Thursday, April 24, 2014

Love Without End

Lately, it has been very difficult for me to love others. Unbelievably hard. I've been planning for a wedding, working part-time at The Woodsman and full-time subbing at a school in Fort Smith. I'm not sure about you, but I rely too much on others opinions of me. It wears me down. I strive so hard to be the best that I can be towards that person. Whatever I think their standards for me are, I can do nothing but try and achieve those standards.

Today I learned a tough lesson. To be like Christ means to LOVE regardless of the love that I receive. I honestly don't think most people understand this fully until they literally make themselves love someone whom they know will never love them back. I'm not talking about "the idea of someone" either. I can't love the person I think they will be. I have to love people for who they are now. Not for their potential either... their raw, present self.

Jesus loves right now. He doesn't love based on what we'll be when we get saved. He doesn't love based on potential either. He loves simply because that's what he is. LOVE. He just loves, at all times, effortlessly, endlessly and graciously.

I haven't ever really felt God calling me to do something difficult. Usually, what he is teaching me I know that I can do. If I put myself aside, I can be patient. If I put myself aside, I can serve others. But to love someone whom I know will most likely never repay that love is the hardest thing I think I can think of.

That's heavy. To love someone whom will never love you back. Whom doesn't care that you're pouring your heart and soul into them. To love someone simply because you do. You can't explain it.. .you just do. They don't deserve it, nor will they ever earn it... you just love.

I know that God is asking that of me. With every waking morning... knowing that I'll face twenty-five faces of children who I hope to be apart of their story one day, yet will never love me, is heart breaking. It makes me cry. I want them to love me so badly. I want them to feel the great amount of love that I have for them. But they may never be able to do that.

Regardless... I love. I love because He loves me. It's the outpouring of my heart and the song of my soul. I simply respond in a way that I'm treated. I'm unconditionally loved, so I must unconditionally love. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do What You Wanna Do

I'm adorable. And by adorable I mean, ridiculous. I think I've managed to post one blog per year. Maybe that should've been my new years resolution this year... to really try and think through my feelings by blogging them. ;)

Since the last blog post, almost a year ago; I've moved back home, left Chick-fil-A and am now at The Woodsman Co. (an outdoor store in the Fort), and have almost completely changed the face of who I am.

Facinating. Haha.

Before I dive in, I'd like to say that I think it's okay to change. Is it okay that I give us all that permission? YES. So you're twenty-three and a college graduate with a degree you wish you would've thought through better... it's okay. It's okay because you aren't alone, I'm the captain of that ship my friend.

I never imagined I would be this person. So unstable, so confused. I never thought my dreams and desires would be so scattered and abstract until it's impossible to pin point exactly what direction I want to take. I meet people every single day that know what direction they're headed in. They may not know how they're going to get there, but they know where they're going. Those friends are two or three steps ahead of me... I don't even know which way to look for the direction that I may want to go.
Through the jobs I've had I have gotten the opportunity to get to know some pretty colorful characters. These people have helped to shape me into the confused individual that I proclaim to be. (which, let me emphasize, is okay)
I recently had a mind-blowing conversation with a co-worker of mine, that made my current world completely make sense. I've been in a weird period of transition for about a year now. This place in my life has caused me to stress, cry, lose sleep, become anxious and every other feeling that would accompany discomfort. Nick has been crucial to my sense making. In case you don't know me too well, I have a tendancy to fly off the handle when it comes to change and stress. Without people like Nick, I would just lose it.

We started out discussing American culture and how children are reared versus how children were raised fifty years ago and even how we were raised ten years ago. American culture within this new, young generation has changed so much. As confused as we think we are about our lives, these poor little tykes are going to have heart attacks by the age of twenty-five due to the lack of direction and mentorship within their lives. It's vital. As vital as a good mentor and guide is in the lives of young adults, there is also this great need for someone to reiterate to them that their confusion is okay. It should be embraced even. Confusion within the path or paths to take within life, confusion with emotions, all the way down the confusion with the tough stuff: politics and religion. People should embrace their thoughts, literally take their questions and rabbit trails and give them a great big hug and just sit and chew on them for a while. When we allow ourselves to really think what we want to think, we learn who we are, which in turn, opens up the path(s) we want to take.

I was thinking about all this encompassed within the conversation Nick and I were having, and came to a realization.

                                          America, we have to do what we want to do.

It sounds so simple, and elementary and easy. But it's not. Think about what you really want to do, what makes your heart sing, what puts a dance in your step. Now think about all the things/people/responsibilities telling you not to do it. For me, and dare I say, for you as well, it can all boil down to how we were raised and what drives us.

What drives you?

What gives you purpose?

I'm going to go ahead and assume the majority of people reading this are believers in Christ. And I'm also going to go ahead and assume that you all answered those questions quickly and quite literally.

What drives me? Well, Christ and the furtherance of His Kingdom.
What gives you purpose? Haha... Christ. Seriously?

But really chew on that. Really think about you. Really walk into that unknown dark forest and explore. What drives you? What gives YOU purpose? Why do you want to live?

Here are my thoughts:

How is it, that we feel one way about life, do some things and experience results that aren't satisfying? How can we be expected to profit from a life that we don't invest 100% in, and above all, how can we invest 100% into something that we don't really and truly wish to experience? Essentially, how can we expect to feel fullfilled living a life that we do not love?
Do you see what I'm saying?

I couldn't help but go back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. There are levels of fullfillment that we reach throughout our lives. If one of those levels isn't reaches accordingly, we cannot fully focus on the following level. Take food, water and shelter for instance; if you haven't eaten in days, have no home, and are not sure where your next meal will come from, how are you going to be able to focus on finding a job? Or on needless things like politics and the law? Obviously those aren't going to be your primary concerns. You're going to seek food and shelter first, no matter the cost. So and so forth up the ladder.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

Notice that things like "morality, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts" are all at the highest level.  According to Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper "A theory of Human Motivation", Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. Maslow used the terms "Physiological, Safety, Belongingness, Love, Esteem and Self- Actualization" Self-transcendence, the highest level of fullfillment, refers to when a person seeks to further the boundaries of their ideal self, to experience an intimacy beyond themselves.
As I chewed on this for a moment, I thought to myself, no wonder  I, along with countless others, do not feel fullfilled in Christ.

                                                                  Gasp.

We have come to believe that we have to "give everything" and "forsake ourselves" in order to truly believe in Christ and love according to the Word. I'm not sure about you guys, but I don't want to do that. What do I really want to do? I really want to see the world. I really want to be outside all the time. I really want to meet and learn from many different people and cultures. Experience life. Some may say it's because I am twenty-three, but I don't think it is. I know some people older than myself, who are searching just like I am. What if I'm actually ahead of the game. What if I'm going through my mid-life crisis now? The way I see it, I've got one choice. I've got one life. I have to do what I feel.

To explain my thought processes, I have often used my recent decision to chop my hair off. Now, I realize that a haircut isn't half as world-altering and mind-blowing as, say, moving states. But it makes sense to me and helps me make sense of why and how I think through my decision making.

I recently wanted to cut all of my hair off. To be frank, I wanted to go borderline bald, but thankfully I'm not a complete moron. I thought about this for weeks without any one knowing. Then I went to some key players in my life and asked their opinions. One person, my best friend, told me to do it. Everyone else said I'd look like a boy, I don't have the face for it, I'm too tall, too un-petit, etc.
Finally, one random day, I drove about fourty-five minutes south of my home, found a random hair stylist and cut it. No one knew. I was terrified, but very, very satisfied.
This silly hair journey has turned out to reveal alot about myself and the generation surrounding me. We cannot think on our own. If we do, we freak out. If we actually let ourselves chew on our thoughts and make our own decisions instead of following the pattern laid down before us by our parents, youth ministers, ministers, mentors, siblings etc., we think we will fail. There's no way that our desires are what God really wants us to do. Theres no way that I can fullfill my calling that I feel like Christ has put on my life (Which is the same for all of us by the way. The only "calling" that has been placed on us is to spread the Word and love like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't) unless I do what I want to do.

I'm not talking about the obvious, living a life of true sin and living for your own desires and pleasures. Please understand that I'm not promoting self-indulgence or selfishness. By no means. I'm promoting following what God has built into you instead of feeling like you have to impress and be like that girl or guy that is going to Africa or Nepal this summer.

Which leads to the last leg of this race.

Nick said something profound, and it broke my heart. He said:
                              
       "If there existed a religion that merged the doctorines of Christianity; loving others, serving others, community and selflessness, with the doctorines of an Eastern religion like Hinduism where you look within yourself to find who you are and your purpose, I would believe in it and follow it whole heartedly. The problem with Christianity is that everyone is watching everyone else for directions on how to live until they end up living lives that they are unhappy with. Everyone is too focused on everyone else. How can they do anything for "god" if their too focused on what everyone else is doing for him? I don't want any part of that."

This friend has got the picture better than the majority of our churches, I'm afraid. It's beautiful really, because what Nick said IS Christianity! There's the old 90s worship song that talks about there being a "God-shaped hole" inside of all of us. That's true. Every creation points back to it's creator, whether it acknowledges it or not. Whether we want to accept it or embrace it or not, we point to Christ. Nick just proved my point. Even though we are not representing him in a way that makes Nick want to join, we are still representing him. Apparently we aren't doing a very good job, because Nick doesn't even really understand what Christianity is. We're all too busy waiting for someone else to explain it to the world.

What ever happened to meditation? Meditating, chewing on the Word, day and night? What ever happened to embracing the creation that God made each and every one of us, instead of embracing what we wish we were?

Psalm 119: 14-16
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Joshua 1:7-9
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good successwherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Meditate. Chew. Not only on the Word, but dig within yourself and really think about who God has asked you to be. This is our duty as the Body.

I Corinthians 12:17-19
" If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?"

We all have our place. I have the desires that I have because God placed them on me. That's okay. My immediate reaction in time of need is to go to someone. A whole lot of someones. By the time I've asked everyone's opinion, I'm beyond confused, hurt, broken and stressed. Even if it's as simple as a hair cut. You have to do it. You do. It was placed on you for a reason. You will do it.

If you're called to have a family and raise children, you have to do it. Pray for patience and understanding and the peace of Christ until he brings you to that place in your life.

If you're called to travel the world, whatever the capacity (you don't have to take care of little babies or asians in order to be on mission. You can backpack Europe or spend a year teaching English and have more of an impact) Do it.

I have been living a life I didn't choose for a while.  I have been trying to be someone I wasn't sure of for a long time. I have desires. I have passions. They are different than yours. I no longer want to guage myself against your passions. We both make up the body. I cannot be an ear when I'm made to be a finger. And that's okay.

 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"...Our hearts burned within us."

I haven't posted to my blog in over a year. As a matter of fact, the whole reason I created the blog was to compile the crazy stories I would experience from working at the bookstore... hence the name of the blog. Since the last post, I am no longer at the bookstore, but at a fast food eating establishment. I have graduated college and am preparing to move. I have seen a horrible family split, watched a boyfriend come and go, and witnessed changes within my own faith and personality that I didn't think would ever happen.

So many things have happened over the course of the last year. It would be madness for me to try and summarize it into one blog post... so I've decided that I'm barely going to scrape the surface.

Today is Easter.
I went to church.
I enjoyed it immensely and I've missed the heart burn.

Jason, my pastor at Jenny Lind First Baptist Church in Greenwood, preached on Luke 24 this morning... a passage commonly known as the resurrection passage; the one where Jesus reveals himself to the two on the road to Emmaus. I have always loved verse 32.. when the two realize that Jesus was just among them and that he had been with them all along on their journey. They said to each other "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" (ESV) I have always loved that. Our hearts burn within us when Jesus speaks. That explains so much about the new testament. During any encounter with Jesus people were in awe of, and respected his words. Their hearts were set ablaze. This is exactly what happens when someone experiences "salvation". Our hearts are set ablaze... we realize that he has been with us all along... unfolding our lives before us and explaining to us the wonders and the majesty of the Father.
Today as Jason preached I couldn't help to be brought back to that "awe" moment. I spent a few moments remembering what it was like when my heart would be set ablaze by Jesus. In those moments I am given hope and a future. In those moments my faith is so rock solid that no one can waver me. But somehow... we always revert back to reality, when heaven is all around us. We don't have to wait for our hearts to be set ablaze to be grateful... we should be grateful for the opportunity to experience the fire, and we should never be content with embers... we should always be ready for him to spark the wildfire that will fuel us into passion for himself and those around us. It's been a while... and to feel the heart burn today reminded me of my purpose and passion...
May our hearts be set ablaze as we remember him. And may our hearts continue to radiate all throughout the year.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Everything Comes Together

Tuesday I got called into work. I usually work Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays, but I got called in on Tuesday because Pam was horribly sick with the flu. I went in around 2:30, which I was kind of relieved because I hadn't been doing anything, nothing productive or destructive, so I was very excited to finally be up to something.
I went back in for my usual times on Wednesday. I usually work with Javan on Wednesday, but he left shortly after lunch because of a nasty stomach bug plaguing his health. I'm alone from 12:30-about 4:00ish.
Pam comes in around 4 to 4:15, even though she's still sick as a dog. I got a little frustrated because I didn't want her to be there while she was sick... She comes in and sits her purse down and gets to work. I'm just hanging out behind the counter reading "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. An excellent book if I do say so myself.

Pam comes out and just begins to chat. This rarely happens, usually, my awkward resistant self kicks in and I have to start some sort of conversation which usually leads to a discussion and a counseling session... However, this time she began things, and I honestly have no idea what she said.

She quickly goes into the story of how the store came about... This will be our 12th year of service come this August. She begins to tell me about how resistant she was in the beginning. "I cannot do this! You don't know what you're talking about, God." She would say... As she looks back now, she would tell me, she sees how God began to work in her life even as a little girl, preparing her for her purpose as the owner of Heart & Soul. (What an awesome purpose if I do say so myself.)
I'm going to leave the details to a minimum, just because this is a public diary and I would hate for something to get out that Pam didn't want other people to hear, however; I can say that she fought with God over the idea of the store for a while. Finally, one night she decides to get up and write out a business plan, not knowing from "Adam's house cat" how to draw up a business plan, she puts one in the works. The next morning her husband asks her what she had been up to. After viewing the plan he simply says "go for it" and sends her on her way. Poised to prove him wrong, she heads for the bank... by this time, God has been working on her heart for a while... by the fourth bank visit, she knows this plan is supposed to become real. The fourth bank gives her the okay, a series of impossible things happen, and Heart and Soul is born.

(For more on the story; just ask)

For a few weeks now, God has been nailing me with praying big. What's wrong with us that we don't have a big enough faith in our God to pray for the really big things expectantly? My 2011 prayer is that God will deliver my mother from smoking. This is humanly impossible. My father passed away from lung cancer when I was six and she couldn't even quit then. I have begged her through tears countless times and she still picks up the sticks. It's impossible, bigger than her, bigger than her faith. I've prayed for years, on and off, that God will deliver her from this Baal.

I've also been reading Chan's "Forgotten God". In that book, Chan begs the question to all of us: what are you afraid of? How are you intimidated by the Holy Spirit? What's stopping you? (basically).
What's stopping me?

I'm so afraid that He will let me down. My mother has let me down, Rebekah has let me down, My earthly father let me down, why won't God let me down?
Well, because He's God! It's literally in his nature to keep his promises... if you ever doubt, read Genesis and then watch for a rainbow. He promises, and He keeps them.

However; our faith shouldn't be in the fact that God keeps his promises, our faith shouldn't be anchored in His promises, it should be anchored in our God.

I shouldn't believe and pray to Him because His promises come true. I'm not going to give my life to an honest person, I'm going to give my life to a Holy Person. My life is worth a whole heap, and only someone that is going to give a whole heap deserves my life. I think Jesus paid the right price.

Pray expectantly. He's a big God. If he can breathe the planets to life, then he can breathe your prayers answered.








Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 13th.

I didn't have to work today or yesterday. I'd imagine not many people did have to work yesterday since there was a blanket of white and ice everywhere! Tomorrow I go back to begin the semester again. I have mixed feelings, But I have to admit that finally being excited about going back to the bookstore and school is a great feeling. I always hate leaving home, but after 21 years of being at home, I'm excited to spend my last semester in college housing. This Spring I will move out of Tech for good and move into an apartment with my best friend, Rebekah.
New Beginnings.
I hate to love them. This May, I will say goodbye to so many best friends. I'll cry so many painful tears and I'll laugh some of my last laughs with these lovely friends.
New Beginnings.
I hate to love them.
January 13th begins the end, and I'm not so sure I'm ready for it.

122 days until the end!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deaf, Mute and Hispanic

Haha, What?
I was working this past Saturday at the bookstore, it was around 4:45 pm... and usually around that time, in January we are dead. No customers, no business... nothing. A Hispanic woman walks in to pick up a special order of Spanish Bibles and decides she wants them engraved. I welcomed the opportunity because it's not like there was anything else to do. I sit down to begin engraving and close to 7 people walk in. 7 loud people.
Earlier that morning I had read in James 1 about "being quick to listen and slow to speak." God says this is the righteous life that he desires. I am reminded of this the minute I start complaining in my head, not to mention, we needed the business!
I go back to engraving, and with every  minute that passes, the customer gets less and less patient with me and my not so great engraving skills. A woman had walked in earlier requesting an application for the position that we had open and I had forgotten all about her, so I took a break after 2 bibles and got her the application. As I was returning to the engraver, an older gentleman approaches the register.

His arms are moving frantically and the noises coming out of his mouth aren't making sense. He has a warm smile on his face and an air about him that captures my attention. After trying to speak with him for at least 2 minutes, I realize that he's not only mute, but he's deaf.
I scramble around and find a small notepad, which turns into our communication board and begin to watch him write, or scratch. I couldn't read a word of it.... it looked roughly like this: mwnvmwnnwmvmu.
except of course it wasn't a bunch of letters, it was a bunch of cursive confusion.
In my mind I start to freak out, "What if he needs help, or something is wrong..." I'm thinking. "I can't help this guy! Why is he here Lord?" I remember my devo again. I can't hear him unless I'm calm, so I need to calm down. Then I am able to make out that he is asking for my boss. I tell him that Pam had left for the day and I was the only one there. He then asks me for a bible. (this simple question took at least 3 minutes for me to understand, but we got it.) I led him back to the bibles and pull out a KJV. He finds Exodus 35 and shows me where the Lord told Moses to tell his people that the Sabbath day was Holy and the needed to keep it that way. I nod, obviously not agreeing with his idea of the Sabbath, seeing as how I celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, not Saturday. He speaks some more noises and we go back to the register. Still unable to read his writing clearly, he says a few things and leaves with a smile on his face.


I left the store that night wondering why in the world something like that happened. For 30 minutes of my life, the store was full of hispanic people needing help. All speaking at once, in one form or another, and me unable to understand any of them. Before the crowd died down, a white couple made their way to the front. I calm myself and ask them if I can help in anyway. They smile, nod and leave. 


Still, two days later; I'm left wondering. 
Mute, Deaf and Hispanic...
haha... 
me?
Why?