Be Still

He tells me, “Be still,” but how? With dreams and duties eternally raging in my little mind, how do I possibly “be still?” 

It is laying my hopes and plans and worries at His feet, both in submission and expectancy, because “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9);” “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent (Matthew 10:29);” “His left hand is under my head, and his right arm embraces me (Song of Solomon 2:6).” Having forgotten we can access His inner courts and commune with Him, the Creator of everything, how often do we choose worry instead? Enter the temple, hear His thoughts towards you, and then release the rest, because could anything be better than His will?

When I got sick in India, naturally my earthly father got equally concerned. I am and always have been his little princess, the apple of his eye. The quiet assurance that I am even more adored by my heavenly Father, and was in the center of His will, was his and my mother’s only comfort, the only thing keeping him from flying out there to save me. It was also my only cure for anxiety.

However now here I sit, the healthiest of my family, and stronger for having been so terribly ill. Up until that point I had been dealing with (while in denial of) an eating disorder. Because I was in denial of it, I can’t tell you for how long it went on, but I can tell you it wasn’t the worst it could be. Lately I feel like society tells us it is only to be counted as an eating disorder if nary a breadcrumb passes through your lips, but I disagree. According to the National Eating Disorders website, “Eating disorders… include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.” So while I was eating, even though it was varied between equal and less than the diet of the nine year olds I babysit, I still obsessed over each breadcrumb, mentally planning how I would make up for it or why I deserved it, et cetera. Dogmatically searching Pinterest for pictures of celebrities I admired where the slightest belly-bulge or thigh curve was apparent became my routine coping mechanism, the way I prevented it from being full blown anorexia. And just to get everything out there all at once, it was not so much an issue regarding weight as it was control- if everything else was chaotic, at least I could force my body into order. Also, eating disorders stem from a hereditary mental track, just like OCD or ADHD, and, as most of you know, my mother dealt with multiple at my age.

Now that that’s all out there, my former eating issues are not what this post is about. It’s about my King’s devotion. He knew this was what it would take for me not only to recognize my detrimental eating and thinking habits, but also to make the decision that it simply was not worth it. Through my sickness, I finally reached my goal weight, and realized first-hand the damage it took to achieve it.

It was His devotion that had me learning His voice, and once His audible laugh, by the time I was in elementary school. It was His devotion that reminded me through every storm I can remember that “this, too, shall pass.” It was His devotion that created the imaginary worlds I grew up in and still hold on to that shape the way I see both this earth and the next.

Just this week I have felt crippled under the weight of everything that needs to be done. Wedding planning, writing, shooting, taking care of the home, all the many shades of ministry… The list goes on. But He tells me “there is a time for everything under the sun.” Even now, as I’m feeling overwhelmed yet again, I’m reminded of the times I’ve been through tougher months, the turmoil of which I now no longer remember. This will be the same. And in His devotion, these thirty one days of stress are closed with a week long retreat with my grandparents. 

It is His devotion singing grace over me when anxiety comes like thunder in the night. It is His devotion reminding me that each moment has a meaning beyond the next thirty seconds. It is His devotion leading me into the subsequent season, which He has termed my year of Jubilee. It is His devotion that will lead me on through that, when the next storm comes, and carry me through to the other side stronger than before.

And I need only be still.

“After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, so the rest of humanity may seek the Lord- even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, declares the Lord who does these things, known from long ago.” ~Acts 15:16-18

Pride’s Seduction

I had a dream the other night about a man. Specifically, Gatsby, but this time he was Marylin Monroe’s murderer (you know how dreams go).

He ran a little enclosed kingdom, with him ever at the center. While there was an overwhelming awareness that he could kill them at any moment, the people threw themselves at him. Something inside prayed he would. Somehow, somewhere deep inside myself, I was one of them, desperate for him to want me, yet aware it would end in death. There was a man working for him, reduced to a dunce from his abuses. Though he loved his master, he fought to help us escape this society of grey. 

I had just been outlined for reconstructive surgery, as women were expected to look a certain way there and I, apparently, had the audacity to break the mold. At the last moment I said no. The doctor was angry. The building was blue and made of glass. 

With a blink I returned to the city below. It occurred to me, then, how a boy can become a dictator: he had been given all he ever wanted. Like a mirage in the corner, his parents could be seen, terrified at the moment their smiles would waver, causing him to throw another tantrum. You know the look in their eyes: that scared, nervous smile, the too-quick, harried response of “He’s so smart. Look at him, such a good boy…”

He had killed Marylin  one night after dinner. Elaborately, with a set of wine, coffee, and her latest script to practice together. Something in all his subjects wanted desperately to be killed by him. It was glamorous. It made you someone. Walking around his house, a girl couldn’t help but dream of being loved by such a man of luxury, even if the one night stand ended in death. Tragedy made the story more romantic.

Every girl knew the outcome of a night with him, yet every girl begged he choose her. Every man envied him, prayed for his camaraderie, all the while knowing it would leave them as vegetables, walking round and round the ditch he drops all his old servants in. 

He survived off the women’s beauty, the men’s vitality. One kept him eternally attractive, the other eternally young. 

I looked back once more before jumping the wall. I knew the other side held life, truth, and my love. Devilishly handsome as ever, he returned the look, but this time the snake inside was clear. He was maniacal, hopeless, selfish, and alone. He wanted nothing of us but his own immortality.

Turning my head, I made the leap, and as feet met ground, I awoke.

Until writing this all out in my morning pages, it didn’t occur to me that this was my subconscious’s way of processing everything we saw in South Beach on Memorial Day Weekend. Throughout the rest of this week, the Lord showed me how my “seductive dictator” is pride, but we all have one. We all have our little hidden sin we keep quiet, letting him pump us full of the pain meds we crave as he digs the knife deeper into our backs.

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I say pride because that’s my struggle, but yours could be different. Idolatry. Lust. Laziness. Selfishness. Whatever it is, it’s never too late to release it to Him and jump the barricade.

“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps straight to Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.” ~ Proverbs 5:3-6

“Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme, so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.” ~ Proverbs 4:6-9

 

 

So What If It Hurts?

Lines of black
Lead to where
Visions fall flat
Folks forget to care

Lying hazily
In fields of white
Voices scream for meaning
Wishing for wings to take flight

All is starched clean
Perfumed with bleach
While underneath
Rotting sewage lies unseen

Can you taste the disease?
She’s coming on the breeze

Like bitter gall on the tongue
She’ll arrive with the setting of the sun


We’ve become so afraid of getting hurt we’ve boxed ourselves into little white-walled, cushioned caskets of what we think is safe. Minds overflowing with concerns for propriety, we can no longer enjoy the very people we got all dolled up to see and are trying so desperately to impress.

Dear Miami, I watched it happen. While we may have been the city of failures and dropouts, we were also the city of relentless dreamers. Having seen the worst come true, we could stare fear back into her prospective corner because so what if it hurt? At least we lived. There was the mettle that comes with knowing that no matter the outcome, the alternative of living wondering, wishing you had done whatever it was, or perhaps stood against the grain of whatever it was you felt pressured into, was worse than the initial trepidation.

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Beyond this, though, how often are we afraid to speak up or get close and open our hearts because of the mountains of what-ifs? What if (s)he gets offended or takes it the wrong way? What if when they see my heart, it’s too much for them or they criticize it?  What if I get hurt?

While some of these questions do help in building the boundaries necessary for any healthy relationship to flourish, if carried too far they become walls against intimate fellowship in a way that truly is detrimental to our emotional well-being and our Christian walk.

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But still so often we let the fear win. We box ourselves in, and then from that fear, as a mode of both protection and justification we start looking for all the sharp pieces in others that could possibly wound us, neglecting to realize the barbed wire fence we’re slowly building around ourselves. And discontment is birthed.

Darling, don’t let discontment steal your joy in community. We’re all imperfect, carrying residue of our old selves. Look past mine, and I’ll look past yours. Give grace to the ones who’ve hurt you, whether intentionally or not, and return to your circle. Even if they be scattered about the country or globe, return to them. In the Age of Technology, there’s no excuse for scorning community. Granted, be prayerful about the companionship you choose, but when the Lord directs you to a person or people, don’t neglect that, especially not because of pride.

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Woken Up (Pt 2)

At last, at last,
They’ve been uncorked!
This river of hope
Flows freely once more!

If only for me
Let these words become a sea
Of joy and honesty
Of faith and unity

This pen is my lifeline
My thoughts’ only bloodstream
Now with the clot removed
Let’s begin this day anew.

On Pride&Bitterness

It’s a cancer; she lies within
Stroking her prey with whispers of when
Her arms lay not about their lungs
Their glory was equal to the sun

Slowly then, she sinks her teeth
Insisting you’ve marched “Once more
To the breach,
Dear friends, once more!”

But your friends wouldn’t march along
So you went it alone
Saving, you think
This ship about to sink

Or perhaps you chose to flee
Solitary in your “glorious wisdom”
Nursing the hurts
Of when body met sea

While left behind
Laid passengers crying
“Ungrateful,” you whisper
Under your breath whilst swimming to closest shore

Then there she is
Happy as can be
Her prey returned of his own volition
Resting in the glory of his “glorious wisdom”

You don’t see her talons
The venom seeping from her lips
As you run to her embrace
Beg for a kiss

Which ginergly she places
Upon cracked blue lips
Before returning to the waves
A body limp from poisoned bitterness

And the passengers of that sinking ship?
They reached back to Ithaca
With splendor and joy at overcoming hardship
But your fate was chosen at Anthemoesa

In the name of glory
You wrote your own story
Deeming the Author too distant
Because home’s shore was hidden
Beyond the curtain
Of arrogance’s abdication.

 

April 23 – Diary

Jesus Time

Thank You for my nephew.
Thank You for parents who look out for me and are happy for me, even if stress gets in the way of showing it sometimes.
Thank You for friends who care, and taking out of my life the ones who don’t.
Thank You for Jonny, and the man he is becoming.
Thank You for Jonny, and the man he is. His maturity, patience, strength, wisdom, joy and grace.
Thank You for always providing, even when it looks impossible.
Thank You for being the Dream – Maker.
Thank You that I’m home again where I belong, and serving You is often such a wild ride.
Thank You for blessing me so much more than I deserve.
Thank You that I’m Yours.

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Moment by Moment

This past Thursday, over a picnic at our favorite hideout, my beloved Jonny asked me to be his wife. And of course, I said yes.

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Now as I write this it’s Saturday, and I’m laying on the couch in what feels like an exhaustion-induced paralysis. My mother said I shouldn’t think myself so invincible to jet lag, but of course being her headstrong replica I didn’t listen. And of course, Momma was right. After hopping between twenty-one time zones, perhaps sliding back into my old schedule right off the bat wasn’t the best idea.

But my gosh it’s worth it. I’m home.

For the past six months I’ve been dreaming of this life, and now I’ve returned to it. As incredible as traveling through southeast Asia was, my heart and home and ministry is here in Miami.

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Fast forward a bit- it’s now Tuesday, and I’m just alive enough to deem myself awake, and about to consider my second cup of coffee. The laundry is finished, and though the dress I’m wearing in this picture is now a shirt, as I looked up just now the missing sock was spotted. One task down, coffee in hand, and I’m ready to take on the day. It’s a slow climb, getting back to normality here. With the residue of things experienced still beautifully imprinted upon my mind, I’m gently coming back to the pulsing reality of the life I dream of.

From Delhi to Nepal

White sheets
As we travel on
Life she is a wanderer
Confused in her slumber
Dreams of hope
Terrors of evening scopes
Tell me, where will we go
When all is finally lost?

Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
To where I belong
Safe in his arms.

Dusty toes
As dusk settles in
Joy she is a ghost
Changing shapes as of Heaven
She sings to our souls
We are golden, immortal
Journeying through all
This earth we’re meant to know enjoy.

So let the rain fall
Soak life into these bones
Where You lead, I’ll follow
Though I feel I drown
I will grow.

Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
While I feel I drown
I will grow.

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On Cafe con Leche and Emotions.

I’ve officially reached that point in outreach everyone talks about where stuff has happened and we’ve witnessed things I don’t feel comfortable sharing with any of the outside world just yet… I think part of me thought this was a myth, this outreach climax, but here we are. And I find I’m most content in this state.
This state of sleep without rest, because my rest comes in the day, face buried in Bible, teammates voices lifted in worship around me. The love I have for these incredible humans is beyond what I can express. I only wish the beloved could be here. But until he and I can experience this sort of thing together, I’ll savor this continued honeymoon with Jesus.
We’ve arrived in Dharamshala, a beautiful mountain town. However, because it is a beautiful mountain town, my wifi and data usage has been massively restricted, which is why I’m a week late with this (sorry fam). Last week was a week of goodbyes to souls reminding me of how large and terrifying the world sometimes is, as well as how communal and lovely, and the power of redemption.
While I’ve been able to write about them before, today I’m too overwhelmed to process it all onto this digital paper. Each day, each thought, would require a post of its own. Of these boys’ lives before. Of who they are now. Of the secrets their eyes allude to. Of their joys, their hopes, their dreams, their talents, their possible futures. Hopefully within the coming weeks I’ll be able to get two or three of the stories down, but we’ll see. I’m still debating which of the stories I even have the right to share… My life was so privileged. I’ve always known this, always felt this, and seen the truth of it before. But today it’s hitting me freshly again as I re-read the lives of these boys I so deeply adore and will likely never see again.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Sip the tea from an adventure-worn straw in a Hydroflask tattooed with their handwriting and imaginings, scarred with the remnants of paint battles.
Hop on another plane. Contemplate for how many years airports have felt like home. Exhale the tears into a secondhand Bible, my sanctuary held together by tape. Allow my heart to break into His, realizing He knows so much more than I, His heart is hurting beyond what I can imagine, and that through it all, He is gloriously faithful, that He has a plan for each boy.
Land in Dharamshala. Settle into an apartment cozier and homier than I remembered being possible. Use the last of the data to call the beloved. Break. Soak in his voice, his encouragement, his words reminding me of the Truths so easily forgotten in exhaustion. Regroup. Step back inside from the balcony where snow-topped peaks and fields of green are all that’s visible. Realize yet again that this is the life I’ve always craved and dreamed of, and through the disease, the sleep-deprived delirium, the insecurities of making art out of it all, the agonies of seeing all we can’t change, and backlashes of the enemy for all we do work to change, I could not be more content or fulfilled. Because through it all, He is faithful to remind me of His exquisite love and beauty.
With all the gentle tears and bittersweet farewells of Week Four, Week Five was equally filled with unadulterated joy. As eyes turned to waterfalls, I took my turn at sharing pieces of what makes my heart ache, face buried into the shoulder of friends close as family, sisters who inspire me to be everything I can be, to chase after everything I dream of becoming. Hold the same sisters as their turns came along. Legs folded on crimson rugs, chai in hand, we lift our voices in holy adoration of the One who brought us here, allowing the worship to drift like sunlight out the windows.
Soaking in their laughter, we played with village children on the side of the mountain as the fog rose below us and we marveled at the exquisite art of our Maker’s hands, and how somehow He still deems us as more beautiful even than this. As a friend of five minutes who reminds me of myself at ten years old slides her hand in mine, I watch as the Hindi praise unfolds to the God of Abraham in a little house church. Two days later we’re back at the same church, and I’m sharing bits of my testimony, eyes on the same girl. Precious Abigail. Who will she become? Will I come back one day and find her grown, with Kingdom passions of her own?
After driving further up the mountain, to a tourist town known as Mcleodganj, we visited our first Indian temple. Beauty filled with dark emptiness. We strolled up and down the marketplace, marveling at the skill so rampantly alive in this nation. Naturally I couldn’t resist picking up a nose ring and anklet, because India. As twilight began whispering hello, we slipped into a friend’s home for some of the best coffee I’ve had in months and some brownies. Needless to say, it was a good day. Since then we’ve been working on some stuff for the community center we’re teaming up with here, exploring the city, and going on various prayer walks. As I’ve been falling in love with the country, I’ve been falling deeper and deeper for my team. Our leaders are relentlessly faithful, working so much harder than any of us see. The five I get to call my teammates are all so encouraging and insanely talented, gifted with such unique skill sets. There are several instances proving that I literally would have died without them, especially during our time in Kolkata. In them I’ve found an extended family, and I’m dreading the day we have to say goodbye. So I just won’t think about that yet.
This is the gist of the past two weeks, majorly condensed. Thank you guys all so much for supporting me through everything; I can’t tell you what it means to me to read your sweet messages and prayers forwarded by my parents. When I was sick, had it not been for your prayers I very well might have gone home. You carried me through it, and I’m extremely grateful. Also, I tasted the closest thing to a cafe con leche that I’ve had in five months (Indian milk coffee), and I honestly cried a bit. It was pathetic, but so beautiful. God is good.
Until next time.
XOXO

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Hello Winter.

Some nights we all just need some cozy, Christmas love. And November 30th is, in my opinion, the day to start.

As a suite, we have officially decked out our common room in full holiday charm, and I’m glad that I won’t have to be here when it all comes down (yay for being the first to leave on outreach!). The past eight weeks have been extremely and beautifully emotional, and every now and again it’s time to break. When the Christmas bulb bombs dropped towards the guys downstairs broke next to them instead of sweetly landing in their hammock, I broke as well. Not because of the Christmas bulbs, but because it was simply time.

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About two minutes into the worship/ministry night with some of my suite mates, it was clear God was calling me away somewhere to be simply with Him. No Bible, no music, just He and I.

Over and over again He whispered reminders of what He has been speaking to me throughout the entirety of lecture phase: I am chosen, and I am His. There are plans just around the corner for me He is even more excited to bestow than I am to receive. He plans to outdo Himself.

The reality of this left me in a mess of glorious, cathartic tears. While processing all of this, I returned to my room and made some decaf, which I am now sipping out of my snowman mug as I watch an old favorite indie flick which introduced me to some of my favorite music. Somehow it feels like home.

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I hope you have an equally wonderful evening, in its own beautiful way.

Until next time

XOXO