Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Freedom, Justice and Bold Faith

This picture convicts my heart bigtime today.

How many years have I let this holiday pass without giving much thought to the real reason to why we get Monday off at the end of every May?  Many years.  More years than I want to admit to you.

This picture displays the harsh reality of the "holiday".  See, I even feel guilty calling it a holiday when I look at this.  Wives are husbandless, husbands are wiveless and children are fatherless or motherless because of those who put their life in harm's way so that we can live without having to think twice about our freedom in this country.

Im convicted because I dont often think about the blessing that I live in every day because of what these men and women have died for. One easy example would be that I can post this blog, full of my heart's openness with absolutely no fear of what someone might think. I dont worry about being arrested or even worse because of my public display of faith. Praise God.

We can go to college, we can find a job, we can accomplish basically whatever our heart's desire. There's no question in my mind that we have the freedom now to accomplish all of these things and much more.  Imagine with me for a moment how different our lives would be without this freedom.  Imagine having the dream of becoming something that everyone told you would never happen. Imagine living within the confines of what others told you was acceptable. Imagine being sold in slavery and taken away from your loved ones and everything that you know.

I lift my head, raise my hands and give thanks today for the gift of freedom that we have been given.  I thank God for those men and women who are not here today to enjoy what all they have laid down their lives for.  I am incredibly grateful, but also know that the job is not finished. Injustice is all around us: we live in a world where too many children will go to bed starving tonight, sex trafficking is currently victimizing 27 million and slavery is still a true story. 

I know that many more innocent lives will be taken in order for these sort of kingdom-sized changes to be made. That's the honest reality of the phrase "freedom isnt free".  But I am thankful to God for those who's holy discontent include these injustices to the point of action; for those who are not willing to settle until something is changed even if that means their lives are at risk.  The heart condition of bold faith that these folks share is beautiful and admirable to me. I raise my glass to them today.

Happy Memorial Day!


Saturday, May 26, 2012


My dear friend Michael Sagun takes one day a week to live "unplugged".  Some would call this his Sabbath day. He allows himself to live free of facebook, twitter, instagram, email, smartphone, etcetera for one day a week in order to enjoy and live in the beauty of God's creation around him that are so easily forgotten because of said distractions.

I'm inspired to follow his trend. For this long weekend I am "unplugging" myself from technology in order to seek God's face, to fast and pray over what God's showing me and doing in my life and just be. Haha I feel like this sounds kind of hippy, but call it what you want. Just dont be suprised if I throw you a peace sign if I run into you this weekend ;)

This lifestyle seems so foreign and uncomfortable to me, but I know it's important; important to myself, but I would argue its also pretty important to God.  Lately I've felt so busy and distracted.  Like the video I posted Wednesday, I often feel like God's waving his arms in my face for attention, but Im too busy being caught up in the world's ways to realize it. That imagery breaks my heart - I dont want to continue living like that. 

On the same token, I was reminded this week of how dependant we have become of technology.  Our server went down at work on Tuesday for no more than an hour, but it blew my mind how lost everyone in our office felt - as if the world could not go on until the computers were fixed.  This sounds so crazy as I type it out, but thats the honest reality we live in. Earlier this year, I was watching my boss' four-year-old son at work.  We were playing a childrens game on the computer and he kept trying to touch the screen to activate the buttons - the idea of using a mouse was foreign to him. He couldnt comprehend the screen not being a touchscreen. Welcome to the 21st century.

We can have basically anything we want, in a moment's notice, at the click of a button.  When I say "we" I dont mean all of humanity.  Not by a long shot.  The shocking reality is that "we" as American's own 80% of the world's resources.  Thats insane.  That leaves only 20% of resources to be shared by the rest of the world. That makes my stomach hurt.  That also makes me wonder why we are so unhappy and never satisfied. Could it be that we've gotten so accustomed to having whatever we want that having our needs met is not considered a blessing or a gift from God any longer?  I would argue YES.

So here's to powering down this weekend, getting back to what's important and living simply and quietly. If this post speaks to you, perhaps its a good idea to unplug with me this weekend.  Power down your electronics for a day or two and just bask in the beauty of our Creator and all of the blessings he has flooded your life with. Spend a day fasting and praying over the decisions you have to make in the days/weeks/months ahead and about what God is knocking at your heart and wanting to lead you in.  I believe that when your heart and mind is quiet and "unplugged", the spirit is able to speak more clearly because you are tuned into the right things.

Im excited to hear about what God shows us through this experience and I believe He will bless this comittment to seek Him and dwell in Him in new, unique and creative ways this weekend. 



Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Happy Wednesday, everyone!  The week is half over and we're only three days away from the long, holiday weekend - score! I wanted to share something that is near and dear to my heart that I've been thinking about quite a bit the past several days.

A group of 15-or-so women from my church went on a retreat to Cannon Beach about a month ago. We agreed that we should have called this trip more of a "workshop" than a "retreat" because God was definitely at work within us and we were busy doing His work that weekend.  He wrote the agenda.  He led our bible studies, activities, free time and our worship sessions.  Say what? I mean that I dont think much went according to original plan because of how clearly and emphatically He directed each minute of the weekend. When God said to move, we moved. We even forgot about the bottles of wine we had smuggled in with us - not one bottle was even opened.  Now that is crazy..

I want to share a video with you that was shared with us that weekend at the beach.  It was Saturday morning, just before an hour of personal worship time. Lets just say, it set the stage for an unforgetable time of worship with the Lord. 

 We were warned to grab a few tissues before the video began, so I am going to pass along that same warning to you, my friends.  This video impacted my heart SO powerfully. So much so, in fact, that I have privately replayed it a number of times this past month to reflect upon and embrace what it stirs up within me:  It takes me away to a place of just Me and God.  It helps me to see those places in my life that I have made (and often still do make) more important than Him.   It inspires me to focus, direct and channel my motivations back to Him and surrender everything else. And it always brings me to tears.

 I feel like it shares the story of my life - maybe you can relate. Go ahead, press play. :)

Tearjerker, or what??

I'd love to hear your feedback, reactions and what this video inspires within you. 

Happy hump day and I pray your week is going beautifully!



Monday, May 21, 2012

personally romantic

I love it when God romances our hearts. You know, when something randomly unexpected happens and you cant help but stop for a second and wonder "Wait a second, was that God?!" and sure enough, it was. It always is, but we seem to always have to question it and most of the time we end up chalking it up for a coincidence. Whatever you want to call it, that sort of thing happened to me over a coffee date with an old friend/teammate from college on Friday afternoon.

I received a message on my phone early last week that simply read "we should probably get together soon". I hadnt seen this friend since I moved away in 2009 and I couldnt agree with him more. This catch up date was long over-due, so of course I responded with an immediate "yes".

 It was so refreshing and familiar to sit there on campus, on the same stomping grounds that we dragged ourself through for practice, class, and study hall day-in and day-out for so many years and catch up about all that's new/exciting in our lives.  It made me thankful for so many things: for memories, for friendship, for reconnections, and for growing up. Time had done well for us both.  We were figuring out this crazy thing called life and it showed in our faces. You can't deny the happiness that exudes from a life that's fulfilled.

I found myself quickly opening up to him about why I was back in Portland and what brought me back home. I expected that these questions would come up, since I had urgently jetted for California within days after taking my last final in college three years ago. I couldn't help but feel like I owed him an explanation, although I know his kind heart would argue against that. I don't even remember saying good-bye to this particular friend when I left, or many friends for that matter. I just took off. Anyway, as I was catching him up on what had been going on in my heart and life over the past few years, something hit me hard. So hard that I almost lost my train of thought for a moment.  This is what I'm talking about when I say God personally romanced me that day.  He did it in a BIG way; He did it by revealing an answered prayer.

I moved back to Portland at the end of October after a 2 1/2 year stint in the SF Bay Area. Life in California was fun and I learned and grew up a lot, but it wasn't the "home" that my heart was missing so badly. I remember one particular night last Spring that I couldn't hold it in any longer.  I got down on my knees in my bedroom and began pouring my heart out before the Lord.  I was tired. Work and life had completely worn me out and I didn't like the way my life looked anymore. I wanted a deeper relationship with friends, family and with Him. I was so ready for change in every category of my life and that was exactly what I was asking for. It didn't matter to me how it was going to look - whatever doors God opened, I was ready to immediately respond with a "Yes, Lord" and walk through them. 

 So when one of my good friends from Portland came to visit me this past summer, she could tell that something was up with me. I wasn't my usual smiley, enthusiastic self. After some probing, prodding and maybe a glass of wine or two, I ended up opening my heart up to her about how I was praying for absolute change in every category of my life and how I was just unhappy - plain and simple. She humored me for a moment by asking me to think back to the time in my life when I was truly happy, and all I could picture was my life in Portland. I had no other response for her. It sounds kinda cheesy, but thats exactly how I remember it happening.  I wrestled with God about the idea for a few months, but all the while I knew that it was going to happen.  I was being called back home and God was beginning to show me why.  It was time to go back to school. 

So on October 29th, I packed up my possessions in a Budget truck, gave my car to my brother, picked up my partner-in-crime/roommate from college/good friend Katy from the airport (in the Budget truck - she was so embarrassed, but I loved it haha) and made our way through 13 hours of maneuvering this stupidly large truck to Portland. I was coming home.

Fast forward six months and here I am: gearing up to start my graduate studies Multnomah Seminary in the fall and head over heals in love with my life. I can confidently tell you today that my cry out to God for change in every avenue of my life has been answered over this past year. It happened subtly and slowly.  So much so that I didnt fully realize it until now. That's the romantic side of God for ya.  He could have made it clear as day to me as this prayer was being answered; as each aspect of my life was being gorgeously transformed. He could have brought it to my attention each time I met a new and amazing friend this year, or each time an old friendship was rekindled, or when I met my half-sister and her family for the first time or when I first fell in love with my awesome church out here. I could go on and on about the various ways that He could have revealed how He was answering this prayer this year. But no. God stood in the background through all of this, knowing that it would be on this random coffee date that what He had done in and through me would hit my heart in package form, like a ton of bricks, as His answer to my prayer. What a romantic God.:)

 It would be a big fat lie if I told you this year was all bubblegum, cotton candy and gumdrops. Haha, not at all. It was hard a lot of the time and some really painful things happened this year. Change has been hard, but it has also been soooo beautiful. This year has been full of refinement, pushback and anxiety. It has also been filled with more beauty, love and more of God than I ever thought possible and it's only getting better every day. 

 I have a lot of friends who are in tough chapters of life or are going through some really difficult changes right now. If you can relate, it is my prayer that this post can encourage you to keep pressing forward. Keep going against the grain and taking one step at a time in the direction you feel God leading. Doors will either slam open or shut; just respond accordingly. From my experience, I've found that God will show you if you're off, will honor your heart of obedience, and will help you to redirect your path. Confide in trusted friends and share your heart openly from time to time. Change may not happen over night, but it does happen one day at a time. It was a year before I saw the full-blown answer to my prayer for change. We serve an unbelievably faithful God who will not let us fail.  Many people thought (and some even openly told me) that I was stupid for up and quitting my so-called "dream job" in sunny California to move back to dreary Portland to go to bible college. That's fine, it doesn't matter.  What matters is His plan for me and not much else.  Please, please do not misunderstand me - I am by no means an expert on what moves to make to find happiness and do NOT want to sound that way at all. But I do know that God will continue to guide you as you persevere, trust and expect. That I can promise. How do I know? Because God says so:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (the message translation)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure everything out on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.

My mantra for this past year, and for years to come.




Friday, May 18, 2012

God's calling: its never about us

After I fearfully hit the "publish" button on my first posting here on Wednesday morning, I was shocked at the mix of emotions that overcame me. I felt scared, nervous, excited, committed (is that an emotion? Well, It is now..) joyful, hopeful, euphoric, but mostly scared for some reason.  So I decided to go on a run to help ease the anxiety and nerves that were flowing through me at a million miles an hour. Running is my outlet. It helps calm any bad feelings I have. It's the best prescription for ANYTHING, in my opinion. But that's a whole nother posting all together. So I took off for a run on this Wednesday afternoon and as it usually happens, God started speaking to me on my run.

To be more specific, God started revealing some things to me about what this blog is going to do. Some of those things I'm not yet ready to share, because I really don't think I can put into words what he was showing me (and its probably because I'm not supposed to yet), but there is one thing in particular that He showed me that I feel is important to talk about this early in the game: He showed me is that the relationship between us is going to get really intimate. We are going to get to know each other REALLY well.  In the least, you will get to know me really well.  It is my prayer that throughout this journey, I also get to know each of you better and better. We are building a community.  For whatever reason, you are being drawn to follow and read what I have to say. And if that' s the case I want to be fully open and honest with you from the get-go.

I want you all to hold me accountable to this relationship.  God is doing something here, and its sooo important that it keeps on going. No matter what. In order to maintain this, I need to be consistent and reliable to you. So I am committing to posting three blog entries per week. It has to be something that you can expect and trust in - like your morning newspaper flung on your doorstep every morning.  You know its going to be there to read with your cup of coffee. I pray that this blog ends up looking kind of like that in its own unique way.  That may sound silly, but I'm being totally serious. What is the point in me starting this with the intention of it being a blessing, if its no longer a blessing to you anymore because its unreliable?   I know that keeping this online journal/blog thing is going to be challenging and not so fun at times for me, but its not about me. Its never about us. Its always about God.  I read something about that last night in Follow me to Freedom. 

"I often have to remind myself that what I'm doing is God's work, not mine.  We have a God who enters the world through smallness --a baby refugee, a homeless rabbi, the lillies and the sparrows.  We have a God who values the little offering of a couple of coins from a widow over the megacharity of millionaires.  We have a God wo speaks through little people -- a stuttering spokesman named Moses; the stubborn donkey of balaam, a lying brothel owner named Rahab, an adulterous king named David, a ragtag bunch of disciples who betrayed, doubted and denied; and a convered terrorist named Paul." Pg. 61

History has proven that God uses the most seemingly insignificant of people to make the biggest impacts. But its never about us - it cant be.  Its always about God and His plan. We cannot take the fame or the glory. God doesn't seem to be a fan of that at all. We are simply his vessel, his hands and feet, to carry those blessings out. I feel like this is important to sit on for a moment.  He is showing me that through this avenue of writing it IS going to inspire others to dream bigger.  It IS going to encourage someone (hopefully many someone's) to boldly come to His thrown and pray for something insanely large with their mustard-seed sized faith and see it actually happen, it IS going to cause some to change the way they view God and how He can show up in their lives.  But, It has to remain about what He's doing and for me to remain consistent to just keep writing.

 Thats my accountability soapbox rant.

I want to leave you with the lyrics from my absolute favorite Jesus Culture song: Come Away. Its been stuck in my head for these past few days, and I definitely don't think its by coincidence. It just so happens to also be the song that launched our church 6 months ago. It beautifully describes God's heart for each of us (no one is excluded), and what He has in store for us if we just open our hearts to Him.  Its different than most worship songs Ive ever heard in that it is written/performed from God's perspective. A very unique and thought provoking song.  If you haven't listened to it, or if its been a while, I strongly encourage you to listen to it with expectation and really believe it.

Come away with Me, Come away with Me
It's never too late, it's not too late
It's not too late for you

I have a plan for you
I have a plan for you
It's gonna be wild
It's gonna be great
It's gonna be full of Me

Open up your heart and let Me in.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The meat and potatoes..

I want to start off by saying that blogging totally freaks me out. Like, scares the living daylights out of me.

My thoughts and feelings toward blogging and online journals up until a few weeks ago were as follows:

"You mean to tell me that people actually enjoy that anyone and everyone can read your thoughts, dreams, ideas, goals, worries, fears and all of the other ins-and-outs that make you, you? Wheres the enjoyment in that?! I'm perfectly comfortable lying at the foot of my bed, journal open, pen in hand, writing for hours and getting lost in conversations with God - just between Him and I.  Maybe I would let my future husband read through them one day. These pages are definitely for my kids one day down the road so they can get a good laugh or two at how silly their mom was growing up. But the purpose of my journals are mostly for me to reflect back on in 3 months, 6 months, a year from now to see how God answered prayers and romanced me in the most intimate and personal of ways. That is comfortable and safe to me.  Yep, that sounds good."

But thats just the thing that drove me to begin this blog - I was comfortable.  I know its a weird thing to say, but being comfortable in my life is beginning to disgust me. Seriously, though. I believe God calls us to be uncomfortable; to be pushed out of our comfort zone.  Why? Because its been in my uncomfortability that I've been able to see God work in massive ways and pour out blessings beyond measure. I was on the phone with my best friend the other day and we were talking about the crazy things that God is doing in our lives. I started telling her some big things that are coming up in the next few months for me that I feel that God is directing and opening up doors in, but it makes me sooo nervous (Don't worry, I will spill the beans on all of the specifics in due time). Her response was simply that that she feels like I get nervous alot, but once I get over it and find the courage to follow through with those things, that's when I start to see God really begin to move in crazy, huge, and beautiful ways. I was tempted to be insulted at first, but after I thought about it, I could not agree more.  She's right; I DO get nervous alot.  Maybe that's something I need to work on. I don't really want to be remembered for my fears.  But as long as I have the courage to carry out those things that God is pushing me toward, I am confident that I cannot be defeated. God wants to push us to the seemingly impossible.  To those things that are so crazy for His Kingdom that we would crash and burn if He DIDN'T show up. I dont know about you, but I want to live like that: to see the impossible happen. To change the world. I have crazy plans and ideas, and I have no clue how its all going to happen, and thats ok. I just need to be obedient. I guess what Im trying to say that the way God is showing me that I am going to begin changing the world is by beginning this blog and getting my words out for you to read. I know, it sounds crazy.  But just trust me with this one...

The heart behind why I want to start writing more publically is to be a blessing to others. That said, a blessing is always meant to be shared. It is meant to move forward and be passed along so that it can then flourish and impact others. Thats the real purpose of ministry, according to Shane Claiborne (From his book Follow Me to Freedom. Amazing book. Check it out). I can align behind him on that one. 

That said, I am going to need your help. First, follow my blog.  If a particular blog entry blesses you, I need you to do me a favor and share it. How? Simply hit the "share" button on my facebook newsfeed of that particular blog entry, and encourage your friends to read it. Or, just keep it in mind when your talking with a friend who may be going through something that would benefit from reading one of these posts. Pass it along; pay it forward.  My words do no good cooped up in the diary on my bed, neither do these posts do any good if they remain unread.  Share and bless others.

The purpose of my blog is to share my heart out to whoever I am called to minister to in words.  Its to show love, to encourage, to push, and to laugh with me on this journey of life.  Its to share things that God is up to, what He's teaching me in the most unconventional of lesson plans, and simply to share life together with you. I will forewarn you, its going to get random.  I have a feeling that no two posts will look alike, or follow the same theme.  That's part of the fun - never knowing what to expect :)  But at the same time, It is my hope that this blog gets FILLED with prayers, and just as many answers to prayer. 

Shout out to my dear friends Nicole, Brooke and Earl who are lovingly pushing me in the direction of the public eye with my writing.  Even through all of my excuses, I came out of our 1st SL2 Writing Group this past Saturday with this encouragement carved into my heart:  "Just start writing, God will show you the purpose and direction you are to go with it in the process. Enjoy the process". So here goes nothing.