Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Goodness of Crazy

Lately I have been talking a lot. And balancing balloons on my nose. And jumping up and down. And eating jellybeans.

And no, this was not at our youth center. This was at my house.

All this goes back to what my good friend Eleanor once told a new friend of ours when I asked her what 2 things he needed to know about me.  She said:

1. I am risk averse. (this one does not apply here)

2. Sometimes I can go a little crazy. (this one does)

Call it the sugar, call it the extroversion. . .both probably play a good part in it (because I mean, really, we shouldn't leave a bowl of jellybeans in our house. It can be 8am or 8pm and I am always going to walk by it and go "oooh!! Jellybeans!" and then my tongue will turn permanently starburst red).

But I have concluded that above all that, I've been going a little nuts lately because. . .wait for it. . .


Wow. Deep, right?

But seriously. These past 7 months have been all ups and downs, culminating in a pretty big realization of the depth of the down at the beginning of this month. But then, because God is so nice, things started looking up. And I spent time with good people, and I began to rekindle my relationship with God, and honestly, when things got better with God, everything else got better too.

There is something to that whole God is light thing. Everything seems brighter and happier now that God and I are friends again. And when I see how God is moving and when I am reading my Bible, I actually become brighter and happier.

And I begin to not care about the little things and the insecurities anymore. Instead I throw balloons at my teammates, force them to play boardgames, and wear basketball shorts under my Easter dress so I can do random high kicks if I want to.

Its a good life people. And I don't mind if it makes me a little crazy. I like to think that actually makes me more fun.
Having fun at the Kennel, because why not??

Proof of the jellybean tongue and a little bit of crazy. . .or maybe a lot :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Price of Joining God's Family

I think that there are two different views of God.

The first goes like this:

There we are, a baby abandoned in a field with nothing. And God comes along and picks us up and says, "Hey, I am going to take care of you. But in return you must do what I say. You must never mess up, because if you do, I will throw you right back where I got you. I am giving you a lot, so don't even think about asking for anything, especially if you haven't been following my rules. So obey, or go back to that lonely field you came from, because I am giving you everything." So we try to obey out of fear.

The second goes like this:

There we are, a baby abandoned in a field with nothing. And along comes God and He picks us up. And He says, "You are now my child. Forever I will claim you as my own, and I will give you the finest things, and I will treat you like a child of the King. And I will love you no matter what, because though you were "worthless" in the eyes of men, in you I have found great worth and it is my joy to call you part of my family." And with this view of God we obey because we would do anything for this man, who took us from nothing and treated us like royalty. We obey because we know we will never be able to repay Him, but we want to do whatever we can for the One who took us out of ashes and into His home.

I only wish that more of these students would believe in the second view of God, rather than the first. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

To Believe in Miracles

I'm going to be honest with you about some things. (I mean, I really am always honest with you guys, so maybe that statement is more for myself than for you). 

A little while ago, like 2 weeks ago, I really didn't like God. It was really a sneaky little devil because I didn't even realize how much my heart had been hardening towards Him over the last couple of months. Layers of cement had been slapped onto my beating heart until I couldn't even feel the God that I have always loved so much. I'm telling you, it got bad, and I didn't even realize it until I was sitting at a bbq joint with two of my teammates. 

In the midst of my own processing, I began to ask Seth how he handled having a right view of God after working on the rez for so long, especially since he is a preacher and therefore accountable for his view of God. I explained how I didn’t want to become bitter and jaded, but that I couldn’t really figure out God in all of this. 

"I mean, I still love Jesus and everything." I said, "I just don't really like Jesus that much right now." 


He told me a few things, but I wasn’t really left feeling like I had an answer. 

To me, all I could focus on was this: 

“But God isn’t fixing it, and I can’t fix it, so it feels like a standstill. So really, what is the point?"

To which he replied,

“You just have to believe in miracles." 

As I was busy rolling my eyes a little bit (I am telling ya, I wasn't in my happy place), our friend walked into the restaurant and sat down, having no idea what our conversation had just been. For the next few hours she told us stories about her past. She shared about all the crazy messed-up things that had happened and all the trouble she had been in, and in the end we were left speechless. 

"Yea," she said matter-of-factly, "I’m a miracle.” 

I was seriously speechless at that point. Of course I began to cry, because it is simply what I do now, as I processed the full-circle that had just plopped down in front of me. Here I was, doubting and confused, unwilling to accept the answers that were being given to me and God dropped a miracle right at my dinner table. It felt like He was looking me straight in the eyes as He said, 

"Hey, listen up. Do you see this? Do you see this awesome, amazing woman, mother, and friend? Yea, I cared. I listened. I saved. Believe in miracles. It is sitting right in front of you.”

And let me tell you, this last week has been. . . wow. . .so good. I mean . . .gosh He is so faithful! I was so distracted by the weight of the rocks that were being pounded upon my heart, that I couldn't find the way back to His fantastic lightness of being. But He didn't give up on me. He was so patient. 

And now on Wednesday I get to preach to our students the story of Elijah and God in the cave, and I get to tell them that they are not alone. And on Sunday I get to immerse myself in the story of Thomas and the returning Jesus. And I get to feel the pain of Elijah and of Thomas because I have been there. I have felt their loneliness, their lack of understanding, their despair. And yet in the midst of it, for all three of us, God has been faithful to reveal Himself, to look us each in the eye and say,

"Hey, you. Yea, I never left. I never left you and I never will. Believe, my dear, in miracles. Because I am alive and moving, and you, my beloved, are a part of that movement." 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A quarter of a century!

As I waited out the last few hours of my 24th year, I began to contemplate my life. I’ve lived for 25 years. A quarter of a century ago I entered this world and began my life. It doesn’t seem like its been that long, since I was a little girl. Part of me wishes I could watch it go by, in a picture slideshow, just to remember. Putting all the pieces together of who I am now and how I got here. So many things have shaped my life. My parents and their love for fun and adventure. My brother, my sister, the conflict and the childhood games. The friends, the moves, the heartbreaks, the trips. Everything, every moment of the last 25 years has shaped the woman that I am now. Faces run through my head. People whose words have lasted for so long in my mind. Teachers, coaches, childhood friends. 

For me, these 25 years have been full. I’ve moved to England, moved back to America. I’ve grown up in Virginia, then an unexpected turn into Georgia. I’ve turned 20 in Spain, built a house in Portugal, seen the tip of India and the Taj Mahal. I’ve moved out on my own, all the way across the country from my family and friends. I’ve become a California girl, and then an Arizona one. I’ve studied so much, I’ve met so many people, I’ve traveled Latin America and Canada and Europe and Asia. 

I’ve had hard times and I’ve had the best times. I’ve been surrounded by the most amazing people in the whole wide world. I’ve gotten to be a part of so many happy families. 

My 25 years have been full, and beautiful, and amazing. And I hope that I have 25, 50, 75 more years to go, I really do. But no matter what, I know that I have lived a full life. I have loved and been loved. I have served God with everything that I have, even with my flaws. I have sought to be the best I can be, and I have picked up when I have fallen. 

If only the first 25 years of my life were looked at, I would say that I have been one very blessed girl. And as I spent my 9,125th day on this earth with a bunch of Apache teenagers, far from my friends, far from my family, I found great joy in where I have ended up. And I believe, with all my heart, that this next year will be just as full and good as the ones that have passed.

So here is to being 9,125 days old. 

And here is to the beauty, the pain, and the joy that will be found in the days to come. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

God is Crazy Cool. . .am I right?!

Lately I've been feeling a little wonky, like in the midst of my work and my mission and my life, I lost who I was. To be honest, I sat back earlier this week and barely recognized myself. My brain has been feeling all jumbled, like too much is in it and nothing can find its place. And the challenges of transitioning into this new life have seem to all come together, leaving me feeling isolated and disoriented.

My view of God has also been wildly challenged, and I am still trying to figure that one out.

And I haven't been able to find the root of it all. Perhaps it is compassion fatigue, perhaps it is trying to sort out all the hard things that surround me, perhaps it is something else entirely. All I know is that I haven't been feeling all that great, all that present, or all that useful. 

And then today happened. 

Today, the lovely and amazing people of Northridge Christian Church came down to spend some time with me in Whiteriver. This is one of my supporting churches, but MORE than that, they are from my college town, Milledgeville, GA. Simply having people from your hometown makes one feel like they can breathe a little easier. These people get me, they understand where I have come from. And they are just awesome people to be around. 

In a place where I have become so jaded to the things around me, they walked in with open hearts and a faith that could move mountains. They embraced the locals (even the drunk ones) like they were a long lost brother or sister. They prayed for the community with passion, and words that struck right to the core of things. They spoke of Jesus with such confidence and faith. They were full of so much joy. 

And as I spent the day with them, I gained strength by inviting them into my world and struggles. As I shared with them the issues, the hardship and many aspects of my work, all my scaly layers began to fall off, and the joy and happiness that I remembered having began to shine through again. Their love for this place, for me, for God, restored in me all the hope that I had unwillingly lost. I saw God in them, and it was beautiful because it was God who had known what I needed. 

I had needed these lovelies to come in and remind me of His power, His love, His truth, because I had lost sight of it in the midst of trying to walk alongside so many hurts. 

I had been trying to navigate a dark and twisty road, and Northridge came in today and gave me a light. 

And it was the best day ever.