Jul 29, 2009

my charlie brown tree

back in april stephanie (the lovely young woman that i mentored) and i went to dinner in pacific beach. over our meal we entered into conversation regarding what it means to be a woman of god, what it looks like to behold true femininity. i thought i held a somewhat confident grasp on the topic until stephanie asked me what true femininity actually means. as i began unfolding the my limited understanding i spiraled and tripped over my words only to come to the conclusion that i have no idea what so ever what it is to posses true femininity, nor do i comprehend what the image of a godly woman reflects.

since that day i've been impassioned to gain understanding to the mystery of godly womanhood. my inquisitive tendencies have been the driving force behind many hours of prayer and scriptural diggings, podcast listening's and intentional conversations. through each of these inspired steps of discovery god has slowly dropped nourishment into the cracked soil of my perplexities and in my quiet time this morning god spoke rather plainly, drawing my attention to the appropriate verses so that i may receive small doses of truth revealed.

over the next 2 hours a list of what it is to be a woman of god began creating itself. one by one the ornamental verses of proverbs, ruth, 1 peter, colossians, ephesians, and 1 timothy provided branches to shade the parched land of my initial inquisition. i guzzled my way through these books and began trimming the branches with decorative accessories and right before my eyes there stood a dazzling and humble charlie brown style tree. glamorous characteristics such as responsible, diligent, strong, giver of wise and loving counsel, gentle and quiet in spirit, pure and reverent, submissive, steady, dependable, noble, dignity, free of worry and anxiety, radiating joy, inner beauty, and kind-hearted illuminated this infant tree of mine.

how is it that god would address and honor my endlessly wandering mind? my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. but it is not i that initiated this search of what it is to be a true woman of god. for nothing is birthed, nothing is cared for, and nothing is done unless the lord enables it to be so.

Jul 27, 2009

one of "those" fans

i never understood the sort of music fans who were so impassioned by artists that they would go to any length just to see them in concert. when i worked at the bar i had a friend who legitimately worked just so that he could increase his dave matthews band concert fund. i'm not joking. this friend would spend hundreds - no - thousands of dollars every summer to concert hop his way across america following the lingering clouds of dave matthews magic dragon tour. don't get me wrong, i totally dig dmb - i'm fortunate enough to have seen 2 incredible shows, one in alpine valley and the other in san diego. crazy, say goodbye, and grey-blue eyes are some of my all time favorite tunes; but thousands of dollars just to see him jam?

this morning at 9:50 sharp i logged into the david gray website. beginning at 10:00 am pre-sale tickets for his upcoming show at the orpheum were made available and i wanted to make absolute certain that i would be one of his adoring fans drinking the sweat that falls from his face as he pounds the ivories and hypnotizes the audience with his insanely poetic lyrics. at 9:58 my stomach began turning and my fingers were well prepped to click hard and fast the "add to cart button". 2 more minutes and i would be faced with the opportunity to see my favorite artist of all time perform at one minnesota's gnarliest venues. needless to say i was on the edge of my seat, nearly wetting my pants with anticipation. just when i thought i couldn't wait anymore, the website flipped from "pre-sale starting at 10:00" to the gloriously illuminated posting "buy tickets now". i felt like i was a horse at the kentucky derby

i raced fast to the electronic check out line with my invisible electronic cart in desperate attempt to be one of the lucky few to get tickets. my fingers were a blur and with the first try i received a warning that the requested sections were reserved. so i went back, clicked the section again and typed a hopeful '2' in the quantity box and resumed my position in the check out line. like a rain cloud over my head the killjoy notification of "section reserved" flashed it's malicious smile at me. panic began to set in. for the next 27 or so minutes i repeated the aforementioned steps of filling my cart and sprinting to the check out line. all with no luck. hope began to dwindle when the vacancy sign for the pit level section blinked "no". not long after this, a second "no vacancy" light went on. 2 out of 3 sections were sold-out and i never even made it through the check out line. faster and faster i typed. "section 1 & 2... quantity 2... proceed to check-out". only to keel over with a round-house kick of disappointment. i hate to admit this next part, i really do; but tears began welling up in my unblinking eyes. i could taste the bitter possibility that i might not get tickets. i fought the good fight and ran the race all the way to the end. soon the website warned that there were only 2 tickets left in the last remaining section. determined to get seats for my friend and i, i vehemently typed over and over again. in no time at all there was only 1 ticket remaining and my cart was still empty. and just like that the looming rain cloud over my head ripped open and the drops of misfortune wrapped their cold, wet hands around my once hopeful daydreams. pre-sale tickets were all sold out and my cart was empty.

i may not spend thousands of dollars like my friend did. but i can certainly resonate with his passion. this is my blog and i will never write false words about myself. and so i have to admit that i have officially transformed into one of "those" fans. i was willing to give anything for tickets to the show. and if i said those welling teardrops never actually fell from my frowning cheeks i would be lying. pathetic right? i know, you don't have to tell me. but this is david gray. one of music's most talented writers - his lyrics inspire me to pick up my pen and journal and scribble stanzas of rhythmic poetry. tickets for the general public go on sale in august. i will have to medicate the inflicted wounds of hopelessness and prepare for another vigorous mission to get a pair of tickets

Jul 19, 2009

butterfly thoughts

butterfly #1

i received a job. thank you god. a few weeks ago i sent out somewhere around 20 different applications to every coffee shop that was hiring. upon sending out my applications, i left the rest up to the big man upstairs. i believe that god has a particular place for me where i can reach out to new friends and engage in the sweetness of relational ministry. this is my hope anyway. caribou called me to set up an interview and 3 days later i was hired. my new work home will be in the beautiful calhoun area and i am excited to get to know the people in this place.

butterfly #2

this morning i went to church at woodland hills, seeing as i failed to make it a few weeks ago because of countless hurdles that hindered my attendance. i'm still in the painful and uncomfortable process of finding a church community to call home. the moment i walked into woodland hills i knew that it was not the place for me. the first thing i noticed when i walked in the shopping center transformed into a church was a rack of literature to purchase and an enormous sized 'hub' where you can be directed to multiple different wings of the church. i'm not looking for a mega-church. as i sat in the back row, intentionally hidden from the hundreds of people that surrounded me; i wondered how long i had to stay. and then i wondered if i had turned from a girl seeking a new church, to a consumer looking for whatever is in it for me. i left after 4 songs.

butterfly #3

in effort to grow more acquainted with minneapolis, i spent the afternoon at a park directly across the street from caribou. it was quite positively the most perfect summer day. for 4 hours i observed the world around me and the people in it; i read some words by andy root and enjoyed a simple picnic lunch. i also took advantage of these sacred hours to be used as my church service, and the sermon was a baseball game. i watched the diverse collection of players with great intrigue. these men were of all different ages, most of them were overweight and uncoordinated. it was such a delight to watch them play because it was blindingly obvious they were out there for the sheer fun of it. as i sat there watching, i began noticing how their game was humorously incongruent to my personality. the often faulty characteristic of my make-up is the fact that i am very much of a rose-colored idealist blended together with whimsical romanticism. my heart gets sad when things do not go as buttery and as deliciously as i hope for them to go. this baseball game was the furthest thing from ideal. but in all of the players insufficiency's there was an abundance of grace. when ground balls required three players to pick up the rolling softball, much to my surprise there was not one degrading slander spouted; rather an outpouring of high-fives and words of encouragement. when 14 pitches were thrown before a batter finally hit one i did not witness outward expressions of frustrations, but i gazed upon the paradox of the horrible players that made up an incredibly remarkable team. what i need to understand is that life is not rose-colored and when things do not play out as romantically as i desire them to i long to see the redemptive qualities alluring my attention.

Jul 15, 2009

no longer hesitating

a few friends and i were engaged in a volleying of questions when one of them posed the following: "if you only had one book of the bible to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?". one of my friends responded with the book of exodus, and the other opted for the book of psalms. when it was my turn to answer i hesitated, though there was absolutely no need for such a delay. i knew immediately that my choice would be the song of songs. but somewhere within me there was this embarrassment, this feeling that i was simple-minded or immature for tossing aside all other brilliant books that are filled with the prostrate demanding, bone trembling fear of the lord; books that are complex to the mind and held on pedestals of centuries of theological debates. there was a shadow of humiliation in my choice to dress the song of songs like a crown of daises around my head. should i choose exodus? what about all the major prophets? or what about revelation - only the masters of studies could unravel such a tightly wrapped nucleus of mind boggling literature.

this morning as i spent time in quiet reading my heart was searching for poetry that i could meditate upon. i began with the psalms, then a little proverbs; and in one last effort of desperation i turned to isaiah. but this act of pretending left me empty, unsatisfied, and searching. surrendering to the truth that i am, above all, a woman who would rather have a flowery crown than a scepter of knowledge. so i turned to the song of songs. and there i found what i was looking for. i found truth. i found the relational god who will stop at nothing to woo the heart of his beloved. i found poetry. this small 8 chapter poem is so often overlooked from those who stand behind the pulpit that everyone else sitting in the sanctuary ceases to hear the radiance of god's heart for his people - and this is perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of our time. we are a generation who has become numb and unimpressed by god. we are so conditioned by bible stories that the unbelievable fact that even death could not contain him fails to drop us to our knees in worship and humble adoration.

are we a generation of robots that are petrified to feel? i think we worship control and structure more than we crave a wild and dangerous adventure of following after christ. i'm the first to admit that it if far easier for me to rest in my circumstances than it is to trust in the indiscernible movements of the holy spirit. but as i look into my own life and observe the mass population all i can see is passive, unchanged, mechanical human beings. but when the god of all creation explodes his affections over us - how can we not respond with zealous irresponsibility? in song of songs 5:2 the lover who is god showers 4 tenderly transforming truths about his beloved's identity. who is this god that would do such a thing? why don't we hear of this god more often within the church? why are we afraid to let the poetic words, "my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one." unravel our false cords of structured control and liberate us to actually be touched by love?

when i think back to when my friend asked what one book of scripture would i choose to read, i laugh at my momentary pause. the truth is i want to feel - it's my natural make-up, it's the core of who i am. i want to share in the emotions and affection of christ. i want him to sweep the dust from my diluted spirit. i want to fearfully allow him to burn awake the sleeping desires to be filled with sensitive wonder.

Jul 8, 2009

words from merton

since i am jobless and seemingly homeless i am provided with abundant space to read. this morning i have been stunned, halted in my faulty speed-reading, in order that i may marinate in the wisdom of thomas merton. (side note: merton is incredible. equivalent to lewis and nouwen on my list of heroes). currently i am navigating my way through "thoughts on solitude" and though it proves a challenging read at times, it simultaneously speaks to my soul in profound simplicity.

"laziness and cowardice put our own present comfort before the love of God. they fear the uncertainty of the future because they place no trust in God.... without courage we can never attain to true simplicity. cowardice keeps us "double minded" - hesitating between the world and God. in this hesitation, there is not true faith - faith remains an opinion. we are never certain, because we never quite give in to the authority of an invisible God. this hesitation is the death of hope. we never let go of those visible supports which, we well know, must one day surely fail us. and this hesitation makes true prayer impossible - it asks, it is so uncertain of being heard that in the very act of asking, it surreptitiously seeks by human prudence to construct a make-shift answer. (cf james 1:5-8). what is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?"

Jul 5, 2009

how do you like these apples?

"for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~ephesians 6:12

i've been back in minnesota for a little over 2 weeks now. of the past 16 days, 4 of them have been consumed with intense spiritual warfare. i suppose it was foolish of me to assume that i could lolly-gag my way into minnesota, a direction orchestrated by the gracious father, and not experience encounters with the army of the evil one. when i first began the journey of following christ 7 years ago, i was introduced to the truth that the world in which we live is a giant battle ground. the heavenly realms are jealously pursuing the throne room of the human heart so that we may embrace and experience the atoning love of christ. and for all of the strength and passion god exudes in his pursuit towards us, so too satan is vehemently slithering through the lives of men leaving his poisonous residue of deceit, strongholds, and hatred. but it has only been in the last 3 years that i have personally tasted, fought, and endured the crimson vibrancy of this bloody warfare.

a couple friend of mine went out of town to a cabin in northern minnesota this week and so i had the privilege of house/dog sitting while they were away. a few days prior to this i had filled out somewhere around 20 job applications so i thought that i would spend my time house sitting to search for more jobs and call the managers to all of the 20 placed i applied to. day one was filled with phone calls and sitting in front of the computer typing in my educational background and work experience. by the end of it all i could complete an entire application in 2.4 minutes without breaking a sweat. that evening i spent some time in quiet solitude with the lord. during our communion i heard him say; "wait on me." i have to be honest, i hate those words. i know i have done everything i can do up to this point. now i just have to wait.

with those restful and frustrating words god spoke, i decided to embrace the remainder of my house sitting time as a spiritual retreat. through the hours god spoke tenderly to my heart, by the guiding of his spirit powerful times of intercession were formed. i finished a brilliant book by brennan manning, a colorful read on intercessory prayer, and the commencing of a third book that immediately demanded my attention. in addition to all this satisfying goodness, i was also blessed with the space to pray for the week of summer camp that my former solana beach kiddos are enjoying, for four of my dearest sisters in christ that are spread all over the world; and for the marriages of countless friends, the restoration of strong families, and even for god to provide my own life with a place to live, a job, and a church community to call home. yes, it was a priceless retreat to be sure. the flip side to this time i intentionally committed to god is the ugly presence of satan. again, why should i not have anticipated the, pardon my tongue, dirty mother freaking bastard to sly his way in? and all i can say is duuuuude, the snake fought hard.

one of the facets of this new life direction i am in is the necessity of a church family. i am actually deeply excited about the entire process of searching for a place where i can belong. a place where i can not only be fed, but also a place where i can serve and pour out the love that god has lavished upon me. my personality's dna is a tightly knit thread of glamorous independence. i long to venture out and find a church all on my own. i want to try out different communities all on my own. i want to be challenged and uncomfortable all on my own. i suppose this is my peculiar fondness of having "my own" things, i like to know that i am capable of doing things "on my own". a few lovely friends of mine invited me to try the church communities they have been adopted into. some of them i legitimately want to experience, but the desire to first set out, you guessed it, "on my own" overrules the invitations. 

this morning was the first of many sundays i would spend trying on different communities. first on my list was woodland hills church. i was excited to go and enter into a worship service that i did not have to work at. for the first time in two years, i was simply an attender. the night before i looked up service times and directions so i was set to go. once all my bags were packed from my long week of house sitting, i said goodbye to my couple friend and hopped in my car. my anticipation was immediately  crushed when it wouldn't start. my car had never before given me any problems what-so-ever. i take excellent care of maizey (rule #1, you have to name your car) and she takes care of me. looking out the window my friends extended a confused glance. they came out and handed me the keys to there car so that i could still attend church. quickly i transferred by bags and before too long i was on the road. trying not to let the set-back of a disabled vehicle ruin my day, i started to pray for the worship service; that god would let me know if this is the place and the community he has for me. following the directions closely i started to realize that this church is a lot further than i thought. the minutes passed as quickly as a hummingbird flaps its wings and it felt as though i had been driving for eternity. before i knew it i was already late for worship. thinking to myself; "5 minutes late is not horrible." and still, driving, driving, and more driving. "ok," i thought, "15 minutes late, that's still acceptable." and then all of the sudden, the road that google maps directed me to came to a complete dead end. there was no street for me to turn on. google maps had failed me. by now i was half an hour late for service and had no clue where the church was located. stupid google. 

i lost it. tears of frustration ran down my face and swear words sputtered from my lips like the powerful force of a fire hose. i was so discouraged, and as much as i hate to admit it, i was angry at god. i mouthed off to him (and it felt amazing) exposing the pains in my heart, the exhaustion i felt over always being in a season of waiting, and the frustration trying to trust him as my provider. the joy i had just minutes ago regarding doing everything "on my own" vanished and all i wanted was an already established church community... and a job... and an apartment... ugh. even as i type this colossal tattered rendezvous of finding a church, my soul boils over with weariness. dirty mother freaking bastard.

what am i to do? i look a little further into the letter paul wrote to the book of ephesus for my answer.

"therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground..." ~ephesians 6:13

i ask the lord to give me the strength to dress in his armor and fight. and when i feel like i can't fight any longer - which if i am to be completely real - is exactly where i find myself;  i ask the lord to fight for me. this is what i am to do as i clumsily attempt to stand on the rock of trust and obey the word of the lord when he commanded me to "wait".

Jul 1, 2009

sleepless night

it is 5:19 in the morning and my eyes burn with the pain of restlessness. i have literally been up all night long with only the cold emptiness of my lonely season of transition to keep me company. as i extend a bloodshot gaze out the window, the bleak, gray, colorless sky is a blatant reminder to the lifeless reality that exists when i cease to place my very life in the pierced hands of the redeemer.

the newness of moving back to minnesota is already over. in one fleeting minute the excitement that existed has been quickly replaced by consuming doubts, anxieties, and worries. as quickly as the seasons change in this endearing midwest state so too the emotions of my circumstances manifested themselves from hope to fear. what i am starting to see (as clearly as my foggy mind frame will allow) is the misplaced ways in which i hold the trueness of god's faithfulness. it is far easier to trust in the god of creation when your life is held together by stability. but what happens when the image of stability is represented by something like the dust bowl of the dirty 30's? how do you continue to sleep peacefully at night when the army of the evil one is no longer crouching at your door, but instead wrapping his adulterous arms around your weak and exhausted body? what then?

how soon i forget the unfailing love of christ! when the weight of my situation smothers the ability to rest i need to be reminded of truth, and it is threaded with strands of the finest linens and jewels all throughout scripture. god faithfully led his people to the promise land. god knelt and engaged the shamed woman at the well. god slept while a mighty storm shredded the boat he and his disciples traveled in. god clothes us in beauty and anoints our head with the oil of gladness. god tore the curtain. god conquered the grave. realities such as these are what not only stands against the forces of darkness, but reigns victorious.