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Under the Lights

Gethsemane 

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Anxiety

Loneliness

Betrayal

Death

How could you stand it?

To be fully God and yet so fully man

What a curse

To know you had to lose it all

Is there another way?

But there isn’t

You turn and look at your most beloved friends

Asleep

You’re all alone

Blood drips from you body

Why didn’t you run?

 
And I look at myself

At my best

I am the frind who falls asleep at your darkest hour

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

At my worst

I am the betrayer himself

“And they paid him thirty pieces of silver”

And I hear You say

“I love you”

As you stand, take the cross, and die

For me

 
Thank you Jesus

King

Savior

Friend

The Golden Age

Like the rest of us, I’ve been trying to figure out how to move forward into 2017 after our crazy 2016. There are some moments I’d love to go back to. (Can we talk about that World Series though?? GO CUBS GO!) And there are lots of moments I want to forget. Regardless, I think we’ve all been doing a lot of reflecting and perhaps reminiscing about the “good ole days”, whatever those were.

It seems that we are enchanted by a time that was the perfect time to live: the Golden age. In one of my favorite movies, “Midnight in Paris,” Gil is obsessed the 1920’s, and actually ends up finding a way to transport himself to that era each night at midnight while vacationing in Paris. The movie itself is quirky, romantic, and so unbelievable that I find myself laughing at the utter ridiculousness that Gil finds himself in. At one point in the film, Gil is having a conversation with a woman from the 20’s who is obsessed with the Turn of the Century, the late 1890’s into 1900. To her, that was the golden age, finding that the 1920’s are so plain. Suddenly Gil begins to make sense of something another character had said earlier in the film:

“Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

But Gil and Adriana aren’t the only ones guilty of this kind of “golden age thinking.” I too often find myself saying that I fel was born in the wrong decade. I would’ve loved to be a part of the 70’s or even the Roaring 20’s myself. Or sometimes my golden age is a time in the future, in my imagination, that hasn’t occurred yet. And yet, nothing ever goes the way that we imagine it will, this too is denial of the present. Why do we do this? Why is it so hard to stay focused and present?

Recently I was reading an excerpt from C S Lewis’ “Weight of Glory” in which I happened upon this beautiful quote:

In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.

Perhaps this desire for a golden age is a God given one. But we always stop too short. Perhaps instead of looking to the “good ole days” or the future in our imaginations, we are meant to seek the glory of the coming kingdom, the New Heaven and New Earth which awaits us. Perhaps our golden age is more golden than we’ve ever experienced or imagined. Let us not stop reflecting on where we’ve come from, or dreaming of where we’ll go, but let us also use the glimpses of sweet light in those moments push us out of what we know into the glorious beyond where God sits and prepares our true home. Let us live in THIS hope in 2017, and every golden age to come.

The Journey of the Old Wise Man

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted nothing more than to be seen, known, and loved. She dreamed of the day when someone, anyone, would look into her soul and say “I choose you.” But one day as she was dreaming, a sharp wind blew in by the name of Fear. 

“But what if someone does see you?” asked Fear. 

Suddenly, the girl felt very afraid. 

“Say someone does see me,” thought the girl “but they don’t like what they see. If they knew what I have done, perhaps they could never love me.” For the girl had tried very hard to be good, but had made lots of mistakes. The girl tried to shake the Fear that now followed her, but she could no longer remember what had been so good about being seen. So the girl ran away and hid somewhere so far away that nobody could find her. She told herself that it was better to be by herself than to be rejected. She even tried to convince herself that she was not lonely or sad. But every now and then, the girl would begin to cry, soft and steady, because she had come to believe that she was alone because she was unlovable. 

Now at the same time, there was a man who lived on a mountain. The man was very old, even ancient some said. He was also very wise, much wiser than any other man in the world. Many tried to climb the mountain to reach the Old Wise Man, but the road was steep and hard, too hard for anyone to climb. But rumors say that the Old Wise Man would come down to meet those who were seeking him, because the Old Wise Man was very good. 

One day, the Old Wise Man was sitting on top of the mountain  when he heard in the breeze the faint sound of a girl crying. He knew that she was very far away, so far that perhaps no one would find her. But the Old Wise Man was determined to find the crying girl. The next morning, before the sun had even begun to rise, the Old Wise Man set out from on top of the mountain to begin the long treacherous journey to find the girl. 

He started down the mountain. The rocks were steep, sharp, slippery. But the Old Wise Man didn’t fall. With a sweaty brow and bloody scratches on his legs, the Old Wise Man reached the bottom of the mountain, the place where he had met so many seekers. He looked this way and that, but the girl was nowhere to be found. As he listened, he could still hear the cries in the wind. He followed the wind until it lead him to the edge of the forest.

Now the forest was very dark, full of monsters that threatened to eat anyone who entered. But the Old Wise Man was very brave, and he wanted so badly to find the girl, so he stepped into the darkness. He had been in the forest before, but it was a long time ago, and the forest was not as dark then. The further into the forest he went, the darker it became. Anyone else would have given up hope, but the Old Wise Man thought the girl was worth it, and he continued on. 

After countless days of searching, the Old Wise Man saw a glimmer of light through the trees. He knew he had reached the end of the forest. When he at last had escaped the darkness, he stopped and listened for the crying girl once more. The sobs were louder than they had been before, so he knew she must be close. But the Old Wise Man was so tired from his journey. He had not slept in days. So he found a tree outside of a cave and laid down underneath it. The Old Wise Man slept soundly, knowing that his journey was nearly over and that he would soon find the girl.

When he awoke, he heard the crying girl once more. The sobs seemed to be coming from inside the cave. He ventured deep into the cave, so deep that he began to wonder if perhaps the cave never ended. But after a while he found a cleft with a girl curled up inside of it sobbing. He watched her for a moment, and his heart overflowed with compassion. He loved this girl so much. Even as he stood right next to her, she did not notice him. He leaned in close and kissed her cheek. At first she was startled. She was so certain that nobody would find her. She was overtaken with Fear and shrunk away from him. But even as she did so, she reached up and touched the place on her cheek that the Old Wise Man had kissed. What provoked this kindness and affection? 

“Surely he’s confused.” she thought.”He must be looking for someone else.” 

So she built up some confidence and said to the man, “Sir, who are you looking for?”

He smiled so big that all of his ancient wrinkles shifted across his face. 

“I am looking for you, my dear.” He said. 

The girl did not understand.

“But I was hiding.” she said. “I didn’t want to be found, you see. It is better for me to be alone.” 

The Old Wise Man stepped closer with tears in his eyes. He slowly reached out his hand and brushed the hair from the girl’s tear stained face. As he gazed into her eyes, the girl felt as though she was being truly seen, like she had always wanted. And even though she had made mistakes, the Old Wise Man loved her deeply and unconditionally. The girl began to cry again, but this time instead of tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy. The Old Wise Man did not tell her to stop crying. He knew that these new tears, these tears of joy, were washing the Fear right out of her. 

After a while, the tears subsided. The girl even began to smile a bit. The Old Wise Man took her hand and lead her to the edge of the cave. He showed her the tree where he had found so much peace the night before and invited her to rest there. As she rested, the Old Wise Man told her stories. His stories filled the girl’s imagination with color and life, things she had not experienced in a very long time. After a while, the Old Wise Man finished his stories. 

“I’m going back to my mountain now.” He said. “Would you like to come with me?” 

The girl started to feel Fear creeping back because the Old Wise Man had told her of the dark forest and the steep mountain and she knew they would have to go back that way again. 

“But I am not brave or strong.” said the girl, looking down, away from the eyes of the Old Wise Man. “It would be better to go without me.” 

The Old Wise Man waited for her to gaze into his face once more. What she saw was the kindest face one can imagine. Even more so, if you can even imagine that. He spoke with a rumble, kind but powerful.

“I am brave and strong enough for the both of us.” He said. “I choose you.” 

And suddenly the girl wasn’t so afraid anymore because the Old Wise Man had said the three words that she had been waiting her whole life to hear. The forest didn’t sound so dark and the mountain didn’t sound so steep, because she knew that as long as she was with the Old Wise Man she would be safe. 

So the girl and the Old Wise Man stood up from under the tree and went on their way. And as they walked hand in hand on their journey, the Old Wise Man gave the girl a new name: the Girl Who Was Seen. 

The End (of the beginning).

I’m good. 

​How are you?

This is the loaded and intrusive question that comes at me from several angles every day. How do I even begin to answer a question like that? 

From a young age I learned from society that the proper way to answer that question is to say “good,” whether you actually are or not. What I’ve also learned is that if you don’t say good, people try to figure out why you aren’t good and fix it. These people have good intentions I’m sure, but the message that has been sent to me is “it’s not ok to not be ok.” So in order to appease the culture and not disturb the peace (and being a good first-born), I comply. I’m “good.” I’m “busy.” Life’s “fun” and “exciting.” 

But what if it’s not. Not in a “I’m falling apart and I desperately need help” kind of way, but in a “I’m hurting today” or “I’m confused” or “I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning” kind of way. 

The other day I was doing something stupid and I spilled coffee on my carefully color-coded planner. If that’s not a metaphor of my life right now, I don’t know what is. In the midst of trying to have it all together, be on time to everything, and wear the biggest smile, a lot of days I feel just like my planner: a big over-scheduled mess. And in my expectations from myself and the ones I think I’m receiving from everyone else, I feel like a failure every time I’m late to a meeting or finding that I haven’t washed my hair in four days. And the worst part is that somewhere deep in my soul I believe that God loves me less on the days nothing goes right. Because how can anyone truly know me AND love me, right? 

But here’s the truth that Jesus is calling me to. He doesn’t want my perfection. He doesn’t want me with my perfect schedule, all of my pieces put together, and not a care in the world. He can handle my mess. (Way better than I can if I may add.) He knows me AND loves me. How impossibly lovely is that? 

Here in this season I’m learning to lean into the grace of God that allows me to not be ok when everything in me screams “GET IT TOGETHER!” To be ok with boring nights and not beating myself up when I lock myself out of my apartment (which I’ve only done once by the way!) To free myself from trying to impress everyone I know and meet. To be the woman God has made me to be, even with my scars and blemishes. And to know that Jesus is not afraid to get down into the muck with little disasters like me. Hallelujah, what a Savior! 

Unspiritual Art

​I think there is grief in the fact that many of us have lost our imaginations and sense of wonder. This is not merely due to the fact that we have technology that creates for us, though that is no doubt attributing to our loss in some way. But I believe this erosion, particularly in the American church, has much to do with our dismissal of the arts as important and valuable and overall unspiritual. We have gotten used to settling for mediocre worship in the pews and all of life, as if it is wrong to accept the best and most beautiful. As people of extremes I understand that we can easily swing the other way –refusing anything that does not meet our expectations and turning worship into something that must be showy and perfect, as if Jesus does not accept our mess. Please do not hear me saying that. However, I think we have let the world have the arts, and it pains me. How many times have I seen a Christian who is interested in theatre, in painting, in film, and the Church sticks up her nose at them as if these interests are too worldly. (By the way, no one bats an eye at a Christian obsessed with football.) Is there darkness in the arts? Absolutely. But is the solution then to shelter ourselves from such things? By no means! Jesus says that we are the light of the world. What is the point of light if not to shine amongst the darkness? We are all made in the image of God. ALL. Therefore even the artist who is walking furthest from God has the ability to create in a way that reflects Him. Van Gogh. Shakespeare. George Lucas. So many artists have been gifted with an eye for beauty, an eye that sees beyond this present and reflects something other. If we don’t believe that God can use anybody and anything to reflect Himself, perhaps our idea of God is too small. Here’s an example that’s a bit closer to home: I went to see the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King this past year. There were several points during this show that reminded me of Jesus, but one stands out in particular. At the end, Simba is claiming his throne, and in a majestic moment he ascends Pride Rock, stopping momentarily only to roar as all of the creatures stop and bow. As I sat in my overpriced nosebleed seats, I was overcome with worship. It was a glimpse of Heaven, of my sweet King Jesus. And I found Him in a Disney story based off of a Shakespeare play, no less! As I listened to the soundtrack nonstop for several weeks following, I continued to bask in the unexpected meeting of my Lord there. And this is just one example of the many places I’ve been unexpectedly graced with God’s presence in the arts. I can think of many others including literature, movies, paintings, photography, and music, made by Christians and non-Christians alike. I think more often than not if we are not seeing Jesus, we’re not looking. And when we neglect to commune with God our Creator by creating or appreciating creations of various kinds we stunt our spirituality and miss out on an aspect of God’s character that He has so deeply ingrained into us. The church ought to be the most supportive and invested in the arts because God is, after all, the ultimate Artist. 

Miss Grumpy-Pants


I don’t really love the Lord on Monday mornings. Hear me out. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the farthest thing from a morning person. From the time I wake up I need at least 30 minutes if not an hour to be alone and quiet before life happens. I’ve always been this way. Monday mornings are the hardest for me because I’m always up at 5:30am, which is practically the middle of the night for my night owl soul. Because I work a 10-hour day on Mondays and there’s lots of things that I have to remember to do those days, I usually have stress dreams the entire night before, which means I don’t get much sleep and I wake up anxious. (Last night was the one where I forgot to go to work on time and I was 3 hours late.) I’m tired and cranky and I always wish I could still be in bed. How I wish I could wake up with the joy of the Lord in my heart. Perhaps Monday mornings will always be my sanctification. As much as I want to love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I find that my love is half-hearted, my soul is not into it, my mind is not filled with loving things, and it takes all of my strength just to get myself out of bed. Thankfully, my Jesus loves me even at my worst, and my worst might just be Monday mornings. I am thankful for a God who takes my half-hearted and grumpy offering and patiently loves me into joy. 

Checkpoint

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It has been 40 days since graduation. It’s only been 40 days but it feels more like 40 months. I am adjusting to the mediocre things like daily dishes and weekly grocery shopping. I am (easily) learning to find joy in small things like reading my Bible and journaling on the beach across the street from my apartment, riding my bike to play with 40 dogs AND getting paid for it, and the excitement of sales on fresh mangoes. I just finished the 6th book of my summer reads and I’m not slowing down anytime soon. I finally got myself a Chicago library card (I may as well be putting my taxes to good use!) All in all, I am a generally happy college graduate just trying to figure out what kind of adult I am, since the world seems to insist that I am one. Being fresh out of Bible school, I find that Sundays are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. Not only because of the fast friends I am making at church, but also because of the rich spiritual nourishment I am missing from the majority of my week. As exhausting as 3 and a half years of Thanksgiving sized spiritual meals was, my appetite for them has definitely grown and I find myself longing for spiritual things and intellectual thought. (The only downside to working with dogs is that they’re not really good conversationalists.) I feel like someone has played a great joke on me by taking away the structure of school. As much as I like the freedom, I get school. I understand the rules and how everything is supposed to work. I know my role and what is expected of me. Not having anything like this is unsettling for me. I keep feeling this tug in my heart to fill my schedule to the brim with things and run around like I have been for so long. I know how to function like that, and I feel…busy. It sounds better to say that I’m busy than to say after work I sat at home with a cup of tea and an episode of Friends. It sounds exciting and mysterious and on some level, fun. And yet, the life I have right now is restful and joy-filled. Each time my heart tugs with the desire to run around, I hear God’s voice in my ear saying “Rest.” God has clearly called me to a season of rest. A Sabbath season. That sounds all well and good for a couple of weeks, but now I am becoming restless and I want to be distracted again. I am more used to running than resting. Like I have become aware of before, sometimes God “makes me lie down in green pastures.” God is teaching me to rest and leave Him to take care of me. With so much time on my hands, I often find my thoughts jumping around all over the place. Since I am on my own, finances often occupy my mind. I have been in deep prayer over a Spiritual Formation program in the fall. It is something I have really wanted to do and it is an opportunity to spend some intentional time with some guidance focused on my spiritual life in the fall. I have been quite excited about the prospect, but slightly concerned about where the funds would come from. As of now I am only living on a part time job, which is fine for rent, but not great when I have a down payment for this program due the same day. As I sat for many days with my bank account open and my calculator out, and then later on the beach with my journal in desperate prayer, I tried my best to hand it all over to God but I was so unsure. Then I unexpectedly received extra graduation money, which gave me just enough (with my last paycheck) to cover both rent and my program! Though it didn’t give me much left over. I whispered a half-hearted prayer today on my way home from work for any possible way to get more money in the next week so I can have a little wiggle room for groceries (or at least mangoes) until I get paid again. Then 15 minutes later (quite possibly the fastest answer to prayer I’ve ever received) I got a text from a family I often babysit for offering to pay me $50 to housesit for them next week. And I laughed. And then I nearly cried. Because I don’t feel like I have anything together really. And I am happy, but nervous as heck to be adulting. And God loves me so much. I can see it in the way He provides, and feel it in the way that He is clearly healing my weary soul. And in the midst of trying to figure out who I am, I haven’t gotten very far, but I know this for sure. I am His.

Unapologetic Hot Mess

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Today, I am an adult. I guess you could have said that when I turned 18 and bought my first lottery ticket. Or when I turned 20 and left those teen years behind me forever. But at 22 I graduated college and today I begin that crazy thing called adulthood. It’s not glamorous, at least not for me. But frankly, I don’t think I’d want it to be. There’s something very comforting about doing very mediocre things. Although it’s quite difficult to do mornings, like any good commuter I was up by 5:15, on the train by 6:13, and at work by 7. I found out that lots of people are morning commuters. I like the quietness of the morning, even if it is early. (It’s also warm…ask me how I feel about it in January 😝).
As I walked out the door of my apartment (my apartment?!) with bookbag in tow, a skip in my heart, a lump in my stomach, and some tears in my eyes, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was being thrust back into my first day of kindergarten. Everything is new and I don’t quite know what to think or feel yet. It’s both exciting and unsettling. Instead of my mom by my side, this time it’s just me and Jesus walking hand in hand into this big scary world. Yet if I’m not mistaken, I made it through kindergarten. I made it through school entirely. This new adventure won’t be new for long. And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll turn into a morning person after all! (But don’t count on it ;)).

Note: The photo above was a selfie with one of my “clients” in my new job. I think I’m going to like it here.

Only Read If You’re Emotionally [Un]Stable

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Lately I have been experiencing a series of “lasts.” They seem to come daily now, and it is often the lasts that I’ve overlooked that make me the most sentimental. At least in the moment. I feel as though I am being dragged through an extended break up that I’m not sure I want to happen, saying goodbye when I don’t want to and I’m not quite ready for it.

This week I had —

My last week at the church I’ve been at for about 3 years.

My last Exec meeting for Campus Ministries. (I didn’t cry that day, but I did 2 days later. Our group picture that sits on my desk is perpetually making me sad.)

My last Gospel Choir performance.

My last floor meeting in CPO. (It’s one of those quirky things I actually kind of enjoyed.)

My last counseling classes of my undergrad degree. (My professors have poured so much into me in the last two years.)

My last classes of any kind in undergrad.

My last chapel.

My last PCM…and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.

And today I had my last Saturday morning pancakes on my floor.

Most of these things are so surreal, and I’ll continue to have lasts all this week too. I’m not too sad about my last final and my last day in the SDR, but they are little pieces that bring together the end of my college experience. And in exactly a week from today I’ll be GRADUATED from COLLEGE. That certainly doesn’t feel real. I don’t feel old enough to be trusted with anything post college. And yet somehow I’ve made it. And now that it’s here, it’s not really how I thought it would feel. I got senioritis, but not in the same way as high school. I don’t want to do homework or go to class, but I want to be here and savor these moments in this place that has become home for me. It’s sad to leave behind a place that has touched parts of my heart that I didn’t know I needed touched. Living in these walls has allowed me to grow into a person I never could have imagined four years ago. I feel so lucky to be so sad to leave.

So if you see me this week and you can’t tell from the look on my face what emotion I’m feeling, it’s ok. I probably don’t know either. I’ve experienced all of them in the past hour at least once or twice. But I know that these last things have to happen so my next things can. Thanks to 500 Days of Summer for showing me that when Summer ends, Autumn comes (oops, spoilers!)

 

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