Thursday, July 10, 2014

Smitten...

It's official. I am totally smitten. With the desert. If you read my last post you'd know that this is shocking to me. Never in a million years would I have assumed those words would ever breach my lips much less my heart. But let me tell you about it. First. ITS SO DIFFERENT. Like, what? Second. I have a mountain down my street. There are so many mountains. Ones with big rocks and lots of sand. Even the mountains are different. Third. There is no grass. What is grass? But there are bushes of all kinds with green and brown and purple, even, leafs that fill the sands and ad life and color. Also, there are 502143 different kinds of cacti all over the place. Big tall ones, short fat ones, skinny prickly ones, fuzzy ones. All kinds. Its fascinating! Fourth. I see lots of birds, bunnies and lizzards. I aint mad. Fifth. The humidity. There is, like, none. So when its 107 outside it feels like an oven BUT you are not constantly covered in sticky, nasty sweat. You dry out. Its nice. I'll take 107 with no humidity over 92 with 40% any day. And on the same note it drops almost 20+ degrees at night. No joke, I needed a jacket the first morning I sat outside for my quiet time and last night I was remarking how cool it felt and how nice it was. It was 90 degrees still. If I really take a look at what I love about being here (besides being with my HUSBAND, clearly) I think its that all of this represents so much more. Such deep truths. I'm out of my comfort zone and God still shows up. In my head all the years I saw the desert as this lonely, deserted, wasteland of nothing but bad things. Thats SO not true. He shows his glory and creativity and love everywhere. Not just Colorado or the Texas hill country. The sunsets and vastness speak of his beauty in way I've never seen. Here, I see resilience. And grit. And fortitude. And strength. And might. And power. I think thats really where the cactus obsession comes in. They are these crazy looking plants created to survive in a hostile and unfitting-for-most-life environments. They survive on 4.14 inches of rain a year (Thanks Andrew). That's practically nothing. They are given nothing and they survive. Not only do they survive but they thrive. And they offer a unique beauty. One only found in the desert, the hard places. They were also given thorns, armor, to help guard them against those that would steal their water, their blood, their life. I hope to live like that. I hope that I have enough trust in the Provider that I can survive on practically nothing in all environments because, really, he gives us what we truly need. Use the armor given to me against those who would steal. And offer in confidence my unique beauty that was given to show a greater beauty. Guys, I love it here. I'm inspired and curious and intrigued and a million other things. I dare you to come visit.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

**THROWBACK!** Called to the desert...

I never published this post, but need to to be able to be current going forward. Lets take a glance back in March, when this was originally written. Thanks for your understanding. ;)

Well. If you know me, even a little bit, you know that my least favorite nature things are heat, wind and sand. Put them all together you get a desert. A desert is the place I desire the least to ever visit. My bucket list might even include "never go to a desert." It doesn't but that would accurately describe my "feelings" for the desert. Another thing you might know if you know me even a little bit is that I am CRAZY about my man, a Marine, SEMPER FI! Our plan is to get married so his orders will also be my new orders. Last week he got his orders for his duty station post school of infantry. His mother calls me and she quite excitedly exclaims, "We got an email from Aaron! He got his orders! 29 Palms!" My immediate thought, "wait, what?" "29 palms!" (which is the Mojave desert in Cali) I laughed. Laughed a lot. It was a complete joke to me that the absolute last place in the world I ever wanted to be was at that base and of course thats where we're sent. I had even prayed it wouldn't be that one! Pendleton was supposed to be our adventure. His mom and I talked for a good 15 minutes about. Complete shock would be how I described what my brain was feeling for the next hour or so. I immediately call one of my besties, vent a little and hang up. My poor roomie got the worst of it. We sat a taco place for two hours mostly talking about the orders. Sorry, Mo. After a while I settle into an "it is what it is" attitude. Not so much angry anymore, but a bit confused confused. Why? Why the desert? Why such a tiny little town with nothing to do...IN THE DESERT? Ok, fine. I start calling those closest, my mom, my other besties. They also thought it was hilariously tragic. One thing I like is knowing things. Not crazy, spend hours researching but enough to feel in control of something, like I have a grasp on it. So I get home and start googling things. "Things to do in 29 palms." A trip advisor link pops up. "29 palms attractions." I bite. There are 13 things on the list. 13. No joke, two of them are visitor's center and the chamber of commerce. Thrilling. The first link though looked appealing. It was Joshua Tree National Park. I click the picture. There is nothing but sand, ew, spikey brown and yellow plants from big to small, ew, hay-y looking shrubs and these joshua trees that look like shaggy dead ones with spiky balls at the ends of the limbs and boulder formations that are lumpy and sideways and completely random sticking out of the ground where it doesn't even make sense and mountains in the background. It looked foreign. Even alien. Like another planet. As I get a bit farther into the slideshow I become a bit more intrigued and less weirded out. Then I came across this picture.
I was taken aback. It felt like God was saying, "You love me and I'm here too. I created this and it is beautiful. Can't you see? I'm right here." And I did. It is so different. But now I can see its beauty. A knot the size of a baseball began forming in my throat as I realized I was being "called to the desert." How many people that God has loved so dearly has he called out to the desert? Including his own son. To love on them. To be alone with them. To work out their crap even until they were whole. I was completely overwhelmed with how loved I felt that God wanted me, Aaron and I, to himself. To show us something new, himself without distraction. For us to be undistracted by "things to do." In that moment it all made sense. This is exactly what is best. I texted Katie and said, "I just got really excited about being 'called to the desert.'" Her response, "It's like Jesus was talking to both of us because I was JUST thinking about it being the desert and was about to call you." Then, I finally get to talk to Aaron about it a few days later. He says he's at mass and the gospel reading was the story of Jesus in the desert. He said he left knowing that God had called us to the desert for good. So weird how God works sometimes. How he turns your hatred to deserts into obsessions with cacti. How sometimes he chooses to let you in on a little secret. And sometimes he lets a handful of people all in on that same secret. So all this is to say that despite my previous objections. I cannot wait to meet my man in the desert! I'm so excited for what God has in store for us to learn and grow from and what crap he has to get rid of in us. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd say, "I'm going to the desert, YA!" but "YA!"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Holy Night...

So, Thanksgiving is over. I love it and am thankful for it buuut...we can officially begin the Christmas festivities with out the shame. If I'm being honest, I LOVE cheesy Christmas movies, you know, the hallmark classics with mostly bad acting. They're easy. You can watch them and not feel like you need to repent of all kinds of bad after. There is usually a cute little lesson learned and redemption of at least one character AND a love story all thrown onto a set of a winter wonderland. WHATS NOT TO LOVE?! I also started listening to Christmas music a bit prematurely as well. I'm not mad. It's just so good for 1,001 different reasons. They're classic. I can remember these songs for as long as I've been capable of remembering things. It feels good and comfortable. They always remind me of this time of year, which is my favorite. Its just a snuggly, feel good time (and less hot!). These songs are also talking about our Jesus and God's great love and the whole world is hearing about it whether they actually realize it or not. I do have a favorite though. I get a little choked up every time I listen to it. Can you guess? O Holy Night. So good. Let's talk about it. In the first verse the lyrics are "long lay the world in Sin and error pining." I just imagine our world, as is. So full of greed, selfishness, pride, envy, sickness and anger...people drowning in their heartache and pain with the weight of all of this on their souls, feeling like there is no good end or way out or up, prone in their misery, lost. "Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth." The feelings and joy that come to mind when I think of a soul feeling the worth of Jesus is unspeakable.  I'm tearing up as I write this. Imaging a soul that is so heavy and weary and week finally realizing there is hope, there is a way out. Finally feeling freedom and rest and ease. While those things may not manifest physically for so many people, they can all be a reality in and for our souls. There is a hope and a future. That someday when this world ends something so much greater waits. Jesus came to pay the price for the greed and envy and sickness. We no longer have to be separated from our God by the crap of this world. That realization makes the soul free! Can you imagine what it would be like for more of our world to feel His worth, the indescribable, insurmountable worth?! "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices." I imagine people doubled over or prostrate on the floor lost in their sin and hurt raising their head once feeling the worth and freedom. That hope starts to form, slowly but surely. Moving through nations, spreading, people rising from the weariness of Sin. Weariness being replaced by a new sense of hope and joy. The bad no longer is eternal but temporary. There is HOPE. "For yonder breaks an new and glorious morning." People rising up! Seeing the Glory of the coming of the Lord. The night is over! The morning has come! The darkness has ended! The Son has risen. A new and glorious morning. "Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!" The goodness is overwhelming. Your knees cannot hold the weight or the glory of it all, you fall on them. The Angels can do nothing but sing aloud around you the goodness of redemption. This hope and glory breaks down walls of oppression and depression, that regardless of their existence there is an eternal answer. "O night divine, O night when Christ was born." The answer, Jesus, was born that night. That holy night when Christ was born was the beginning to the most beautiful redemption and salvation. From that night on nothing would be the same. The holy and divine night that brought God's grace and love to us, the answer. The night that Christ was born. I love this song. And will forever. Its the song of my hope. My eternal redemption.

What's your fave?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All things new...

Today, as so many things are changing I am clinging to the truth that God makes all things new and makes beautiful things out of nothing. It is the 16th of September. My man left to begin his journey to become a Marine yesterday. Two hours ago he swore in and will be standing in the hallowed yellow footprints tonight as so many great men before him have. I am so proud that he chose to fight for his country and our freedom and the freedom of many others around the world. I am deeply sad to be with out him but I know and trust that this is what he has been called to do so I cannot be sad with out being selfish. Pray for him with me? Another journey begins here for myself as well. I have moved back to Corpus Christi, a pseudo home town for me, which is weird because never in a million years did I see myself being back here again. This town is not a bad town but my idea of moving forward was not moving back to Corpus. It was clear that God called me back to Texas for so many reasons and I will not fight it even though I miss my New York City dearly and my church and my friends that I left there. I'm thinking a trip back is very soon in order. The reason I'm back in this town is to fulfill a position in a church as the Family Ministry Coordinator. Again, weird for so many reasons. I have been involved in ministry to high school students for so many years now through our beloved Young Life. But, Young Life is not a church. It is filled with leaders and committees and staff people to build a community among. YL has had a well oiled machine of a system for deep, meaningful ministry to those that are lost and hurting. And now my challenge is to take what the Lord has taught me inside Young Life and figure out what that means for ministry inside the church and I get to start from pretty much scratch. You may ask what the difference between YL and church youth ministry is and I would be glad to tell you if you wanted to read a novel. But you don't so...a few key points. YL does not have a building where kids of parents who know Christ come and bring them to my door step. YL happens on high school campuses and game fields and in restaurants and coffee shops. The kids we go after want nothing to do with Jesus or have no clue who he even is. It's pretty fun. Let me tell you a bit of my history so that all this makes a bit more sense. What I knew of Jesus in high school was what my YL leaders taught me. I did not grow up familiar with a church in my small town. Youth pastors didn't know me or come meet me or want anything to do with me if I came to them. So for me for a long time I had a sinful view of church youth ministry. I thought there was no place for someone who didn't have it all together or didn't have 36 verses memorized and have a bible with a cool cover with a fish or a cross. I was interested in Jesus but I felt that the church wasn't interested in me. But Jesus was. In my walk with the Lord in the last 8 years since high school he has shown me His church, not man's. He has shown me its worthy of love and trust because its really his and we sinful human beings just facilitate. He has shown me what it means to see people, all people inside the church just as Christ sees me and that is as a sinner saved by grace. I am a continual work in progress and so were the "church people" that hurt me. It was so incredibly unfair for me to assume that all churches and youth pastors are the same. You know what the say about assuming... This also taught me that Christian's flaws are NOT God's flaws. Just because someone siting in a church pew is rude or judgmental how could that possibly mean that God is?! I cannot imagine what my life with the Lord would be without my Sunday mornings in church or the sinners I worship along side. Back to youth ministry. In undergrad I was pursuing my minor in Christian theology and the only class that fit in my schedule was ironically a class all about youth ministry for the church. Picture me gagging and kicking and screaming all at the same time. I was HOT that that was the only class available because at this point my glasses were still foggy to what the Lord was doing in church youth ministry. I thought, "what the heck am I going to do sitting in a classroom filled with a bunch of graphic tee and ripped jean wearing, goatee trimmed faces of a bunch of men who sat happily on their butts at church waiting for kids to fall in their laps and kicking the messy ones right back out? This is the worst. There is nothing here for me." God, forgive me of those sins of judgement and COMPLETE ignorance. While at first there were many heated debates about what ministry is and should be, what it should look like, how it should be executed who should be sought after etc., what I found to remain at the end was group of people loving Jesus and trying to figure out how to share that with as many youth as possible. My perception of them was clearly wrong. (only a few of them even wore graphic tees) Their hearts were for the Lord and for kids. How could we be any more similar? We simply have a different call. My heart turned towards Christ in regards to church youth ministry in that classroom. I was intrigued by the thought I could be that youth person that changed what I assumed was truth about all youth pastors. I could take the outreach/relational ministry forms I have grown to love and know would make the heart of the Lord happy and put them to work to make church a place where sinners can come and be with Jesus. Where kids who don't have it all together can come and experience real, authentic community and not feel like outsiders. This is my passion and my heart, that all who want to know the Lord can. And those that don't know the Lord could come and taste and see that He is good. I'm sure that this new journey will be filled with face palms and face plants and trying not to sink but I'm sure God will teach me to swim. So, brothers and sisters, I IMPLORE you to pray for me as I walk with the Lord and ask kids to walk along side us. I sure as heck will need it. This will be quite the ride. You can look forward to my embarrassing stories.

***sidenote- this post is two days delayed. I began writing Monday but did not finish until now. So my man and I have been officially on our journeys now for 3 days.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Its been a while...

So here I am, in New York for 8 months now. What do I have? What have I learned? What have I done? Have I made it good? These questions I ask myself regularly. The pendulum swings from them being productive questions to repressive questions. Today, they are productive. The produce in me, today, energy to move forward, to be strong, to play my part as only I can play for the Kingdom. As I was listening to Mumford's new album and reading in Ephesians these are the pictures that stand out for me most. We can start with Mumford. There is a line in "The Boxer" (originally sung by Simon & Garfunkel...I choose Mumford's version) that says "'I am leaving, I am leaving.' But the fighter still remains." I'm not going to tell you what S&G or M&S is trying to say but I will tell you the story it tells me when I hear these lines. I see a man (or woman, namely...me) that has gone through hard times, has fought their way through and is left with scars from the battles whether they be battles they were put through or put themselves through. They have fought hard and long and are now on the other side choosing to lay certain things down, move on, move out from the things that have beaten him down. But one thing remains. The will to fight, to protect and succeed and strength. The battles fought teach you how to fight, build "muscles" and flexibility. These skills left once a fight is over are invaluable. You become stronger and more ready to be good, prepared. With peace and confidence and courage. As I continue to live life on this Earth of this thing I become more sure of every day. We are constantly in refining. And when we can see this as a blessing your day to day can become joy rather than oppression. I think of precious metals being melted. Refining changes the substance with fire, a painful and devastating thought. It might be easy to think that the precious is being ruined in the fire but what is actually happening is only the precious and good remains (because the refiner knows the exact heat needed for the process) and is reshaped for what it was truly meant to be. As the process continues different things are added to the precious to make it stronger and more suited for its use. Each time I'm put in the fire the things that make me weak like insecurities, doubt, fear and indolence are being taken away. They are being burned out of me leaving me with what makes me strong and precious and good. I'm being reshaped into what I am called to be on and for this earth. And this I welcome. I have had this picture in my head for the last five plus years of a woman naked but slightly veiled or shadowed, no detail or face or skin shown being lifted from a raging fire. She holds a posture of submission, strength, peace, confidence and ease. I have shied away from being that woman for too long here in the city. Today I choose to be how I am made. Nothing less. Who knows what that means practically each day but each day I'll figure it out. When I not being who I'm called to be not only am I sacrificing the Good Works that God has done in me but I am sacrificing the plans that he has to use me in His Kingdom for those that are lost and hurting. That brings me to Ephesians. Ephesians chapter 2 verses 19 through 22 paints this grand picture of building or a temple. He calls us as believers the household of God (and fellows with the saints) to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the only cornerstone that holds all together for the dwelling place of the Lord. I see a world where God has provided believers a place to build their foundation on. He has given us examples and led the way for us through his apostles and prophets. A literal reference point. He gave us Christ to unite us with Him and with each other to bind us and hold us together in his strength to form a bond so tight and so pure that it can be the dwelling place of the Lord. Literally, I see us as believers being accountable to what we are called to do, love Christ and love others, playing our part in this world that builds the Kingdom on earth. A place that allows God to be present which in turn allows those lost and hurting to enter our lives and see the work or the Lord for themselves. A place where they are free to experience his great love with out condemnation from us who know the truth. When we as believers can hold onto the truths of Christ and come together regardless of denomination or upbringing or culture or personality we are a part of something so much greater than ourselves. I am inspired to hold to my calling to be exactly that for those on the outside. I know the love of Christ too well to withhold it from any living being and will make it my forever mission to live my life in a way that allows God to be seen for who he is and to use my life to show his love. His love is too great. Brothers and sisters, be this with me! Lets be together a dwelling place of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control because there is nothing that can have power over these. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A piece of home...

So, here we are. I've been living in the big apple for a month and a half now. It seems as though time is flying by. It kind of feels like I'm walking on one of those horizontal escalator things you see in airports. You know? You walk normal pace but since the floor is moving you're walking like double speed. Yeah, thats what its like. But the adventure my horizontal escalator had me on this past week was a wonderful one. I had a good friend here. Let me tell you a little about him so what I say after will be in context. We had done ministry together for a few years. He came on to my team as a green, wide-eyed freshman. He was mature for his age, curious and bold but young. He was just what our team needed. I haven't spent much time with him since this past May since I moved away but he was still a dear person to me. Now he is even more mature and wise to the ways of his Maker, is passionately seeking His wisdom and still bold, but not so young. I have been able to see this transformation that God is working in him and its such a blessing. Having my friend here was so great for so many reasons. Because he is who he is in Christ it was good to have him see my new life and affirm that I'm walking the right path. We had great conversation that was glorifying AND fun. But for me the visit was about more than just him, my dear friend. It was like having a little piece of home here in my new city. I have been separated for such a short time but since I'm on my escalator it seems like a lifetime. He served as a reminder of the wonderful things I left behind. It reminded me that there are people back home that know me, my mess and my sin and still choose to be my friend, and not only be my friend but love me in spite of myself. It was a reminder of the blessing that God made of my community and a reminder of what to strive for in my new world of relationships. Him leaving was a hard thing, again, for more reasons than just himself. When he left he not only took my friend, he took the window to my old world, my piece of home and my comfort of what home represents to me. It was hard to have that leave. I didn't want to let him take that away. As I walked away from the train station to the subway it took all that I had not to cry in front of the wide range of characters you find the subways at 1am on Friday. Only a few tears betrayed me and I had already reached the track so the only ones who took notice were the rails and few pieces of garbage. But really, home never does go away. It never disappears, I think. Home makes its place in your heart and as far away as you can go, home is there. For the first day or so after my piece of home and my friend left it was a sad time. I was constantly reminded of everything I loved and missed, of what makes home Home. I had become pretty good at not thinking about home so I wouldn't be sad. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make that go away. I kept thinking how much I just wanted to go back home. But in that, I was also aware that to step away from where I am would mean that I was stepping away from the utmost and highest he has for me right now. That is not something I care to step away from. Like Moses in the desert, I fight for my attitude to be that of his. That the desert with God is better than the promised land with out him. Not that if I go home I would be exiled but I know that that is not the plan right now. I set out today to reconcile those feelings. To figure out how to make it through this weird transition time of missing my Home and desiring His highest for me. I took a bit of hike to a coffee shop to listen to a sermon, read a book and just reflect. The sermon was wonderful, as it usually is. Thank you Matt Carter for following the heart of Jesus. I picked up where I left off in the book, "Out of Solitude" by Henri Nouwen that I have been talking about and of course it was perfect. He opens with John 16 where Jesus is telling his disciples that he is living in a short amount of time but will return again in a short time and he continues to discuss with his beloveds what this all means and could look like. Nouwen was discussing expectation and what it means to expect in patience and in joy. He talks about those who "expect joy to come out of sadness can discover the beginnings of a new life in the center of the old, that those who look forward to the returning of the Lord can discover him already in their midst...Expectation brings joy to the center of our sadness and the loved one to the heart of our longings. The one who stayed with us in the past will return to us in the future becomes present to us in that precious moment in which memory and hope touch each other. At that moment we can realize that we can only expect someone because he has already touched us." He also uses a story of a friend leaving home and the friend says "if the good-bye wasn't painful, the hello cannot be joyful either." Man, there is so much to unpack in all this. We will start with my friend...Its ok for me to be sad he is leaving because that means that he is good in my life. I can be sad at the leaving of the representation of home because Home = good. And if hurts to watch those leave then coming home again will be oh-sooooooo-good. I cannot wait to come home. The pain of the absence truly does tell me how much value it has in my life. I am glad to have something that good even if it hurts to be away. Now, for the other part, the "how can I reconcile the missing the old with the coming of new." I found peace again today after a day or two of unsettledness. I am reminded that I have seen what is good and can look forward to the returning of that in my life wherever I am. I can hold onto the memories of the work that He was doing in my life with Hope of his continuing work and plans. I am so excited to continue my life expecting the joy of Christ with patience that knows its worth it to wait. I pray that I can hold onto these truths. I do certainly apologize for the length of this silly thing, but condensing isn't always my forte. Forgive me?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Settling in...

I feel like I have so much to say so bear with me as I sort my scattered thoughts. So, since the last update a million and five things have happened. Very shortly after the post this girl named Candice from London stayed at our apartment and we got to spend some really sweet time together. I didn't know her before the day she came to stay for a week. I met her the night before at a show she played in a cozy lounge in SoHo. She was wonderful and talented. What was really great is that we got to talk about our lives with each other. And her story spoke to me. And me getting to talk deeply also was soothing to my soul. We stood third in line for an hour at a theatre on broadway for tickets to How to Succeed in Business, sipped lattes and ate brunch at a bistro, sat at Lincoln Center for fashion week and, of course, went and saw the show. It was great. And I met Nick Jonas...I'll get to that in a sec. To sum it up. My Jesus sent me her just to share life with someone. And it was good. So, Nick Jonas. I hung around after the show to see how he interacted with people to see if he, I don't know, was as genuine as he presents himself in other areas of his life. Everyone was yipping and squealing and pushing papers at him to sign and sticking cameras out for pictures. He would politely say thank you or you're welcome and smile for the camera. Well, the girls in front of me stepped out of the way once they got their autograph and I was exposed. I assumed he was expecting me to thrust my playbill in his face for an autograph, I didn't want an autograph, I'm not about them. He looked at me and kind of smiled so I stuck my hand out and said I just wanted to shake your hand and tell you you did a great job tonight. He looked stunned, fumbled out a, "thank you, thank you so much." And I returned the smile said you're welcome and turned to leave and he said, "you have a good night!" So I turned back around and responded with a "thanks, you too." I saw an unexpectedness and a thankfulness and humility in his eyes. That was really cool. He definitely lived up to the expectation I had of him as a believer. Hooray!  In other news, I've also been to the opera, the movies, a cool studio (where Beyonce shot "love on top"), had a few lunches, diners and other things, started a job, got lost on trains, went to a few shows and was an extra for a friends film for one of her classes at the New York Film Academy. So many cool "new yorkish" things, WITH PEOPLE! I think I really needed a desert time to realize how much of a blessing the road God has paved before really is. And it was such a short desert time. I am quite thankful for that as well. I'm sure they will come and go from time to time, I'm under no veil. After that quiet time I had prepared myself for a few months of that feeling, and I felt ready to battle it because I was fighting with the creator on my side. But His plan was different. AND THAT IS WELCOMED! I feel like I'm settling in nicely. I do have friends I can call up for lunch or coffee. Even dinner really! I don't feel lonely. I do still get bored sometimes though. But I'll take boredom over loneliness any day! I have made friends with some really cool people and am very excited to see how things unfold. I have an itch that something greater is in store. Like something is just around the corner that is great and big and wonderful and meaningful. I feel an itch to do something...bigger, more. And the anticipation is killing me but it is so good because I know that his timing is perfect and I'll wait. BUT OH GOSH! I can't wait. :) If you would, pray for me that I am present in my own life and paying attention to his presence in mine most importantly. I'll keep you posted. Onward!