1 am.

What am I doing at 1 am? I am recovering. I am saddened and burdened by the weight of my sins. I did not notice the slippery slope of sin until I was at the bottom – surprised I had fallen so far.

1:10 am: I am searching for a way out. For a lifeline. For God to say He still loves me and I am forgiven and one day I will come to myself. This is not who I am. This body, these feelings, this utter lack of control. This is not what is truest about me.

1:20 am: I am uncomfortably reminded of God’s grace. “Uncomfortably” because I have not earned it. I am undeserving. A worm. The lowest of the low. That He chooses to forgive – more so – to love. It is inconceivable. And yet it is so. I twitch in my seat. How can I accept this gift?

1:30 am: I am saddened. I know my response to His great gift of love and mercy will be to ignore it. Not today – but some other day in the distant future. I will be careless with His bleeding heart. I will look at His precious gift and say “hmm. I will choose to do what I want to.” And oh how I will hurt Him.

Some days I lack the hope. But His mercies are new. Nothing can separate me from His love. Not my hopelessness, not my sin, not demons nor angels, not His hurt, not my callousness, not my own will. I cannot escape Him. And how glad I am for that. That He is relentless for me. Where no one will chase me He will follow. He will pursue. My God is not a watcher. He is not an observer while I drift farther and farther away from Him. He will hem me in, behind and before, side to side. He is power and love all at once. He is the good shepherd. He will seek out the 1 unworthy lost sheep. I hold these truths to my heart. This is real. This is true.

notwearied

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because bravery.

A brief introduction to this blog post…I wrote this a year ago when I was starting to see the cracks in my relationship with my ex. It’s bittersweet to read now – knowing what I know – that my wishes and dreams and hopes have turned to ash and dust. But in spite of that, I am so very proud of how brave I was. Brave enough to love and to risk my heart. My good friend Isa Garcia said it best (in her book Found: Letters on Life, Love, and God)…”only the vulnerable heart can love rightly”.

One of the best compliments you’ve given me is to tell me you see an inner core of strength in me. I wish you could always see that. Sometimes it hurts when I hear you voice your concerns. Concerns about me being fearful, loving routine, not taking risks. I wonder if you see my desire for stability and security and safety as a noose around your neck. The truth is you probably don’t feel that way. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if you do. The fact that it concerns you must mean something. Maybe it isn’t a big deal at all but it must mean something. Otherwise it would not be a concern.

I wish you could see me being brave every time I open up to you. Every time I let you in. Every time I open up a wound or a scar and expose myself so you can have a bit more of my heart. These are all moments of bravery. Because I do not know the ending to this story. I do not know if it will be worth the sacrifice and the risk I am taking with my heart. I do not know if I will give you pieces of me only to have to watch you walk away with them. Yes, I am fearful. I am human, and risking your heart is one of the scariest things you can do. But I wish you could see the bravery in every fear I face with you. I wish you could see how valuable that is – to find someone who will face their fears with you, instead of someone who has no fears at all.

Maybe you do see that.

“Don't worry about a thing,every little thing is gonna be alright”.png

 

these many little deaths.

A lot has happened in not-quite-a-year. The long and short of it is I found myself in a relationship, I fell in love, he broke my heart. A sad but familiar tale…and I am still reeling from it.

The first part of my year-long relationship was filled with highs. I felt loved, cherished, wanted and cared for. I resolutely ignored the red flags because there was just so much good. And there truly was…The Guy was so thoughtful and considerate most of the time that I overlooked his reticence to define the relationship, his habit of being triggered by my teasing jokes, and his reluctance to get to know my friends. The second half of our relationship was an emotional rollercoaster filled with really high highs and really low lows. I found myself in a relationship where the physical intimacy had escalated considerably (we fell short of going all the way). I take full responsibility for my part in letting that happen…but…I was in love. And that aspect of our relationship seemed to be the only way we could truly connect (Red flag). Unbeknownst to me, The Guy was having doubts the entire duration of the relationship. Ultimately, he broke up with me (3 days before his birthday and 4 days before our anniversary) because he felt we were too different. He thought my passions in life were shallow. We were vastly different on what we found important in life – he wanted to serve in a grand way and I wanted to affect my inner circle. Something that I had brought up several times and he had reassured me was “no reason to break up”. Oh the irony.

I cried for the whole day when we broke up, and a week later I cried through a more rational conversation on why we were breaking up. I shared my grievances and thanked him for the good times and thought – at least we’ll have ended gracefully.

A month later, he emailed me. He had been thinking about our relationship and wanted to talk. When I emailed back to ask what he wanted to talk about I got a cavalier “just want to see what’s new in your world” reply. This was more painful than the actual breakup. The fact that it seemed he had moved on so quickly tore at my insides. I politely worded an email thanking him for the breakup and for having the courage to do what I couldn’t and that I would be willing to speak to him if he had something he wanted to discuss but that I didn’t think it was healthy to “just say hi” to the man who broke my heart. He succinctly responded with “this was a mistake, I won’t contact you again”. I cried another million tears.

4 months later the scars are still fresh – although I can stare at them without crying all the time. I miss him still. You don’t stop loving someone just because they’ve hurt your or behaved badly. Your heart needs to heal and to patch itself up slowly. I miss his gravelly voice, being able to reach out and feel his scruff. I miss starting and ending my day talking to him and Skype sessions over the weekends. I miss the security I had knowing he found me utterly beautiful even without a stitch of makeup on.

Now I feel like an insecure shell of the person I was in that relationship. I struggle to hold on to that belief and security that who I am matters. He broke something in me by breaking up with me. I feel like perhaps I have nothing worthwhile to offer a man. That I am not interesting or intelligent because I didn’t have a grand vision for my life like he did. I feel stupid for having loved him (and at times, loving him still) even though it was clear he was holding back. I struggle all the more with sexual sin because I am trying to recapture that feeling of being cherished and wanted. Even though he and I “messed up” it was still less than how I feel I am “messing up” now! I feel so far from God – it is a struggle daily to read my Bible and it is even more of a struggle to remain pure of heart and mind. Its as if I am stuck in quicksand and the harder I struggle the more entrenched in the bog I become.

I hold on to the hope that I have in Christ – that he will ultimately be the one to drag me out of this. That there is grace upon grace available to me. I have never felt more undeserving of it. Maybe one day I will wake up and the fog will have cleared.

image-1

Disclaimer: at his heart, my ex is a good person. he has some faults (as do I) and there is blame to share for how this relationship progressed. this post is only detailing my side of the story and my own feelings and interpretations of our breakup

this discontent.

In 2 days it will be my birthday. I will be 1 year older. In the space of a year so much has changed. Early in the year I went on a grand adventure hoping to find myself. Instead a door closed. I went back home feeling like I needed to stop wishing and hoping and dreaming. Soon after I went home I met someone. Unexpectedly I found myself in the middle of a long-distance dating relationship. The word “dating” is an important qualifier. We are not together-together. But we are getting to know each other exclusively and tentatively seeing if this is worth calling a “relationship”. So surprise surprise. I find myself wishing and hoping. And trying to keep the dreaming to a minimum. These are all important milestones in my life. But they are not everything. I find myself wishing and hoping and dreaming of something more. Something bigger than myself and bigger than my dreams. Something to fill the God-shaped hole in my heart.

I spent the day unshowered, reading a book about a dark fairytale (aren’t they all dark though?) and feeling depressed and alone and unloved. I knew it was not true. but I also knew something was wrong. I had not talked to God today. I had not talked to God, really talked to Him in a while. Well that’s not true. I talked to him about my life, about my feelings, my relationships…but I had not talked to him about myself. The deepest part of my heart that longs for something only He can give. I don’t think it is love – because I am certain I am loved. I think it has to do with purpose. About who He says I am and what I should do with this life should I be lucky enough to get another year to live it.

I feel as I have always felt – that I am not doing what He planned for my life. That I am still having days where I am unshowered, reading books till the late hours of the night, eating McDonald’s and leaving the paper bag and wrappers on the floor. A mess of a human being. When will I ever get it right? When will my life look like what I imagine it should be? A crusader who comes home after a long day of being Jesus to people, loving the unlovable, helping the weak and downtrodden. I don’t have a family of my own, I don’t have anyone to take care of. Can’t I use the time I do have to bless the less fortunate? To offer them my care and time and attention? I don’t know why it is so hard to do. Is my heart so closed off?

I feel like a fraud. Like a failure of a person, like a failure of a Christ-follower. I still worry about bills even as I purchase items for my upcoming holiday trip. I still question God’s grace and goodness even as I realize that I am getting to go on an all-expenses paid trip holiday trip around the world with someone I am coming to care for deeply. I can still see all that is lacking in my life even as I can see all the undeserved, unmerited blessings I am receiving.

What is wrong with me? I know what my friends would say. They would tell me that I am amazing, kind-hearted, and caring. I know what the man in my life would say. That if I want to do something to change my life I CAN. I know what my family would say. That I am an overthinker who is perpetually discontent.

I do not know what God would say. So on my birthday – this is my wish. To hear his voice. For Him to turn my head to the direction I should go and forcefully say – “Here. Do this. Be this. I will show you how. Chase after it with all that is in you. This is what I am choosing for you.”

Is that too much to ask?

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adventure time.

The last 2 months since my last entry had me feeling like I was on an emotional road trip. I’ve made quite a few pit stops so far – loneliness, depression, family drama, discontent with my job, getting my hopes up, keeping my hopes down, losing faith, clinging to God, steeping myself in my vices, begging forgiveness, choosing my friends, letting go of relationships, learning to stand up for myself…needless to say it’s been a crazy couple of months. Today though there is some clarity. I feel like I am still driving to “destination unknown”…but the fog is lifting.

In a couple of weeks I will be flying to Canada to take up a counseling certification. I had toyed with the idea of pursuing this last January but was resigned to giving up on it because of a lack of finances. Well, 3 weeks ago I woke up to several Skype messages and a missed call from my counselor. She excitedly shared that she had contacted some of her former counselees and a couple had decided to sponsor my tuition and residential fees. Then another week later I got a partial travel grant from the counseling alumni association. I applied for my Canadian visa immediately and despite not having every document they asked for, was granted a visa in a week and a half. A girl I had gone to high school with (she was a year above me) saw my “I’m coming to Canada” post on fb and offered me a place to stay. Some of my Stateside friends also began offering places to stay if I came to visit. Two of my best friends from the States offered to drive/fly to wherever I was for a weekend so we could all hang out. On top of that, my boss agreed to give me one month off to complete the course as well as have some time off to take a vacation.

God has really been aligning and arranging things so that I get to do this. I am beyond grateful and beyond blown away. Everytime I try to express how I feel I just choke. There are no words.

I have realized though that if you are doing something that is in service to others and in accordance with His will, He will really throw open doors and windows and move on your behalf. Because moving on your behalf also means moving on His behalf. Very often I ask for selfish things. Things that I don’t really need and that don’t benefit anyone but myself. And like a good parent, sometimes He gives me those things for the pure joy and pleasure of putting a smile on my face. But also very often, He withholds what He thinks does not serve a better purpose. That verse on God “granting the desires of your heart”? I get it. He will grant me my heart’s desires if my heart is aligned with His.

I’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks and I’m starting to freak out a little bit. This is primarily a learning trip. I will be learning things that will enable me to help others. That will enforce a call on me to serve. All of a sudden I’m feeling stifled. I will have the responsibility of using what I learned to help other people and not just keep it for myself as a “useful skill to have”. Now, I will be obligated to do something with this knowledge. I find it funny how I can talk about serving others all day long but when it comes to actually recognizing a responsibility to do so…I balk. I want to say “this isn’t my responsibility…this is just a choice I make because I’m a good Christian.” I wanted to be able to serve God – now that I am handed the opportunity on a silver platter I suddenly feel like buckling under the weight of it. Perhaps it is because I have been so used to living for myself or for my family or for my friends. But never for God. Never for the world at large as a person embodying Christ’s love. But how exciting and overwhelming to know that in a couple of weeks God will be shaking me, breaking me, and renewing me. I will be a person more capable of helping others. I pray that He would not only give me the skills to do so, but the heart to do so as well.

I have a lot of fears…but it helps to see how God has orchestrated things so absolutely perfectly. In some ways, it gives me faith that I’m meant to go on this trip and explore what God wants me to do. Perhaps God has some clarity waiting for me when I get there. Or perhaps He’ll lead me to more questions. All I know for sure is He will “take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.”

Scared. Overwhelmed. Excited. Ready.

take me deeper

ps

If you pray…then please pray for me. Some things I am still praying for:

  1. Funding – I still need a lot of $$$ for my plane ticket
  2. Apartment – I need to find someone who can rent my apartment for April
  3. Lodging – I need to find someone who can host me in DC for April 1-7.

not an option.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 6: A change of heart

Quick Summary: Katie has a new understanding of who God is, what He cares for, and how He will use her as His servant.  As she pours over the Word she realizes that what she is doing – helping the poor children – it is not an option, it is a requirement.  She also realizes that, for her, adoption is not just a good deed – it is how God wants her to serve Him.  It is His command for her life.

My reaction:

“Disease is certainly not a sin.  And poverty is not a sin; it is a condition, a circumstance that allows God’s work to be displayed…I knew God wanted me to care for the poor…It had happened so naturally, I was simply caring for those around me out of an overflow of love for Christ and the love that He had lavished upon me.  I never thought I was doing anything different or unusual, just simply what He had asked…as I poured over His Word, I realized that what I was doing was not simply my choice – it was a requirement.”

Caring for the poor is a requirement.   I have been a Christian most of my life but I have only recently realized this truth.  The gospel is meant for the sick, for the lost, for the captives.  And yes, for me.  I am all of that – but I have been set free by this gospel, by the love of Christ.  And now it is my requirement to share that with the world.  To be a worker – to harvest the field.  Yes, to do this from an overflow of love for Christ, but not forgetting – this is what God has commanded me to do.  It’s not about whether you feel called to it or not.  You must help the poor, the widow, the orphans.

“Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.  And every single day, it is worth it, because adoption is God’s heart.  His Word says, ‘In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will’ (Eph 1:5).  He sets the lonely in families (see Psalm 68:6).  The first word that appears when I look up adoption in the dictionary is ‘acceptance’.  God accepts me, adores me even, just as I am.  And He wants me to accept those without families into my own.  Adoption is the reason I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace…I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress.  I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (see Luke 12:48) and because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (see Matt 10:39).”

I realize that helping the orphans doesn’t always mean adoption.  But we need to be open – what if God asks this of us?  Christ is radical.  When he walked the earth He dined with sinners, lepers, tax collectors, the Am Ha-Eretz (unclean) of the Jewish world.  If He calls us to love the untouchable, to love the unlovable…if He Himself adopts the untouchable and unlovable into His family, if He Himself has adopted us…is it so inconceivable that He would ask us to do the same?  I don’t believe that Katie is trying to say that everyone should adopt.  But I do believe that she didn’t see this as part of her life – but she said yes anyway.  Because God said this was His will for her.  As difficult as doing God’s will is – it is still so much easier than running from His will.  He who loses his life for His sake will find it after all.  But he who seeks first to find his life apart from God will lose it.  I need to be open.  I need to be willing.  I need to expect to be called to doing radical things.  For my radical God.

“My goofy, trash-loving children are constant reminders of God.  They look at things that I see as used, broken, and dirty and they see treasure.  Can you imagine?  God looks at everyone, broken, old, dirty, probably not a whole lot more exciting than an old toilet paper roll, and sees treasure.  Something He loves dearly, something He would die for.  Wow…Thank You that when I feel old and used-up and broken and no more exciting than a cardboard box.  You whisper that You love and value me, and that in Your eyes, I am shiny and new.”

Katie talks about how her daughters love to play with trash and not the actual toys she has given them.  Amazing how children so clearly reflect both a sinful heart and the heart of God.  Children can be selfish and cruel at times – and so unfiltered in their expression of these things.  But they can also reflect purity and innocence and a clearer understanding of who God is than most adults.  To be entranced by trash…to say, “yes, there is value here”.  That is how God sees us – he assigned us value, knowing full well that as sinners, we deserved death.  Even as we have now turned to Him we still fall.  We still succumb to our fleshly desires and emotions.  And even at our worst he sees us not as trash, but as treasure.  If only the story ended there!  But no, He goes further – He asks us too, to see through His eyes, and to see others as precious gold, diamonds, rubies, instead of filthy, unclean, and untouchable.

P.S.

I was finally able to start doing outreach at a children’s home 🙂  And now my small group is planning to do outreach (Habitat for Humanity, orphanages, etc) once a month!  Praise God for answered prayers!

Matthew 10 - 38-39

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

fearless love.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 5: “Can I call you Mommy?”

Quick Summary: This chapter details the beginnings of Katie’s new call – a “mommy”.  She talks about how she took in a trio of young girls and realized she could not just leave them at an orphanage.  From being a mother of 3, she is now known as a “mommy to many” – to her adopted daughters, to the kids that come to her home everyday to do schoolwork/have dinner/play, and to the 400 children in her community.

My reaction:

“At nine years old, Agnes had become the primary caregiver of her sisters, seven-year-old Mary and five-year-old Scovia.  Their father had died of AIDS and their mother had long since disappeared.  Their grandmother, who lived nearby, helped with what little she had, but often her own food was barely enough for herself.  Days consisted of digging in the fields for a little something to eat and walking miles to and from the nearest well with a large plastic jug to collect the day’s water.  Mary kept a neighbor’s baby and, in return, was provided with some food for herself.  Even little Scovia went to dig for hours in the field to find food, helped fetch water, washed clothes and cooked supper when Agnes had to stay late in the garden.  Like all little girls, their hearts held hopes and dreams of the future, but the hardships of everyday life kept them focused on one day, one experience, one moment at a time.”

This appalled me.  A mother leaving 3 defenseless little girls alone to raise themselves, clothe themselves, feed themselves.  A nine year old forced to dig in the fields for something to eat.  A seven year old having to babysit for a living.  A five year old made to cook and clean clothes and help dig in the field for food.  At these ages I was playing with Barbies and having birthday parties and snuggling up to my parents.  These little girls – well they didn’t have the chance to be little girls like I did.   These 3 girls were the first children Katie decided to adopt.  This started her on a new calling – the calling to be a “mother to many”.

I don’t think I can be a “mother to many”.  I’m not sure that I’m called to that particular lifestyle.  But, don’t I have a responsibility to the helpless and hurting?  Don’t I have a responsibility to love as Christ loved me?  Forget responsibility – don’t I have the desire to love the orphans, the poor, the lost children?  Perhaps I have not always had this desire to do so but slowly and surely it is being awakened in me.  I feel like someone who is seeing with new eyes.  To quote a Switchfoot song: “This is your life – are you who you want to be?”  The sad answer to that is NO.  This is not who I want to be.  I want to be like Christ.  I want to care.  I want to be fearless in love.

“They laugh hysterically when I cuddle them or kiss their foreheads, and it hurts my heart a bit that they find the fact that someone loves them so funny.  And that is the blessing God has given me in this house: I get to provide a home for children who are homeless, a safe haven for children who feel threatened, lost, and unwanted.  Most of all, I get to love children who don’t know love otherwise.  I get to accept them for who they are.  I get to present them with my love and then teach them of the Father’s extravagant love.”

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not trying to be the next Katie Davis.  It’s not about opening orphanages in Uganda, or about adopting 14 girls.  I just want to have what she has.  Fearless, beautiful love for others.  An overflow coming from our Father.  I want to extend myself for someone other than myself.  I find myself asking if this is what it means to love like Christ – and I already know the answer is Yes.

no such thing as "loved too much"

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.