Thursday, January 24, 2013


This morning I was rudely and quite abruptly pulled out of a particularly vivid dream by my alarm. Even the "Bug's Life" theme isn't something I want to be hearing at 4:00 in the morning.

By the time I was driving to work, I was in tears over the exhaustion. I thought a lot about the tendency to become frustrated and overwhelmed and sucked into a job or life we don't actually have any desire to remain in forever. And then we self-medicate. In a thousand ways. All to distract ourselves from it. Because that's what America is. Teaches. Does.......And I rebel against it with every grain of my muddy flesh.

I was asking Jesus to "shift my heart into a positive attitude as I strive to......."and before I could even begin my list the Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks. "Baby, all you ever DO is strive." I knew without even thinking about it how true that was. I mean....seriously. How many of us spend our lives striving with every ounce of our energy to be or become this or that? Think about it. Just thinking about all the ways I do exhausts me to no end. And then....God says "Cease striving and know that I am God." No command to do anything or achieve or gain man's approval or even have a life that LOOKS like anyone else's. Jesus invites us in to simply BE. The mess that we are and all. And suddenly the day is so much brighter and full of hope and possibilities. And it's such a freeing a beautiful thing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Beautiful seasons: Part 2

Let's take this a step further.
Let's turn it spiritual.
Anyone else wrestle with always being focused and driven toward becoming the person you want to become? Healthy. Dynamic. Powerful. And we never seem to be okay with or satisfied with the person we are because it's not who we WANT to be. We expect better out of ourselves someday. Healthier. Wiser. Deeper, we look at the goal and only at that goal. We miss the beauty of who we are right this very minute.

God knows what's in store for each one of us. How we'll be serving Him in 10 years. The depth we'll gain. The wisdom we'll offer. How much healthier we'll be. But He doesn't only look at that. He actually enjoys us in this very moment. He loves who we are NOW just as much as who we will be. No less. He's okay with the process and the person we are in each season along the way. He finds it endearing.

If that's not an extremely freeing and endearing thought, I don't know what IS!

Beautiful seasons: Part 1

I'm a member of a relatively small gym. Well, compared to many of the others in Modesto. One of the things that I rather enjoy about this is knowing all the employees and 3/4 of the other members. Zumba has created such a family among the people that work out there that we all talk every day.

Because of work schedules and Bible studies there are a number of us who've been working out on our own lately in the mornings or later at night. We end up on the treadmill and elliptical next to each other and it's thoroughly enjoyable to distractedly chat away the minutes while burning calories. The other day, I was chatting with some ladies while working out and we were discussing the fact that we actually love coming to work out. The time spent has become enjoyable. And we're happier in general because of it. When we all began, we just wanted to lose a certain amount of weight. Now, we aren't focused on that. We're enjoying every moment and every season of the journey. The friends we've made, the memories created, the events attended together, fundraisers done, etc.....

If we'd each only raced toward the goal without looking around us each day to appreciate a new dance, a new friend, a new song to run to, a new stretch learned that relieves a muscle cramp, a new record of calories burned in one session, we would miss the beauty of the moment. We would miss a season that shapes a part of who we are. (Quite literally in this case.) Instead, we've discovered that we enjoy each day in itself. We love each experience, event, class, as much as we will love it when we're completely successful at reaching our goal and we are exactly the way we want to look. We won't love it BETTER when we're there than we do now. And that's a beautiful thing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

On confrontation and arguing.

Last night, I was emotionally, self-righteously, and defensively pounding out a message to a dear friend who's recently hurt me. As I cleverly crafted the perfect wording to confidently portray my issues, a thought flew into my heart seemingly from nowhere and shocked me so strongly my fingers ceased flying instantly and I'm pretty sure I had the wind knocked out of me.....

The intention of the message I was writing was to find out why things weren't going the way I thought they should between my friend and I. I wanted an explanation about it. But ONLY about that. And I planned on going to sleep with prayers that Jesus would give her conviction and help her see the error of her actions recently. I PLANNED to fall asleep being upset with her. (Hello, ugly side!) I had absolutely no plan on praying for whatever may be going on with her or her life to CAUSE abnormal behavior. I didn't want to pray for whatever she may be struggling with. And I realized that until I do, I really don't have a right to say anything and I best keep my mouth shut until my heart gets itself into check. Don't you agree most issues would be solved if we all tried to keep to this rule? I've learned an important lesson.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Where we are.

I have a confession. A retraction of sorts. A flaw that has been found in what I've been saying. (I don't really think anyone reads my blogs. But maybe, someday, someone will glean something from it. And in the mean time, it's like a journal for me to look back at.)

I've been on this passionate kick about going and changing the world and defying what America says about living and giving it all up to go tell others about Jesus. I've ranted and raved about missions and 3rd world and causes. Orphans and widows and the hungry and forgotten. Sex slave trade and blood diamonds. And I still am adamant about working towards healing and redemption in all these areas. I'll hopefully still end up working long term in Africa. My heart longs for it. I pray Kenya is working out. BUT......

I have neglected something huge. Today as I was serving some of my customers, I began seeing them differently. I felt I had a very small window into their hearts and lives. I saw pain. Misery. Hopelessness. An expectation of perfection in appearance and success that they seemed desperate to work for, but that is impossible to obtain. And I was reminded of something very important.

Just like the parable of the talents, when a servant is faithful with little, he will be given little. With much, he will be given much. I talk and I dream of big and huge adventures. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think it's important to refuse getting caught in the rut of American Christianity. I want to live in crazy places, have crazy adventure. Be the hands and feet of Jesus and do crazily powerful things for the kingdom. However, too often in the dreaming and excitement over my desire for these things, I overlook the possibilities that are right here in front of me. Right now. Today. In this season. In Modesto. It may not be the place I want to end up. But it can be a place of incredible learning and experiences. I may be a barista barely making any money renting a bedroom and driving a car that's running solely on grace who shops at the Goodwill and with coupons at Target. But I can still be a reflection of Jesus. Here. Now. I can still love people with intensity, pouring myself into them knowing it may be only to be thrown aside and disregarded. I can see people's needs, their hurts, and pray healing and powerful restoration over them. I can look at the women I love and am surrounded with and desperately long for them to experience Jesus in the intimate way I've been honored to. I don't need to wait for a change of location or jobs to do these things. I can choose to do them where I'm planted. And in doing so, perhaps I'll realize more each day that maybe this is WHY I'm planted where I am.