17 July 2008

congratulations ryan and sara :)

i woke yesterday morning listening to my roommate Sara get ready for school. i just laid there listening to her brush her teeth. i walked into the bathroom we share and as i put in my contacts i noticed how she was just doing the normal get ready for the day routine. i watched as she breathed in and out just like every other day. she had taken a shower and put gel in her hair.

this was a normal day for her.

but this day was going to be different. this day would change her life.

i wanted to shout it to her. especially last night after we had a long conversation about wanting and desiring...about waiting and being patient.

i wanted to scream so loud, "SARA! this is it! it is going to happen TODAY! God is Good and he has GOOD things planned for you today. Ohhhh Sara! i wish you could know! I wish you could see what is in store for you today--all the beauty, ahhh the beauty of today!"

but i caught myself.

i wanted to shout to her, "oh, sweet sweet Sara. i know that last night you were wondering, you were thinking about the man you love and wondering what his plan is. I wish you could see what i see. I wish you knew that Ryan has a GREAT plan! I wish you could see that he has been planning for so long. that he is so excited to BE with YOU! ahh Sara he loves you so much. I want to somehow let you know so that you can stop loosing time thinking about this, so that your mind and heart can rest."

i had to leave the bathroom. i could not contain the knowledge of what was going to happen TODAY.

sara had no clue. no clue at all. her eyes were blind to the great story she was about to be a part of.

the plan was set and it was such a sweet and wonderful plan.

Ryan is in love with her. and has a ring. and a promise. and a love for her that cannot be quenched and so he has decided to ask her to be with him for the rest of her life. to become a part of him. to love him only. to serve him with his whole heart.

o this is too much to handle! to much goodness!

we both went to school. i was glad we both had school today--otherwise i would have burst with the news

i came home for lunch and shared some tuna with Sara. she was normal. normal sara making tuna. little did she know that she would retell every detail of this day over and over again to so many people, even the part about making tuna :)

i could barely eat my sandwich as our conversation turned to family and fathers and husbands and boyfriends...

i could see her mind churning, thinking about Ryan. and i had to stare at the ground to not shout to her

"Sara! in less than 3 hrs you will know! You will be reassured that he desires you and you alone. You will become aware of the plan he has been planning! your eyes will be opened to see! You will be overwhelmed with the grace of our Father, with His faithfulness to you and his promises to you"


but we both finished our lunch and sara left to go back to school.

it wasn't too long after she got back home that the plan quickly unfolded.

I will leave the rest of the detail story-telling up to Sara :) after all this is her story. this is the story of the journey of her love for Ryan.

however, i can't help but see the resemblance between Sara and Ryan and myself and my God.

isn't beautiful that through people. humans who love and are loved by God resemble him and his characteristics.

I can't help but recognize his pursuit of me.

I wake up every morning to a new day. new mercies. new grace. fresh love from my God

I see the his sunrise every morning on my way to school.

I don't want to ever forget.

I don't want to lay in bed wondering if psalm 139 really is true anymore.

I don't want to worry. I am so tired of wasting precious time feeling unworthy and not good enough. why do i doubt the words of my creator?

He has promised me life and life to the fullest (john 10:10)

He has a good plan prepared for us.

i am so thankful that he continues to love me and continues to give me grace

it's as if I can feel him aching for us to know that we are loved. that his plan is perfect. that he knows every intricate detail of our lives. just like i ached all day to scream at sara!

and guess what... God IS screaming to us. loud through the people around us who contain His spirit. and His creation shouts from every mountain and every string of green grass that makes up our world

i pray we begin to honestly believe

i pray that I will honestly find my new identity in the love that my God has for me

13 July 2008

i have to share this with you.

first listen to this:

and also, i just bought this book on amazon and I'm on the edge of my seat to get it in my hands.the name of the book is "Just Courage" , and I encourage you to get it as well. i haven't read it but i'm willing to take the chance and say that both you and I will gain much wisdom from it.

go to www.justcourage.com

please read this...

Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian: Going on the Journey but Missing the Adventure

In different times and in different ways, our heavenly Father offers us a simple proposition: Follow me beyond what you can control, beyond where your own strength and competencies can take you, and beyond what is affirmed or risked by the crowd—and you will experience me and my power and my wisdom and my love.

Jesus beckons me to follow him to that place of weakness where I risk the vulnerability of a child so that I might know how strong my Father is and how much he loves me. But truth be told, I would rather be an adult. I’d rather be in a place where I can still pull things together if God doesn’t show up, where I risk no ultimate humiliation, where I don’t have to take the shallow breaths of desperation.

And as a result, my experience of my heavenly Father is simply impoverished. If I want to stay safe and warm at the visitor center, I don’t get to be with him on the adventure up the mountain. But he says his power is made perfect in my weakness, not in my strength.

Does this mean I need to abandon the things I do well? Do I have to let go of my sources of strength—my gifts, my passions, my training, my expertise? No, I don’t think so. Those are good things from God. I think he simply wants us to take them on a more demanding climb, where we will actually need his help, and where he delights to grant it.

My difficulty is I either would prefer not to desperately need his help, or I would desperately like his help with things that aren’t necessarily of his kingdom. (They are, instead, the things of my kingdom.) In both cases, my Father can’t pour himself out in power because I’m either not asking for it or it would be bad for me. So I’m stuck.

This is why I am so grateful for my experience with International Justice Mission (IJM)— because it gives me a continual experience of my weakness in which God is delighted to show his power. We are a collection of Christian lawyers, criminal investigators, social workers and advocates. We rescue victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression around the world. I started out as its first employee in 1997, and now we have about three hundred full-time staff around the world, most of whom are nationals working in their own communities in the developing world.The journey for me has been incredible, but by far the most joyful, exhilarating and life-altering part has been the authentic experience of God’s presence and power. I have experienced God — and that experience has come in my weakness. God has called us into a battle with violence and aggressive evil that, every day, my colleagues and I know we cannot win without the specific intervention of God. We are forced by our own weakness to beg him for it, and at times we work without a net, apart from his saving hand. And we have found him to be real — and his hand to be true and strong — in a way we would never have experienced strapped into our own safety harnesses.

In concrete terms, what does that desperation look like? For me, it means being confronted with a videotape of hundreds of young girls in Cambodia being put on open sale to be raped and abused by sex tourists and foreign pedophiles. It means going into a brothel in Cambodia as part of an undercover investigation and being presented with a dozen girls between the ages of five and ten who are being forced to provide sex to strangers. It means being told by everyone who should know that there is nothing that can be done about it. It means facing death threats for my investigative colleagues, high level police corruption, desperately inadequate aftercare capacities for victims and a hopelessly corrupt court system. It means going to God in honest argument and saying, “Father, we cannot solve this,” and hearing him say, “Do what you know best to do, and watch me with the rest.” In the end it means taking that risky bargain and seeing God do more than I could have hoped or imagined—setting girls free, providing high-quality aftercare, bringing the perpetrators to justice, shutting down the whole nasty operation, training the Cambodian authorities to do this work themselves and seeing the U.S. government willing to pay for it.

In taking on the forces of aggressive evil, we have found a place where we desperately need our Father’s help, and where he is delighted to provide it. This is not a resignation of my gifts or passions or training, but a deployment of those endowments to a place beyond safety, beyond my ability to control the outcome and beyond my own power to succeed. It’s a place where God is desperately needed and a work in which he delights to engage – for it is his own work.

08 July 2008

well, it is July 8th, and i don't even know how that happened.

after Mexico I spent a couple of days with my family at my sister and her lovely husband's cutsy apartamento and then headed home for a mere 3 and 1/2 days, hardly enough time for me to soak in the beauty that makes up my community there. however, I was blessed to go home for the of July as well. and for proof of a divine day at the lake...

(stephen with his prize* fish)

I am now in the middle of taking my last class at A&M. really? um. yes. and I am slightly choosing not to fully process that right now.

I am living in my wonderful friends' living room--which if anyone out there knows me at all immediately feels sorry for these wonderful friends...my suitcase and belongings have begun to invade the living room space :)

it is obvious that this is a time of beginnings and endings. and this is without a doubt a beginning of a different sort. I really am clueless as to what this is a beginning to. I don't know what will happen next. at all. whatsoever. I do know that I will be leaving on a plane in roughly 5 weeks, and that is about it.

What will fill my time?

What will I DO from the time I wake up till I go to bed?

Who will I be living with?

Who will I be working for?

How much refrigerator space am I going to be allowed to take up?

What will my room look like?

Will there be a church near?

Who will be the people around me during the day?

Will I really be wearing a business professional EVERY day? is that even possible...?

I would be lying if I said that I am not scared. I am. but somehow not knowing any details is somewhat freeing in an ironic and beautful way. it has freed me up to concentrate more fully on my time here in Texas. there is a reason that God has not revealed to me His plans just yet. I am here right now today and I am convinced and convicted that it is not to over think the future, even the immediate future that seems increasingly unclear. I desire to be present. Presently soaking in and appreciating my time with the people who surround me because in reality all i have is today.

"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?...do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. " [matt. 6]

...and now begins the ramblings.

I will be honest. as wonderful as it has been to come home. to be in the arms of my family. to cook with my mom. to watch my Daddy in his element. to sit on the couch with blaire. to laugh hysterically and then cry in the next moment with juliette. to watch and listen and learn from Sara.

it has been hard recently.

it is not easy to be here in complete comfort after Jesus carried me on an adventure of witnessing needs of great magnitude. i'm not saying comfort is wrong. i am saying comfort is hard because i forget quickly what I experienced and what I saw.

It is hard for me to even begin to talk about the orphanage this summer. I think the Lord allowed my mouth to be practically incapable of speaking in the past couple of weeks in order to draw me to talking to God. praying and meditating about my experiences has become second nature, and that is such a praise. something that recently I am overflowing with thankfulness for. I fail so often at praying continually. I look to people to understand me and the Lord is teaching me to run to him, to seek him, and to depend on him. he is my portion.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:5-11

what I am most fearful of concerning the future... becoming complacent. becoming apathetic. slowly. gradually without realizing it. regardless of where i live or the place i am--i never want to not see the suffering around me. i never want to become so wrapped up in my life, my things, my house, my job, my family, my money, my time, my clothes, and become blind to the hurting around me. I want to use my house, my job, my family, my money, my time, and my clothes for others.

but that is what the world around me is all about. the world around me screams at me constantly that my life is about me. that my life is about making myself happy. about being comfortable. about having nice things for myself.

I already see it happening ever so slyly in my actions. how quickly I turn from the things the Lord revealed to me only a few weeks ago. I constantly sympathize with Paul. Constantly cry out that the things I do are not the things I want to do. the things i desire in my flesh are not at all the things i desire in the deepest part of me. there is a war ragging. and The Way Jesus has called me to live is not a popular way. not a way that many follow. not a way that makes much sense to this world.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
matt 7

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave

matt 20

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
proverbs 14

Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
luke 12

Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him], Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
...Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
ephesians 4

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
matt. 5

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
james 1

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
matt. 25

i simple want to embody this. i want to embody what i sing about at church. i want to embody the way that Jesus came to show us how to live.

not looking to be on the top but instead looking to serve all

not loving others like i hate myself, but loving others like i love myself.

not buying things here on this earth that are devoid of meaning because eventually they will all be destroyed.

not placing my significance and happiness in what i possess.

not getting a job so that i can have more money and more things for myself. but working instead so that i will have more to give away. realizing that i am the hands and feet of my master here to do his will--asking always how much of God's money should I keep for myself?

these decisions might not be the most popular or the safest choicest to make.

"Here is one choice that our Father wants us to understand as Christians – and I believe it is the choice of our age. Do we want to be brave or safe? Gently, lovingly – our heavenly Father wants us to know that we simply can’t be both."— Gary Haugen

this is the way i am called to live. i am called to give up my life. i am called to die everyday to myself and take up my cross. i am called to be a servant to my God, to relinquish all my rights, to live using my talents, my money, my time, my love not for myself. i am by no means saying this is easy. it's not. i know because I fail at it over and over again, but I am striving for this.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't even know if I will ever live in Texas again. (wow, that's a crazy thought...) I don't know what I will be doing on Aug. 19th. but I do know that there is an urgency in my heart to meditate and know the way in which i am called to walk. because I know I am about to step out into a world that I am an alien to, that continually tugs at my flesh, that begs of me to give in, that is tempting, that looks so good and so right at times, but will always lead to death.