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

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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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Sandcastles versus Marble Palaces

There is an undeniable scream inside all of us crying out for something more, a meaning beyond the world behind our eyelids. Like stormclouds gathering, we let the emotions roll in one after the other. Insecurity. Disappointment. Hurt. Bitterness. Perhaps they don’t always arrive in that order, but arrive they do. All are symptomatic of the same thing, what my brother calls “sandcastle pride.” We stop trusting entirely the Lord’s plan for us, and start searching out ways to make our dreams happen on our own. True, any dream worth anything at all requires work, but at what point does work transfer into idolatry?

In the words of one wise nine year old, “Start reading your Bible so you can learn how to get your life back on track!” We are desperate to be alive, yet terrified at what that would mean. Authors make millions off self-help books, either about gaining control or letting go, or doing one to achieve the other. We all dream of a higher existence of some sort, but only once we seek and pursue the Lord’s vision over our lives will we find any sort of the divine calling we crave.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ – this is the Lord’s declaration – ‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

It’s not about the work itself. It can never be about the work or else we’ll fall into either a cycle of obsessive over-achievement or bitter resolve to press on. Neither can it become about whatever earthly outcome, money, or fame, for in the end, once it’s been realized, there will be an inevitable sense of “that’s all?”

I’m not saying we all need to jump up and become ministers; He did make some doctors, filmmakers, musicians, or writers, etc, but there must also be some eternal goal for our lives or else what’s the point?

We all have some daily burden; what’s yours? The daily awareness of what is, and screaming response of what should be? This is your battleground, so wage war! There we find our sense of purpose, of vitality- there we bring bits of His kingdom to earth. And it is in this process of fighting for the “should be,” of fighting for some necessary change weighing on us so heavily it seems that to not strive to bring it about would be a moral slight, that we being to trade the sandcastle for the marble palace.

 

Return to the East

Silver twigs
Reminding me of where we’ve been
Wrap around my finger
The spot where yours likes to linger

Crystal sits atop
Remnant of Limberlost
“Cut by God to delicate strength and beauty”
Picked because it reminds you of me

Gently you whisper in my ear
As you pull me so desperately near
I am all you hold dear
Together we’ll conquer my every fear

The future is dawning
I can taste her coming
Like coffee in the morning
As sunshine breaks through and you call me “darling.”

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.

A Week of Eleventh Hours

As I write this post, I’m sipping instant Korean coffee out of a Chinese bowl, writing in a Walmart notebook from Kona with a German pen, sitting on the floor of a hotel in Kolkata.

Besides the first week of outreach, this week was the most full of my entire DTS. 

“Helping” (dancing with and trying to be as cool as) the boys practicing the choreography they performed at two churches to raise awareness for Life Connection, the ministry we’ve been working with. 

Getting horribly sick just before getting on what would become a thirty five hour train ride from Nagaland to Kolkata, and then better just in time. 

Kat’s ankle breaking to the point that movement was impossible while we crossed the tracks, just as a train was coming. With the whistle growing louder, closer, all the guys rushed to carry her across the three sets of rails. As she sat on the bench, waiting for the train and recovering from the shock of escaping tragedy by inches, Rosie prayed for her ankle. Overnight it went from break to sprain. 

Waking up on the train to the outer rumbles of a 6.7 megaton earthquake around 4 AM. 

After this, the ride consisted of sleep, hanging out the door to breathe in the scenery, and making friends with a five year old Bengali boy peeking out from behind momma’s skirts just long enough to laugh at the yellow haired girl. Watching Bollywood videos and listening to worship on an old Nokia with Sunil (I’ll post his story later in the week, hopefully. Suffice it to say never have I seen such joy in one from his circumstances). An hour into this, I asked if he was sad. Quick nod, then the headphone is slipped back in before a word can escape my mouth. What could I have said anyways? We both knew why he was sad, and that I could say nothing to fix it or relate. How can I relate? This week was his holiday, his one week with three guaranteed meals a day, a bed at night, and a roof over his head. Although LC will be there from 8 AM to 4 PM everyday, providing food, education, a shower, community, and love, come 4 o’clock and he must return to the train station. There’s only so much one family can do for so many street boys…

So what could I say? What could I do, besides lay a hand on his shoulder and simply be there?

Hours later, we arrive. With the delay of the quake, the journey took four hours longer than expected. The morning after we arrive, Steffi, Kat, Caleb, and I all wake up horribly sick. Because of dehydration, Steffi and Caleb both blacked out. Neither Steffi nor I could keep any food or liquid down, and we all had fevers. This continued for well over twenty four hours. While Kat and Caleb began to show signs of improvement, as the days continued Steffi and I grew gradually worse.

Last night, after concluding with my leaders and parents that if the doctor’s antibiotics didn’t help, or at least stay down, Steffi would be flown to her family in Germany, and I to mine in Denmark. After having this same determined bug twice, we desperately needed IVs and for our bodies to accept some sort of sustenance. 

And so we prayed. We prayed to the God who had already in these past two weeks resurrected a girl from an early death, healed a broken bone, healed impure skin, and fixed a projector so it will play only the Jesus Film. We worshipped Him, praising Him for all He’s done and will do. Rosie was the first to begin praying for me, before the time of intercession had been discussed. In case you havent noticed, God has gifted her with healing prayers, and a compassionate heart of gold. As she prayed tirelessly for me for a good ten to fifteen minutes, I felt as though something heavy, warm and comforting had been placed over me. It was so heavy I couldn’t move beneath it, but I felt no pain. I could barely open my eyes at this point, and even lifting my arm was impossible. But finally, after crying in the bathroom because of the unbearable, unending agony, because everything here is so unfamiliar, because four months without my beloved is excruciating, I had peace. I felt the presence of my Father, and I was comforted. Even just typing this, the tears of that overwhelming sense of His divine love return to my eyes. 

From 7-11PM we continued. When I woke up this morning, save a runny nose from the pollution, I was 100% better.

Today Jon (our leader) got us a kettle, and Chris brought instant coffee. He was right: Koreans make the best instant coffee. I was able to eat my first full meal (noodles with vegetables). I’m able to walk around the room without becoming lightheaded. 

As a safety precaution, I couldn’t go do ministry with the rest of th team today, but tomorrow I’ll be released from quarantine. 

And as I write this, the afore mentioned beloved is getting settled into his new Miami home and job at Calvary Miami Beach. When I return, he will be there waiting for me, and the long distance will be over.  I still can’t quite fathom what it will be like to not say goodbye anymore. After six straight months without his embrace, or his smile whenever I look beside me, my love will be waiting for me when I return. Six months of waking up, waking him up, at midnight just to hear each other’s voices because we don’t know when next we’ll have a chance. Six months of craving my hand in his. Six months of emails and texts the size of books, of crying on the phone because I can’t cry on his shoulder. Of reading the Bible together, praying the connection doesn’t cut out. And this was just this stretch. Long distance is not for the faint of heart, but it will soon be over. 

Seventy three days until I’m in his arms again. 

Sixty eight days to complete the Lords will in India and Nepal. Then the adventure of ministry in the city Jesus has permanently called me to begins.  

And through it all, the Lord is faithful. 

Until next time, ohana. 

Xoxo

        

  

Amidst the Rubble

“X marks the spot”Come in, come home

A quiet whisper

Behind the storm.
Dusty blue

A polluted sky

Always half open

To souls passing by

Always shut tight

To strangers in the night.
Cold, solid

Inviting while

Still guard standing.
From up above 

Supper’s aroma wafts down 

Overtaking for the evening

The putrid waste below.
Gentle onions 

Caress your tongue

As the gate

Like an embrace 

Pulls you in to see

Her wells of empathy. 

You Are a Garden Enclosed, My Sister, My Bride…

The rain gently dances on my cheeks to the music of the girl singing below. The balcony has us lifted above the earth, beneath the stars. In a bag riddled with memories, I let her worship lull me to dreamland. With morning’s light I’ll waken, prepare the coffee, and enjoy Hawaii’s Saturday with women becoming sisters.

Legs are soaked. Drizzling turned to rainstorm, and the sleeping bags weren’t as waterproof as we thought. Open door couch dreaming is chosen instead. Except the fan, all is silent. In the morning I’ll wake with the same sisters, prepare the same brew in the same morning light. All is well with my soul.

Monday morning. Lectures begin, and I’m grateful for the ever-present Kona coffee. Within fifteen minutes I’m in near tears. It’s as if with the dawn, anxiety also wakens. Where do I fit here, I wonder? Am I getting the full experience? What if my lecture phase isn’t everything I dreamed of? Am I doing something wrong? And then the speaker states: “It is not about you. It is about serving Him for His sake.” 

A few days later, “It’s not a task of something we need to do, but a revelation of what we have.” When the speaker said this, it pierced deeper than I could have expected. I thought I understood the depths of Christ’s love for me, at least as much as I could. I thought I had grasped that it would never fail me. Until he said this.

All week we have been learning about how the fear of the Lord is entirely intertwined with intimacy with Him, and how it’s not a “check yes if this applies to you” type of thing, but rather it’s area-specific. While I may fear Him in areas of my physical well-being, but I didn’t in the area of my emotional well-being. Thus, there was a blockage of intimacy within that realm of my heart.

However, it still isn’t about me “doing” anything. In a room full of political activists and injustice fighters, this was hard for all of us to take in, it seemed. Instead, it’s about recognizing He is Lord in every area of my life, and accepting the love He has freely given, along with all the connotations of what that means. If He loves me, He will fight to protect me from utter emotional ruin. I may get hurt, yes, but then He will be there to comfort me and carry me through it. If He loves me, then I must be as intricate and beloved as He says I am.

“You have stolen My heart, My sister, My bride; you have stolen My heart with one glance of your eyes, one jewel of your necklace.” Song of Songs 4:9

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.” John 15:9

This is a shorter post, but it captures the essence of my week: basking in the love-light of my Redeemer. Take some time to let these words soak in and over you. Remember how intensely and entirely and eternally you are adored by a relentless God.


Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures this week besides the cover photo, but I promise I’ll get more next week!

Until next time!

XOXO

Proclamation

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. So, let’s start with Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7

YWAM is kinda known for being a vessel God uses to reveal to people things about themselves they didn’t know were there. For me, that meant anxiety shrouded in arrogance.

It meant that when I came before the throne of God, I believed He would only accept me if I felt I was behaving a certain way. However, my head knew this wasn’t a right way of thinking, so my heart in pride believed I wasn’t trying to be this certain way, it was simply the Holy Spirit working in me because I’m such a good Christian and I don’t believe those lies like all the other “believers” in the room trying to earn their salvation (ugh, fools).

When I entered a situation that made me uncomfortable, such as living in a dorm with twenty other girls, I would draw back and search for ways I felt excluded. The reality was that I was retreating myself while they were all being welcoming and loving.

It meant that when Jonny and I began to get more and more serious, I freaked out because of all the what-ifs and pushed him away while clinging to his embrace, putting him through confusing turmoil because of my selfishness. All the while, he never failed to be comforting, understanding, and forgiving.

But God is gracious. In tenderness, He revealed the lies and the disparities cluttering the sanctuary of my mind and soul, our meeting place. Daily, He helps me sweep out and restore it. I’ll never be perfect, but soon this will be one more battle conquered.

Instead of focusing on all the tiny possible negatives, all the tiny what-ifs, daily I’ll engage the small, sweet moments of joy. Instead of wondering if I measure up, I’ll rejoice in each instance of fellowship with the souls surrounding and my Almighty God. Instead of allowing fear to reign in the dark corners of my thoughts, I’ll open the door for Jesus’s love-light to flood.

Love-light that breaks down social barriers and raises shamed adulterers to their feet, because who of us has not sinned? Love-light that opens blind eyes and heals crippled legs, but then says “Go, and sin no more.” Love-light that would be tortured to the point of death, all the while thinking of your face and crying within Himself “She’s worth it.” Love-light that cares more about His bride knowing and trusting Him than about anything we have done or could do, because we are His aloneAnd that overrides anything fear could ever tell me.

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Each Friday I hope to post a little update like this, complete with photos capturing the past seven days. And if I forget, I invite you to please hold me accountable.

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Serenity_moment

Please excuse how out of focus this is; it was just too precious of a moment for me not to capture and share it.

See you next week!

XOXO