Dec 19, 2007

Open Up

Let's be honest here. I'm glad to be away from school. I like school for the people. I don't even mind the school part so much. I had a good last semester. I did well in my classes despite my complete lack of work ethic. Yet even when I love the people at school, I wind up feeling pretty lonely. There's not a whole lot of accountability at school...and seeing as I spend the majority of my year there, I should have some, right? Right.

So I came home for break. This is the first break that feels like I've come back from college. I didn't come home very often this semester, and I get to see people with whom I don't normally spend a lot of time. I spent the first few days seeing people nonstop. I was busy, and I liked it. It felt good to have a lot of people to see and catch up with. I had good conversations. I went to a 2 and 1/2 hour worship service where I sat and journaled while people around me sang and danced. And it felt right.

I have continued to attend Colonial despite living 40 minutes away. I drove back every Sunday, and I liked it. Soma Christou was becoming a place that I felt a strong connection with God. Yet even then, I sat back and watched people around me and realized I was probably 7-10 years younger at least than probably everyone there. I was one of the few who was not married. And that was okay with me...most of the time. I listened to sermons promoting life groups, a little flock to encourage community amongst a large congregation. Sounded great - too bad I couldn't come back another day of the week. Not to mention that I am in a completely different life stage than everyone else. So I began to feel lonely even there. Then the service ended, and they still meet to pray. But I wonder - is my place there? I have felt adamant about supporting a church that has supported me since the day my family moved to Kansas City. I wasn't going to go to a church where I felt the worship was awesome or was a "cool" place to be. I wanted to go to a community, a body that I felt connected to and loved by. I wanted to be a part of a family that challenged me and fed me.

Ever since we moved to Kansas City, I have been searching for a place. I was desperately seeking somewhere safe that I felt included. I wanted a community. I wanted a little flock. Blue Valley North was anything but that. I counted down the years, semesters, months, days to graduation. Certainly college would be better. Youth group held friendships that I can't imagine being without - it held relationships that I will always love and do my best to feed. Jewell seemed to be the place for me. I joined a sorority because I felt a strong connection with the girls I met - and they made me feel like I was important. There were shepherds on each hall, there to lead bible studies and to be spiritual leaders. The campus ministry was supposed to have a great community. And part of the disconnect is my fault - my unwillingness to participate. But part of it was born from the watered-down version of a relationship with Christ. I rarely heard the name Jesus for fear of offending anyone. The community I expected to find at college - which some family and friends had managed to find - was not what I found. I church hopped last year, never quite finding the right place.

The summer hits - and Summer Staff begins. And the faithfulness of God shines through. HERE I found a community I am not sure I will ever see again. Try living with 15 other college kids that pursue God in ways you have never seen, who live out their faith in ways that inspired and challenged me, who made you laugh every moment and held you when you cried. I have never seen such encouragement for others like I did in those ten weeks. Moving in was the most unnerving and intimidating day I have ever lived; moving out was one of the saddest and most painful days of my life. I felt a community unlike any other: Audrey, Katie, Alee, Mara, Adrienne, Lindsey, Julie, Mallory, Chris, Billy, Kyle, Dylan, Jon, Aaron, Andrew - you have changed me for the better. I miss living with you every day.

Why is it that everyone goes through life desiring to be accepted by others, yet more often than not we are too afraid to admit it? No one wants to admit they need anything or anyone because it shows some vulnerability and some weakness. Yet here I sit, troubled over the loneliness in my heart. Is it necessary? Is it okay to feel this way? Should God not be enough for me? Yet I am an imperfect person...I will never know the fullness of a relationship with Him because my "self" gets in the way. It's a constant struggle of dying to self, of becoming less so He may become more. I think it's normal to be lonely. I think it's normal to want others to accept you. Doesn't mean it was how we were intended to be. Donald Miller talks about the lifeboat mentality and that if we just let the fact that God says we are important reign, we wouldn't be so anxious to feel accepted by other people. Good concept, but I don't think we'll ever get there.

I sound a little negative, don't I? I actually feel a little more hopeful. I think it's in times of recognition of weakness that we begin to open ourselves to the work of God. The more I tell Him I'm lonely, the closer I am to understanding His constant presence. I went to Homer's tonight to try and sort through my mess of a mind. I found this and it stuck with me:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24)

I want this to be real. I want to open my heart to Him so He can begin a good work. To see my anxieties and to lead me in the way everlasting. I'm a work in progress; I'm glad we have a patient, ever-loving, faithful, true God. I'm glad to be in a lonely place because I know that He's here. It's just a matter of opening myself up a little bit more everyday.

Dec 12, 2007

Pointless Post #1

I very much dislike posting without a specific purpose, but here it goes.

I have two more finals. I thought I was supposed to take one today at 11 - turns out it's TOMORROW at 11. Drat. I thought I would be done tonight at 5. I do have Arabic at 3. Mah ah sallaamah!

I know that finals week is always a stressful time for people, but I have to tell you, I love finals week. Primarily because Late Night Breakfast is during finals week. It's one of my favorite things about Jewell. But also, I don't have homework, just some last minute cramming. But when you walk out of the class - the weight comes off a little, and I have to smile. I haven't yet experienced the fear of "I am going to fail out of this class". That's not meant to sound cocky - just thankful. I am glad I haven't experienced that.

So, tomorrow at 1 I will be able to say I am 3/8 done with college. I will be able to say I am in nursing school. I am a proud owner of a stethoscope. I don't know how to use it but I sure do look official. I will be able to clean my room, pack my bags, sleep a lot, help other people study, and check out everyone on my hall. Friday at 5 I close up the dorm. Just me. Just kidding. There will be 9 of us. I am so excited to be home, sleeping in my bed, getting ready for Christmas, going to Homer's, seeing my friends. I will be sad to leave the lights at Jewell and the wonderful friends I have here.

Here's hoping the ice doesn't keep me away.

Nov 30, 2007

"These are both signed OG..."

Dear blog reader,

As my dear friend Rachel has pointed out, I am a phantom blogger. I may not write, but I do read. And I rarely comment. Sorry. This is who I am. This is my blogging style. I will try to comment more often. But I like reading you posts everyday. Err, everytime you write.

The Phantom of the Blogera

Oct 9, 2007

Oh, God is so good. I have been blessed today - but it stems from a week filled with unsatisfaction, thoughts of transferring, hard conversations, wonderful conversations, loneliness, and amazement. So let's jump right in...too many thoughts to have coherent paragraphs.

"It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus. The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine was no more to Mary than the grass under her feet. Any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could not ridicule out of her was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her; yet His blessings were nothing in comparison to Himself."

Oswald Chamber, August 16th of My Utmost for His Highest. I found it for $1 at Half Price Books in Westport. Over the summer I interacted with many people who knew a lot more about theology than I did. I didn't know what the Five Points of Calvinism were, nor, to be honest, what Calvinism even was. I remember the name Zwingli from AP European History my sophomore year of high school (may it never be relived). I came into conversations like that with my head hung low, feeling like a terrible Christian. I am not a deep thinker. I don't ponder predestination or the issue of women in ministry. So I started to question myself. I asked more questions of my parents. I researched theology books - is there any theology 101 book I could get to read? Just to have a basic knowledge? I like to be well-informed, I'm used to having the answers. Mary was one of Jesus's closest followers; she had experienced His healing, His wholeness, first-hand. She, more than most, knew Him better. She desired intimacy with God - she went so far as to rise before the sun after the Sabbath to finish the burial that was left undone - wanting to treat the dead body, beginning to decay and endure the stench, because she loved Him. Doctrine didn't matter - all that mattered was Him.

"I just want to be first."

A new phrase was given to me this week. A simple yet complex statement - "Desire God".

Die to Self, I just want to be first, Desire God.

I think He's trying to teach me something. And I want to learn it. I do. But I don't know how.

"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I RUN in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart FREE. Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for THERE I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119: 30-37)

I read Psalm 119 last night, but I read through it so quickly because it was a perfect description of where I am. I want all that it talks about, but I don't understand how to get there. So I continue to pray that He shows me, give me understanding, directs me in the path of His commands, turns my heart...I have become recently very consumed with the desire for something that I should not have a desire for. As I read over some notes I had from several weeks ago, I came across this quote:

In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot writes "My heart was saying, "Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long." The Lord was answering, "I must teach you to long for something better.""

So here I stand, a week of mulling and sadness and discontent and weariness and joy and peace and desire and delight. I am left here, no more doctrinally wise than before but praying that my desire becomes Him and only Him. That the things that tempt and call my name will fade away, fade behind Him, leaving Him the only view in my path. That I will be the sinful woman, coming with all I have and washing His feet with tears and perfume, to kiss His feet and to know Him.

Oct 1, 2007

Weekend Off

I don't write much I am finding. I never feel like I have something worth writing about. But this weekend I had a moment worth recording.

I took my monthly weekend off RA duty and went home for a few days. I made the most of the time I had, trying to see as many people as I could (though most didn't ever return my phone calls). I had some precious time with Katie - one of the best relationships to come out of my 10 weeks on Summer Staff. Sunday night I went to The Gathering at Heartland with my mom. I saw lots of familiar faces and settled in to hear Isaac talk one more time.

During worship, there tends to be some long interludes between songs. I find myself often getting bored, unable to think of something to "do" in that time of worship. I caught myself thinking "when is this going to be over?", then cringed at my waste of time intended solely for Him. Worship is for Him, so why am I not spending it with Him? So I asked "What is it you want from me in this time, Lord?"

"I just want to be first."

An immediate clear, concise, and cutting response.

"I just want to be first."

I just want to know you love me. I want to come before school, friends, e-mail, sin, loneliness, anxiety, to do lists, books (even Christian ones), work, everything. I just want to be first.

We sit down, me still wrestling with the words I just heard, trying to reason the ways He HAS been first...but it never amounts to much.

Isaac spoke on fear. He is headed off into the unknown. He talked about how we must step into the fear, into the unknown, fully assured by the Father who takes us by the arms, heals us, leads us with kindness and love, takes our burdens, feeds us. (Hosea 11:3-4)

I just want to be first.

As I sit back and struggle with the "what now?" of the whole thing, I realize that this, all of this, my whole life is never ever once about me. It seems like it must end up being about my failures, my inadequacies, my shortcomings, when it's about grace. Grace that comes through a love that is never really understood. I can sit and think about how I failed Him, or I can walk with the knowledge that only grace is keeping me. Grace holds me, provokes me, and saves.

It's something we always hear. Put God first. You focus on Him and the rest of the picture comes in to focus. Who is capable of this? Who can honestly put Him first, focus on Him first? It leaves me wondering why worry about ridding yourself of sin when I'm a sinful creature and I always will be. I will never be enough. I will never be adequate. So why do I try? I'm just going to fail.

Because it's never about me. It's about Him. It's about laying those things at His feet. Laying down the dots and the stars you've been given. It's about dying to self. It's about living Christ. It's about making Him first.

Sep 7, 2007

follow heart, follow home

Tonight is one of those nostalgic melancholy nights. Perhaps it was the high school football game I watched throughout the evening from the office and my room as I was on duty. Then I decided to watch portions of Elizabethtown, a fantastic movie in my book, though not many will agree.

The music in the movie is wonderful. It's perfect for my current state of mind, yet also brings about thoughts of traveling across the country. I listened to it often on my way to Seattle last March.

Perhaps it is the fact that the movie and music both inundated my life before and during my grandmother's death and funeral. The events and people of the movie are so reminiscent of my entire trip to Maryland. Or that the words of the music speak of journeys and sadness and hope and death. Or that I am feeling the monotony of school weighing on me. Or the jobs and classes and work and duty nights are all consuming the time of which I am so jealous.

Whatever it is, I cannot help but be content with my situation. God has provided all that I could ever need and so much beyond. And more and more I realize that I am in the midst of a journey, a journey that is neverending, yet ever-changing; a story that I cannot help but look eagerly for the next character to enter or the next adventure to begin.

You all will know that I love to read. I have been reading a lot recently - Into the Wild, Shadow of the Almighty, Searching for God Knows What. One of my favorite books is The Hobbit, and here is something I found from Tolkien's brilliance:

"The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say..."

It fits perfectly. And as frightening the prospect of a path with no end and no map, I, and we, have this great assurance:

"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart of your laws...I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (Psalm 119:30,32)

If only I may move towards having this lived out in my own life; to be founded on His laws, running after His commands, free. There is a freedom in Jesus. He released the sinners and the sick from their chains. His truth, His words, did that. So I choose that way.

Besides, it's way more fun to travel without a map, but instead with your love saying "follow me".

Sep 4, 2007


This morning I spent some time reading John. I have slowly been working my way through each of the Gospels, trying to get a better picture of Jesus. I figured that if I claim to follow this Jesus character, I should probably know as much as I can about him.

Over the past week, I have become increasingly aware of the constant presence of one phrase in my mind. I went so far as to change my Facebook religious views to said phrase. "Die to Self". It's a common theme in the Bible - turning over yourself, becoming less like yourself, and more like Him. I have been praying for God to give me eyes to see where I can die to self in my own life.

So John the Baptist says in the book of John: "He must become greater, I must become less." Taken out of context as it is, I was still drawn to the fact that at its heart, John's message is the same. Die to self. Humble himself (John) because HE (Jesus) is LORD.

My favorite and most influential book in my life has been Through Gates of Splendor. I am dumbfounded by the lives of the men and women who sacrificed everything earthly, their own bodies, for a people they had never met. God struck them with a love so deep - a love that mimics HIS love for us. In the book, Elisabeth Elliot takes portions of journals and letters to illustrate the men who died. One of Roger Youderian's thoughts has been one I have continually been drawn to in the last few weeks.

"My mind was made only to love Him; my body, also...I will die to self. I will begin to ask God to put me in a service of constant circumstances where to live Christ I must die to self. I will be alive unto God. That I may learn to love him with my heart, mind, soul, and body."

It's a good quote. But it scares me. I found myself trying to reason around it, figuring I could compromise, give up certain things, but not all. That's not dying to self though.

Roger died a few weeks after he wrote his above thought, having abandoned what his self desired, seeking to live Christ for the Auca Indians of Ecuador.

Jim Elliot wrote "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." They gave up their earthly lives, things that would pass away with a last breath, for eternity with HIM. Isn't that what dying to self is?

All this is a long way of saying that today I took a small step in dying to self. I shut down my MySpace and took an indefinite leave of absence from Facebook. Petty, small, insignificant step as it is, it is still a step. My reasons for my internet usage in those two areas are flesh-feeding, self-feeding. So I let that go.

But I'm still keeping this open because I like to write out my thoughts - and read yours.

Aug 25, 2007

Introducing Alice and Ernie

You know when you are meeting people for the first time and someone asks for your most embarassing moment, and though you always have one in your back pocket, you forget one and are desperately seeking for one? Maybe not? Ok, well it happens to me a lot, but now, never fear, I have one most embarassing moment to top them all. It will NEVER be forgotten.

I am an RA in Ely Hall, known for being the most fun dorm on William Jewell's campus. As we talked about policies and procedures last night, we came up with skits to help illustrate our point. Since there are nine of us, we decided to be "The Ely Bunch", similar to the Brady Bunch. I, living in the middle of the building, TWO CENTRAL, was chosen to play the part of Alice. As Alice is the only one with a steady boyfriend, the one and only Sam the Butcher, I was chosen (well let's face it, half-volunteered!) for the PDA skit. My friend Caitlin and I played the roles of Sam and Alice, and here is how it panned out...

We walk in the front door of Ely, where there is a couch facing the front door. All the girls are sitting toward the back of the couch, so Caitlin and I sit facing away from them, toward the front glass doors - see where this is headed? Caitlin slips her arm around me, then we duck behind the couch and I kick my legs and we throw clothes out from behind the couch. Sounds salacious, but in reality every year there is a PDA skit just like it. There was no real PDA, just the impression. Anyways, back to the story...

As Caitlin slips her arm around me, I look forward to see Ernie Stufflebean, the head of Res Life, a.k.a. my BOSS, walking up to the front door. We meet each other's eyes, and as we both realize what is going on, he turns away awkwardly and I disappear behind the couch, mortified, yet still in plain sight of Ernie. I throw the clothes, kick my legs for good measure, then crawl away quickly, more embarassed then ever. I am laughing from sheer embarassment and awkwardness, then begin to cry from laughing so hard. Then Ernie walks in, and we avoid each other for the rest of the night. Keep in mind I have yet to ever say a word to him, but I do get to meet one on one with him at some point this semester.

I haven't been fired yet. I'll let you know...

Aug 18, 2007

Becoming Whole

This summer I went through a period of feeling extremely vulnerable and without support, and allowed one person's opinion of me to make me feel worthless to others. The disconnect I felt with other people was quickly spurring me into the arms of Jesus. For the next few weeks I rested in His love. And then, with a mending spirit I gradually fell away again. I felt my dependence upon Him waning. As Hosea 13:6 says "When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me." The numbness in my spiritual walk returned, and thus have I peregrinated over the few weeks. Last night, however, I finished Hosea and came upon words that drew me again to the realization of the constance and perfection of His love.

"How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?...
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man--
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath." (11:8-9)
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?" (13:14)

My dependence upon the affections of the world has left me handed over - affections of the world are not consistent or constant. And though the sin and rejection of Israel was great, His love was greater. His love has not changed, and neither has our sin. But He comes and redeems us from our death.

I love jigsaw puzzles; to take a box of pieces and make them into a picture can keep me rooted to a puzzle for hours. A pet peeve would be when there are missing pieces, because then the picture is imperfect and not complete. I have come to see my heart as an unfinished puzzle. I have missing pieces, large holes of imperfections, insecurities, inabilities. Holes that I will never in my power be able to fill. They are left for Him to mend. As Sara Groves says "Love wash over a multitude of things; make us whole."

"Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but He will heal us;
He has injured us
but He will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth." (6:1-3)