Monday, September 10, 2012

Boxed-Out


To be gifted by God. I now stand with one leg outside of the box. The view from here is strange, new, refreshing. My world has taken on a new dimension I am now more aware of than before. To be gifted by God. Wow. What an honor. Each one of us is given a specific spiritual gift from the Creator. Paul talks about these gifts in Romans and 1 Corinthians: "wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues."* These are just to name a few. Some we encounter on a daily basis in the presence of certain people and others such as miraculous acts, distinguishing between spirits, and interpretation of tongues we don't recognize or even have knowledge about. Or at least I didn't. Until two days ago, I hadn't realized the magnitude of the box in which had been limiting the actuality of God in my mind. The box I had built with my human perceptions and with the help of the religious society I have grown up in. The box grows larger each day. In this instance, the box had been limiting my awareness of actions done by the Giver's hand such as the apportionment of gifts. In the aftermath of the Fall, we seek to find our box, something defining, tangible. We seek to put names to things and ourselves, but when we run out of names, we are afraid-thus building ourselves a box. Defining God within our box of tangible and named actions and attributes is a safe and predictable picture. When it comes to sharing with others about God it is pretty easy to scrounge around inside our box and pick out a few attractive pictures and stories, but when it comes to our personal relationship, our ability to meditate on the Creator's voice is muffled, our box becomes claustrophobic. The Creator and the gifts of his hands aren't in a box. Looking beyond our needs for definement we begin to see the gifts of others and how great the possibilities are for our own state of being, because God isn't fully manifested in a box, but in the power and beauty of being Creator. It's something I fail to express in words. I've sat here for 7 minutes trying to and I can't. it's a bit abstract I confess, but just stop and think of the wonders of God's power beyond what we are capable of naming! Beyond our box!

One side of my box was shattered two days ago by a person who shared with me their gift. And it hit me after listening for an hour about their gift: our impact on the world hinges on our awareness and ability to take ownership and grasp the gift the Creator is etching our names into. Embracing it we become a manifestation of Light. Embracing it we stand with both feet outside of the box.

*Referencing Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rain

(written on May 22, 2012)

It's one of those days when the rain is pouring so hard you feel safe and secure and completely content to be inside, but not because of indifference or fear of the rain, but you feel like the rain is matching your heart in rhythm and action. Some would then ask, "Why is your heart sad?" And I would reply simply, "It's not, I just feel safe." The earth is soaking in its deliciousness as does my soul. The deep colored clouds reflect the fading light as water streams and pools below and I rejoice. I rejoice for the clouds are about to break in my own life and relationships for the storm has been here for awhile - passively waiting...waiting...always waiting, never breaking. Somehow I know when the clouds do break there will be pain, there will be understanding, there will be sorrow, but there will be healing. How do I know this? Peace whispers to me as a crashing wave resounds on the sand, but I feel peace all the same as it says, "You are here for such a time as this...I brought you here...I gave you understanding and perception for a reason." My heart swells with anticipation of the risk, but holding onto the truth: good will come. It always does. Good will come. My heart sings and yearns for that time of good! Jesus, heal quickly. Courage to speak. Wisdom to listen. Please, be my Strength. I don't have any more. The rain is just a trickle now and the sky is still dense with color, but I rejoice for the rising of the sun in the morning. Confidently I will wait with hope for the morning, knowing it will come, knowing it will be glorious, delicate, and beautiful, and life-giving. I'm holding on and I won't let go, I'm on my knees, please use me now. I don't know why you've given me eyes to see, but Jesus be the healing power instead of me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fill Me Up

How many times have you sat in your room, a sanctuary, or gone outside and have actually, genuinely talked to God out loud before? Where your voice is the only thing audible in the silence that surrounds you. I don't know if I could even count the times that I have done this on one hand. There is so much vulnerability that happens when I converse with my Creator which for me makes it so much harder to do. When you finally break down the barrier of doubt and fear it is like emptying your soul, baring your heart, painting all that is within your being onto a canvas for the Alpha and Omega of the universe. And all I can say when this happens is, "Fill me up." I'm empty of myself. Fill me up.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Here & There

"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot




Wherever I am I should be all here. That's what Elliot is saying, right? But I wonder to myself what does this look like? feel like? Does it mean wherever I am my mind and heart should always be focused in the here and now? What is "here" for us? I'm going to share what I understand "here" to be...
Being here is when I watch tears fall down the cheeks of someone who allows their heart to break for what breaks God's heart.
I see it in the wonder that fills a 13 year-old's eyes as she tries to wrap her mind around a God who is so big, but still understands in her own way that He is a personal being.
I hear it in the honesty that comes from the heart and voice of the person sitting next to me in a sanctuary as they sing accolades to the One who is here.
Being here is not always a place of contentment or solace.
I perceive it, but do not begin to pretend to understand as I see it in the face of a returned student missionary who is aware of their here and of their there.
I hear it in the way God whispers "be still" when my mind is filled with places not of here.
I don't pretend to comprehend the breadth of meaning that Elliot's quote encompasses, but I understand in my own way what it could define in my own life. I think it has to do with recognizing the time and place where we are currently in life and taking the time to stop and take inventory of the change happening all around and inside of us. Slowly I'm beginning to grasp the concept as I look at the world around me and suddenly it hits me: here is the place in my heart that connects deeply with my Creator for He is the one who has placed me here for a reason. But here only lasts for a second then we are on to the next place while the world is still turning. Here is a fleeting, but precious and yet ever present gift from our Creator.
I experience it when I look at a sunset and am exposed to its fleeting glory. This display of colorful brilliance is a painted message from God to me saying, "Tomorrow will come and yesterday already has, but look! here is a beautiful moment to live in and this is the beauty you experience when you stop and embrace the gift of this moment I have given you."
I live it when I am in-step with God, because God is the definition of the here and now as well as beginning and end, but because He knows the end from the beginning, He can be here. With that realization I strive to be in tune with the God who is in the here and now. I believe in a God who accepts our struggles, but wants us to be in the here loving the people around us with our hearts in tune with the longing to be in the there with Him someday, so they might be there with us also.
Wherever I am, I want to be all here. This is my prayer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Utopia as of Two Days Ago


            As I sit in my room, it is late afternoon and the dwindling sunlight is still casting a faint glow on my desk and I can hear a scream from my open window. The scream is one that starts high and falls low in pitch and I know that, because of this scream that I hear, someone is hurting. An ambulance has just told me.
            Come, travel back in time with me to two days ago; to a world that from now on, from October 21 to the present- is perfect. My friend has not just told me that her grandfather is dead, and there is no pain on her face. She is smiling and laughing with me as we climb into a van full of girls headed to Portland for a fun weekend. My view from the front seat of the car is filled with lush, green fields sprinkled with wild flowers-the sunlight glistens off of the Columbia River and sends sparkles of light into the air. Although it is currently fall, the trees stay the same orange, red, and golden colors all year round. I look over at my roommate who is in the driver’s seat and flash a smile. She smiles back and I am content, because in this perfect world where the trees are always colorful and the grass is always green, I know that our friendship will last.

            I am home now in Vancouver and my mom smiles and gives me a big hug when she sees me. I walk inside my house and find it to be immaculately clean; free of clutter.  It is good to be home. Outside my bedroom window there is no longer a neighbor’s backyard to look into for my view, but a field spotted with colorful trees to dot its landscape.
            As I drive to church the next morning, the car passes by the corner where a man used to sell fruit every Saturday, but now the corner is empty, because no one on earth now has to sell things on the street just to keep food on the table for their family. Everyone is well fed and knows not what hunger is anymore. You might ask how people get this food and how previously famine wrought countries have solved this problem, and the explanation is that the United States and Europe have solved this by reducing their consumption of food products in grocery stores. That night my mom takes me to the grocery store and gives me a personalized list of grocery items and amounts that are made specifically for me and my diet. My doctor has issued me this list based on my personal food preferences, weight, and height. The list gives me the amounts of particular items that I am allowed to buy for that week. The amounts are just enough to satisfy my nutritional needs. Each person in that grocery store had a list that was like mine, except that is personalized for them, that way no extra food is wasted by our society just because we can afford to buy more.
            Later that night, my family and I are walking down the lighted streets of downtown Portland headed for one of my favorite stores: Powell’s Books. Usually this store is filled with all kinds of books and people. Tonight as I browse the shelves, there are no titles that I am embarrassed to read and there are no homeless people walking through the store with their backpacks on trying to keep warm by appearing to browse the shelves. You see, homeless people have been sent to work as missionaries or pioneers to the most remote jungles in South America. Each has been given a notebook, pen, and a small camera to record and research what and who they find. I predict that Powell’s Books will someday be filled with books documenting these people’s findings. I look forward to that day when I can read about their adventures, but until then I will continue to enjoy reading classic literature about worlds that are not perfect.
            Returning home from our Portland escapade, I reach for my cell phone and dial my friend’s phone number. She answers the phone and I can tell that she is happy, because the laughter that she shares with me during our conversation tells of her happiness. Never was she sad because of a family death. Never did she have to grieve the loss of a loved one this weekend, because death is no longer a part of the cycle of life. So, you may ask, people live forever? As of two days ago, yes. Until Jesus makes His grand entrance back to earth to save us, then we humans do not need to fear death anymore, because the air and our bodies have been purified from all toxic and potentially harmful bacteria.
            Hanging up the phone, I smile to myself as I realize how wonderful it is to hear a smile in my friend’s voice and to know that, from here on out, is how it will remain. Happiness is evident in all things. The whole world, it's people and it's landscape, seems to be a place of joy. And now, as I sit at my desk in my room in College Place with the faint glow of the late afternoon sunlight playing on my desk, I know that I won’t hear a scream from my open window, for there is no one hurting. There is no ambulance. 

*This was an assignment that I did for my college writing class this quarter. I originally wrote this on October 23, 2011.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Home

{selected} Definitions of "home":
1. the place where one lives
2. the place where one was born
3. central
4. at ease
Many people think of "home" as a central place where they reside permanantly. I on the other hand have many homes. In the past 5 months I have lived in 3 different "homes". The definition of "home" that I can relate to the most is the 4th one: "at ease". Home is where I feel safe and content.
Big Lake Youth Camp is one of those places where I feel safe and content. Some people are afraid to walk through dark places at night, because they feel insecure or vulnerable, but for me at Big Lake I never feel any of those feelings. I love to look up at the thousands of stars that shine so brightly there and listen to the water lap against the shore. I feel protected from the outside world and yet we still encounter every day problems from the outside world through the children who come to our camp with burdens resting on their young hearts. I think one of the biggest reasons kids come to camp is to have a week in a safe place where they don't have to encounter the happenings of their every day lives. Where they can have fun and sleep peacefuly at night.

Last month, when we at BL were evacuated due to a nearing forest fire in the area, I realized how safe I have felt working/living there during the summer. As we were driving away from camp and looking at the smoke over the ridge of Mt. Washington, I prayed to God for His protection. I knew He would protect it, I had no doubt, but that night as I climbed into bed; safe and sound after a long day, I cried myself to sleep, because I couldn't think of a safer place where God has been more evident in my life than at BL. I wanted so badly for that place to be preserved for others to have that experience as well.

Now, a month later, I live in College Place, WA where I am attending Walla Walla University. This place is now my home. I am content and "at ease" here. Life is good. What my eyes have been opened to the most over the past few months is how much God is in control of our lives. Moving from place to place, friends, family, and my personal struggles have all been in His hands. My eyes have been wide open to this experience, this phenomenon that I don't have to have it all figured out, because for me, especially recently, God has shown me and experienced with me this discovery of vulnerability where I give it to Him. 

Now, this doesn't mean that I don't worry about things in my life, because I do. I wake up in the middle of the night and often wonder what in the world am I doing here, taking this major? Why did I say yes to that? But because I have put my trust in God, He is quick to remind me that I am where He wants me to be. And for me that has made all the difference on my perspective of where I understand "home" to be for now. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

.Stop.



Stop. Yes, you heard me: stop. Stop what you are doing (which is reading) and close your eyes for a few seconds, or minutes, or hours, or however long you just want to sit there.
Okay, now that you have paused for a moment, think about how you felt with your eyes being closed. Did you feel stressed, agitated, anxious? I hope not. I hope you felt peace, understanding, and relaxed. If you really think about it, how many times in the day do we just stop? If you are a human being then not much. For me, stopping is a necessity that I may not always acknowledge. Things like sunsets, starry nights, walks by the river are ones that make me stop and listen. I listen to the silence, to God, to my heart. It's hard to actually want to stop. I think we as humans fear stopping in the midst of our daily lives to pause and reflect, because that is when we become vulnerable to the feelings and thoughts that are then able to penetrate our hearts in the deepest way.


A couple of weekends ago I graduated from high school. That weekend definitely did not allow me to pause at all! It's funny how the camera can freeze moments in our life that we can look back on and cherish, because we weren't able to stop long enough to do it without a camera and actually capture the moment with our minds and hearts. My graduation weekend was a wonderful blur of excitement, anticipation; shared with family and friends.
My grandmother Anne, who is pictured here with me, is a person I am truly in awe of. She has the wonderful gift of hospitality (which means she is sometimes quite busy) and yet, somehow, she always finds time in her day to just stop, talk to Jesus, or kiss her grandkids. ;) She has an advantage though, my grandmother has lived a few years longer than me and knows how to balance her life. I appreciate that about her and the time she takes to listen to me or to just stop and enjoy life.




I think that when we learn to make a decision to actually stop, as people such as my grandmother has learned over time, that our lives will become so much fuller, because we have made the effort to stop and embrace the feeling of vulnerability to God, or our problems, that we will find strength in those moments to embrace the rest of life with a smile and heart full of joy from being able to stop and listen to God.
That is my prayer this summer as I head to the busy, exciting life of summer camp and I hope that you will find the time to stop with me and listen to what God has to say to us.