7 Things: August 2017

1. Looking

My friend came in to take photos of my staff and she captured this one of me doing my thing – yes, looking at a computer and drinking coffee.

2. Watching

3. Listening

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4. Reading

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5. Sharing

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My IG friend Laurie Heath is creating art as she reads through the Bible. It’s awesome! Follow her on IG and check out her prints!

6. Learning

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I finally learned how to sync all of my Scrivener apps/computers to write anytime, anywhere. I am now at 49,000 words! I think the goal of first draft by December 4 may happen.

7. Anticipating

 

My trip to Scotland. Sure, it’s not until the end of November, but look at all the places I will see!!!

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It’s 2003 and I’m Dreaming

While cleaning my apartment I started singing an old Damien Rice song from his album O. I then decided to put it on and sing to it while cleaning and I had a sudden flashback to when I was 17/18 in my room at my parent’s house.

I had an entire wall dedicated to posters, ticket stubs, band advertisements, and wristbands from past shows collaged onto the wall. And this wall went ridiculously high as it was in the center of the house where the two sides of the roof met. I had a hard time getting to the top of it, but thankfully my dad was a general contractor and he had access to the tallest ladders.

I remember laying on my bed with my feet against the wall looking at the posters dreaming of my future. I had a boyfriend then who was in a band, so obviously he was going to be successful and I would get to go on a tour with him and see the world. Get away from California. Get away from the depression that marked my life. Escape. You know, the usual dream of a high school punk.

What I find most surprising about this flashback is how different my life is compared to then and what I thought it would look like.

My 17-year-old self would have never dreamed she would be living in a flat in Chicago. Ever. And not only that, but as a Christian missionary.

It’s amazing to see what God has done in my life and what He continues to do. He surprises me every day and I am so incredibly grateful that He came into my life and showed me better a dream.

Take Courage; A hymn by someone who doesn’t write hymns

I am doing a daily devotion on American Hymns by She Reads Truth  and it’s inspiring me to write my own hymns. I figured I would share one. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to write music or else I would share with you the tune . So, I recommend finding your own tune if you’d like to sing along.

It’s been a great discipline of writing my own words of worship, taking my favorite Scripture (see below for what I am referencing), and worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth.

Take Courage

Let your heart take courage
Let your heart take courage
Let your heart take courage in the Lord

Let your soul find rest
Let your soul find rest
Let your soul find rest in the Lord

And all will be well
When the Son returns
Coming in the clouds of heaven

And all will be well
When the Son returns
Coming like a thief at night

There will be no tears
There will be no mourning
There will be no pain
in Him

And all will be well
When Christ, Messiah returns
When promises delivered
When prophecies fulfilled

So let your heart take courage
Let your soul find rest
All will be well
All will be well
In Him

Song inspired by Psalm 27:14; Psalm 62:5; Revelation 21:4; Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:2

7 Things: July 2017

1. Looking

2. Watching

3. Listening

4. Reading

5. Sharing

I LOVED this movie. I recommend a watch 🙂

6. Learning

Learning about American hymns from She Reads Truth and I am loving it! It already inspired me to write out a song this morning 🙂

7. Anticipating

Lesson learned as a missionary in the city

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I have learned many things these past five years whilst being a missionary in Chicago. And maybe one day I will write it all down, but for today I wanted to share the biggest difference of living in a city verses a suburb while being a follower of Christ.

But first, context.

Where I came from was weird

Riverside, California, was where I did most of my growing up and it’s one of those weird places that has several mega-churches. It’s also surrounded by other mega-churches all throughout Southern California. There is a substantial Christian bubble in Orange County and the Inland Empire that I didn’t realize was there until I moved out of it.

It was the norm to see Christian owned bookstores, cafes, bakeries, etc. Anytime I would walk into a Starbucks I could find someone doing a Bible study or see advertisements for Christian concerts at churches or major venues.

There was also enough space to create your own silos. You defined yourself by what church you went to, “I’m Harvest” “Well, I’m Sandals” “Oh, I’m the Grove.” And there was a hierarchy about it too. Christians felt like they were better than you if you didn’t attend their church. It didn’t even depend on doctrinal issues, just proximity, and sometimes unfortunately, cult of personality.

Where I live now is normal

Now I live in Chicago where the bubble does not exist. In fact, just the other day I got into an Uber and I saw that the driver had a cross hanging from his rear-view mirror. I literally yelled, “Are you a Christian?” He seemed a bit nervous and then confessed he was. “Oh, me too! I love Jesus too!” It is so rare to find someone else who loves Jesus in this city that I cannot help but yell with joy.

He then asked me what denomination I was, and that’s when I realized this man wasn’t from the city. In the city we cannot survive within denominational, location, and personality silos.

Do you love Jesus?

Yes.

Hello my brother or sister!

Oh, you disagree on this doctrinal issue and this one too? Well, I still love you. I will still call you family. Why? Because there’s no one else around here. It’s you and me kid.

I did learn that the Uber driver was indeed from a suburb and that our “denominations” were different, but it didn’t matter. We talked of our Savior all the way home and it was refreshing.

Regular church attendance is vital

Living in Riverside, if you missed Sunday it wasn’t that big of a deal. There was surprisingly enough weekday activities all throughout that region that led to many encounters with God. I am not encouraging lack of church attendance by any means, but I have learned there’s another very important reason why God calls us to worship Him weekly that was not apparent to me whilst living in the bubble.

It’s to remind us that we are not alone. It encourages us in our faith. I can go an entire week without meeting a Christian in Chicago and Sunday is the only day that I can breathe and worship my King without restraint. It’s that “you too?” question when you walk through the doors.

Not taking it for granted

Unlike many other cities in the world, Chicago still offers the freedom to gather together in worship. Unlike other countries where Christians have to conduct services and meetings underground, we can still meet publicly.

I recently watched Silence and I mourned with a deep sympathetic cry all throughout the film. Without giving too much away because I am not sure if you have seen it, there is a scene where a Japanese man sees the cross hanging from the priest’s neck and he falls to his knees and cries. It’s the first cross he has seen in over 15 years.

I looked at my bookcase of Christian textbooks, a picture of the Wailing Wall, Scripture art, and large and small crosses stationed neatly throughout my shelves, and I couldn’t help but cry with appreciation. I can openly worship God without any fear of death.

And then I thought about my own experience of living in Chicago. The feeling I get when I meet other Christians. The feeling I get when I walk into our rented out space on Sundays to worship with my church. The feeling I get when I meet for Wednesday night Bible study. I would have never experienced that sweet gratitude, that hopeful glimmer, that peaceful release of being around my family, of being my true self, of worshiping God in truth and Spirit together, without leaving the bubble of Riverside.

It’s undeniably a gift.

And one that I will not take for granted.

 

7 Things: June 2017

1. Looking

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2. Watching

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Yes, I like me some K-drama, especially this one as it was my first. I like to go back and visit it every now and then. Lee Min Ho is a favorite of mine. I also love him in City Hunter! So good.

3. Listening

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This sweet Spotify Mix.

4. Reading

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5. Sharing

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I have a new roomie! She’s the adorable one with the towel around her waist — this is the day she was baptized in Lake Michigan! 🙂

6. Learning

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I am learning about the history of the Christian Church via the Communio Sanctorum podcast. Listen here.

7. Anticipating

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Don’t Feed the Monster

MonsterRecently, I had a conversation with some friends over lunch about depression. For those who don’t know me, I have become a spokesperson on depression as I’m open about my own depression. Last fall I spoke at my church’s Women’s Ministry event about depression and suicide, which for some was a radical idea. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma when it comes to being a Christian and being depressed — some think they cannot go hand-in-hand. Well, they can.

It’s important for me to say that now because if you don’t think it could happen to you, you are going to ignore it. You are going to ostracize people who do have it. You are going to judge them or yourself. You will not be real with yourself, others, and even God about what you are going through. And if you can’t bring sin into the light, it will surely keep its control over you.

So, with all of that said, during the meal I made a nonchalant statement in reference to depression, “I have learned to not feed the monster.”

Later on my friend asked me what I meant by that. And this is what I said.

Feeding the Monster

I look at depression like a monster. The more I feed it, the more it will grow and take over my life. What is this food? Well, it’s lies, negative self-talk, and hyperbolic statements. I know that I am feeding the monster when I start to use the language, “never or always”; when I tap out of my day-to-day activities; when I isolate myself; or start using phrases like “I should…” as guilt and shame are high calorie foods.

This monster will grow and grow until I become the monster.

God says we should be filled with the Holy Spirit (and not this monster). So what do I do when I notice that I am feeding the monster? I decide that it needs to be fed by the Holy Spirit instead.

Feed it with the Holy Spirit

How do I do this? I read and memorize Scripture. I pray and mediate. I worship and remember God and His faithfulness. I count my blessings and make gratitude a priority. I spend quality time with friends. I take a posture of humility and I tap back into my life.

No longer is it fed with lies, but instead it’s fed with truth. It’s fed with fruit of the Holy Spirit and it is nourishing. And instead of acting like a monster, I am kind, patient, loving, self-controlled, faithful, and gentle. Everything that the monster attempts to destroy.

How This Has Worked For Me

For the past three years I have been actively doing this and I must say when I fall into depression I don’t stay there that long.  I recognize my triggers, and instead, go to God for help.

Because in the end that’s what I have learned the most. Depression sucks, but I don’t let it go to waste. I use it to be a catalyst to strengthen my relationship with God. It reminds me that I can’t do it on my own and that it’s okay! I have a Father who loves me, who pursues me, who cares for me, who heals me, and who reminds me that I am not alone.

The Monster may always be there. It may be a thorn that is never taken away and I have learned to accept it because I am no longer afraid of it. It’s not a monster that stirs up fear, but rather pity. It only knows what I give it. And if I give it the Holy Spirit instead of my sin, God can redeem it.

*I apologize to all spiders for using you as an example of a monster, but let’s be real, you are one. 

7 Things: May 2017

1. Looking

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2. Watching

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3. Listening

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4. Reading

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I have been slowly re-listening to the audio books of Harry Potter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or listened to HP, and each time I learn something new. There’s many themes and plots that are found in this one that are later mirrored in Deathly Hallows.

5. Sharing

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I booked this place with my bestie for our Scotland trip! I am so incredibly excited to read in that room.

6. Learning

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My back is all out of whack again, so I am learning new stretches and exercise routines to help my back and overall health.

7. Anticipating

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A Simple Book Review: Humble Walk

17545195_1153412608115580_570836955456015731_oMy old neighbor and friend I seem to run into a lot around Chicago, Taylor Lyall, wrote a book! I have mentioned it before, but I wanted to write a post specifically dedicated to it.

It’s called Humble Walk: Lessons from a Simple Man Following Jesus.

Like it’s namesake, the book is simple. It’s 150+ pages of wisdom and experience of this man’s journey with God; however, just like anything with God, it’s also profound.

I had so many moments with God whilst reading this book. Sitting on the Blue Line, standing in my kitchen, laying on my couch, and walking around my living room, all were moments where I encountered God. He totally used this book to encourage, affirm, and inspire me.

Read it.

Some of my favorite takeaways

When you are running away from sin,  you are running toward Jesus whose greatness is incomparable to the things you gave up. When we flee from our sins, we take away the tools used by the enemy in his attacks against us.

Sometimes, it just takes a little patience and courage for God to use you in a big way. All you have to do is be obedient to Him… The Holy Spirit is alive and wants to talk to us! God didn’t just write the Bible to have us follow by ourselves. He sent us a Helper who wants to interact with us daily. How cool is that?

We have budgeted money so that if someone is struggling financially or we want to bless someone, we will be free to make split-second Spirit-led decisions.

You can learn more about him, his work, and purchase a copy of his book on his website.

I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.