autumn dancing

The past few weeks my soul slowly stopped dancing, and I’ve been waiting to hear the beginning melody of another song.

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I’ve been thinking about joy lately and about the moments I feel it most deeply. C.S. Lewis said he was “surprised by joy,” and I have to agree with Ann Voskamp, when she says perhaps that’s the only way to discover it. The life in the trees. The change of autumn in your lungs.

The moment your soul hears the trickle of the soft melody begin to play.

eighteenth of april two thousand fifteen

I suppose this is what it means to sing in the rain, isn’t it? To sing when I’m euphoric, to sing when I’m down trodden.

“though you slay me, yet I will praise you
though you take from me, I will love you.”

It’s these hymns that pour from my mouth in the drought and they get choked up as they fall out because the enemy wants them to get stuck and not make it out. But they’re fighting. Through the flesh and the bleeding, these words are fighting. They’re fighting; they’re climbing. They’re determined to fill the atmosphere of their creator, and I don’t mean me. Yes, these words are more than me.

twenty-fifth of september two thousand fifteen

I feel like a failure because I’m not fully here but I’m not fully there, and I guess I just feel like I’m not anywhere and like I don’t belong anywhere. Here nor there, my life is but a vapor, as is my purpose. I wonder how this relates to the gospel- we never feel permanent because this isn’t our home, just the road we are travelers on. But we can at least enjoy the view; enjoy the ones who are riding with us; weep when we see dead animals on the side of the road. And as I travel on, I sing the sojourner’s song: never in the same place twice.

I hate that with every hello, you are guaranteed a goodbye. With every good thing, you’re always guaranteed a last one. Everything comes to an end and nothing lasts forever..I guess to remind us of how fragile and finite we are..and to remind us that only things that do last forever are things that aren’t physically here.

becoming brave (and dependent)

I confess that I’ve always struggled with finding pride in my independence. I’ve always relished the thought of making my own way in a city where no one knows my name. Although yesterday I found myself making numerous trips in and out of my friend’s apartment, flustered to the point of tears, trying to find the courage to use the public transport for the first time in Portland. (Silly, I know). I never knew myself as someone to be afraid, but it turns out that when you’re in a city by yourself, your soul resonates off the pit that is typically full of mundane mondays and tuesdays and every days, and it’s hard to ignore.

Plain and simple: I’m guilty of romanticizing courage. I watch adventure vlogs, reblog nature photos, and read inspiring quotes, but in comparison to true grit, walking towards death on a cross courage, my manifesto of courage is equivalent to a foul gargantuan amount of shit.

That’s why I found myself too paralyzed to take the bus. I’m much more comfortable in my familiar routine than I would like to admit because it’s a controllable environment where I can hide my unrighteousness. (Righteousness: right standing with God). Anything outside of my conventional and practiced routine means someone might see my flesh: selfishness that comes naturally; insecurities that plague me; an adulterous heart that manipulates mercilessly in order to be wanted. I fully believe that I’m capable of the worst of sin; I am indeed, the least of these. However though, while it’s healthy to be aware of my weak flesh, I’ve had the brash audacity to believe that God’s grace isn’t enough for my sin; believing I AM the least of these: unworthy of new experiences, adventures, and new life.

It takes courage to receive grace and forgiveness from Jesus. It takes courage to let Him walk me into immeasurably more; into a new life. These things- “grace,” “forgiveness,” “immeasurably more”- are more than spiritual sounding words. They’re real and tangible gifts that take courage to receive because they cost me my life: to choose and believe every single day (when it’s hard; when it’s possibly the lamest thing I could do; when I’m reminded of every dirty despicable thing that I’ve done) His death on the cross was enough for my wretched sin and it always will be.

And that’s what I hope for others to see more of: me finding courage in Jesus, receiving immeasurably more, and honestly confessing to others when my flesh is weak, for how sweet it will be when they see Him wash me clean.

Also, if anyone wants to know, I did use public transportation yesterday…and again today! Turns out, it’s not terrifying at all.

gluttony (lusting)

Habbakuk 2:5

…like death, he never has enough.”

I read this today, and I was full of shame. One thing that has been revealed to my heart lately is that I am not letting Jesus be my satisfaction. I’ve turned gifts into idols: adventure, experience, love, good coffee. They’ve all become idols and they haven’t been satisfying me the way my sweet Jesus does. That’s why when opportunities for adventure have been falling through lately, I’ve been becoming so incredibly sad about it. I’ve been living as death: greedy and ungracious.

But God,

Being rich in His mercy and abundant in His love, is giving me the grace and the faith to believe that He is enough. And because He is a good Abba, He will give me my desires (which are ultimately His desires) without delay, because they will be fulfilled in His perfect timing.

idolizing clarity

I think we need to learn to be content with obscurity.

We’re completely consumed with praying for God’s will and for His plan to be revealed that we’re not asking for the faith to walk into the fog. God’s will will prevail regardless of our human insolence and our lack of faith in him. The word says “His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” He doesn’t need us at all. He doesn’t depend on us, but he wants us. He wants us to experience the euphoria of being able to step forth in the fog into an adventure knowing he’s right there with us. Yet when we’re so paralyzed with fear of being out of his will that we don’t take a step in the darkness, what use is our faith? It’s as futile as praying for God to take away our free will (which I am completely guilty of doing). Trust isn’t moving forward when we see him there with a flashlight, it’s moving forward knowing we will see him eventually. A life in love with Jesus is manifested through our actions that prove we trust him.

twenty-seventh of may two thousand fifteen

I’m almost compelled to ask you why are there some days I believe it and some that I don’t. I want to ask you how doubt seeps into my imprint, raising as the water has in this city for the past three weeks, because now it’s drowning me.I want to say ‘what the hell, God? Why don’t you build dams? What happened to your carpenter’s hands? Why us it that I face doubt more than I face you? Why do I see murky waters instead of your reflection?’ What the hell, what is this hell? This back and forth in the waves reminds me of myself and my capacity-as large as the ocean- to wave® back and forth. I hear “imprint” and I almost- I do- get furious because my life isn’t as wonderfully glorious as yours. And you tell me ‘to lead a life so glorious, one among the heavens, you must die first. It’s the upside down kingdom, darling.”

transitions

I wish I could write my prayers on my skin. They would appear on my forearms in lovely gray ink and be something that only I could see. Then I would remember in moments like these to rejoice for an answered prayer rather than believing that my good, good Father is holding out on me.

For this is an answered prayer: He is presenting opportunities in which he can break all of my paradigms of what his faithfulness looks like. He can’t show me how immeasurable his faithfulness is when I’m staying comfortable, for where would my need for him increase?

No one expects to get laid off at twenty, especially when it’s a job in the service industry. Especially, especially, especially. I can think of dozens of them, but the truth is, they don’t matter. If I learned one thing in the service industry, it’s that specialties never last. They are different from truth in that way, always changing.

This transition is only one in one million that I’m facing right now, but as my eucharisteo sings, I’m thankful I have a steadfast God because it gives me the freedom to change. So I’ll sing it as I walk from door to door in the rain, seeing which one opens next. I’ll sing it as I write my prayers on my forearm: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; and wait for the Lord.”  I’ll sing to sleep the lies that tell me I’m forgotten, inadequate, and not good enough. And I’ll sing it all to the melody of selah and be forever amazed at a God who brings the greatest exhilaration from trusting in him because I have absolutely no idea what he is doing, but I know whatever it is, that it is good. It isn’t promised to be safe and secure or easy, but it is promised to be good. He is the King after all.

 “And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?


It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:
Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

the upside down kingdom

The pain of change comes and goes in waves. Over the past few days, I’ve found myself getting pulled under. I’m not a strong swimmer, figuratively or in real life, and more often than not, I find myself washed up on the shore, choking on fish water, wondering how on earth I got here.

This last year of my life, I was continuously dared to be a fighter by my truest friends because they loved me enough to not let me stay the same. They were my commissioners on my search for joy, leading me in hard and holy talks about why I couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that I am worthy enough of an abundant life and that with Christ, I’m stronger than the one that fights to take it away. They helped me exercise my belief in hands that can move mountains and a breath of life that can raise the dead, reminding me that Jesus has promised me’ immeasurably more’ because there are ‘greater things in store’ (Ephesians 3:20; John 14:12). They were catalysts in helping me begin the greatest adventure of all: learning to love and be loved.

But twenty-one, all four days of it, has brought on a different sort of feeling. The past few days have been blanketed with the haunting stillness after a fatal storm- change. I can’t blame anyone for the way things have happened; it’s inevitable and relentless, just as I have been and just as I will be. But I am learning this time around that when you’re pulled under the current, fighting the waves can actually make things worse. You will grow anxious and exhausted in the flailing of your arms trying to hold everything you know close. Things will slip, you’ll lose control, and you’ll drown.

Instead this time around, I’m trying to embrace the pull, praying for the grace to see a new perspective of beauty found underneath the water. I’m learning to hold gifts loosely because only good is promised and that is the very essence of Christ himself, nothing else. When I take the humble position of a holy Nazarene man, coming forward to be arrested with wrists outstretched (John 18:4-5), I’m promised someone will be saved, and I believe that someone will start with me.  That’s the way of the radical Upside-down Kingdom: losing your life to find it.

Over My Head by Bethel comes to mind. Definitions of the character traits of God are being redefined, and with that come new definitions of what it means to live.

Here is to a year dedicated to redefining what you already know.