I recently followed a list of random blogs to one in particular of a woman that goes to my church who works with refugees. She mentioned a book that talked about how it is important for refugees to remember where they came from, to remember who the Lord created them to be, not as a typical working white class American, but who they are in spirit and heart. Part of how she helps refugees to do this is to write a poem about where they are from.
I liked this idea. I started thinking about how most days, I feel like a refugee. Someone set apart, feeling like I don't know this world, and like I was made for something greater. That the Place I came from looks very different from the world I see in front of me everyday. Although the routine feels familiar, the canvas looks nothing like I remember. And it feels lonely. So painfully lonely. Sometimes little pieces of my dreams are chipped away at day by day, and I have to hold so tightly to them. To fight for the treasures in my heart. So, I thought I would write my own I Am From poem...
I Am From...
A place where joy and laughter is treasured
And practiced often.
A place of freedom and adventure
Taking off on the bikes all day,
Splashing and following the
Ripples of the creek.
Lots of cousins and family
A land of dress up,
Where I was treasured
And called beautiful.
Where imaginations were encouraged to go wild
A place of unconditional love
Of loving discipline
Puddle splashing in rainstorms
Sitting on the porch
Picking up pecans
"Forts" made of old beat up sheets
A place where music thrived
And creativity roused
Hide and Go Seek
Jumping on the trampoline
Various bumps and bruises
That spoke of an adventurous life
Where dreams were made real
Where life is simple
Love given freely
and Love accepted freely
What happened to that world? My heart longs for it, and more. So much more.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I am definitely stealing this from Beth Moore, but it was so beautiful I couldn't think of a better way to rewrite it.
He is Jesus.
The One and Only.
Transcendent over all else.
To know Him is to love Him.
To love Him is to long for Him.
To long for Him is to finally reach
soul hands into the One true thing
we need never get enough of.
Take all you want.
Take all you need.
Till soul is fed.
And spirit freed.
Till dust is dust.
And Face you see.
He is all you need.
Now back to my own words. Never has there been a name sweeter or more important to me than His.
No other name has the power to break down the walls of my heart so instantaneously or bring healing so immediately, or comfort so closely. When I am hurting and I think it impossible to climb out of the darkness, He meets me in His goodness and glory. When I think I don't have the strength to endure, I receive grace and power to endure anyways.
It makes me question how we don't speak His name to each other more often. His name is life to me, I'm desperate for more of Him. I'm craving for Him to satisfy me until I am even more in need of Him. And although i realize that this is a season of my life that I've needed Him like no other, I pray that longing will always be as necessary as it is today, right now.
And as I've served and loved some of the most broken and hurting women and children I've ever met in both America and Zambia, I have had the opportunity to witness His name at work. I've seen a mother of three, whose husband has just died, abused by her mother, jobless, broken and living in absolute poverty lose it over the name of Jesus.
I've seen a drug addict, completely strung out, begging for someone...anyone...to love her. And I've seen her come to tears and receive joy and peace because she was told that Our Lord is close to the broken hearted. That Jesus sees her as beautiful, desirable and honored, precious and wants to restore her life to rightness with her Savior.
I don't know what happens to alot of these women when our lives go their own directions, but I can't help hope that just a small dropling of Christ's ultimate love will down the road turn into a beautiful rainstorm, and all His glory will be poured out on their lives.
And I'm thankful that I have Jesus to heal and restore my own life. Because more and more everyday, I realize how broken I really am. As the psalmist says, "I have become like broken pottery." And that's where He meets me, everyday. Slowly but surely, putting me back together. You are beautiful, Jesus and I love you.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Click here to read the story of a man who gave his life to barbarians so they could know Christ...
Also, Thomas Cahill's, "How the Irish Saved Civilization" has been on my to read list for about two years.
Also, Thomas Cahill's, "How the Irish Saved Civilization" has been on my to read list for about two years.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
This is one of the most fabulous documentary's I've seen. Perhaps it is because it so vividly depicts the African culture, or because it makes me long for heaven, or because their culture inspires me to how all lovers of Christ should live while here on earth. But I highly recommend it. I believe there is also a book, which I will probably be reading but haven't yet. But I am thankful for my time in Africa, and for the friends I've met there. Because they have enlarged my vision of what I want my own life to look like. I want to live not only for Christ, but for others too. So here are some of my dreams that I want to share with you.
1) I want to be married one day. I don't always think things will be bright and rosy, but I want to be in this mission that Christ has placed in my heart with someone. And I want to love others with someone. I want the way we love each other, and those around us, to be a beautiful reflection of Christ.
2) I want to have babies. And I want to adopt babies. I don't know how many, but I do love me some children.
3) I would one day like to own a big house, and invite a few singles and a family of African refugees to live with me and my family, and make a bigger family that shares culture, Christ, suffering, happiness and fun. I want to live that picture of heaven while I am here on earth, and beg the Lord to one day give me that opportunity.
4) I want to have lots of people around, and make them breakfast and dinner...everyday. I love to cook, and feed people. And I love community that happens around a yummy meal. I want to celebrate life in Christ, everyday with the people I love the most.
Call me simple. There is not a greater dream to me in the world. I want to bring a very tiny piece of heaven to earth.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Yesterday I was reflecting on how blessed I am, and how much favor the Lord has been bestowed upon me. Sometimes in walking through the deserts of life, we forget the immense periods of blessing and those times in life when God has been so clear and extravagant in His love towards us. I try my best to write them down, so that I can go back and read them, but that skill still has much to be perfected.
Thank you Jesus:
1) The incredible joy, love, wonder and awe that is stirred in me when I read about the nations, watch international news, or read stories from international missionaries. AND of course, when I reflect on my time in Zambia. There is nothing more beautiful than cultures coming together under the name of Christ.
2) That God has given me an incredible career where I am able to love and bless people in a personal, direct way. And that it FREQUENTLY requires me to clothe myself in humility. That my boss is a fellow believer and that my job actually seems like an extension of ministry because I know I work with people who see my office as a mission field. Thank you Dr. Garza, and thank you Kathy (you are beautiful) for being such an encouragement to me everyday.
3) For my own biological family that loves me unconditionally and is there for my every need. Thank you for laying down your own lives to serve me.
4) The incredible joy and gift it is as a single to live with a family that LOVES Jesus and wants to make Him an everyday part of their life. That through them, God has done something new in me. He has moved my heart towards marriage and love of family that I had not previously known. And although those desires are still wanting in my own life, I thank God for showing me the beauty of them through this family. Greg and Patricia, thank you for being such a beautiful example of Christ in your marriage and parenting. Thank you for taking me in as one of your own, you will never know how you have blessed me!
5) To Krysta, Kelsi, and Kayla. Thank you for being the sisters I never had. For loving me everyday with your beautiful smiles, hugs, notes and laughter. And for allowing me to love and encourage you. I pray for you often, that you would know the complete and utter joy of being satisfied in Christ.
6) Dr. Garza and his wife had a fundraiser for their trip to the Dominican Republic. Even though it was quite chilly outside, I had the privilege of sitting on their lawn, listening to three amazing musicians: Gina Chavez, Aaron Ivey and of course Dr. Garza's band. It was a beautiful night of praise and worship of our King, and I find myself so thankful to live in a country where we can express our love for God loudly and openly without persecution.
7) I am even thankful for the many deserts I have walked through over the last year and a half. Although difficult, and through shedding many tears, I have been ruined for Christ. Let's take a look at the word ruined. It means, "a person at the wreck of his or her former self, the act of destroying totally." Every day, Christ continues to destroy what is lacking in purity, unholy and displeasing to Him and rebuilding the ruins of my heart and mind. And so it is, Christ wants to totally remake each of us into something that is a beautiful reflection of Him and I am thankful that although sometimes painful, He never lets go of me.
8) For my beautiful community, who are extravagant in their love for me. Thank you for continuing to point me to Christ, lifting me up in prayer, encouraging me, and making me laugh. I love you all so dearly.
The list could go on, but I fear it might go on forever. In recounting God's blessings, how could I ever doubt His goodness to me? How about you, how has God favored you recently?
I LOVE Sundays. Sundays are my days. Every other day it is my joy to pour out all that I am to hopefully radiate the glory of Christ where ever I go. But Sundays are completely and wholly mine. My time to meet with God, be romanced by Him, enjoy Him and find myself in Him. There is nothing better than being behind closed doors with the Lover of my soul. And as an additional bonus, I have the house all to myself today because Patricia and Greg went on vacation, the girls are with their mom and Noah is at Aunt Stacy and Uncle Trent's.
Today I have been reading about God's planting. Isaiah 61 says,
"They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."
I stopped to ponder exactly what it meant to be an oak of righteousness. Honestly, God comparing me to a tree doesn't exactly make my heart quiver with excitement (even though I am a naturalist and do love trees). And a descriptor of righteousness doesn't quite seem to fit most days. But that last part, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor made me want to leap out of my chest. The word display and also splendor in Hebrew is the word Pa'ar. Here are some of the definitions: to embellish, beautify, adorn, to glorify, to be glorified, to bring honor, give honor, to boast. Can you believe that? God's extravagant love. It never ceases to amaze me. He makes me beautiful. He adorns me with honor and glory. Not my own glory, but His. He boasts about me. He brags about me and shows me off to people. Then I began to think this verse maybe didn't sound so bad. So, I decided to look a little further.
They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does, he prospers.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
I love God. He says that I am like an oak of righteousness. That my soul is a deep well submerged in Christ. My roots grow deep, and at their deepest place they are fed by the Living spring. And that Living spring never dries up, even in times of trouble.
It's not easy to lay down my life every day for Christ, and to give Him Lordship over all of my thoughts, longings, desires, fears, worries, and anxieties. But when I do, He promises that the favor He produces through my life will not wither, it will be ever producing because He is planting in me the display of His splendor. I love the verse, it has no worries in a year of drought. I find myself consumed by daily worries at times, and it is a miserable place to be. In the presence of Jesus, in complete surrender is when I find quiet rest. He is faithful to create this in us because He wants to be glorified. He wants His splendor to be displayed. Because His beauty is perfect beauty, and it shines forth.
How about you? How does it create worship in you to know that God plants you as an oak of righteousness? What does it mean to you that He is the one that does the planting? Sit back and enjoy the work that only Christ can do.