confidence

January 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm (Uncategorized)

Trust only movement.  Life happens at the level of events, not of words.  ~Alfred Adler

i love good conversations.  if i were to make a list of favorite people, those at the top of the list are the ones i regularly have good, honest, real conversations with.

for the last few years, i’ve struggled with words over action.  certainly, our faith is not built on works, but on His grace.  but is there a difference between a faith built on works and a faith built on words?  aren’t they equally “religious” and not built on grace?  it is so easy to fall for words…they can be so eloquently designed, so beautifully arranged.  there are so many things i think i need/want to hear. but truly, the depth of a man’s words is measured by his action. no defense should ever need to be offered when a person truly lives by what he believes.  a defense is always required when a person merely says what he thinks he believes….with no actual evidence of conviction.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

this is a rough indictment to deal with.  could “religion” and “words” be interchanged?  are my words worthless because my actions don’t prove them true?  how deep are my words?  do they dwell on the surface…making me seem like something i am not?  or do they reside in my utmost being?  do they put me on the “map” of the people i seemingly want to impress or are they simply the overflow of my actions?

these questions challenge me in a completely new way.  when i use this passage or these thoughts to shine a light on my intentions, i am challenged to stop conversing about real and honest things and start doing real and honest things.  i am challenged to put away my selfishness, my pride, my anger, my self-worth, my religion and to live in a way that shows people who Jesus was/is.  we ask ourselves “what would Jesus say?” on a much to regular basis.  somewhere along the line, it became less about pure and undefiled religion and more about saying the right thing to appear as something we aren’t.  it is easy to fool people for longer when we use our words consistently.  but using our actions to show what we believe? that would require a greater effort.  and, perhaps, the use of words and the lack of evidential action IS the action that shows who we truly are.

i believe we were each created with something specific in mind.  i believe God had/has a purpose for our existence.  and i don’t think it is merely for words.

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i’ve missed Him

January 5, 2010 at 7:09 am (Uncategorized)

doing=believing

right?

so, i’ve been on this incredible spiritual journey.  and by incredible, i mean incredibly frustrating.  i always learn things when i least expect it…but when i’m looking for answers, they so conveniently evade me.

since i was a child, i’ve put a lot of pressure on myself.  i’m very performance driven, regardless of whether or not anyone else is watching my “performance.”  i can effectively beat myself up for a number of reasons….that aren’t really reasons at all.

i used to play super mario.  i LOVE super mario.  in fact, there have been numerous times lately that i’ve perused ebay, looking for a super nintendo, just so i can play super mario.  i’m good at it.  and everytime i find a new level or i beat a bad guy, i actually find myself proud of what i just accomplished.

such is the game of church.  i cannot rightly place the blame anywhere but on myself.  somehow, i have organized this game of super church. the levels consist of these things i have to do or accomplish. church attendance.  invite a friend.  serve in an area.  serve in two areas.  do something at church when no one is actually at the church.  read the Bible.  quote a verse.  quote a chapter.  quote a book.  read the Bible everyday.  read the Bible in the morning.  read the Bible for longer.  pray with big words.  pray with Bible verses.  pray with memorized Bible verses.  come up with a new, insightful way to end the prayers.  pray all day long and never end the prayers.  bring Jesus into every conversation.  make Jesus the only conversation.  and so on and so forth, the levels continue to build.

so, several weeks ago, i turned the game off.  completely.  i stopped doing all of the aforementioned things.  completely.  no church, no Bible, no praying.

the guilt was almost too much, but i continued to “slack-off.”  and the guilt is gone.  the game of church is gone.  all i’m left with is my faith.  all i’m left with is my relationship with Jesus.  i actually have to pursue intimacy with Him, instead of coming up with all of these levels to beat.

somewhere, in the last (almost) 12 years, my relationship with Jesus became more about what i was doing instead of what He was doing.  i found pride in the new levels i was moving on to…longer quiet times, earlier quite times, etc. etc. etc.

which is not to say those things aren’t a part of a relationship with Christ…but they aren’t what it is about.  not even a little.  if i continue to do what i think i am supposed to do, with no effect on the outside world, what did i really accomplish?  why on earth would i consider it a good thing to beat the game when i never acted like Jesus?  shouldn’t i represent who He is instead of representing what religion is?

and so, as i have put to the side all of the things that are expected of me, i have found an incredible place of grace.  the kind where my heart yearns to spend time with Jesus and the kind where i want to look like Jesus.

when i put aside all the little things…the expectations i placed on myself, i found that i’ve missed Jesus.  sure, i know verses and how to pray, and i understand His Word…but i’ve missed being with Him.

doing=believing

believing=doing

you don’t DO to prove you BELIEVE.  you believe, and because you cannot help yourself, you do.

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October 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm (Uncategorized)

religion is worthless. it got me nowhere.
i grew up in a legalistic church, a legalistic home, and a southern baptist pastor for a grandfather. every sunday and wednesday, pretense took over as we made our way to church. i sat in a room of people who did nothing but teach the “philosophy of the do not do.” meaning: do not drink, do not curse, do not have sex, don’t dance in church, keep your hands down during worship, wear your best for Jesus (because if you can’t look nice for Him, you shouldn’t look nice for anyone), if your opinion is harsh-keep it to yourself, women be quiet, men be holy and be a deacon, teenagers turn your music down, and children be quiet during the two-hour, adult-targeted, passionately yelled (with a perfectly timed tear or two) preaching of the “philosophy of the do not do.” no wonder i left every week, not knowing where to start on my list of things to stop doing. no wonder the church never really grew. the only people joining were other fake families with letters of transfer from “sister churches.”
of all things i hated about my upbringing, i think i hate the pretense the most. why waste your time trying to look like something you aren’t? why can’t people be real and upfront? don’t people need to show their hearts instead of their “Sunday best?” would outsiders not feel more comfortable in a REAL church instead of a fake one? since when did it become important what I wear or why there are drums on stage or the tattoo on my leg? how is it possible that teenagers can worship the Lord in a victorious way and the whole time be stared down by the “holier,” better dressed crowd sitting on the outskirts? it is such a sad, tragic moment when someone can watch the most romantic of moments – a child of God worshipping at the throne of their Creator – and judge. that seems more evil than any crime I can think of. what fulfillment do they find in donning their pastel, polyester outfits and doing their hair in the typical Sunday fashion and showing up with their family to church (ON TIME, of course) and walking in the air of perfection? do they feel as though it is worth it? don’t they know how fake they are? don’t they realize they are alienating the rest of the world? and not only the non-believers. don’t they know their “perfection” makes other believers feel as though they are coming up short? it is hard to believe in grace and mercy and redemption when the very people who have access to those things would prefer to stand with their arms crossed and their eyebrows lowered and judge my lack of perfection. what would they say if they knew they were pushing the world out the front door and sneaking me thru the back door for not measuring up? shouldn’t i feel at home in the local church instead of wondering if everything i’ve learned is a load of crap? i’d rather spend my time with people who are honest about their screw-ups, then to waste 5 hours on a Sunday with people who truly don’t care about the person next to them. i’m tired of pretending…but more so, i’m tired of feeling like i have to. i will never be enough, but a least i know that, instead of living in a cloud of fake perfection. ignorance may be bliss, but for those who hate the pretense, it simply annoys the hell out of us.
perhaps we (as the body of Christ) would be further along in reaching the unreached, if we would have put away the “philosophy of the do not do” and focused on others. instead of berating people for their sins, maybe we should introduce them to Someone who loves them in spite of it. more so, maybe we should tap into His character and love those people, too. the list of things to not do did nothing for me except make me feel ashamed and alienated. what if, instead of focusing on trying to look our best, we were real about who we really are? perhaps the rest of the world would be able to identify with us and actually WANT a relationship with Christ if we would stop acting like we aren’t real people.
the population of the world continues to increase and so does the number of unreached people. it is tragic that we have wasted so much time on religion instead of reaching the world for Christ. instead of giving me a list of stuff not to do, like drink or have sex, i wish i had been told that, whether i do those things or not, i’m still usable by the Holy Spirit. there are bigger fish to fry than the mistakes i make. perhaps we should be less concerned about the “don’t do” list and more concerned about the orphans, the widows, the hungry, the oppressed, the abused, the genocide, those without clean water, those dying daily from PREVENTABLE causes, the poor…why are most churches sitting in their pews, inwardly griping about how the worship service doesn’t specifically meet THEIR needs? why aren’t they out in the world, putting feet to their faith, and getting those feet dirty with the problems of the world?
the tragedy is, we’ve missed it. up to this point, we’ve missed out on what Jesus was really telling us to do. Jesus looked at the adulterous woman and said, “Go and sin no more.” you know what? i think she actually went and changed her life. but only because Jesus loved her FIRST…before He said that to her. no one wants conditional love. the Christianity i grew up with revolved around conditional love and performance based acceptance. i don’t even want it…and i certainly understand why the rest of the world doesn’t either.

*disclaimer* i did post this under a false name and email address. why? because i probably sit next to you on a Sunday morning and i’m just as self-conscious as the rest of the world. how do i know i won’t be ushered out the back door for having “radical” thoughts on the “forgotten” Gospel? how can i trust people who say one thing on Sunday, and something completely different Monday morning?

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craving something beautiful

September 29, 2009 at 11:32 pm (Uncategorized)

my shoulders are tight and my neck is tense. i’m fighting a continuous headache. my head feels dense…the thoughts are packed so tightly inside.

i have a craving. stronger than anything i’ve ever felt before. i cannot explain the depths of my thirst and my hunger for Him and His freedom. He breaks chains, and rescues the captives. He holds the weak and rescues the lost. i am craving His touch.

i love mosaics. i love the colors and the designs. i love to step close and look at the individual pieces, then move backwards and see the whole thing. i imagine that i am like that, too. each piece is different…some chipped, some smooth, some colored. but one day, when i look back from His point of view, i’ll see something beautiful. knowing that makes me love the jagged edges of those little pieces….they make it what it is.

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the death of dreams

September 27, 2009 at 10:51 pm (Uncategorized)

i always put my thoughts into writing…eventually. last week, i happened to write an email to a friend and put into words this thing i’ve been battling recently.

“I used to have dreams. When I was little, I had dreams. In high school, and even parts of college, I had dreams. I don’t have dreams anymore. I don’t know if I lost them. I don’t know if I need them. I don’t know if God has more for me. I just know that in the same way that I dreamed about silly things when I was a little girl: my wedding, turning 16, having my own house, traveling the world, changing the world…now I dream of Jesus. All I want is Jesus. All I look for is Jesus. I go to church because the Bible says where two or more are gathered together in HIS name, He is with them. So I go. Jesus is in the eyes of the orphans, the cries of the poor, the brokenness of the widows, the pain of the oppressed…thats where I go. I travel the world because He is in creation. All I want is Him.”

proverbs 29:18 “where there is no vision, people perish”

so dreams are important, right? i’ve felt naked without them. i’ve been a dreamer as long as i can remember. thinking up incredible things & designing my day before i even began it.

except that those dreams were mine. mine to hold, mine to have, mine to accomplish. and as i pursued them, they became smaller. on the side mirror on my car it says, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” i feel like my dreams were missing a caption: “dreams you dream are smaller than they appear.”

so after mourning the fact that those dreams no longer fit, i finally realized what had happened to them. i’m supposed to die to myself – to live is Christ, but to die is gain. so isn’t it valid that my dreams must die in order to make room for His? habbakuk 1:5 says, “look around and be utterly amazed, for i am doing something in your time that you would not believe, even if i told you.” ok…great verse. except when i looked at those silly dreams, they were believable. i don’t want to pursue the believable…i want to pursue the unbelievable. something that requires Him. something that cannot be accomplished outside of Him. something that makes someone look at my life and say, “it had to be Jesus.”

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wasting away

August 16, 2009 at 10:06 am (Uncategorized)

i’m so tired. so unbelievably, deeply, incredibly exhausted.

i’m tired of wasting time. everytime i turn on the tv, or pick up the newspaper, or turn on npr i am reminded of the desperation people are living in. i think about children who live in terrible homes here in the states, or that live in group homes waiting for placement with a foster family, or children in other countries that have no parents. i think about majority women and men and children in the middle-east who know only what they’ve been told and nothing beyond that. i think about the innocent lives that are lost every minute to serial killers, such as hunger, disease, unclean water, violence, war, crime.

then i think about the church. where are we? we are spending our lives inside the walls of a building instead of outside in the world. we are so busy making someone look pretty or making ourselves feel better that we’re doing nothing to reach a lost, dying, hopeless world.

we’ll spend $450 billion dollars at christmas…but pennies on aids research. we’ll get starbucks every morning, but rarely think about families without access to clean water. we’ll overstuff ourselves on a regular basis, or spend money we don’t have on something that sounds good, without giving heed to the outrageous numbers of people dying of malnutrion. we’ll buy CDs and clothes and iPhones and vehicles and homes and all of these superfluous things that help no one. in fact, we’ve gotten so vain that now when we spend $50 on a t-shirt and part of it goes to “help the needy”, we actually walk away feeling good about it. what a pathetic pat on the back we give ourselves.

we’ll throw ourselves into relationships, run around with whatever group of people offers the most, trade people in as though they mean nothing, instead of treating each other like souls that hurt and weep and heal and laugh. we get so caught up in today that we forget that somewhere, someone’s today is more like hell than our today is. and we’re doing nothing about it.

i’m tired of this. i’m tired of peddling faster and going nowhere. this is getting pathetic. i’ve had these dreams as long as i can remember…and i truly thought the Lord was providing a partner to conquer all of these things…and yet i find myself alone, hoping that i can make a difference. because these dreams aren’t gone…they’re just bigger than they used to be.

i’m done with short term mission trips – 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years. the time has come to truly walk this faith…to offer God all of my moments, not just a handful of them. it is time to look up, and to look around, and to do the work. perhaps people will come alongside and help…but i cannot control others nor can i place expectations upon them. its time to stand up straight and do the work. i will live this life and it will impact eternity. i will adopt and foster and tell other’s about Jesus. i will not sit still any longer. the time has come to run. not just towards Him…not just away from things that hinder me…but with eternity set in my heart.

“look around you and see. i am doing something in the nations you would not believe, even if i told you.”
-habbakuk 1:5

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August 15, 2009 at 10:09 am (Uncategorized)

to the sister i never knew, and the child she has yet to meet…
two people that make heaven that much sweeter.

heaven’s nursery

welcomed in to a new home
just inside the gates
small voices with resounding sound
singing songs of praise

the sound is sweeter
than all we’ve ever heard
listen quietly
to the wisdom in their words

what can be said
to the God who saves
all glory be to You
and honor to Your name

His name is greater
than the loss of two so loved
what better place to lose them to
than the home of the One above

a day will come
a day that will taste so sweet
after a life time apart
we will finally meet

He kept them close
so He could hear them sing
follow the sound of their songs
to find heaven’s nursery

the lyrics of my life are flowing out. there have been songs and melodies locked inside my heart and i’ve been waiting to unlock it. the pressure feels so intense…as though the music is pushing against the door of my heart, and seeping out when the crack is large enough. i am dreaming tunes and words. i use my server book for taking orders…and writing lyrics as they come to me. i’ve never felt so incredibly overwhelmed with things to say to the Lord. so many memories and heartaches and joys to sing about. so many characteristics of the most high God to write about. i cannot hold it in…for i am truly, truly afraid that if i were to hold back, the rocks beside me would cry out instead. it seems that all of creation can surely feel what is aching to be set free. perhaps i am the only one, but the music in my heart is the soundtrack to my life. i have lived it…now i want to hear it.

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August 13, 2009 at 10:10 am (Uncategorized)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference

-robert frost-

 

i feel disconnected. as though the strings have been cut. it almost bothers me, but only when i attempt to reattach the severed ties.

i tried to remember what yesterday felt like and, although vague, i could remember it. but when i tried to move yesterday into tomorrow, the feelings were gone. not just gone…but an obvious misfit.

it has only been a handful of moments since then, but still seems so ancient. as though a deep, yet transient, line divides the worlds that now clash against each other.

it is literally as if i headed down a road that led me back to where i started. unlike so many other people, i got a second chance. and this time, i took the road less traveled…and it has made all the difference.

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4am…again

July 22, 2009 at 10:11 am (Uncategorized)

i don’t sleep anymore. i lay in bed and think. i’m drowsy all the time, but never sleepy. i can close my eyes but my mind does not shut off. it keeps going. i think about everything. and everyone.

when i was in my late teens/very very early twenties, i would wake up in the middle of the night with someone on my mind. it was like God woke me up to pray for them, so i would. these days, i can’t seem to pinpoint one person or thing to pray for. so i speak an all encompassing prayer that includes all of my thoughts and ask the Lord to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Him. there are certain people i have a heavy heart for…but i’m missing something. i can’t figure out what i’m missing, but i’m missing it. my mind plays memories like movies…and searches the future for something of meaning. i have a feeling i’ll be seeing 4am on a regular basis until i figure out what i’m missing.

i cried today. for the first time in about 10 days. and i cried hard. sometimes it hits me all at once. i try to keep my thoughts balanced…a positive for a negative. a verse for each thought (whether good or bad). but some days, like today, i can’t seem to balance what i’ve gained with what i’ve lost. today, what i’ve lost seemed greater. other days, what i’ve gained seems greater. and on the really awesome good days, they balance each other and life is just life. but as i made myself stand up and go pick up lucy…and sing Bible songs with her…and give her a bath…i reminded myself that no matter how it balances out, God is still on His throne and i have confidence in that. when everything else is messed up, that will never change. and it is comforting.

i kept lucy tonight and i went in her bedroom as she attempted to cry herself to sleep. i laid down beside her bed and reached my hand up. she grabbed my hand and fell asleep holding it. i couldn’t move for the longest time. i just wanted to freeze the moment. because someday really soon, she’ll be too far away to hold my hand. and i’ll wish i was close enough to lay beside her bed. and no matter how many times i spend $1200 to go see my family, it will be worth every dime. because, as hard as this is, i couldn’t be prouder of kenny and ashlee. and i couldn’t love them any more…even if they were staying down the hall forever.

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He is jealous for me

July 17, 2009 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized)

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.

Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.

 

i never could’ve dreamed all of this. i’m creative and have an extremely active imagination, but never could i have come up with all of this. what an unbelievable time this has been.

but oh, what an unbelievable week this has been. i feel as though i’m finally on the flipside. or at least reach a high part of this mountain i’ve found myself on.

my heart isn’t whole by any means. but for the first time, i think pieces are coming together. i feel the logical part of me taking over, and my confidence returning. it has been such a slow process…quite honestly, i didn’t think the days would ever feel sunny again. but they do…they feel so bright and open. psalm 18 says the Lord reaches down and pulls out of the raging waters and sets us in a wide and open place. when i close my eyes, i no longer remember the raging waters…i think about the incredible pasture of peace He set me in. i can see forever no matter which what i’m turned. i read hebrews 12 today and was so enraptured by “throwing off every hindrance and the sin that so easily entangles”…i cannot come up with a better word to describe myself other than free. i am free. i am free from hindrances and sin that so easily entangles and mediocrity. i put my dreams on a shelf a long time ago…in hopes that i’d make new ones with someone. and now, i’m dusting off those dreams and finding that they’re too small. i was also in habakkuk (i read a lot today..) and kept thinking that if it says in 1:5 that He is doing things in the nations that i cannot begin to imagine…then He is so much bigger than what i have been dreaming.

i’ve left that place. and i won’t go back. and i finally feel like maybe i’ll find home again. and like maybe i’ll find normal again. and like perhaps, one day soon, i’ll wake up and be me again. just a better, stronger, Godlier me.

i can’t wait for tomorrow. and the next day. but right now, i’ll dwell on who He is and who He is making me to be.

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