Dec 31, 2008

Atheist's Article..

This is an article I stole from Phil.. who stole it from someone else lol.. but it's worth passing on! Here's the first part of the article.

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset


hmm.. Interesting huh? You can read the rest of the article here... I would be interested to talk with this guy.. God's obviously doing something with him...

Dec 30, 2008

Who Were YOU a Year Ago?

So, obviously since it's the end of the year it's kinda naturally the time where everyone looks back and figures out the year.. and tries to make decisions for the next year.. So, my big question is:

Who were you a year ago?
What was going on?
What were you worried about, thinking about, stressing about?
What had your attention and focus?
What changed your life this year?

So, who was I a year ago?

Well, a year ago I "rang in the New Year" with Ash and Megan in Chicago.. it was one of my favorite New Years memories EVER! :) I was getting ready to go to Africa for the first time. I was a little worried about the dynamics of the trip, but SO excited that I was getting to go. I was stressing about my financial situation, both normally and with going to Africa.

My friend Lisa and I had dozens of talks about direction and God's path for us.. I needed her and God knew that :) (She also went to Africa with me:)

I was feeling "stuck" like I was in a situation I couldn't get out of.. and had no plan or vision for how I was going to get out of it. Which is weird because I LOVED my family, living at home with them. I LOVED working with our teens and being super involved in our church, and I really liked the time I was getting with my extended family working with them and getting to know them... But, at the exact same time, I felt like I had graduated and taken the easy route, moved home to work for family, so I felt restless. I knew I had this desire and passion inside me but I didn't know what it meant. I had a desire to do hard things with my life, but felt like currently I was doing the easiest well traveled path. Almost as though I was MADE for more, but had no way of attaining it. I felt blind and like I was in a heavy fog and couldn't see God working in my personal journey.

I was operating on the concept that it didn't matter how I felt... I KNEW God's call to us is to, "Love Him, Love others" so I was doing everything I could to do that, regardless of how I felt. But, even still I felt a little like I didn't have a direction.

January
I went to Africa for the first time. I LOVED IT!.. But, I was also frustrated at my/our lack of ability to DO more while we were there. I met two amazing missionaries that I love dearly, and I got to have some pretty amazing talks with them, and just really connect. I treasured that time with them :) I accidentally was put in the middle of a lion pride and got stalked by a crocodile... It was a GOOD trip, wonderful next step, although at the time I wasn't sure what to say about it.

February - April
After Africa, I became insanely involved all over the place. Looking back I'm not sure how I had time for ANYTHING... I got involved with a local martial arts school and taught karate a couple nights a week, I joined Compassionate Life Foundation as a board member, and became increasingly more involved with the youth group as other leaders became too busy or had other situations come up, I helped with the youth vision team, and joined the youth leaders small group, as well as help get the 18-30's group started at my church... Not to mention the random little things like doing a dance for church, interviewing/informing the congregation about my trip to Africa, chaperoning youth events for my best friend who is a youth leader at another church etc..etc.. When I think about it I had things planned every single day and every single evening for each week, and I had roughly one night a week where I could fit friends in for hang out time. Whoa! I was seriously trying to do my part to make a difference, and I've always felt more like I was "on my game" when I was too busy to think!

May
Most of the after work things stayed the same, but in terms of work, Labor Day consumed my life because of working for Covenant Cemetery Services and as odd as it sounds "Labor day is like Christmas for cemeteries" because it is INSANELY busy.. we will see 80% of our people that weekend alone. So, things have to be perfect and together, and if we want to do any sort of survey or coupons for stones, memorials, shepherd's hooks etc..etc.. that has to be in place before the end of the month. And, then there's the marathon weekend that feels like it kills you every time. This also marked my one year with Covenant Cemetery Services, and a dramatic shift in location...

June - August
Beginning of June, I shifted the way I worked for "The Company" as we all called it ;) and I went to part time, moved to Ohio and work for Camp Carl as a boat driver. haha That to me is one of the more random things I've done. I still offered my knowledge and services to the company... But, even though I LOVED working with family I was seriously doubting my abilities. I fought so desperately hard for everything, and was then told I didn't understand, didn't get it, was too young to understand etc..etc.. I began to believe it and it began to seriously effect my view of what I was able to do and what I was GOOD at. So, I went back to camp on a fluke e-mail that spiraled into a job offer. There was also a good chance I would be able to get a full time job in the fall, and since I love camp so much and I love the people I worked with I was PUMPED to say the least! I "went home" to camp and loved the ability to work hard, be outside ALL day long, soak up the sun (seriously I was the darkest I've ever been), meet new people, love on old friends, reconnect with myself, and get to know and laugh with hundreds upon hundreds of kids... I got to read a lot, laugh a lot, hang out with friends from college who I desperately love and missed like crazy! I learned to wake board.. almost broke my ankle.. wiped out on roller blades... and had THE most "American" 4th of July ever. I got to work with people who showered me with love and affection all the time! It was a GOOD summer :)

However, God and I did a lot of arguing throughout the entire summer.. I wanted direction NOW and didn't want to wait anymore. God told me to be patient. I was not thrilled with that answer and complained to him constantly. He essentially laughed at me and told me his answer was final. :) I still argued (man am I stubborn). I think he seriously made me wait until THE LAST MINUTE.. cause I found out the weekend before our last two weeks that things were not going to work out and I was not going to be able to stay in Ohio... So, out of "spite" I applied for about 20 jobs online over the weekend all over the world. I felt very "HA! See, I can do something fun and exciting cause I'm able to!".. (not sure why I felt this way though... or even WHO I felt this way towards lol).. But, none of them replied, and if they did it was "thanks but no." And, then I get a random e-mail from a non-profit in VA asking me to apply for the job cause I look like I have the qualifications for it. So, I did. Set up a phone interview for a couple days later... began wrapping up camp.. Drove home, flew to VA, interviewed again, flew home, got the job, accepted the job... went camping, moved Megan to Mass., packed and moved to VA.

September-November (Pre-Thanksgiving)
The first month was one of the... weirdest, loneliest, scariest, exciting, "green house" time with God that I've ever had. The first week was scary and lonely cause I seriously KNEW NO ONE. I couldn't get anywhere, and I couldn't understand the "real southerners" without reading their lips.. lol I had to adjust quickly to not being in the same environment, I never got touched (which seems like an odd statement, but I'm a touch person.. sooo...).. It was so incredibly good though, I got really acquainted with myself. I went from not thrilled about my 45min-hour drive to and from work to treasuring it and finding that time I covet almost more than any other time of my day... I get MY God time, Him alone is what I get while I drive to and from work.. It's great :) Then I found a Sunday school class, a small group, a roomie, moved again (only 2 miles though), found another small group, met a million people that are now my friends, figured/figuring my way around town now, did a couple service projects, got connected with a girl who introduced me/convinced me to go to Ghana, met the rest of the team, God said "Go" so I trusted Him and made plans to go. I prayed for about a month prior that God would really break my heart and I would FEEL Him. And I went.

November (Post-Thanksgiving) - Now
I went to Ghana, learned more things about love, service, submissiveness, support, faith, trust, and comfort zones than I have ever before. I saw practical examples of what I desire most, and was able to have my "aha!" moment in multiple areas God's been patiently trying to teach me. My life is completely different. I felt like finally dozens of pieces of my puzzle have all come together and I'm beginning to see the picture and it's beginning to make sense to me now. I feel God differently now than I did before. I see His plan, feel His heart, and desire Him more than I have ever that I can remember. Things that I struggled with have begun to take a back seat cause it's not important compared to my purpose and my mission. I've realized how truly, totally, and completely blessed I am. I have parents who everyone should know (and love clearly) :) I have a family that is one of the most supportive and loving families I know. I have friends who are pushing me to grow towards God like never before. I sincerely see the world differently now. Which is what I prayed for. :) I am content, I mean truly content, joyful, happy, and peaceful. I am not where I want to be because now I know what I want.. but I also know I'm where I'm supposed to be.. And that gives me contentment but also keeps my drive and passion alive and pushing.

So, a year.. Wow so much has happened. It seems like a whirlwind, and I am so thankful for God working on me even when I objected loudly. I am grateful for the dozens of times He told me "no" "not yet" and "be patient"... especially when it came to guys :) I am excited about this next year.. cause it's possibilities are ENDLESS!! I can't wait :)

Dec 24, 2008

My Joy in Christmas

I seriously have never been able to figure out how people don't like Christmas.. I mean what's not to like?!

I mean think about it.. This is when God SHOWED us that not only did He love us enough to create us, give us this amazingly beautiful world, and each other.. and not only does He desire for us to truly LOVE Him in return.. So, He has all that... and then He gives us the most important thing to Him!!... In the form of an adorable little baby boy :)

Then, on top of that amazing wonderful reason to be happy and excited.. we have the celebration of all of that! I mean don't get me wrong, sometimes family get togethers with extended family can be much close to world war III.. but I love them still. One of my favorite things is to just sit and watch them, laugh at their antics.. to truly take a minute to cherish and BE in the moment. I know it won't last forever and I love when my family is simply being my family :)

And, I have gone to probably 12 Christmas parties this year between work related ones and ones my friends have put together.. and I've loved every single one of them. :)

AND THEN.. as if all that wasn't enough to love Christmas.. Christmas day is just wonderful!... My family has such a great time just interacting and laughing and giving each other gifts. It's so much fun :) We laugh and exchange hugs, open serious gifts, joke around, we get each other things we've been needing or wanting for a long time.. Then, we eat good food and just hang out ALL day playing :)

It's great. It's why I drove 15 hours in terrible weather through the night.

Dec 22, 2008

Hmm..

I have a whole slew of things bouncing around in my head.. but I can't seem to get anything coherent or solid to grab a hold of. It's like I have a list of things I want to talk about or process through, but nothing that has solidified to even give me a starting place.

Some things I have been thinking of...

Hope isn't just "wishful thinking" it's a solid foundation.
Which then brings a whole new meaning to:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Joy has nothing to do with happiness or circumstances, and actually is better described as the motivation... or even better the motivation despite terrible circumstances.

Dec 19, 2008

Who Am I?

At some point in everyone's life I think we wonder who we are.. Where do we get our value? You see it in teens all the time, they sway from one thing to another trying to find out who they are. Heck in all reality, you see it regardless of the age, I could list half a dozen people without even trying that are incredibly obvious about their search for value.

So, who am I?

Well, lets start with the basic obvious ones... I am Krista Paula Beata (be-ahh-tah). My name means Joyful Little Christian. I have the names of two of the most amazing people with strong convictions, stubbornness, beauty, love, and compassion that you will ever meet. (Someone mentioned once that since I already have 4 names I should choose a middle name to get rid of, keep my current last name instead of add a name or simply get rid of my current last name when I get married.. That was the worst most horrible idea I'd ever heard! It's like choosing who you love more..) I have two amazing parents who have taught me in every possible way the truth about this world and the truth about the meaning of life, and I go to them with anything I need help processing. I have 3 siblings who have instilled more qualities (whether good or bad) in me than any other people in my entire life; I consider them my best friends first before any other. I have a ginormous extended family that has taught me the importance of love, patience, community, and family. I have some of the worlds greatest friends who love Jesus and inspire me constantly, and have insisted on being my friend when I didn't even know I needed them.

So, those are the basics of me.. some of what has built my foundation. But, who am I? Who is Krista Paula Beata, Joyful Little Christian?

I am a wonderfully and beautifully made daughter of my Savior.
I am extroverted to the extreme.
I am joyful and full of genuine laughter.
I am observant.
I am good at making others better.
I am passionate and express it constantly.
I am loving.
I am always trying to understand people and why they do things.
I am stubborn and full of convictions that won't be moved.
I am independent yet reliant on others.
I am in love with my Sweet Jesus.
I am harder on myself then I convey.
I am always struggling with self worth.
I am easy going but easily excitable.
I am loyal.
I am still learning what it means to be a Christian.
I am learning what it means to be wise and not a fool.
I am unsure of my looks.
I am a quick thinker and use it to my advantage.
I am loud and laugh louder.
I am trying to figure out how to completely rely on God.
I am stronger than I realize.
I am weaker than I admit.
I am trying to figure out where God wants me.
I am blunt.
I am in a never ending battle with my worries and my reliance on Jesus.
I am confident and self assured.
I am still trying to figure out how to show true compassion regardless of how I feel.
I am a black belt.
I am seriously and truly in love with my Sweet Savior.
I am unsure of myself.
I am trying to figure out how to change the world.
I am devoted to my task of loving people for Jesus.
I am thankful for the hard times.
I am confident that God will use me.
I am always on the go.
I am animated.
I am learning how to operate with a hurting heart for the lost.
I am learning how to hurt for the lost.
I am learning how to love the lost.
I am learning how to serve the lost.
I am confidant of my goals.
I am defiant of the devil.
I am secure in the promises of my Lord.
I am figuring out how to move forward without knowing.
I am constantly praying that I will be who God wants me to be.
I am a never ending mix of who I am and who I am pushing to be.

I am Krista, daughter, made and seriously agaped by my Savior. I can never do enough, and I can never do too little.

I am His alone.

Dec 16, 2008

Laughter's Power

I got to thinking today after a co-worker commented on how a couple of our kids have mistaken my laughter as flirting... with other teens (haha.. yeah no). Much to my delight my co-worker (who is a girl) pointed out I act and laugh exactly the same around her, and the other teen girls, and our 60-something married couple we work with... So, clearly unless I am flirting with ALL of them I must not be flirting at all.. but simply finding joy in them.

So, mixing that very amusing story with the incredibly painful last couple weeks God and I have had, I got to thinking about the fact that even though I'm going through these things with God and it hurts.. I'm still joyful, and my laughter is still genuine. In fact, I'm laughing more, and I'm truly content.. (can you be joyful, hurting, and content at the same time?!) I began thinking about the things that change my feelings.. laughter is the biggest one. I can be in a terrible mood, lazy mood, depressed, sad, whatever I'm feeling laughter can change that... When I'm hurting laughter feels like it helps to heal it a little bit.. and at the very least it helps it to be a little more numb and less of the hurt itself.

I found this, and it makes sense.. "Research has shown health benefits of laughter ranging from strengthening the immune system to reducing food cravings to increasing one's threshold for pain. There's even an emerging therapeutic field known as humor therapy to help people heal more quickly, among other things. Humor also has several important stress relieving benefits."

I like the fact that my name means Joyful Little Christian... and I like the fact that it's true. Even when I'm hurting laughter can make a difference inside where there isn't much that can touch the inside.

As my lovely friend says "Laughter is inner jogging" ;)

Dec 15, 2008

To be still and know...

I am really struggling today. I hurt for real. For small things or for someone else's pain... tears will come to my eyes today. I just feel blah, like I need a huge long hug and a reminder that God is still in control, nothing has changed and the pain will go away.

We had to make significant changes at work due to our budget. It was pretty intense and I hurt for the people I work with. I feel guilty that decisions were made the way they were (even though I was not a part of it), and I am completely overwhelmed by the task ahead. I don't know how to turn things around and make them better.. in all honesty I'm not even sure where to begin. *sigh*

I miss my friend Kyle who died two years ago yesterday. Man did he love Jesus, and he seriously showed that love to all of us. I miss him.

I really just don't want to do anything. I want to be still, to know God is God and I am just me. In the last week I've gone to bed several nights just aching to be with Jesus... actually tearing up from the ache. Weird huh? I mean not really.. but kinda if you think about it. I've never felt that way before. I mean I've always wanted to go to be with Jesus, but I've never ached for it before. But, somehow in the last little over a week I just don't want anything but Jesus. I've hardly listened to the radio cause I've just needed time to talk to him.. or just be numb.. silent.. whatever. I keep getting frustrated that I don't have more time to do that. I keep feeling like I should know exactly where I'm heading like I should be close enough to Jesus that I could have an idea of what He's trying to teach me or where He's guiding me. But.. I don't.

For right now I just need to know Him. To know He is my God, my Savior, my Jesus, my Leader, my most intimate, my most fulfilling, and the most consistent thing in my life. But, I still would rather be there. I mean really, think about it.. if I cannot be doing what I'm made to be doing.. what I was CREATED for.. why wouldn't I desire then to simply be with Him instead? Makes sense when you think of it that way because you feel fulfilled when you are doing and moving exactly the way you were created to... and if you're not doing that, it's supposed to feel wrong or at least weird and off... So, if it feels weird and off, we're supposed to desire being with Jesus more than where we are currently.

The sucky dynamic thrown in there, is I think I'm supposed to be exactly right here doing this right now. Lameness. I'm supposed to do everything to glorify Him, be diligent in the small so I can have more later. But, I'm impatient and I just want either to be doing what I was created for... or to be with who I was created for.

So.. today I just need a big long comforting hug, and to be reminded that I'm safe, loved, ok, and that God is still my God.. He hasn't forgotten me, I'm not hurting for nothing, this pain is to shape me more, and all I'm supposed to do, is be me doing what I'm doing for Him.

To be still and know...

Dec 12, 2008

Ghana

Here is a video with maybe half of the pictures from Ghana.



I hope you can see what I saw, and begin to see with your heart why this so dramatically shifted my heart.

Dec 10, 2008

An Agnostic's Words

Today I had a conversation with a friend from high school. We met my first day, and he was pretty clearly gothic (before there was emo) and while he was nice, he was and still is agnostic. I used to joke with him that I was friends with him so that if he ever decided to shoot up the school he wouldn't kill me...:) Obviously that's not true, but it gives you an idea of the more relaxed nature of our friendship. I constantly invited him to youth group, and to my surprise he came.. several times!
Then I graduated high school, went to college, graduated, moved home, then moved to VA.. and didn't hear from him at all. A couple months ago he found me on Facebook and we've chatted a few times, he's made clear several times that he is still not Christian, and he is is perfectly fine being agnostic.. But, he keeps asking me questions.

Today out of the blue he asked me "so, do you think I am going to hell?" I was completely stunned at his bluntness, but I can't pretend half of what I believe doesn't apply so "yes, sorry." But, amazingly it lead into a great conversation and I was able to explain how Christians can be some of the MEANEST people you will ever meet, and sometimes even I as a Christian desire to run them over with my car... He said he could never be a Christian because he drinks, smokes, and swears sometimes... I just laughed and explained that it's not my job to police his life.. I am called to show him love. Once I said that he instantly went into how I am the most loving person he has ever known, and I am the reason he doesn't do drugs anymore...

I was shocked.

When I asked why, and pointed out I haven't talked to him in a long time, or done anything special. He responded with the fact that when he was getting pretty heavy into drugs at one point he began to think about times in his life when he was happy. He said the only time he could think of when he felt cared about and loved was in high school when we would talk or hang out at church. He explained how I am the only person that makes him believe there is a chance Jesus is real, and he appreciates the fact that I'm completely honest, but not screaming at him to know Jesus. We continued to talk and I explained my view on what Jesus has called me to do.. and even though he is screaming in Jesus' face that he isn't His, I am still called to love him and help him when I can. I told him that I am thankful every day that I do not have the job of judging others and their sins.

We talked about gays, and the hatred many Christians express towards them (which makes my heart hurt), we talked about drinking, smoking, swearing, and why I feel my job is to love only. Then he asked if he believed in Jesus would he still go to hell for drinking and smoking and stuff... and much to his amazement I said no, it would mean he has sin in his life like I do. I explained that whether I kick puppies or feed hungry children in Africa neither means I get to Heaven or go to hell... and there is a certain amount of freedom in knowing that my "goodness" is not based on me at all but Jesus. It was a great conversation, and I am so thankful that my parents have always pushed getting to know people for who they are, and for hammering into me that people are what is important.

Can I just say how humbling and completely scary it is to have an agnostic say these things about me.

Oh my sweet Jesus you need to take this one, please speak to his heart. I want him to know you, to feel what I feel. To experience what it means to love you and accept your love. I don't even know where to go with it, and I don't want to say something stupid and mess it up. Please touch his heart.

Dec 9, 2008

What Do You Desire?

So, I was having some serious God time on my way into work today (have I said how much I love my hour drive?!).. I realize the gas it takes to get to and from work every day is a lot.. but I truly love my car time cause it forces me to think.. and that always forces me to talk with God.

My thoughts today centered around What do I desire?... I sorta listen to the same 3 songs every morning (that is if I feel in the mood to hear anything beyond the tires on the road). But, these songs never get old.. Desert Song, Hosanna, and Came to my Rescue.. Today I listened to them as well as Facedown, and just sorta let my mind wander. Once the songs were over, I shut the radio off and I just started talking to God.. I wanted him to hear me and know what I was thinking.. (Obviously he does, but it means more when I actually tell him..)

So, here are my thoughts. I want to KNOW God, and I don't mean just have the head knowledge.. I want to experience Him. I want to be so in His face that regardless of how I'm feeling, angry, sad, happy, joyful, tired, numb, restless, excited, worried, troubled.. anything I want to be in His face whether I'm happy, shouting, crying, whispering, or simply just sitting. I want Him to guide my steps. I need Him, and I truly mean NEED. I feel empty when I'm not close to Him, I feel sluggish and as though I'm dizzy and disoriented. See the thing is, I feel the pull "from the world".. but it doesn't compare to how I feel when I'm in God's face. I want to be David (only without the murder and adultery.. or being a guy :) etc..etc..), I don't want my emotions and what I'm currently fixated on to get in the way of my speaking to my Sweet Savior. I desire to be content. I want to be so close to God that He fills my vision, and everything I see is through Him.

When you boil it down.. I just want Jesus.

I want to be content here, right now. I want to love my journey with Him, not just be focused on the goal. I don't want to miss opportunities or experiences because I was too blind to see where I was and what I should have been doing. I want people to SEE Jesus in me, I want there to be no doubt that I love Him. I don't want to be the person ankle deep in the ocean... I want to be the person rolling in the waves.

I want to see myself as God sees me. I don't want to feel like He messed up cause of whatever whatever, I just want to be able to be so in God's face that even when I look at myself I can see the me He intends for me to be... even when I do mess up.

I want to be in a constant state of living outside my comfort zone cause that is the only time I really let go of my skills, abilities, cautions, and just become flexible, mold-able and let God work using me. I love that feeling when you're amazed cause you KNOW you couldn't do it, and yet looking back you realize you didn't. That's when you feel God and know you're alive.

I desire Jesus alone.

Dec 7, 2008

Really?.. Compassion?...

So, there are these things called Spiritual gifts.. We are all supposed to posses them, but obviously to varying degrees. I took the test once with about 30 other girls to determine what our spiritual gifts are so we could see how we were the body of Christ and how we could aid each other. The test somehow ranked it all the way up to 100.. so, some girls had very low numbers all the way to very high.. each spiritual gift was put on the same scale. I had two tie with a 94 or 97 (it was a few years ago).. those two were encouraging and leading, followed closely (3 points behind) with teaching.. all the way down to my lowest.. at 64 with.. COMPASSION.. haha.. yeah my lowest spiritual gift is compassion. For those of you that know me it's no real surprise.. but it also explains a lot that it's my lowest at 64..

My mom explained it once when I was distraught at the fact that I felt I couldn't show Jesus with Compassion as my lowest gift.. What she pointed out is it's not that I lack compassion all together, just I am not the type who has compassion for everything. Often I will use my other gifts to help others "get out" of their situation. She said I am very compassionate for things that need it (hurting people) but not so much for people I "deem" not deserving (whiners).. Which is true if you whine suddenly my compassion for your situation is gone and I adopt a "suck it up" attitude...

But, then I asked my Sweet Savior to break my heart and I feel different. I still have the "suck it up" attitude when deserved.. But, I've never looked at someone and felt the pain in my heart. I've never heard someone tell me their story or how they are feeling and felt it in my heart... NEVER, I've never experienced that. At first I thought it was just my heart trying to have something tangible to explain my own hurting.. but then last night a friend said they felt numb, and while I didn't know the exact story (cause I didn't ask) I know enough to know what the topic was.. and I hurt, I mean I physically felt it in my chest. The type of pain and hurt that you feel deep down in your heart when it sinks in that you've lost someone you love... And then today someone was telling me their story and I felt it again. It doesn't last forever (praise Jesus I don't think I could handle that), I don't adopt it as my pain and hold onto it.. But, I've never been empathetic this way before. It's... uhm.. very weird to say the least.

A couple nights ago I was talking to a friend and he was telling me how he doesn't feel at all.. he just feels completely numb against God.. Not cause he hates God, but because he's wandered away slowly.. and can't feel Him anymore. I wish I could let him glimpse how I'm feeling. Let it wash over his heart for a moment. Not because I've made it and not because I feel I can solve his problems.. but because I've been there, where I was just going through the motions because I knew I needed to... but I didn't FEEL Jesus at all. I knew He was there because of past experiences, and I knew He was going to be there if I fell.. But, I wasn't feeling Him. I can't describe to you how much I wish I could open his eyes and show my friend the sunset I see...

Dec 6, 2008

I Want Jesus

Ok, so I realize my last several posts have been fairly heavy and serious.. but, as of right now that's what I have so this one will be pretty much the same..

So, it's Saturday.. at this point a week ago I was loading onto a plane in Amsterdam to take the last flight and I'd finally be back in the US. I was tired both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.. The weird thing is my heart still feels exactly like it did then. Last night I got to hang out with the people from the trip and it was so nice.. they get it. They were there. We laughed and talked and looked at some pictures and it was good. It felt like the relief you feel when you put a soothing cream on a burn.. it suddenly doesn't hurt so bad.

It was good that was yesterday cause when I woke up in the morning yesterday I was surprised by how suddenly severe my heart hurt... I seriously wish at this point that I could explain it.. I wish I could give a reason. I'm not sure anyone is quite understanding, especially since I can't explain why.. And, lets be honest I can't even really explain what it is. I do know I've never felt this strong of a visceral reaction from God when I asked for something. I mean I've had answers to prayers and I've felt him before.. But I've never felt it for this long, and I've never been at a loss for words on how to explain it.

What the heck is wrong with me?..

A WEEK LATER and I still feel crushed by the heaviness of my heart. I still want to cry for nothing. I still have the overwhelming desire to just drop everything and leave, go back, go somewhere new.. anything really. The weird thing is it has nothing to do with here.. or home.. I am good at what I do, and I can be here just like anywhere else.. But, for whatever reason I was not MADE for this, here, or home. I don't know why, and I'm sorry for those of you who keep taking it personal when I say I don't want to be here. This has nothing to do with you. This clearly has everything to do with me and me alone. God is speaking to me.. but I feel like right now he's letting me bleed out (in a good way).. You know the type of bleed out where you let the wound bleed for a while so that anything bad would be bled out. That's what I feel like is going on right now.. I'm bleeding so I'll be clean again and be able to heal correctly.

Hmm.. I really hope I figure out soon what's going on, what I'm doing.. and while part of me really hopes that I stop hurting.. part of me is treasuring the fact that a week later I still FEEL it. Especially since I'm not an overly emotional person.. and most of my emotions come and go quickly.. I praise Jesus for my joy despite how I feel.. It's harder to convey joyful right now, but I feel it, it's there.

I want my comfort to be in Jesus.
I want to be guided by Him.
I want to see His plan.
I don't want anything but Him.
I want to know HOW to do these things.
I hate that I have to wait for His timing, which means not right now.

I want Jesus.. that's what I ultimately want cause I feel differently when I have Him. When I feel Jesus my world view is different, I react differently, I see people differently, I have more compassion, and I even see myself differently. It's weird.

I wish so desperately and completely that you get the chance and choose to let Jesus do this for you and in you...

"Seek and you will find.."

Dec 3, 2008

Gentle and Quiet Spirit

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands," 1 Peter 3:3-5

I have always liked this verse, and I've always been fascinated by it and it's concept... But, I've always believed that it didn't apply to me because lets be honest I'm not quiet, and gentle only depending on the situation...

And then Gloria, my roomie in Ghana who had to leave a day early left me a note that said that I have "...an enduring sense of strength and love for adventure, coupled with the gentle and quiet spirit (not mouth, spirit)...." (haha..she obviously understands me a little huh?) I truly think it was one of the most touching things anyone has ever said to me, and it was given to me at the perfect moment.. and I felt it in the very core of who I am. So, then I began to wonder what does this mean and did this verse really apply to me also? I mean I can point to a multitude of women who have these qualities and I always admire them.. My mom being one of the most blatant examples of this in my life.

So, lets break it down then.. what does it mean if I of all women have a Gentle and Quiet Spirit?..

ESV, NIV, and ISV use the words "gentle and quiet spirit"
KJV and YLT use the words "meek and quiet spirit" ... now here's where I have to chuckle to myself because I LOVE the word meek, it's one of my favorite words of all time. In English the word meek means shy, timid, weak, incapable, coward etc..etc.. When actually the word was used to describe war horses and it meant "Power under control"... haha let that sink in for a second... Power. Under. Control. I love the word Meek.

Ok, so lets break down the other words..
Gentle,
Considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender. Not wild or turbulent, polite; refined. (Obviously there are a whole SLEW of other descriptive words.. but this gives you an idea)
Quiet,
Making no noise or sound, esp. no disturbing sound, restrained in speech, manner, free from disturbance or tumult; tranquil; peaceful, free from disturbing thoughts, emotions.. etc..etc..
Spirit,
An attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action. Temper or disposition. The essential nature of a person or group. (Again, there are a whole lot more.. but you get an idea where I'm going with it.)

So, then can this verse describe me?.. I think so. Not all the time, but as a general characteristic of who I am this can now describe me because of who God has been shaping and molding me to be. I'm not sure I could say that about myself even just a few years ago, but I've gone through things that I can see have created some of these characteristics in myself. So.. I seriously give God praise cause he's creating me to be this. He is creating me to be beautiful from the very core of who I am out. So, Lord let my hope be in you so that I can be beautiful the way you made me.

And as a side note... I like how tagged onto the end as part of a beautiful woman is one who is submissive to her husband. I didn't used to like that idea at all... But, the more I'm beginning to understand what that means, the more I really like it, and realize how purposeful and wonderful it would mean to be submissive.

Dec 2, 2008

Vulnerable

vul⋅ner⋅a⋅ble

[vuhl-ner-uh-buhl] –adjective
1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.

This describes how I'm feeling. I've had several people ask yesterday and today how I'm doing.. and a couple I gave the brief 30 second answer cause that was clearly all they wanted. A couple I gave the 2 minutes synopsis of how I'm feeling before they got distracted.. and I rarely bring it back up if they don't remember to return to it.. And then there were the precious couple that asked, listened, and asked for clarification, then sat and listened intently as I stumbled through my thoughts and struggled for words to describe an accurate picture of my heart.

I'm not a fan of being vulnerable because it leaves so much out there waiting to be smashed and stepped on... especially by the unknowing or uncaring. And, I spend so much of my time trying to be strong for others that I don't know how to let others take care of me when it truly matters. The worst is when people by a few flippant words or sarcastic comment hurt you when you're trying to be vulnerable. But, interestingly enough that hasn't happened like I was braced for this time. I was surprised last night by the people who first asked me to share, then asked guiding questions, and lovingly and compassionately tried to hear what I was saying and offer comments and thoughts. Today I was asked how I was doing, and I laughed said well, but was having a hard time describing how I felt.. and instead of the typical "you'll figure it out.." they made time to hear me.. and when we ran out of time they scheduled when we could talk again. I can't express how loved that makes me feel. For someone who is a quality time and touch person.. that's.. there is no price for reactions like that. It's humbling when people express that amount of love towards me, because often I ramble when I'm trying to process and it causes me to revert back to being unable to talk in a linear patterns, which can be frustrating and confusing for some people... and I KNOW I'm doing it but I can't get my mind to work through my thoughts in a linear pattern, so I continue to process in sporadic patterns.

I'm trying so desperately to figure out what God is trying to tell me before the daily grind causes my heart to forget what I feel now. I want to get as much out of it as possible. I mean common if I asked for this.. if I asked to have my heart broken and God to truly touch me because I needed that from him... and he DOES it.. How could I simply let it slip away without doing everything in my power to scribble it onto my heart permanently? What a waste it would be to simply let the feelings pass and chalk it up to another "mountaintop experience."

I don't want to live my life giving God 10% of whatever and hoping he uses it. I want to live my life giving him every ounce of everything I can, and at the end of the day when I'm exhausted knowing God will bless what I've given him because it's everything I had.

Dec 1, 2008

My Crying Heart

At some point I will post a bunch of stories from Ghana.. but for now I just need to talk about my crying heart cause that's what I feel most right now...

When people ask how Africa went I have such a conflict of emotions.. The trip went so well, I loved it, it was different than any trip I've ever done, the team was awesome, I learned things I wasn't expecting, and I watched as Jesus showed up in the little things and big things... And then there's the part where I hurt so terribly inside that I don't want to do anything but cry. Me, the girl who hardly ever cries.. all I want to do right now is cry. Anytime anyone asks about Africa I have to push aside how I feel and the sudden urge to cry and say it went well (which it did). 

The real kicker is I asked Jesus to break my heart and to truly show up so I could FEEL him. And man o man did he do that! But, what I wasn't expecting is to have him do it in a way I can't explain. I have no words for how or why I'm feeling this way. I've never, not once felt this way after leaving a mission trip.. Granted every single time I want to stay, I don't want to go home, and I don't really miss those from home.. But, then I go home and I am so excited to be there and sharing everything with those from home.

The only way I can describe it is my heart is crying. I feel like it's in pieces and broken in my hands, and it's an incredibly vulnerable place to be at the moment because all I want to do is hide with Jesus. I don't want to talk about how I'm feeling. I don't want to tell people about my trip. I don't want to go back to my daily life... All I want to do is proclaim Jesus to those who don't understand his love and righteousness. The thing that I feel just as strongly now is that I can't do that alone. I NEED community and to work as a team, and I feel like I finally understand why.. The whole idea of needing the body of Christ was portrayed CLEARLY for me on this trip. Especially in situations where any one of us could have done something specific and it not be a big deal.. but when I decided to take a back seat to the rest of the group and choose to let them lead in different situations.. we worked flawlessly as a group. Not that I couldn't have done it or they didn't want me to, just that it worked better when we chose to take on different tasks to let Jesus shine. It's the concept that so much more can happen when no one cares who gets the credit... 

Right now at this moment I am hurting. I feel like I'm broken. I have no idea where I'm supposed to focus my attention to. I have no goal to aim towards. I now more than ever despise the typical America dream. I want to do everything in my power to make sure Jesus can use me. And in the midst of all of this I feel like I've been crying inside for days now, and I have no idea how to heal it except spending more time with my Sweet Savior...

I know now that I want to do missions, I don't care what kind, I don't care where, I don't care how.. but I do know that I cannot do it alone and while I'm single. I'm not saying I can't or won't do short term mission trips.. but I want missions to be my life, that's the only time I truly feel alive. The best way I can describe it is I feel like I'm dancing unrestrained and in a beautiful way that only God can truly appreciate because it's for him. I am not saying this as another reason I "want to get married and find my person".. Because I am content right now in that area, I feel like nothing will fill my hole like Jesus (which is true), but I know that regardless of how I feel about a guy, I NEED Jesus.. I don't NEED him. I slowly feel like I begin to wither away when I am not close or as close as I'd like to be with Jesus. I've never felt like I'm withering away without a guy in my life.

So, now where am I?.. I am sitting here with my broken, bleeding, crying heart in my hands. I am trying to reconcile the fact that I ASKED for this.. I just expected to know why I'd be feeling this way. I expected to know what caused it, a specific person, a situation etc..etc.. and instead I'm fighting off tears, and pushing forward when all I want to do is curl up and be left alone. I want Jesus and Jesus alone.. The best thing I can think of is the word Hosanna: "Lord save me because You are mighty and sovereign."

I have no words to truly describe how I feel. I have no way to figure it out. I have nothing except Jesus, and that's all that sounds appealing to me right now.