31 December 2008

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoners,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day,
in every way,
in all that we do and in all that we say.

Then the work of Christmas begins.

poem by Howard Thurman

30 December 2008

pondering Christmas...a few days late, i know ;)

truly he taught us to love one another

his law is love and his gospel is peace

chains shall he break

for the slave is our brother

and in his name all oppression shall cease

familiar song?

"Oh Holy Night" is one of my favorite Christmas carols! My sister and I used to dance to this song at church in our Christmas play often growing up. yep, dance. we aren't pro dancers to say the least but for some reason we gave it a try ;)

I can't even fathom how many times i have seen these words printed on a hymnal in front of me or projected onto a wall during a worship service.

But, this year these words have hit me quite differently, different than they ever have before. unfortunately, over the years, this familiar song has become all too 'familiar'. so commonly sung and hummed that the words i am actually speaking have gone unnoticed by my heart and mind. How did I just mindlessly read over these lyrics year after year... well, this Christmas they have come alive to me in a whole new way.

I sang this song for the first time this Christmas season about 3 weeks ago in our prayer time at work. As I sang the words unconsciously, my voice suddenly stopped at the line, "chains shall he break..."


my mind quickly traveled to the stories I have heard over the past 3 months while working with IJM (international justice mission). exposure to these stories have quite honestly changed my life forever. stories of slaves in India, freed. stories of tiny 5 year old girls who were bound in brothels, freed. stories of vulnerable women in Africa regaining their property and belongings that were ripped away from them by those more powerful than themselves.


my mind sat still on the thoughts of my chains. how grateful i am that i do not have physical chains on me right now. i could not once even begin to imagine myself in that situation. that is a world so far from mine...why God placed me here in this body in this place in life--i cannot quite fully answer. yet, indeed a form of chains exist in my life. how tightly my selfishness bounds me at times. how my desire for the pleasures of this world controls my mind and body. how sometimes i feel so wrapped up worry and negative thoughts that i feel constrained and consumed.

but then He came.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Chains Shall He Break...

it was as if i had never heard this line before, and it made me want to scream and shout and dance all at the same time!

he HAS come. he HAS freed me. and he IS presently releasing captives and the oppressed from their literal physical chains today as well--i've heard their stories first hand!

The spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

familiar words?

these are words Jesus quoted in Luke from the prophet Isaiah. This was the very beginning of his ministry, some of the first words he spoke out loud. I must have read these words or have heard them read aloud a multitude of times, yet, unfortunately they have become a little too familiar to mean much of anything. they hit me quite differently this Christmas. When thinking about Christmas, of course I think about Jesus...

HOW he came.

in the body of a vulnerable newborn baby. in a filthy barn filled with animals and horrid smells. he came to be WITH us. to be near us. to be beside us. to be flesh, like me and you. to walk the streets we walk. to be a God that knows our struggles and our pains. to be a God who can relate with every aspect of our lives. to be a God that does not stand far away from the chaos of this world but he brought himself close. he came to the dirtiest, stinkiest, lowliest place. he came humbly without pretense. he came through his creation. he was concieved inside of his creation Mary. he came to be IN us, to work THROUGH us.

he came to be Emmanuel, God with us.

WHY he came.

Jesus makes this so obvious. Sometimes the devil lies to me and tells me that God is an awful communicator. Perhaps it might be easy to believe that the God who created the moon, the stars, all the galaxies, the oceans, the wonders of the world, your newborn baby, my lungs, the forests, the billions of blades of grass, and chocolate oatmeal no-back cookies (!)...perhaps this God is lacking in communication skills.

no way! he is a wonderful , splendid communicator. unfortunately, i am an awful listener. or rather, i choose not to listen. but He speaks. and i think these first words speak why

he came.

to proclaim good news to the poor.
to proclaim liberty to the captives.
to recover the sight of the blind.
to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor forever.

he came to give us LIFE ABUNDANTLY. (john 10:10)

i am learning so much right now about WHY he came. i admit, it perplexes me greatly. it is basically insane to think that God came here. He came here to give me life? Life is made up of so much: physical, spiritual, emotional...and he came to give us abundance in each area of life.

i am asking him to reveal to my heart again Why he came. i am asking him to re-open my eyes to the story i have heard since i was even an unborn child in momma seyberts womb. this story of him coming can become all too familiar and that familiarity can rob me of so much. the answer to this question is so important to me. because if we are living our lives to look like Jesus (..right?) then the reason he came, is possible the reason we exist as well. we are trying to look like him, act like him, speak like him, embody God to the world (...right?).

so why am I here?

why are you here?

why did WE come into this world? maybe to be in the chaos.... to be with people in the midst of the pain of life. to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us. God has come inside of me as a believer for a reason. he has inpregnanted me, much like he did Mary.He is in me. i should break some chains! I should release some prisoners! i should go to the places that might be dirty and stinky and lowly and small and not popular or prominent. maybe i am here to proclaim liberty to those living in captivity (both physical and emotional)...

hmmmm o dear all these thoughts about the deep questions of life...just roll with me

and go eat some chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies while you ponder :)

19 December 2008

in one week?

how many planes could i possibly be on in one week?


unbelievable insanity.

and how much could happen in one week?

leave internship program
graduate from college
see friends and family for first time in almost 4 months
start new job
train for new job
have no place to live
look for place to live
fill out 1000000000 forms/paperwork (exaggeration but almost accurate)
move all my personal belongings 2x
carry around the essentials with me in suitcase everywhere i go (when you never know where you will be sleeping...)

i am very very thankful. this has been one of the best weeks of my life. seriously! i could write a book of all the hilarity. i lay in bed and laugh out loud at the unpredictable misfortunes and wipe away tears with thoughts of all the wonderful blessings.

flying home to Texas again tomorrow (: smile smile smile :)

"But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?
He does what he wants, when he wants to.
He'll complete in detail what he's decided about me,
and whatever else he determines to do." [job 23:13-16--the message]

09 December 2008

On the road again.

The tossing around of garments in the dryer. A warm pile of whites beneath my toes. The empty suitcase. Lotions, shampoo, toothpaste in the corner. What’s the allowable liquid amount again? I can never remember.


Nice to see you again, although why’s it always so late when I prepare for you?

I leave for the airport in two days. That doesn't seem like too short of a time, but I am supposed to pack up everything I own here by tomorrow (i think)... And yes, my suitcase and my hanging clothes thing and my other suitcase now sit naked across my floor. I feel slightly paralyzed because I do not honestly believe it is possible to get everything out the door packed neatly in little boxes.

There’s something about packing at late hours that attracts me. Maybe it’s that I’m disorganized, but I’m not so convinced. I love the silence.

The time to think and anticipate the coming days with faces I don’t often get to see. Something about folding wilted laundry into perfect squares (Okay, that’s a big fat lie. There’s no folding when I pack. One and only one motion occurs: the glorified shove.) while simultaneously planning when it will be worn, around whom, and in what circumstances. Packing cards to give to those who I desire to write a note to. A really good juicy pen. if you don't know what i mean...the difference between a juicy pen and a plain old regular pen is kind of like the difference between a mac and a dell. the mac is simply smoother. you want to touch the keys. it makes you excited to type and work and produce something--just like a good juicy pen :)

I love the silence because my anticipation of travel…the people, the meals, the sights, the love…keeps me company while I pack.

Well, it's off to Texas for only a few short days. but a few days that I will cherish every minute of...

off to graduate from college

to see friends and family

to breath in the, dare I say 'beloved' Aggieland air

to squeeze my Daddy's neck

to snuggle with my Momma on the couch

Oh Praise the Lord! I thought I'd never say it...

Texas, my Texas, I'm coming home to you.

05 December 2008

the city that never sleeps :)

is it too late to update about Thanksgiving...?

i know i'm a week late but i went to New York City and wanted to share! I traveled with fellow IJM staff and interns...we stayed in a hostel and roamed the city for 4 days :)

a quick pictorial history of my time in the BIG APPLE!

i've watched this on TV for years and it was so much fun to see it in person!

we woke left around 5:30 to stake out a good spot on the curb! Four hours, a hundred oversized balloons and teenage starts later...we were exhausted!

We found a real authentic Mexican food stand on the side of the road near 5th Avenue...the cooks were from Puebla and it was phenomenal (and cheap!)

spent the next morning in central park playing in the leaves!

i found my new yogurt love. pink berry! i had heard all about it and finally got to try it!

New York Stock Exchange!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge!

New York City!

famous magnolia cupcakes (...although i had never heard of them before...)

This was my first Thanksgiving away from home....although NYC was an incredible experience, it comes in second place to good ole Daingerfield in my book.

i'm pretty sure i first tasted homesickness when these two girls came to visit me...

My big sis and friend Whitney came to la capital just deep enough into my internship to kinda make me wish i could jump on the plane with them...

I am very excited to come home, yet I am also very sad to leave.

This next week is full. future life/job decisions will be made, i will attend the IJM D.C. banquet and say goodbye to my fellow interns who have become my dear friends, i will move back to Texas on Friday and see friends and family i haven't seen for 4 months, on then on Saturday i will graduate from college...

yep, full week :)