Oct 30, 2008
Oct 29, 2008
i love to teach. i love to stir the souls of others, to see them rise up and journey into a life of transformation. my job offers countless satisfying joys; coffee dates, ice cream dates, coaching cross country, attending abundant extra-curricula's, mentoring, sharing in hurts, praying, art... but perhaps the greatest facet of my position as a youth leader is being a teacher. i pray that youth ministry within a church is an avenue that i will travel for years and years to come, but if it may not be; then i pray that i can minister to the lives of youth as a teacher...an english teacher to be more exact.
on sunday's we have been taking our students through a series called "SHAPE". it is a season of learning who it is that god created us to be and how he uniquely designed us as his sons and daughters. this sunday i will be speaking on our intricate SHAPES and how they are to be used in a way that blesses the community around us.
gary haugen, the founder of IJM once quoted, "what is god's plan for making the world believe that he is good? we are god's plan. and he doesn't have another one". what an unnervingly outrageous truth. what will the world look like if we actually embraced this fact and began living it out loud? when jesus says "come. follow me. do as i do. love as i love"and we actually drop our nets and receive his command, the transformation of grace will inevitably take place and the world will see that god is good. the life of the disciple is to live the light of truth. we are to illuminate the hearts of others so that they are able to gaze upon the face of christ so that in turn, they will illuminate the hearts of others, and those others will illuminate the hearts of others, and they too will illuminate, and so on until one day every nation is lit by the lantern of grace.
dead poets society is my favorite film of all time. i secretly desire to be mr. keating (the teacher played by robin williams) and inspire students to live lives of boldness and confidence. throughout the film mr. keating radiates in his position as an english teacher; a role you can clearly see he is deeply passionate about.
this is the kind of teacher i long to be for my students. this is the kind of disciple i hope to be. i desire to live as a woman of god who inspires others to see their very own barbaric yawps. to make the world believe that god is good, we must first invite the world to see that the human race is also good, and in this goodness, we are the image of christ.
Oct 27, 2008
from the rocks
partner with me
Oct 26, 2008
"it is the way in which pain can be embraced, now out of a desire to suffer, but in the knowledge that something new will be born in the pain."
these words are an outlet of praise for the grace that christ has saturated upon my own journey of pain. they are my praises for the tender ways that christ has been revealing the truth of my identity, especially over the past three years. it seems as though the older i get, the more at rest i grow with the woman god has created me to be. as i transition from my early twenties into my late twenties, it becomes slightly easier to truly live in the here and the now (though i still have a long way to travel). and it becomes more satisfying to embrace the light of my identity as a daughter of jesus, rather than living as a slave to the temptations of this world.
there are more days now, where i express sighs of contentment with the woman that i am. in my early days of living as a disciple of jesus i was bombarded with insecurities. there was always this repetitious tune playing deceitful lyrics in my head. over and over i would hear, "you're not smart enough. you're not pretty enough. you're not spiritual enough. you're not skinny enough. you're not enough." what begs the praises of my lips is that what i hear most commonly today is, "i am the beloved. i am the bride of christ. my name means strength and honor. i am redeemed." no longer do i feel the temptation to prove myself to the world.
henri nouwen also writes of sharing our belovedness in his book 'life of the beloved' in this way;
"when we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness."
so much truth is packed into these words. when we accept the invitation to the banqueting table where we feast upon love and truth, we deeply long to invite others as well. this is the very reason why i do youth ministry. there is this insatiable longing within my soul to walk alongside youth as they dare to discover the true men and women of god they were created to be.
Oct 24, 2008
Oct 23, 2008
humility is very rarely modeled well. we live in a culture of self-sufficiency where exposing needs is horrifically unheard of. this epidemic of pride exists just as much inside of the church as it does outside. the inability to receive is the result of failing to humble yourself, and admit that without others and ultimately without god we can do nothing.
Oct 17, 2008
Oct 15, 2008
Speed dating for single youth workers. You better believe this year’s youth specialties hosted an opportunity for singles in ministry to meet one another. When I first saw this seminar I was checked for Tutte; the classic non-existent jester host who puts on seminars like, “re-learning the women’s role in ministry: getting back to sewing, baking, and submission”. But there was no Tutte…speed dating was legit.
Love connection jokes were thrown around all weekend, and many of them were tossed out by yours truly. But then my friend Laura shared her contagious enthusiasm about the notion of lovers matching up at YS and asked me to join her. Refusing profusely, she finally won me over by the end of the night.
People by the dozens were standing outside the doors of the room, each of them immobilized by pride were only able to cross the threshold of speed dating because of a friend dragging them in by the arm. The room was bursting with embarrassment, jokes, and an overall mentality of “what the hell”.
The courageous participants were organized around circle tables in the classic boy-girl style while Spearmint flavored breathmints were being catapulted by the handfuls. The rule of the game was that you would spend a 5-minute date with each person (of the opposite sex of course) and then switch to the next partner. I dated all sorts of men. Men who were huge computer gurus and quarterbacks in their glory days. Men who were in youth ministry as volunteers, or full time directors. There was one that I found amusingly intriguing but that was because he was a pitcher and a huge baseball fan so we were saturated in conversation encompassing the series. Oh, and each of the men were at least a billion years younger than me. All together we accumulated 8 dates in 40 minutes, tons of awkward moments, and a large portion of laughter. If I hadn’t swallowed my own choking ball of pride I would have missed out on the hilarity of such an event that can only be found at a Youth Workers Convention.
Last night the sanctuary here at youth specialties offered a “seminar” on praying with poetry. As an intercessor and a lover of poetry I embraced this opportunity with eager hands. And I am so jazzed that I did.
The setting was very intimate. Out of the 2500 something youth workers present at this convention there were only a dozen who attended. It began with our facilitator CeCe organizing us in a small circle. She read aloud the brilliant words of C.S Lewis in his poem simply titled, “Prayer”. It was a poem that invited you to come, walk through each word and find yourself lost it its restful space. CeCe read the poem twice and after the second time, we each picked a word, sentence, or stanza that stood out to us and we read those out loud. Between the 12 of us we re-created “Prayer” into our own group prayer.
After this we scattered about the airy sanctuary and took with us a packet of poetry to pray. It was an incredibly beautiful act of conversation with Christ. There was one particular poem that I chose was written by George Appleton and it was the opening line that held my attention. It read as this:
Give me a candle of the Spirit O God,
as I go down into the deep of my own being
20 minutes passed and we re-grouped. In the similar fashion of re-creating the “Prayer” poem, we created our own chorus by reading aloud the words, sentences, or stanzas from 8 different writings. One of the things that I adore the most is the fact that our God is a God of art. I am a firm believer that worship is a boundless activity and that there is no one-way to do it correctly. Some of the most cherished worship I have shared with God came through my own poetry, or a unique photography outing, or even during a long distance run. Our God is a mysterious artist who invites us to paint a stunning, messy, and a one of a kind work of art with him and it is with full joy that I dip my brush in the colorful palette of worship.
Shane Claiborne delivered a message this afternoon titled, “The Scandal of Grace”. The thought that grace is scandalous is the essence of the reason why I chose this out of dozens of other competing seminars. What Shane had to say was nothing new to the ears of Christ followers, but it was undeniable something fresh and yes, something scandalous.
Grace is a transforming liberation that is lavishly poured out from the heart of God to his beloved. However, it is a gift few choose to embrace and more often than I like to admit, I too fail to embrace the richness of grace.
There were a few thoughts throughout the message the perked my attention and demanded further processing. One of those thoughts is, “what would the world look like if we saw people in the image of God?” The church (and I am very much included in this) likes to claim that all are welcome – the beggars, the broken, the smelly and the dirty, the socially awkward and the risky. But the reality is this... only those who have their crap together (whether they truly do or whether they are living one fatty façade, it doesn’t matter) are the ones invited to exchange the holy Eucharist. Just look inside the walls of those who fill the pews and you will find the truth behind this reality. The ones that come are the freshly bathed, the rich, the ‘Jones’s’, the intellectuals and the safe.
My youth group is filled with teenagers who come from ridiculously wealthy families. They attend private schools, the receive bmw’s for their 15 birthday, their college tuition is completely covered, and the jeans they wear cost the same price as a vehicle. I love my students and they are in need of the unfailing love of Christ as much as anybody else. But I wonder, what if we met together on the streets of San Diego rather than the finely decorated wall of our youth room? What if our curriculum was engaging in conversations and friendships with the unschooled and the unloved? The larger church that I worship at exemplifies wealth better than anything I have ever encountered and to this I pose the same questions. What if our sanctuary was filled with the homeless and the precious belongings they carry with them? What if instead of impeccable displays of media entertainment there was displays of humility and selflessness? What if the sermons were the radical stories of those living on the streets or the horrific pictures of the human sex trafficking that takes place in our community? What if???
The truth is we are all broken, we are all dirty, and we all smell funny. We are all in desperate need of the liberating scandal of grace. We are all created in the image of God.
Oct 11, 2008
i woke up early this morning to greet the cool saramento autumn. donning nothing more than running shorts and a long sleeve tee equivalent to that of a kleenex, i was grossly surprised by the chilling temperature. the bell men must have read the expression on my face as they assured me, "you'll warm up once you start running!" with a smile i took their word for it and made my way into the urban streets.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”.
- Matthew 4:1
The Wilderness... this was the subject matter for Bishop Sherwood Carthen's (the first session speaker at this year’s National Youth Workers Convention) speech. He was a preacher far more than he was a speaker. On an insignificant side-note, I generally don’t learn the best from a southern Baptist preacher style delivery; it tends to beg for some shouts of ‘hallelujah’s’ more than I care for. Sherwood however – he had the room feeding out of his hands while reciprocating his amen’s.
It was undoubtedly his sermon that captivated my attention rather than his pulpit poundings. The wilderness is an uncomfortable experience that I intimately resonate with because of my own two-year journey. Sherwood used the foundation of Matthew 4 to ascend the audience into a greater understanding of the purposes behind Jesus being lead into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, and why the Spirit of God continues to lead his beloved into their own seasons of transformation.
Countless poignant enlightenments were made and the first of them was this - prior to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Spirit led him into the wilderness. From here every other reason for the Spirit alluring Jesus stemmed forth, creating a gorgeous vine of humility, dependence, revelation, and blessing.
The lessons from the wilderness that were spoken consisted of the following:
1.) The wilderness crucifies false spirituality. It strips us naked of every façade.
2.) The wilderness reinforces our dependence upon God.
3.) The wilderness precedes revelation.
4.) The wilderness will always come before blessing.
5.) The wilderness is necessary to wash away all confidence we have in ourselves.
And the over-arching purpose of the wilderness is brokenness. Sweet broken humility. With each lesson I reflected upon the journey that The Spirit led me into. For two years I was crucified of my false coats of identity and the truth that my dependence, life, and love comes from Christ alone. Through my wilderness I was broken – completely and perfectly broken. And only after I was crushed, did revelation come to light. Only after I was standing naked before the cross did the blessings of God flow. Only after I was faced with my utter depravity was I able to rise as the mature bride of Christ. Just as the Son of God had to die in order to live, so too we must die.
What begins as a voyage of lonely pain and strong temptations comes out as a gleaming masterpiece of grace. Yes, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and the Spirit will lead those that He calls into a life of radiant surrender into the wilderness. Following Christ will cost you every comfort and sense of control. I have learned however, that to Not follow passionately after him is a much costlier price to pay.
I co-lead a small group with Laura, my friend and fellow youth ministry intern. Our cluster of curious minded people does not, however, fit the typical mold of a classic small group. For starters, we meet in a bar. Every Tuesday at 6:30 we stroll into the comfortable, micro-brew aromatic atmosphere of ‘The Tap Room’ in Pacific Beach. It is not the sort of small group where you bear one-another’s burdens as much as it is a group of people who feed off one another’s inquisitions. Rather than opening the King James we open the tasty list of Happy Hour brews. It is a group of people who have questions, ideas, romanticisms, and a cumulative passion to discover a deeper reality of the transforming love of Christ.
Last week we found ourselves entrenched in a contagious discussion over the definitive contrast of grace, mercy, and compassion. The topic ignited because I am an inquisitive. The previous week I had over-heard a story being told fom a friend of mine who was pulled over by a cop for speeding. The cop ceased to perform his duties by handing over a hefty ticket to my friend, and chose instead to let her off, free and clear. My friend proceeded to say that the cop showed her grace, but then the listener of the story corrected the action by claiming to cop was merciful. To where I found myself asking, “So what’s the difference?” And this is how we got into the discussion of the three seemingly interchangeable characteristic verbs of grace, mercy, and compassion.
It was a well-oiled conversation that I am continuing to re-play over and over in my mind. Of these three things I wonder if they are one in the same. In the similar fashion that h20 can hold three different forms but remain one defined substance; can grace, mercy, and compassion represent three different facets yet exist as one true entity? Can you have one without the others?
Each week I anticipate what will surface during our “Theology on Tap” discussions. It is an unpredictable and unstructured group of followers of Jesus, clumsily working out our faith and learning to take on and shamelessly reflect the image of the one we follow. As skeptics, mystics, and romantics we have found a place where we can marinate in the questions of life and purpose.
Oct 2, 2008
Do you ever have those days when you look around the tiny world in which you live and think to yourself that all is as it should be? Today was a day of pleasant tranquility where it actually did appear that everything was richly graced.
A meeting with our worship director Ted ignited my day. Ted is positively amazing. He is a man of stunningly deep musical talent with a boundless knowledge of different genres that is enlightening to my incredibly finite awareness of artists. For the first half of our meeting we discussed favorite music and he introduced me to a collection of new names that partner with my personal taste (which is acutely defined as ‘chill’). The latter half of our meeting encompassed photography. See I had the divine privilege of doing the photography work for Ted’s up and coming instrumental cd holding the ancient hymn “I can feel the winds of God Today” as its title track. The entirety of our meeting encompassed all that interests me. It was an open discussion of music, art, and dotted with our latest literature readings; such topics I thrive to share with others!
After this meeting I transitioned into yet another. This time the focus was on how to incorporate students into main worship services, which is a hurdle I have had a great hope in seeing come to fruition since the day that I got here. Ted was in on this meeting as well because he is longing to invite students to take leadership during worship services whether through art, music, or prayer and it is this additional facet of inclusion that has also been a great desire of my own. The meeting was of youth and worship and it provided a dazzling hue of possibilities.
Upon completion of meeting number 2 the remainder of my afternoon was relaxed and horribly unproductive – which I was content with. There were tidbits of teaching preparations, contact information updates, a few emails and phone calls to redeem the day from being a complete “waste”. I was fortunate enough to close the afternoon with a 5:00 dinner date with 2 very lovely students at souplantation (which is one of the most amazing restaurants in san diego with endless salad, frozen yogurt, breadsticks, muffins, and piles of deliciousness…yes please!). Our time together was sweet and we made our way back to the church for Wednesday night program. And program was…program tonight was a picture of the reason why I do what I do. It was a gathering of approximately 50 students where we enjoyed dinner together (pizza of course), played crazy games, had a teaching that focused on the beauty of asking questions, and then had thoroughly rockin’ discussions in our breakout groups. Discussions that blew away every preconceived expectation ever held regarding the mind and thoughts of a teenager. As I facilitated our discussion group pride was the key emotion. It was here specifically; in our small breakout group where I thought to myself, “This is it”.
Driving home tonight with the tunes of David Gray softly guiding my way and the warm late summer breeze caressing my skin I reflected on the long day and realized that all is as it should be and found that my cup, as they say, floweth over.
Oct 1, 2008
wednesdays are my long days at work. i usually roll in around 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning and linger around until 9:00 p.m strikes. in the midst of these long hours, there are many tempting opportunities to trap every potential of my day becoming a seamless 12 hour itinerary of straight work.