Thursday, October 11, 2012

the dark hours...

I’m a night person by nature. I’m usually happier and more alive during the dark hours. I’ve worked hard to stop cursing the mornings (because God told me I had to)…and to embrace them as much as I can. But when given the chance…my heart does convert back to its dark hour lovin self. 
In the dark hours I tend to find peace and faith…answers to the deep questions of my heart...have some of the most intimate moments with God.....but also, crazy, fun, loudness, laughter, and adventures (when I can find those like-minded to join me…)

In my early 20’s I had a friend who deeply shared this love of the dark hours. He too, would be full of life and adventures in those wee hours of the night.

In the dark hours, when the phone would ring after 1:00 a.m.…I’d know it was my friend calling to chat and see what’s going on. And if I didn't get to the phone in time…I’d automatically call him back. (much to the dismay of his asleep-by-9:00 pm-roommate)

In the dark hours, when my crazy roommate (also a lover of the night) and I decided it would be the prime time to start moving our stuff to our new apartment…he showed up to help with our Midnight Move. 

It was in those dark hours, that mass kool-aid was consumed…ridiculous tv was a must…games were played...practical jokes abounded…and furniture became acrobatic jungle gym equipment. (he had far too much energy to ever sit still for more than 45 seconds at a time)

It was in dark hours when I first told him and his roommate that God was drastically shifting my life…and I was surrendering to whatever He had for me, including missions….and that I wanted to live in the heart of the Middle East. And his reaction was far from expected. 
It was in the darker hours of that night, he called to apologize for his poor reaction and told me he was just caught off guard. He said something about how he couldn't imagine ever wanting to do anything like that, and was concerned for my safety…but that he would try to support me in anything I felt like God was saying…if I really felt that strongly about it.

It was in the dark hours I stood in his front yard a month later and said a tearful goodbye to him and his roommate because I was leaving for a mission school the next morning. But I knew in my heart we’d always stay in touch…to at least some degree. 

It was close to dark hours…many years later…that we were able to catch up in person again…and laugh until our bellies hurt…sharing stories with his wife about how life was way back when…
And it was in the darker hours of that night…that I stood in the front of the school they were attending, and said another tearful goodbye…because he and his family were about to move to another country...pursuing the call God had placed on their lives…in a far greater way than I had ever even imagined for myself. 
And in the darkness, as I drove home…I couldn't stop smiling, and softly laughing, at how radically things had changed and what God can do with a person’s life when we let Him…

But a few years later...right now, the dark hours seem...too dark.  

It's in these darkest hours…where I am at a loss for sleep...

It's in these darkest hours I can’t help but lay awake and wonder…and pray…for my friend on the other side of the world...

It's in these darkest hours, I’m constantly watching my phone…waiting and hoping it announces that an email update has arrived...

Because my friend is facing what I can only imagine, to be the deep darkest hours of his life.

It's been a week since life was drastically pulled back into perspective.

It’s been a week since the gov't authorities took him in for questioning.

It’s been a week since anyone’s been able to see or speak to him.

No answers. Only unknown.

We do believe he’s safe. But the waiting…and the unknown of the present and the future…have been almost unbearable.

To be connected to the part of the population that’s passionate, radical, and sold out for God, I've heard this kind of story all too often. I've spent countless time in prayer for people in similar situations…strangers…friends of friends…someone in the community……but this…this is much, much too close to home.

I can only pray that this darkness quickly ends…and the dawn would break…and that the light would bring the hope and answers we so desperately need and are crying out for.

Please join me in praying for him and his family. For safety, for peace and comfort, for release, that others would remain safe, protected, and hidden. And so importantly-  for God’s ultimate purpose to be fulfilled. He and his family are where they're supposed to be.
Because my friend is someone who is bringing light to darkness.

Your kingdom...come quickly...
your will be done the same...
On earth, as it is in heaven.

[Our Father lyrics]

*Please…if you know my friend, don’t mention any names, locations, or details in the comment section. Thank you. 

***Update. I'm sorry I didn't share this much, much, sooner....but after 21 stress-filled friend was escorted from the prison directly to the airport where he and his family were put on a plane and forced to leave the country. My heart broke for them with the sudden shift of life forced upon them....but I am so eternally grateful God faithfully delivered them out of their troubles. And I am sure and confident that He will continue to direct their path....

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jennifer...and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week*...and finding the gifts no matter how hard they hide

(*not to be confused with Alexander's day...)

So, I moved. It’s such a long complicated explanation of life…and one that I unfortunately don’t yet remotely understand…so we’ll just leave the details out for now.  But last week, I packed up my stuff and moved houses. In the midst of 400 other things going on in my life and everyone's life around me...I had a deadline to get out of my apartment. And it was one of the worse weeks of my life. Well, I’ve had some pretty bad weeks…but trust me…it rates in the Top 20 for sure. It started with a crazy, insane, unorganized, chaotic, not-enough-help, stressful, horrifying move…along with a major work deadline that required large amounts of my attention…goodbyes to exchange students returning home…averaging 3 hours of sleep at night…and then was supposed to end with an all night walk with Relay for Life…that I wasn’t even sure I could pull off. And JUST as I finally set in my heart to push through and participate…just mere hours later, I ended up coming down with a virus and instead of spending the night with friends raising money for cancer research…I spent it in the bathroom being violently ill.
And wanna know what’s worse than ending a crappy week with a crappy sickness? Being alone...and surrounded by chaos and boxes and crap and not being able to locate anything essential, (it took me 4 days to find the box that had all my jeans/pants in it) …let alone anything that would bring you any sort of comfort when you’re sick. And when you’re thinking you may die at any second…from dehydration or just misery alone…it’s those little things of comfort that really count. And mine were buried somewhere in some box…or had been left up with the Relay crew.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. 
And the misery of it has yet to wear off.

So I decided last night that I needed to start this week by Counting My Gifts here on my blog and finding at least 10 gifts from last week. (I’ve counted to way more than 1000 in real life…but I’m still determined to actually reach 1000 documented here on my blog) But 10....10 would be easy...right? Surely anyone could come up with a mere 10.

And tragically…I couldn't do it. Really. How horrifying is that? The first 3 were easy, the next couple took some thinking….and then, blankness. For almost 24 hours I've been trying to reach deep into my Pollyanna head and come up with more. And finally…I decided to just give in…and embrace the few I could count even tighter. But I wouldn't let myself stop before coming up with at least 7. So here they are...

342- The few friends who were able to help. Most were for short moments at a time…but they usually came when I was on the brink of collapse…and would help me get to the next step. And a couple of them were ones that barely knew me, or didn't even know me at all (my friends dragged them along) Although in the big scheme I didn’t have as much help as I needed…those that came to do what they could were literal life savers and I’m more grateful for them than I could ever possibly convey.

343- Sonic Sprites. It started many years ago after a weekend of sickness and severe dehydration…a Sprite from Sonic was the first sip I was able to keep down…and since then this seems to be my go to when I’m sick. So after a miserable night of sickness…and crying…and puking…and no sleep even though I was overwhelmingly exhausted…the timing worked out that my friend who had spent all night outside in the freezing cold at Relay for Life came home with a large Sonic Sprite with lite ice…within just hours of me being able to finally keep something down. And it was the best. Sprite. ever.

344- Having a place to live. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, or where I was going to go. The plan I thought with my whole heart would happen was no where to be found. Days were slipping away. No options were to be found. But I didn't end up homeless. Instead… I've moved into the basement of my bff…and will be there until I figure out what possibly could be next.

345- The help of my 12 year old ‘nephew’. Such a great age in a boys life of wanting to prove how grown up and strong they are. And with the never ending flights of stairs and heavy loads to carry…I would have given up more than once if he wasn't there to pick up the slack. So so grateful for his strength and stamina when no other help was around.

snug as a bug in a rug
346- My polka dot blanket and down comforter. NOT my favorite go-to comfort choices…BUT an extremely close 2nd…I mean, my uber soft, bright colored, giant polka dot throw is a pretty fabulous thing to snuggle with…and you can’t help but smile when you see it. So I was thankful this happened to be easily findable when I needed to wrap up in something comforting. 

347- Conversations of strangers. So within the crazy chaos of the week, I also had major work deadlines that I had to balance…AND had to go a week w/no internet at the house because for some reason it takes that long to flip a stupid switch. But I digress…
So with the work deadlines…once I was officially out of my house, I’d have to get up early and spend all day/evening at some coffee shop/restaurant with wifi so I could concentrate on work. This was also highly stressful. BUT…I have to say…the conversations I’ve overheard over the last couple of weeks have been HIGH, h-igh entertainment…and kept my mind on things other than the horrifyness abounding around me. Colorado Springs has got be one of THE best places for people watching/eavesdropping on because of our vast eclecticness. I’ve heard pastors discussing church visions and logistics…all types of business schemes…old ladies monthly get-togethers…friends catching up…religious discussions from every spectrumfrom crazy…to insightful…to inspiring…to having to stifle laughs so they wouldn’t know I was listening in…I’ve actually enjoyed getting to listen in on what’s going on in the world around me. Even right now, I’m listening to some DISGUSTING conversation about a girls diet and what she substitutes in her food- as she discusses this with some stranger who works for a news channel. Why? I don’t know. Something about ground up organs and chicken back. Ok, sorry…there should have been a disclaimer for that last sentence. But I’m not making this up or even remotely embellishing. This is the city in which I liveand love.

348- I survived. And I know that God is still goodall the time. 

And for the start of this week...

349- Working internet earlier than expected!! Just got a call that the internet is now working at the house……and this week is officially starting off on a better note.

*Oh! Oh! Oh! Bff Holly to the rescue who pointed out another gift from last week after discussing this with me... TRAILERS. How did I leave off trailers? So yes...most definitely... #350 (and #8 for the week) - the two trailers I got to borrow...and the two men who let me borrow them... 

Oh! It’s for dogs!!! Not HER diet…she makes her own dog food!!! WHEW. Still crazy…and you'll never convince me that I should be serving my dog ground up organs and bones of a chicken back...but I feel SO much better about where she’s at in life! Even with working internet at my house...I may have to continue with at least weekly coffee shop adventures. Just to remember that I'm much more sane than I give myself credit for....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eat the Scroll

(insert obligatory apology I always make for my absence...and my promise to do better. What's really annoying to that I wrote this a week ago and am just now posting it. there anybody left out there still paying attention to all my rambling...)

Confession: In all my 36 years…even though I've grown up knowing God…raised in the Church…knowing the Bible stories….teaching the Bible stories…

I had never ever read the Bible ALL the way through...cover to cover…Gen to Rev.

And I’ve absolutely hated that fact about me. 

It’s been a forever goal of mine since as long as I can remember. I’ve attempted innumerable times…but never could do it. I tried the cover to cover approach. I had a go at just marking off a list of the different books I read throughout the years. I struggled through countless efforts....time and time again, never reaching the goal. 

It's been my number 1 New Years Resolution, like, in a hard core way, for the last several years...but because I failed so miserably...even though it was also this year's #1...I couldn't bring myself to admit it out loud or write it down anywhere. 

Now I do have a creepy brain…in that if I grab a hold of something…it’s in there forever and ever. So I can quote and reference countless scriptures with Rain Man like tendencies. I have dug in and torn apart specific chapters and verses…down to the Hebrew or Greek. And when I do read…I tend to hang out in the obscure prophets the most (other than my beloved Psalms)…which makes someone appear like they must have somehow been a part of it all.

But the truth is…I’ve neglected this beautiful book in which my Spirit adores and longs for, all too often.

It’s sat in corners and on dressers, unopened…for more days weeks (months) in a row than I ever care to admit. 

And I love reading in general. I always have a book around me that I can pick up and read for hours at a time. But when it comes to picking up the Bible in the same way...I just don't do it....sometimes by ugly, conscience choice.  

For years…almost every “word of the Lord” someone would give me was in reference to God telling me to read the Bible more. Every time. From everywhere. Warnings...heedings...invitations...wooings...

I'd be deeply convicted...and I’d set my heart...commit to reading…and fail…and I'd commit to reading…and fail...again and again, and this was the pattern of my life.   

Then a couple of years ago I came across the Read theBible in 90 days concept and was intrigued to say the least. This was a short term goal I thought I could possibly obtain. And I jumped in

And again…I failed.

And failed...again.

And then I tried it once more…and failed faster than the other 2 times.

But I have to say, something clicked while using that 90 day reading plan. I LOVED just sitting and reading…plowing through like you would any other book. I loved the fast-pacedness of this plan. I was connecting things I’d never connected for. I was seeing concepts through a whole new perspective…and something inside shifted. 

And so I decided to push through. And even though it took me 3 years of concerted effort…and even though I’d go waaaaay too long without cracking it open at all…when I did…I That’s it. I didn’t stop and tear apart verses. I didn’t look up any definitions…I didn’t stop and ponder (much) while I was reading. And I loved it.

And on the morning of May 15, 2012... I did it. I completed the journey from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.  

And for my heart, that moment was glorious. I was kinda hoping for a little more pomp and circumstance from Heaven...but sadly, I was never able to make out any clanging cymbals.

AND...of COURSE (cause this is how I roll)...I think everyone needs to do this! Sit down...and just read. As fast as you can. Do the 90 day challenge...and if you fail...just keep going...plowing through whenever you pick it up. And before anyone gets all Christiany with that ever-too-ready-answer that’s wanting to roll off your tongue (oy, the number of times I heard this when I'd tell people about the 90 day plan)...........go know you're shouting it in your know you're just waiting for me to finish so you can click the comment button and tell me… “Well, when *I* read the Bible…I like to take my time…really concentrate on the verses and go slow...cause that's how you get more out of it..." 
...or you know, something like that. 

Forgoodness sakes. Have you done this? Have you read it as fast as you can...beginning to end? I'm telling's opens up a whole new world of perspective. So really...just go for it! For reals. Everyone should do it at least once in their life this way. I think it's truly a life changing experience. 

And personally...I STILL want to do it in 90 Days. AND...I kinda wanna read it once backwards. Not by words of course...but by chapter. My immediate goal is that it doesn't take another 36 years to complete those 2 goals. (ooohhhhh...but maybe I could combine them...)

But above all...I hope that by finally crossing this obstacle that's hung over my life for oh so long, that I've broken through to something. And even though it'll still take effort...and it'll still be an activation of my will to set aside time not just to pray or hang out with God...but to actually pick up the Bible and read His Words....I truly hope and pray...that this is the beginning of a whole new adventure for me........... there still anybody out there in my blog world? And if so...where are you at in the journey through the Bible? And if that's too personal....when you are reading it...where do you like to hang out in the most???  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the true beauty of women...

{source unknown}

Today is International Women’s Day! I’m so glad, thanks I’m sure in part to the www, that America is finally acknowledging this day a little more. (although we still have a long way to go) As a proud feminist (before ant Christians get into a tizzy about that word…there are several different kinds of feminists…and I am not remotely ashamed to stand for equal rights for my gender), I believe we should have a day in which we are honored and remembered…considering all the nonsense we put up with on a daily basis.

Since almost the beginning…women have been oppressed...labeled more easily deceived…been silenced...been exploited...declared less than.

Why? The Garden. It aaaalllllll goes back to the garden. Sadly, that most beautiful yet heartbreaking story has been twisted, from our Sunday School flannel graphs all the way to the pulpit, to put the blame where it did not belong. Eve has been the false bearer of the entire blame for too many generations. Yet, have you noticed no where in the Bible does Eve ever get blamed? Have you noticed that it was, in fact, Adam who gets blamed? (Job 31:33, Hosea 6:7, Rom 5:14) AND…if you go back and read the story without your pre-conceived traditional glasses on…you’ll see why.  

Now the subject of The Fall is big…GIANT…EnOrMoUs. And I just can't fully go into it here. Although I can at a later date…or I can point you in the direction of a GREAT teaching on it…(info in the comment section)

But this is what I will say, for the context of this day…

When Eve and the Serpent were having their infamous convo…most of our lovely little flannel graph’s show Adam to be no where in sight. We allude that after she takes a bite of ‘the apple’…she runs off and finds him and manipulates him into eating it too. Nope. Read it again…(Gen 3:6) Adam was there, right. there. beside her. In fact, the Hebrew literally says he was there, “at her elbow”. He heard the whole thing. He participated in the whole thing. He never stepped out and stopped her from being deceived.
(*note- things were already breaking down long before this point. This just happened to be the final straw. And I’m not saying it was ONLY Adam’s fault either. Don't swing the other way. There was equal blame for The Fall.)

So here’s where the story gets really interesting…God comes back to confront them…and asks Adam, “Dude, what the heck?” (Jenn's paraphrased version) And what does Adam do? He freaks out…and has the audacity to turn and blame God for the whole thing. Bad call, Adam. Bad call.
Gen 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 

Obviously that wasn’t the wisest move. 

BUT...when God asks goes like this... Gen 3:13 And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Eve's words are simple but powerful: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." And the way this is worded in the Hebrew, she is speaking in a very repentant way. 

Now remember, (despite the flannel graphs) the people involved here were God, Adam, Eve,…and the Serpent. So even though the root of all this is right in front of them, Adam chose to blame God for his sin. But Eve? She owns up. BUT most importantly…and here’s the key in all of this…SHE EXPOSES THE ENEMY. She put the blame where the blame lied. She went to the root of the problem and pointed it out for all to see.

And that’s when the most beautiful thing happened. By doing this, Eve opened the door for redemption…and God created the path…
Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity 
                 Between you and the woman, 
                 And between your seed and her seed; 
                 He shall bruise you on the head, 
                 And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 

The door was opened, and down that precious path, a Messiah would come, thousands of years later…who was destined to be born of a women, according to God’s promise, yet not of a man, through who iniquity (sin) would be passed down. And His life, death, and glorious resurrection would bring Salvation…and take us back to the intimacy of relationship with our Creator and the gift of a New Birth that restores what was lost in the Garden.

I flippin love that.

But...because of this exposure, the enemy obviously became angry. It was a woman who exposed him. It was a promise of purpose that it would be the woman who would crush his head. And a war was waged.

Do you see? It was established in our foundation as women, that part of our forever purpose is to expose the enemy...and to point to the direction of redemption and salvation. And from that moment in the garden…the enemy has been on overdrive to shut us up. We are oppressed in almost every country in the world. (interesting that the oppression is strongest in the region where the Garden once was) We are 2nd class citizens in every major religion. Our own God-breathed scriptures have been twisted and taken far out of context to try to silence us in our very own places of worship. Even the traditional story of Eve has been twisted and mixed and mingled with the Greek myth of Pandora...a story of a woman who was made responsible for allowing evil to be released into the world, all because she made a poor choice. 

The Enemy wants us silent. But we will not be silent. Despite the oppression, we will rise up and take our places in this world. We will grab hold of our purposes and callings. We will stand as one mighty army. We will continue down with the same path that was opened with Eve. We will not be silent...we will pray, declare, sing, and publish the Good News that is within us. We will live out the prophetic words of Psalm 68. Psalm 68:11 The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.

My office in my home is filled with WWII posters of women joining the fight. And it’s soon to be filled wall to wall with world changing women, past and present, who are rising up and making a difference. The ones who have gone before us…facing unspeakable odds to bring freedom and equality. Ones who have loved the unlovable, ones who have brought comfort, ones who stood for justice, ones who have fought for change. I love seeing this constant reminder of the army of which I am proud to be a part. 

So celebrate today. Celebrate the women around you. Pause and reflect on the true beauty of our gender. Honor the world changers among us. Love on those who have made a difference in your own life. And ask God to show you your place in this beautiful army of warriors.  

I loved this article I saw earlier on some ways to celebrate... (and if it's too late can start planning for next year!) International Women’s Day: 10 ways to celebrate

Sunday, March 4, 2012

the treasure of a simple miracle...

So in my last post I got to announce the exciting news that I finally have a job again. And as much as it was an amazing answer to prayer…there was a more profound miracle that took place, in the natural...and in my heart. One that stemmed from a deep issue I have rooted in my soul. In a vulnerable confession, I'll tell you that I have a deep fear of being disappointment by God. Although I do my best to stand on the Truth of His character...even with weak, shaking is something in which my Spirit and soul are in constant battle. ("Because feelings & circumstances are real...but they are not Truth." ~Tamara Winslow) 

Ok, so you know that saying Christians love to declare…“God’s never late…it may not be in your timing…but God’s ALWAYS on time.” 

Blah blah blahblahblah.
Give. Me. A. Break. I wanna push people down when they say that. I’ve always hated that phrase. First, is that even Biblical? If so…PLEASE show me. Cause I personally haven’t seen that theology stated anywhere in the Bible. I just think it's something we like to say.

But the facts are…He is often…actually, mostly…late in my life. And it. is. agony. There’s always those great stories of people needing an answer or miracle and at the very literal last minute, God comes through. Who doesn’t love those stories? We all do. But those are seldom my stories. My stories are those that when I need a miracle…the literal last minute happens…and nothing. Hours...days…after chaos and messes abound from the lack of a miracle…when I’m heartbroken and confused and an unfunctional mess because I think I’ve missed God…suddenly…SURPRISE…He shows up. And sometimes it’s with an even bigger miracle than I originally needed to cover the mess that was caused because it was late. And sometimes it’s not bigger, and I’m left running to catch up and clean up the pieces from the mess…as I sit and wonder why? Why was it late? Did I miss God? Was I doing something wrong? Is this my lot in life? Did God forget I was here…and so didn’t come through until He suddenly remembered me? 

I sometimes think I just live a Lazarus kind of life…that God constantly wanted the sitch dead and rotting before saving it. But why was He always working this way? And don’t you just assume God went ahead and fully healed Lazarus’ grody decomposing flesh? God didn’t just raise him…He brought wholeness to the situation. So then why was I sometimes left with the horrible aftermath of the late miracle to take care of by myself??? Every new situation I'd hope and pray it would be different. And almost every time, I was devastatingly disappointed. 

Because this has been the painful reoccurring theme in my life, I tend to want to throw stuff at people who say God is never late. I was even fine to live a Lazarus kind of life if that’s what God was needing me to do…but I was never ok when the healed rotting flesh wasn’t part of the gig.

So I had one main prayer during this whole last season of unemployment. I wanted to be done with the government before they were done with me. All I asked was that the next steps be shown and my next job be there before my unemployment ran out. I begged God from the beginning that this would be different…that for once in my life the bigger miracle wasn’t needed…that there was no rotting flesh that even needed to be healed…that for once, I didn’t have to hold my breath waiting to see if God would come though this time. I didn’t want to go weeks, or for goodness sakes, months…with zero income. Little income was bad enough. And I’m pretty anti-living off the government, so I really wanted to be done with them as soon as possible.

So the talks with the company I now work for began just before I started my last tier of unemployment. I knew I was getting close to the end. I knew God was saying this was the job…they just had too much going on, and aren’t really the fastest moving people when it comes to hiring new employees. But I thought for a while I might have my miracle WAY early. Silly me.

As the talks got more serious and close together, I started my last section of unemployment-that was actually through the state of CO. I was still feeling ok about the timing maybe working out (even though the process was getting more complicated)…but I was desperately trying not to get my hopes up out of my deep fear of disappointment. Because I had started State Emergency Benefits I had to go to an orientation about this new process. It was all so crazy to me. Even on the way to the orientation I was exchanging emails with my future boss…yet, it still wasn’t becoming ‘official’. Then at the orientation…my heart sank as I learned the horrid news… Because of legislation, all…aaaallllll, no matter where you’re at in the process, all state benefits would stop the second week of March. I was shocked. This was only a couple weeks away. I still had the glimmer of hope for a job (although I was stressed for the people in the room with me)…but they were still far from a hurry to move forward…my hope for a NON-Lazarus miracle was slipping further and further away. I prayed and begged God for my miracle. I kept reminding Him it had been my only request throughout the last season. In the midst of the silence…in the midst of my confusion…in the midst of the wilderness...the only thing I had asked was that I would be done with the government before they were done with me.

And my one prayer was answered.

He wasn’t early…but this time, He fact, right. on. time.

I requested my last payment of unemployment this week…the money may have run out from the government (although further legislation could change this and I could have been approved for back pay)…but irregardless…it was my last request because He came through, and I am officially on a company’s payroll.

It wasn’t a Lazarus miracle this time. There wasn't a need to ask for a miracle to cover a stressful rotting flesh mess. But it was a miracle...of epic proportions. And for once, I get to just easily and gracefully maneuver through...

...and my soul sighs in relief. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

FINALLY...into the new...

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness…
Leaning on her beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:5

Finally...after a year and a half…I am employed again! I can’t even begin to explain all my emotions in all of this. (in fact, I already know this has to be split up into different posts)

This last season was long. Loooooong…at least a year and a half long. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but it was a hard, dry, weary, refreshing, uncomfortable, restful, agonizing, wrestling, blessed season. I wouldn't ever trade it or ever wish for anything different.

When I lost my job, I began praying about what I would possibly do. All God said, was ‘Wait’. When I probed for more…He only said, ‘Rest.”  I truly thought this was just figurative. You know, learn to be at rest, in your spirit, while you’re moving 90 miles an hour in life. But nope, that’s not what He meant. He meant- nothing. And that’s what happened. (despite my best efforts to get around it) And it was good.

And then, many months later, (more than I had ever imagined) He announced that the rest was over. And I naively thought that meant a job was around the corner…and then days…weeks…more months went by. And this part was tough. Really tough. God would speak to me about any and every issue in the world…except about what was coming for my life. Anytime I would ask about this season, or what the season to come would look like…I’d hear nothing. Just that eerie silence with only the crickets chirping. I was confused. I was apprehensive and fearful I was missing something. I was a mess on the inside…all while I became very busy in my schedule…constantly doing something, going somewhere, connecting with someone. I loved the freedom I had during the day…and tried to savor the moments, knowing that as soon as a job appeared, I’d have to let go of that freedom. So while I was loving life in the natural…I felt like I was in a barren, confused wilderness in the spiritual.

Throughout this time I’d dread the inevitable questions from everyone around me... “Any job prospects?” “What’s your plan?” “What do you think God is saying?” On and on they went. Oh, how I hated these moments. At least with people who knew God, I could give somewhat of an answer too…explaining that I was waiting on Him…but didn’t know what His plan was yet. But to my non-God-loving people…it was excruciating to come up with acceptable answers. To very few, did I ever feel like I could be 100% honest…I knew that I knew that I knew that God would just hand me a job…I just didn’t know when…or how. But He always had before, in unconventional ways, and even though I knew very little about this season…I knew that. I just didn’t know how to explain it. I was applying, half heartedly to jobs, because that’s “what I was supposed to do”…but I knew nothing would come from them. It just kept the government happy…and made it easier to give answers to everyone’s questions as to what I was doing.

It’s funny, in the beginning of this process…I heard this comment, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a job just handed to me…I’ve always had to go out and search it out, work for finding it.” Everyone in the room agreed. I just smiled on the inside. Why? Because 97% of my jobs have just been handed to me. They've all come from a connection of some sort. The only exceptions were my very first 2 jobs…and then one that as I was searching the want ads in the paper, God pointed to one and said- “There, go apply there. That’s where you're going to work.” So I did. Imagine the momentary awkwardness during that interview when I was asked why I had applied…and I decided to truthfully share. But hey, if you can’t do that at an interview to work at a church, where can you? (and yes, I did get that job)

And so, it happened this time too. Through the organization my best friend works with…I am now employed. I knew for sure that was the plan of God around the end of last year...but had to push through to make it happen. It’s with an exchange student program. I’ll be working with the National Office…helping track and organize the happenings of the company. The pay is more than I’ve ever made (which, unfortunately isn’t that much to brag about), I get to travel, I get to do things I’m good at and will enjoy, and the bestest bestest part…is that I get to work from home! I. know! So everything that I most enjoyed in this last season…the freedom, the connections, etc…I won’t lose. That is beyond an answered prayer…because I was refusing to get my hopes up about that…and would barely allow myself to pray for it. Course now, I feel kinda obligated to start popping out some babies…cause momma’s everywhere are sure to be envious of my work from home position.

So there’s the news! There’s a specific aspect to this amazing timing that I’ll write about next...a hugely massive miracle that took place in my life. And then I’ll tell about the day this all happened…when Heaven was working overtime…

It's been a long time coming...but my new season has finally begun...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

in why I won't celebrate this season....

So this is a post in which I share my heart…and which could cause great offense to my readers…which is why I've never fully written it before. But as this week crawls on…and I’m bombarded by constant posts on Twitter and Facebook…my level of heartbreak…and to be honest, annoyance…greatly increases…and so therefore I’m just gonna go ahead and share…and you can agree, argue, or ignore as you please…

So when did Lent get trendy??? It seems like the last 5 years or so the number of people who are embracing and running with it has grown by leaps and bounds. It used to be just the Catholics and traditional Protestants were the only ones to participate. But now…it seems like everyone is jumping on the Lent train and participating in it.

And hear my heart in this…I’m not remotely anti- ‘giving up something for God’…I’m not anti- 40 day fasts…I’m certainly not anti- setting aside a specific time to stop and reflect on God and your relationship with Him or ponder the perfect completeness of what Jesus did on the cross. All these things are amazing…and should be embraced, often, by the Lovers of Him.

But the part that puts me over the edge…makes me groan deep within and throw my hands in the air…makes me weep in prayer…and scream out loud in frustration……is that we’re doing this, in the name of Jesus, but on pagan foundations. Which is something God told us…over and over and o-verNOT to do. “DON’T follow after the pagans…don’t do what they do, even in My name…don’t be like them…don’t adopt their practices…etc.” Yet we do, with justified stances. (He even went so far as to usually declare that the heathens be completely wiped out…because He wanted no remnant left for His people to be tempted to become like them) We either don’t research these things at all, or we research just enough to justify our own beliefs…tack on a Christian theme…and go with it. Just because it wasn’t our generation that adopted the pagan practices, and it’s what we’ve always done, it’s far too easily justified in our eyes. (although we are quick to scream out against traditions we personally don’t like, especially because Jesus addresses it so often…we just conveniently ignore the issues of the traditions we do like and want to continue holding on to) But even just a quick, basic research of how God felt about the succeeding generations, the ones who didn’t make the change, adopt, etc…just the ones that grew up in the continued pagan practices, should make things very clear as to how He feels about it. Right? So because of this…I don’t get it. I just really...don’t.

The origins of Lent have several pagan connections…but the main one is based on the Weeping of Tammuz. (Which God calls an abomination in Ezekiel 8:14-16) The story originates in Babylon. Tammuz (a false god) was killed by a wild boar when he was 40 yrs old. So, 40 days (one for every year) of weeping and mourning was declared in his honor. The worshippers would deny themselves pleasures during these 40 days. (for the sake of his pleasures in the afterlife) They would then end this with a big celebration at the end of the 40 days…including eating a wild boar. (is it, again, JUST a coincidence that our “traditional” Easter dinner is ham???? Or maybe, perhaps not? Either way...the connection is creepy.) “Lent” certainly wasn’t observed by the first century Church. It was first addressed during the Council of Nicea with Constantine. (of. course.) He mixed Paganism and Christianity in unfathomable ways, but in all honesty, it was intertwined before and certainly after him, because he opened that path wide. Christianity adopted the pagan practices and rituals again and again…and just tacked on the name of Jesus to justify doing so. (i.e., Lent is just a picture of the 40 day fast Jesus did) And it was the Council of Laodicea in 360 AD who officially declared that Lent be observed.

“Woe to those who call evil, good and good, evil.” Isaiah 5:8

And God is very clear as to what He calls evil. He called following after the heathens evil. He called the 40 days of the Weeping of Tammuz evil. He called breaking His commands (and He commands us to follow HIS celebrations) evil. Just because we add Jesus to the mix and call it good, does not make it so. In fact, He says 'Woe to those' who do...

I’ve already said in a previous post, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter because of its pagan roots. And I know most of you believe I’m crazy and extreme and don’t get it. But the more I look into it, the more I see scriptures, and the heart of God being very clear about it. I truly see it as a conniving work of the enemy…that got us off track *just enough* and changed the focus *just enough* to get us outside the boundary of God’s perfect plan and path He created for us and we miss the fullness that He has ordained for us.

I am NOT saying hearts that celebrate Lent aren’t pure. I know so many are. But ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is dangerous. And God doesn't let us off the hook for our ignorance, unfortunately. I’ve read the beautiful blogs posts of preparing for this 40 day season… I've read my friend’s accounts of the precious revelations they received during this time…and I do not negate those things. I know they’re real. I know they connected with God during this time. My issue is with the foundation...and if our foundation is not truth (and truth means stable)…then how can we firmly stand? My issue, my heartache, in all this, especially during this season…is this missing of the mark. And we are missing the mark. 

Don’t just rely on the traditions of which you been raised in. And definitely don’t just rely on the words out of my mouth or on my blog. Research the roots. Read the words of Jesus Himself in regards to the Law and following the commandments of His Father. (from neutral, non pre-defined eyes) Read the scriptures about grace. And then read the words of God, Himself…in regards to what He wants and doesn’t want us do…in festivals, celebrations, and being like the pagans. Don’t blindly follow this new Lenten Trend. Declare your own 40 day fast…one in which you’ve spent time with God and heard His timing. Find a group of people to set aside this time with you and press in to Him together. Celebrate Him in new and fresh ways. There's no need to copy the ways of the ones who thought something else was worthy of their worship and focus. There's no need to ignore the Biblical mandates and follow after the man made ones. Don’t be so quick to embrace the things that do not have their foundation in God. And certainly don’t be quick to shun and ignore the ones He created and ordained for us. 

I hope you still love me...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sharing in the wholeness of His heart...

Something occured to me several months ago. (you know, when I had accidentally moved back to Texas) I was seeing several people from my high school days and the same theme kept coming up over and over. Whenever my teenage/early 20's self is described...I'm usually summed up in one word- Joyful. I was repeatedly told by people that I was the most joyful person they had ever met. I always loved that description. Mostly, because back then I was a hot mess of dysfunction...and I was clinging to God with everything in me for mere survival. The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10) and Be Joyful Always (I Thess 5:16) were the life ropes in which I clung to get through my days.

But as I was being reminded of this...something deep down started gnawing at me. Because it was just that...a reminder. In other words, a description of the past. I realized people were no longer using that word for their top characterization of me...and I didn't like this. I kept wondering where I had gone wrong...because I just thought I had only grown less...obnoxious (aka- the exuberant joy I loudly and boastfully portrayed). I still felt joyful, deep down...under a layer of seriousness that I was mistaking for just stability. I am a much, MUCH more stable, functional person than I once was...and I'm definitely much closer and more intimate with my why on earth would it appear as though I've lost my joy?????

I contemplated this for several days and realized this: As I've grown closer to God...walking in that intimate embrace of sharing His heart...I realized that there is a deep seriousness that is attached to this close walk with God. As I've grown deeper in my relationship with Him, I've cried out on almost a daily basis to share what's on His heart for that moment...asking Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I have prayed those prayers countless times. And God has answered those prayers every time. And it's been an exquisite, heart wrenching, messy, beautiful dance. And when walking daily with Him, this becomes your habit and you become in tune with those things around you on a constant basis. You can walk into a place, and know what God is saying about the people and situations around share what He is saying for individuals, groups, or whole nations. And you pray what He says to pray...and you believe what He says to believe...sharing in His tears as He weeps for the injustice...shouting as you hear the roar of His promises...joining with Him in the Throne Room where He is seated, forever interceding for His beloved.

But why is it, I wonder, do we tend to think that sharing the heart of God, is always serious and somber? I think we get consumed with the issues, the problems...because we want to join with God in seeing His solution come forth. Our generation's deep cry for justice keeps our eyes and our focus on the problems that abound on this planet. But my God is a joyful God. He laughs, He sings, He spins and dances over us. I think, we forget sometimes, that sharing His heart means not only asking Him to see the issues around us like He sees them...but we need to also ask what makes Him joyful in what He sees? What is making Him belly laugh when He looks down at our world? I've prayed many times that He would make me aware of the one around me that His heart is breaking for, one that He's got locked in a protective embrace, so that I can join in prayer with Him or give an encouraging word...but I've never asked Him to show me the one He's singing and dancing around at that moment...the one He's cracking up in exuberant joy over.

This has been my prayer the last several months. In the midst of some extremely hard times going on around me...I've asked God to show me the joy once again. I'll admit...I haven't really seen it fully yet...but just in seeking this balance of His heart...I believe, has kept me from drowning under the issues that flooded around me.

So, my prayer will continue to be "Show me your heart, God. Break my heart for what breaks yours." But I shall now add..."Fill my heart with what fills yours. Show me what makes your heart joyful."
I want the whole truth of His heart...I want the balance.

(I decided to create a Joy Board on Pinterest...just for funsies and such)

Monday, January 9, 2012

1000 Gifts- The 'When My World Exploded' Edition..

Look at me like I'm a regular blog poster! What is 5 in the last week? SO proud! Hopefully I can keep this up and start writing down the 4 billion thoughts in my head...

So this may be longer than usual...but I had several months to catch up on. And even though I felt like I was going through some of the worst of times, I still kept my eyes open to the gifts that abounded around me....and there were many....

299- car trip with the girls in the family

300- hugging my Nannie...bringing reassurance that she'd be ok

301- being in Kansas, the state of my birth...where my soul always feels unexplainably content

302- unexpected lunch with extended family

303- card games with cousins

304- court cases in our favor

305- house empty to myself

306- borrowed car during my extended Texas stay

307- reconnecting with so many old friends

308- high school pep rally at my alma mater...watching high school cheerleading friend's daughter cheer

309- suspicions confirmed and doubt erased

310- the incomparable sunsets only seen in West Texas

311- walking out, after a particulary stressful day, and being overtaken with not only a breathtaking sunset...but also my moon (the phase of the tiniest sliver, before it's even a cresent) dipping down into the vibrant colors. A quiet reminder that my God loves me, sees me...and was in complete control.

312- being reminded of the geese I had forgotten, encompassing the lakes around town, their pit stops on their way to warmer haven further south

313- prayer support from friends

314- encourging texts and emails from friends, and the understanding I wasn't at the place to respond back

315- Bethel worship videos on youtube via my phone (since ipods and computer weren't packed for my "quick weekend trip") source of sanity that helped me connect with God every morning...fixing my focus on Him, securing my feet on Truth and giving me the strength to stop the tears and get out of bed and face what the day would bring.

316- prayer times with my Mom

317- financial provision

318- exchange students you want to forever keep as part of the family

319- late night talks and prayers in parking lots with friends (because the closing restaurant kicked us out)

320- daily consumption of tex-mex! (I avoid Mexican food in CO at all costs)

321- seeing my hometown exceed the number of expectant people (by almost double, I think) wanting to attend an event to honor Israel. (even though I was among those not allowed in)

322- quick hug from ex-student working the event...and her teary gratefulness for showing her the beauty of the heart of God for His chosen people

323- Home Sweet Home....even if it is still a little crowded

324- rest and sleeping and moments of recovery

325- unwrapping my favorite menorahs...and transforming the house in Hanukkah decor

326- holiday cards with pictures and sweet notes

327- Hanukkah celebration with friends, new and old

328- trip back to TX to celebrate Christmas with the family

329- being able to stay at my Mom's house once again

330- pajamas, hot chocolate, crowded in backseat 80's style (someone laying across laps), and driving around looking at the lights

331- teary Christmas morning...overwhelmed with the faithful provision of a loving God

332- watching faces opening presents

333- home again, with more peace this time that the circumstances of TX are going to be ok

334- 7 out of town visitors for New Years Eve

335- overlooking the city lights high on a mountain top

336- Helen Hunt Falls fully frozen over

337- late night games of dominoes-with the same girls that once held this tradition many many years ago

338- 'Stashes & Lashes New Year's Eve party with friends

339- holiday decor down, fresh start with rearranged everyday decor

340- shopping with my favorite young he carefully and thoughtfully picked out his Mom's birthday present

341- Downton Abbey marathon, curled up in pj's and blankets, the house quiet once again with the kid's return to school

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

holy experience

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A year of no more Somedays....

OK, so I know most people have already done all their New Year's resolution's post and have moved on. After all, we're entering into the second week of January. And I'm sure you want to tell me I'm late to the party and the world has moved on by now...But, HELLO???? Are you not paying attention to the INSANITY of which has been my life these last couple of months? This last week things seem to finally be back at a semi-normal pace and level of normal stress...and I am savoring these moments. So yes, I'm a weekish late for declarations of the new year's goals....but I'm quite ok with it.

So I've said in the past that I LOVE New Year's resolutions. I love new beginnings, new goals, new outlooks, and the new energy that comes with it to push forward. As I was rolling around things in my head about this new year...I kept thinking my list was so weirdly random. And then this weekend it hit me. It's not as random as I thought it was.

This goal is work on my 'Someday List'. That list that's grown and grown over the course of my life in a constant state of procrastination. I'm checking those babies off this year. I only have a few things I can think of this moment....but my goal is to be more aware of when this thought crosses my mind, "oohh, someday I'm gonna ___"... or "I plan on doing ___" and immediately write it down and make true plans and deadlines to get them accomplished. So far the list may seem fairly frivolous...but I think I'm needing some moments of frivolousnessesness....

So the things that have come to mind already are these:

1- I've wanted to declare myself a die hard Jane Austen fan since forever. However, I don't think you can do such things until you've actually read all her major books. Because, for goodness sakes, there's only 6. I've read P&P a couple years ago...and I suddenly realized I have let these several years slip by without finishing another one of her books. So, cast your votes! I need your advice...which one should I do next? And my goal is to read it before the end of March. (also, I've tried to read Emma several times because I *thought* it would be my favorite, but I can't seem to stay with I'm thinking I should do a different one and come back to her...)

2- Audrey Hepburn movies. (this list is SO deep and spiritual, isn't it?) I ADORE Audrey. To an extreme. And I can watch Breakfast at Tiffany's and Roman Holiday (my 2 favs) over and over and over and over again. And I constantly say- I want to find ALL her movies and watch them. goal is to find at least 3 this year that I haven't seen...and add them to my collection.

3- More reading goals... I STILL have books on my shelf that I've bought and not read. My goal is to crack open at least 5 of them this year. (and yes, fully read them)

4- Bible study- there's been 2 study goals I've wanted to do for the last several years...and I'm determined to sit down and do them this year...instead of just talking about wanting to do them...

5- The pile and list of unfinished projects- between pinterest, decor blogs, the AMAZINGness of Colorado Spring's thrift stores...I can't even begin to list the amount of things I've wanted to do/redo the last couple of years. It's time to make those happen and make my house as fantastico as it is in my head.

My dichotomous personality is sometimes perfectly fabulous...and sometimes paralyzingly ridiculous. I can go with the flow and be content where I am pretty dang easy...which can unfortunately sometimes turn into large amount of wasted time happening. But at work I'm goal, task and project driven. So I'm gonna try to get my work-self mixed in a little more with my life-self.......and see what kind of spectacularness can abound in 2012.

So that's some of my crazy resolutions this year. Do you have any?? (deeply spiritual OR surfacely frivolous)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Oops....I almost forgot... (about said words)

Ack! I forgot one important thing! I think we gots to DO something with our words. So every month I'm gonna come up with a little somethin-somethin about our words to do...and I hope you follow along with me on this journey!

So- for this month- it's actually a 2 parter....but they're super simple....ready?

1- Look up your words in a dictionary...and WRITE down the dictionary definition.

2- Get the word out and in front of you! Feel free to get all pinterestly creative...or just write them with a dry erase marker on your bathroom mirror...but get those words in your home and/or office where they're all up in your grill!

Ok....ya'll in????  Get crackin!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I have my you?

So has everyone been thinking and praying about your word and characteristic??? I had been praying off and on the last couple of weeks....but it wasn't until Selah Tuesday that I actually stopped, stilled myself and listened. And of course, He faithfully spoke and confirmed.

So my word for 2012: Release! I love it!! Honestly, I kinda thought my word would be Dwell, because I adore that word so much. (I couldn't decide for MONTHS whether to name our Tuesday group Dwell or Selah) But then God was like, "Nope! It's this..." So, I think 'dwell' is just gonna continue living on in my spirit...while God declared my word to focus on for the year to be Release. I am really excited about this word! And I know it's definitely muti-sided. I believe God's speaking it for my own life in different areas....but also for others, through me. I've known for many years that part of my spiritual dna God has given me is to release others- into their destinies, into their giftings, etc. And I really believe God wants to increase this...and show me a whole new level of this aspect. I can't wait to see what 2012 holds in the Year of Release!

And my characteristic of God: Provider! For the last two years, God has given me the word Portion...and I'm kinda excited to be moving on to something new. Course now I'm thinking God's really into alliterations. Oy...but I have so much rolling around in my head about this one....fears...small revelations...reminders. I have a feeling I'm gonna have several posts about this one....

So there you have it! A couple of you already commented with your words on the last post and I L.O.V.E. them. And my Selah girls had this list:
Thankfulness and Love
Courage and Graciousness
Peace and Shepherd
Action and Faithfulness
Righteousness and Father/Faithfulness

So please please please comment and share yours! I believe with everything in me, that God is going to show us great revelations and bring us into definite new growth regarding these things.

And I'd love to hear about your last year's words too. What did God show you about a big or small way....

(I don't know what came over me while writing this. I may or may not have gotten carried away with the exclamation marks. But...I guess with passion, comes exclamation....)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What's Your Word???

Happy New Year my beautiful blog-world people!

It's time once again for my most favorite concept E-VER!  For the last 2 years, my friends and I not only pray and find our One Word for 2012....but we take it a step further. We pray and ask God what is the one characteristic of Him that He wants us to concentrate on for this coming year. I love love love this concept and have seen testimony after testimony in my friend's lives, and of COURSE my own, when we started doing this.

So take the next couple of days to pray about your word and your characteristic of God for 2012. And then we'll come back and share them in a couple of days...shall we?

You can find a list of characteristics here.
And my original post here, in case you're new and want the full story.

Happy listening!