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18 Mar

Living the nomad life this month and finding my heart is scattered.

Sweet, fresh memories of warm days, cheesy jokes & a full narrow life in the beautiful island of Haiti.

Dear friends and an even dearer boyfriend in the familiar, comfortable Waco.

Immediate family in Houston and DC – finding and creating home with people rather than a familiar place.

A new home awaiting me in Boston, where this leap of faith is somehow harder than the last one across the ocean.

And even though my heart is scattered, I’m not physically in any of those places yet.  I’m on the road, living out of the same suitcase I had on the 90 degree island driving into snow storm in the middle of March (did I mention it was 90 degrees for the last 8 months of my life?).  On the road seeing states and cities I’ve never seen before, staying with old friends who have made their own leaps to new lands, making this journey that much sweeter to see old friends show off their new lives.

The topic of transition, moving, new places and home isn’t new.  It’s talked about often as those who experience it try to get what their feeling into words.  That’s what I’ve been trying to do.  Trying to wrap my head around home and how I can have so many yet none at the same time.  How can my heart be in so many places yet my body in none of the above?

Questions of home, comfort, life, people and choices fill my mind as I drive through the gorgeous east coast and I can’t say I’ve landed on much.  The only thing I’ve come to find is how tangible the comfort of Jesus actually is.  That even though my emotions aren’t quite aligning with truth yet, I know that I know that somewhere along the way I’m going to land and I’m not taking this journey to landing alone.  He is with me.  And God suddenly feels like home when it seems I don’t have one.

One of my dear friends in Haiti gave me Skyler and Kim Walker Smith’s new album home before I left and it has been an answer to prayer I didn’t even know I was praying.  Something in me kind of cringes typing about finding my home in Jesus as it seems so over used and cheesy, but the reality of it is becoming my reality.  Home doesn’t have a physical address for me right now, but I’m safe, known, loved by many including God.  And that comfort is starting to be just the clarification I need when my soul craves security in location.

One foot here, One foot there

25 Feb

I realize I’ve been in Haiti now for 8 months and haven’t really blogged about this experience yet.  Just the truths being strengthened in me, but not actually what life looks like here.  I think that’s for a couple reasons.  Sometimes when you try so hard to find a rhythm in a new place, it becomes your rhythm, your normal, your mundane and although my rhythm has been in a location that is way different from past locations, I forget just how abnormal it is some days.  I’ve gotten use to the generator sounds, the roosters crowing at all hours of the day, the daily need to have water pumped from our well in order to have water in our house.   Finding a fan to sit by, moving around the house to find the best internet connection, cooking with what food is available at the market has become life.  A life I’ve never lived before but somehow in the every day, I forget that some people might actually be interested in what that looks like.

Although at the same time, it’s hard to explain something so outside of everyone else’s context.  No one back home knows just how funny it is when Amos pulls out his newly learned English phrases or why a three year old has breathed life into my time here.  The people, the places, the sights, the smells, the experiences are so outside of what people at home know that although I so desperately want to connect with others on life here and explain the ins and outs, I unconsciously give up knowing that because life is so extremely different here, all the explaining still won’t be able to paint a full picture.  You really can’t know this picture of Haiti until you’ve step foot inside of it.

We laugh at how different it is here – in rich, good sometimes difficult ways.  Trips away seem like a weird vortex – unable to compare you just live two separate lives.  One foot immersed in Haiti life and one foot trying to stay with American life.  I have lived here in Haiti but I still stayed some what in American life.  I iMessaged my best friends, I skyped my boyfriend, I kept up with lives in America through the handy connector called Facebook.  In two different worlds at the same time, trying to bring the two together in a messy, God honoring way.

It got me thinking about the Kingdom of Heaven and life on Earth.  Those are two totally different worlds.  The Kingdom of Heaven is one of endless life, love, peace, joy.  Life on Earth is full of pain, suffering, war, and injustice.  As followers of Jesus, it’s almost as if we have one foot on each world, trying hard to bring them together in a messy, God honoring way.  We live surrounded by horrific news updates and what seems like endless stories of injustice.  We’re faced to see those things, wrestle with where we stand in our hearts and stand up for those who can not defend themselves.  Yet because we’ve been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12), we stand also in the Kingdom of Heaven with full and free access to life, love, joy, peace, justice.

It’s hard to stand in two different worlds at the same time, let alone try to bring them together.  There’s a time to be fully immersed with where you are at, but it seems as if God has gave me 2 different worlds in this season of life with Haiti and America.  And it seems more and more that He’s given me 2 different worlds until I get to Heaven.  To be fully immersed in this world looses sight of an important truth and promise God gives His people.  He has overcome the world, so we can take heart.  It’s hard to be fully immersed in the Kingdom of Heaven since we don’t live there yet, but we have full access to it.  If we stay in a bubble and try to ignore life on Earth we miss the precious opportunity of bringing Heaven to Earth – of releasing joy and peace in the midst of pain and tears.

So with one foot here and one foot there, we stand.  Trying hard to grasp how to bring two different contexts together in a messy, God honoring way.  It’s not an easy task but a righteous one to attempt.  And thankfully Jesus was pretty successful at mending the two so the more we look at Him, the easier it becomes.

But Today He Says Yes

27 Jan

Some days, I am a forward thinker and a self-protector.

I lean towards the comfortable, the known.

When I look into the future, anxiety happens when I think about the endless possibilities of what could come.

I don’t want to move forward if I don’t know if it will turn out.  If it will be a success.

That’s risky. Scary. Unknown.

But as I follow Jesus more, the story changes.  His truth becomes real.  Experiences of success when I follow Him become real stories and not just dreams.  Not just other people’s stories.  They become my stories of seeing truth, choosing truth and walking in the goodness that always flows from choosing Him.

I create a history with God every time I choose Him, and that history gives me the courage to say the next yes.

Lately, the anthem of my heart is today God is saying yes.

I don’t know what will happen.  I don’t know if it will turn out.  I don’t know if it will hurt.

But I do know God said yes at the beginning and He’s saying yes today.  And really, that’s the best way to move forward.  Not protecting myself against the what if’s but fully embracing all His yes entails.

safest & easiest

28 Oct

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 12.30.18 PM

Reminded again in this season of life that the safest and easiest options are not always the ones that lead to the most life and freedom.  I get scared of being hurt, of not choosing the right way, of new things.  The easiest and safest option is to just not do those things.  To avoid uncomfortable and go the route already taken that already feels comfortable.

As I look back at the last few years though and think through all of the times I finally chose the harder and more uncomfortable option, I become more and more convinced that this is the way to go.  When God invites me into new places, it’s worth the risk.  It’s worth what may or may not happen because even though the outcome is uncertain, I stand on the certainty that He will be with me through it all.

That although this isn’t an invitation to be foolish, it is an invitation to trust in a deeper capacity.  To choose again that God knows my heart and only leads me into the things that bring freedom and closer friendship with Him.  That although all I want to do is go with the easier option, I know that He is faithful. And if I choose to risk with Him, I will come out on the other side much more victorious than I would if I went the easy way.

Here’s to the courage today to go the way that doesn’t feel safe or easy.  To choose the risk if Jesus is inviting.  Here’s to finding freedom by doing the things that make us afraid.

living less loved

8 Sep

He loves me! by Wayne Jacobsen is a book you must read if you’ve ever questioned God’s love.  I know, how could you ever questioned God’s love… but we’re not talking theory or ideas.  We’re talking how the core of your heart responds to situations.

Jacobsen writes:  “When we worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice, we live less loved.  When we indulge ourselves in sin, we live less loved.  when we give into anxiety in the crush of our circumstances, we live less loved.  when we try to earn God’s favor by our own efforts, we live less loved.  Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to him, we live less loved.”

So, naturally I asked myself and God where are places that I’m living less loved?

It hit me harder than I was expecting.  I came up with a list of 5 places that seem to be my struggle points.  The places where I believe lies about the most, the places I have to fight for truth to reign over my emotions, the places I have finally gotten brave enough to talk to God about.  The places of anxiety about the future – a job and a husband.  My perception of myself and my response to conviction to sin.  The raw places in me that are easy to walk timidly around.

Then I asked God how I get to the place of living loved?  I couldn’t get past Ephesians 3: 14-19.  I find myself here often, but today it held a new weight.  In the amplified version, it continually comes back experiencing God’s love.

“My Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!  May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.  That you may have the power to be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it; that you may really come to know [practically, through experience for yourself] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!]”

Really come to know – practically, through experience for yourself.  Which then surpasses the knowledge which is without experience.  I know I’ve experienced the love of God time and time again.  But I felt an invitation while reading it to ask God to allow me to experience His love in those places where I’m specifically living less loved.  I can try all I want to get myself into shape and conquer these places on my own but that’s about as ridiculous as it sounds.  It defeats the whole point God is trying to show my heart.

It is only be looking to Him, offering those places to Him and giving Him access to my eyes that I will live fully loved.  For it is never His love towards me that changes – that is constant and extravagant.  It’s how I see and receive it.  Something I know and have heard in church but a place I want to fight for to be real.  To be apart of my story.  Of how God took eyes that merely knew without experience the love of God to standing securely and being flooded by God Himself – a love that holds no barriers, no boundaries and no dimensions beyond deep, wide, and high.

learning to be twenty three

23 Aug

Three months ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday.  Since then I have moved overseas and have discovered some really awesome things about myself.  I’ve also been forced to face some not so awesome aspects of myself.  Here – it’s not that easy to ignore.  There isn’t a fancy, cushy lifestyle to hide the pain and numb the emotions.  It’s close living quarters and keeping something hidden isn’t practical or really, possible.  I thought this was terrible at first.  I’m learning it’s a blessing.  A gift from God to feel forced to look the ugly in the face and send it straight to the cross.

One of the things I’ve realized though, is that I don’t really know how to be my age.  For most of my life, people have assumed I’m much older than my actual age.   This had to do with how I looked and normally how I behaved and talked.   For some reason, with that I took on the expectations of needing to act older than I actually am.  I needed to have more knowledge, have more skills, have greater capacity and more success than my age.  Not to necessarily out shine someone else, but to hold onto this image of being and acting older than I am.  It made me feel acceptable and desired because I was able to do what needed to be done.

This unrealistic expectation lead to many instances where I felt disappointed in myself and inadequate for what was ahead.  I never had enough.  I never was enough.  I would read stories of older women and long to hold their experience and wisdom.  And at the same time get down on myself that I hadn’t figured that out yet.

But that’s the point God is slowly showing my heart.  I am only 23.  “Only” holds some lame connotations.  Don’t worry, I’m not shrinking back because I’m “only 23”.  I’m embracing and learning how to only be 23.  To realize I don’t have to have it all together.  I don’t have to have learned and mastered right now all that God is wanting to teach and shape in me throughout my life time.  He isn’t expecting me to be 23 going on 50, full of the wisdom and knowledge I will have then, now.  How ridiculous in words, but how true for the state of my heart.  Those older women know those things because they lived.  They risked, they failed, they fell, they got up, probably fell again and let God reveal Himself in the midst of all of it. They had to learn it, and they probably didn’t know it at 23 either.

This seemingly simple revelation that I’m only 23 makes me feel free.  I feel liberated to learn, discover, soak up knowledge, find people of wisdom and ask good questions.  It makes me want to embrace this experience of Haiti – to learn and grow and stretch and know that the places I let God move in this space will only be a launching pad to what He has ahead for me.  I’ve been kind of timid of this time – placing false expectation for myself to dominate and have full knowledge at how to do the tasks at hand.  Or to already be the person God is shaping me to be in order to really thrive here.  God can’t shape me when I’m trying to pretend like I’m already exactly who I need to be.

I am messy, God’s grace is abundant.  I’m not disqualified because of the mess but fully wanted by a God who’s in the business of healing, shaping and growing.  He wants to take my mess and turn it into a story of His glory.  Where He was strong in the long list of ways that I’m weak.  I don’t have to get it all now and this sets me free.  I get to learn, ask silly questions, fail and fall, but I get to get back up and find God in it all.  To learn what He has for me in this time and space and season to then learn what’s in the next.  I’m not expected to already know what He’s going to teach me in the next.  It is here. It is now. It is real. It is raw.  I am me.  I am His.  I am receiving grace for where I miss it.  I am learning how to actually be twenty three.

finding goodness in the rough

28 Jul

Hard circumstances.  I am first in line to avoid the sight of them.  No one seeks out hard patches. Surgery? No thanks, I have other things to do.  Death?  Mourning is hard, I can’t go there.  High temperatures and no a/c?  Excuse me, no one likes to sweat that much except for at a gym.  From all extremes, hard times are no one’s favorite.  I can testify to that.  This year has been full of hard times.  Really, I have very little to complain about.  My hard times fall in comparison to others around me.  But I’ve been put in the uncomfortable, the difficult and the risky.  And since living in Haiti, my hard circumstances radar has been going crazy.  My awareness of uncomfortable has risen far beyond any place in the states.

I get so frustrated with how tied up my joy is to these circumstances.  Things go right – I’m happy and praising.  Things are hard – I get crabby and emotional.  This week was filled with the later.  Lack of sleep, high emotions, so much heat.  I was rude, full of attitude and just plain exhausted.  And then I read this:

We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

2 Corinthians 1:5 in the message.  Hard times? Check.  Good times of his healing comfort? Even more check.  How much more in this past year, in these past 3.5 weeks have I experienced the goodness of his healing comfort?  The promises, the unexplainable peace, the courage to say yes, the guts to leap in faith, the intimacy of being healed, the necessity of being cared for by community, the expression of the body, the desperate heart of having to hear God.  Those moments, all stemmed from hard circumstances, are so much greater than anything that felt hard or difficult.  What a shame for me not to have experienced them because I hid away in what felt comfortable and easy. How foolish to only remember what hurt and not revel in the full measure of good times that came so faithfully.

Life here is hard.  It’s uncomfortable, hot, complicated, narrow. But it is in full measure of good times of healing comfort.  It’s deep, intimate, near, dependent.  There’s so much more glory in his goodness than in the hard times of following Jesus.  I am thankful for hard times for with it comes even greater goodness.  I never thought I would be thankful for that.