the majority of the time seeing him on the big screen and hearing his heartbeat. I felt overwhelmingly honored and privileged that she let me come and be a part of this appt with her...especially since it was only a matter of days before she'd be moving off to become an Eskimo.

256-  In the midst of that crazy adventurous whirlwind time…spending fabulous moments with Amber before she moved…packing, organizing, chilling, laughing hysterically, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and stopping everything for important life moments such as watching Funny Girl for the first time. (I couldn’t let her move till I had properly introduced her to Bab’s first movie!)

257-  Having a Mother’s Day dinner with some of my favorite mom’s. My bff Holly, Renee’, and of course my own! It was a simple evening but filled with much love and my heart was most definitely full.

258-262  Speakingofwhich- a 3 week visit from my Momma! It was amazing. We hadn’t had hang out time like this since I moved out when I was 18. Isn’t that crazy? We found a $29 flight and she was here till we drove back to TX on Memorial Day weekend. I’m only assigning 5 numbers to this…but the reality is that it was filled with a hundred gifts. This was highly precious time that was truly cherished and valued.

263-  Being a part of MTS graduation. While in TX on Memorial day weekend, a sudden and impromptu decision was made when I realized graduation was happening and it involved 2 girls that I’ve connected with through the class I taught. I also got to go up and pray for them while the Pastor's were praying and commissioning them. Because they didn't know I was coming (cause I didn’t until an hour before) they were very shocked when my name was called to go up...and lots of hugs and tears abounded. I was SO proud of these girls...and KNOW God has much in store for them...and can't even begin to find the words to express my gratitude in being able to play even a small part in their lives. 

264-  Receiving the sweetest most precious card from Julia, a dear friend and one of my Selah girls. She made me teary from the sweet words and totally made my day!

265-  New girls coming to Selah Tuesdays. We’ve always been a small group, with many transitions and these girls seem to be constantly moving away from here! But I’m amazed that every time someone leaves, another person comes to be a part.

266-  Long hot baths during the weeks I was teaching at church. I always love taking baths, although I don’t always take the time for them. BUT there was something about the dynamic while teaching that changed everything. When I was stressed, when I couldn’t get my thoughts together or find direction…I would just lock myself in the bathroom with bubbles surrounding me…and it would all come together. I know it seems bizarre. But I was excited by this revelation and embraced it fully. I took countless baths those 7 weeks...day and night. The bathtub became quite the holy place for me.

267-  FINALLY getting my own domain for this blog. (Part of that ‘perfect blog world’ I aspire too)…I was always overwhelmed at the concept- the technical effort and the cost…but stumbled upon a blog that showed how easy and cheap it was, and I followed through immediately!

268-  Relay for Life! This was the 3rd year my church has been a part, and the 2nd year that I’ve been able too. It’s an honor to help raise money for cancer research…an issue very near to my heart and the hearts of the people at our church.

269-  Hearing Taps playing at night. I live in the vicinity of one of the bases here in the Springs…and when my windows are open and my house is quiet…at precisely 10 pm, I can hear Taps softly playing announcing the end of the day. It always makes me nostalgic  for my childhood…remembering how at the end of every Girl Scout meeting, we’d stand in the Friendship Circle, arms crossed over each other as we held hands and sang Taps to close the meeting. In fact...I can hear it again even as I type this...

270-  Ursula, my upstairs neighbor. It's been a divine connection, and I'm so thankful God has put her in my life. She's German...and I can often hear her singing German (possibly Opera?) songs as she walks around the apartment complex. She is such a joy...and because of her I've even been able to meet some of my other neighbors too. (after meeting no one for years!)

Every good and perfect gift is from you, Father of Lights.