Saturday Sippin’ on Tea…

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It’s Saturday evening and I am drinking some Moroccan Mint Tea, smelling some Eucalyptus leaves, and listening to Housefires.

The evening started with reading some more chapters in Taylor Lyall’s book, Humble Walk: Lessons from a Simple Man Following Jesuswhile I waited for my water to boil for my mint tea. And in that time, the Holy Spirit gave me the biggest, deepest hug I’ve had in awhile. I don’t know how to explain it exactly. It’s like all of my barriers and walls I’ve built around me (that I didn’t know I had) just fell and He swept me up and told me that He loved me. It was vulnerable. It was raw. It brought me tears. And then I just started singing to God. It started with “Good Good Father” from Housefires and then it just moved into my own words of praise and worship.

I am not sure if my landlord below heard me, and I do apologize if he did because it wasn’t necessarily pretty to human’s ears. It had a lot of broken words, sobs, and sounds I didn’t know I could make, but I know it was beautiful to my Father.

Sometimes I am so desperate for God and other times I am not. I wish I were more desperate for Him. I wish I actively sought out those healing hugs. Instead, I spend so much of my time rejecting Him either because I don’t feel like I am worthy or because I think I don’t need Him — both are so incredibly wrong and damaging. I am thankful for the moments when God pushes my sin out of the way and shows me, loudly and plainly, the depth and width of His love. It’s so powerful. It’s so real. It’s so… beautiful.

I write this post so that you would be encouraged. You have a God who is desperately pursuing you; who loves you despite of your sin and rejection of Him. He loves you. And He won’t stop loving you. Embrace His love tonight.

Cheers.

Changing Spaces

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I have been working in my writing alcove for the past year whilst living in my place. There’s been some good nights and not-so-good nights in that little space. The not-so-good nights can be defined as: nights where I did not sit there and write.

Now that my roomie has moved out and the second living area is open, I have decided to temporarily set up shop there until the new roomie moves in. I’ve been thinking about it all week. Sometimes you just need to change up the atmosphere. That’s why writing in cafes and bars around the city has encouraged many a words, but alas this lady has little money right now so spending money to write is not the greatest idea.

So Saturday will be my writing day in my new space!

Today my goal is to finish mapping out the novel. I, unfortunately, have been writing this novel for so long that I wrote out of chronological order, so I need to go back and map out where I’ve been to go forward. This is another reason why I have stalled on this book. I hate mapping out my creative work, but alas I need a framework to continue on this story. I have never done this part before and it’s obvious that I haven’t because I have six novels that need to be finished.

So, I need to get crackin’ because this life isn’t that long and I am easily distracted.

What’s your Saturday goal?

 

Making this Fall Last

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Think of a rollercoaster.

I, for one, am terrified of rollercoasters, so I can totally relate if you feel a little apprehensive about thinking of such a thrilling ride, but for the sake of my metaphor I need you imagine it.

You are slowly moving forward, unsure of where you are going, yet you know that the glacial pace is moving you higher and higher.

You want to go faster, but you are not in control of it. You are along for the ride. Taking it in. Knowing that you are building up to something.

You reach the top and there’s a moment where you feel like you know everything. You have just experienced the build-up and now you can see clear ahead. Well, it’s a little blurry because the time it took you to get up there, your eyes aged a bit, but you can still see what is ahead of you.

And then it happens.

The drop. The feeling of being thrown into something you can’t control. You are now in it. The momentum is so strong that you can’t slow it down, and you kind of wish it was slow like before, but then you’re also kind of feeling like, well, this is terrifying, maybe I am glad it’s going really fast. And you can’t really see what’s ahead of you anymore, so maybe it’s best you close your eyes. You’re just reacting now — sometimes screaming — but you are completely available to the moment. You are completely along for the ride.

And then are you done.

And you realize the build-up in comparison to the fall was minuscule.  And you kind of feel robbed. Like, if you knew how quickly it would’ve gone by you would’ve have enjoyed it more! You would have taken in every second of the rising and falling and made it last as long as it could.

And folks, that’s what life is like.

When I was younger time felt so long. I was always waiting; looking forward to what was ahead. I was excited for the thrill of adulthood, and yet childhood went by slowly — days felt like years.

And then I hit my 20’s and I felt like I knew everything. I was on top of the rollercoaster, looking out. Telling God my plans.

And now, I am in my 30’s and everything is falling around me so fast. Each day feels like a second. I can’t catch up. I can’t stop the momentum. And yes, sometimes the fear of being an adult is real.

I am not sure what is ahead. Instead of looking at what is coming next, I am learning to look to God — the one who built the rollercoaster. I am learning to enjoy the rising and the falling, and more importantly,  I am learning to make this fall last.

Monday Night of Beans

74925-334x500-Jelly_bean_jarMonday Night is Leadership Night, also known as, Elder Board Meeting, Leadership Team, or The Fellowship of RC (okay, I just made the last one up and I am sure nobody on the team is going to agree with me on that name). We meet weekly and we discuss the happenings of the church, our ministry, where God is leading us, if we are in alignment where God is leading, prayer, logistical questions, like “how many cables and snakes do we need for Easter?” and then we also do team building exercises.

Melissa, who is Admin Queen, runs Monday nights and it’s been an honor to see her grow in her God-given talents and how that helps us to grow as a team and as a church.

The Jelly Bean Challenge

This Monday we did the Jelly Bean Challenge (hence the picture).

There are four phases to this challenge:

  • Individually guess how many jelly beans there are in the jar
  • Connect with a partner and guess
  • Connect with a larger group (so four other people) and guess
  • And then the entire leadership team had to guess

It’s a great exercise because it shows how our leadership team works. It encourages us to compromise and to make decisions together. The good and the bad. Some of us are competitive and some of us check out when conflict arises. Some of us do not listen to the rules and create our own rules and some of us will not bend and will only follow the rules. It was a joy to see it all go down.

Beans = Trust Fall?

What surprised me most that night is how much my capacity to trust has grown over the past year.  I was partnered up with Pastor Rocky and he’s a contractor and he works with volume all day long and I DO NOT. So, I told him I trust him and let him guess on, and whenever we moved into a larger group, I would just say, “I trust Rocky.” And I do. I trust him and I trust this leadership team. It’s strange because I’ve had trust issues in the past but I see now how much God has healed those wounds and strengthened me in that area. Now it just needs to spread into other areas.

In the end, our leadership team did not get the number right but we were still able to enjoy the jelly beans. (Okay, I know Rocky would want me to state that his individual number, without any of that “compromising stuff” would have won.)

And one more quick note, my favorite part of the night was when we got the Jelly Beans and it was Mimosa flavor (champagne and orange) and Rocky gave me his champagne beans and I gave him my orange beans. It felt like we were kids on the playground sharing our treats. I don’t know why, but it made me laugh and still makes me smile.


If you have noticed an uptake of blog posts here, let me tell you that you are not crazy. I am posting more on the blog in April as it’s Camp NaNoWriMo and writing on the blog is kind of like a warm-up to my creative writing. Cheers!

Writing Prompt: How Did You Wake Up This Morning?

Let’s start off April with some writing prompts because I need help to get back into writing.

Prompt: How did you wake up this morning?

Rules:

  • Write for 15 minutes
  • Do not edit or proof
  • Choose whichever genre
  • JUST WRITE

I changed my room around yesterday. So when I woke up this morning I was no longer looking at a wall filled with hanging photos of friends, but rather the ceiling corner next to my window. It was still early. The sun wasn’t out. Yet who knows these days as the rain comes and goes bringing a darkness that just lingers.

I looked at the clock and it showed 3 o’clock in the morning. I still had at least another 3.5 hours to sleep, yet my mind was racing with what transpired in my dream. It felt so real.

Dreams are like a quilt of experience, memory, fear, and hope all wrapped up into some type of vivid narrative — well, for me at least. Blame it on the reading.

This dream was more of a nightmare, which was more a memory from my youth. A memory I didn’t remember until now.

I was young and alone at my childhood home on Campbell Ave. I was either eight or nine — cannot recall. My parents were both out, possibly working. They could also be down at the usual Block Party that happened during those longer summer California nights. My brothers were out — so maybe the Block Party does make sense — and I was reading in the living room when I heard the door bell ring.

We lived on the corner of a rather busy street for East Side; although, the neighborhood was pretty far away from actual town, so there weren’t many strangers that came through. You usually knew where you were going if you were to visit our neighborhood.

I came to the front door and asked who it was, and a voice, a shape, a shadow of a man said on the other side that he needed to use my phone. His car broke down and he needed to call for help.

Instinctively, I knew not to trust the shadow on the other side of the door. I was quiet, wanting so badly to see what he looked like, but this door did not have a peep hole and the windows had mosaic designs that altered the view.

I remember feeling scared and unsure of what to do. I didn’t feel like I had a voice to tell him to go away. What if that was mean? What if he really did need help? What if he got angry? What if he came in the house? What if he found out that I was home alone?

“Hi, Little girl, can I please come in and use your phone? I will be really quick.”

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Well let me talk to your dad… your dad is home, right?”

Silence.

“So, you’re home alone?”

How could he figure that out, I thought? I panicked. What do I do? Is he a bad guy? Do I call 911? Or is he is a normal guy and I can trust him?

So, I responded, “I can call for you. Just tell me what the number is and I can call for you.”

“Just let me in. It will be really quick.” His voice had changed. There was an urgency to it. And then he started to bang on the door. Slamming his fists against it.

Instead of running to the phone to call 911, I laid on the floor as low as I could possibly get. Why? Well, you see the phone was in the room next to the door that had a window. If I went in there, what if he could see me? And if he could see me then that would mean I could see him and then he would be real.

Even at age eight I was still playing the game of if I can’t see him, he can’t see me.

He banged and banged on the door.

“Let me in!”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t want him to trick me. I didn’t want him to know how scared I was. I didn’t want him to somehow get in the house using the power of language. So I laid on the floor, holding my breath, hoping he would give up.

And he did.

I heard a sound of a door opening but it came from the garage. It was my dad! The man must have fled, but I didn’t check. I wouldn’t check. That door was staying locked.

Looking back, I don’t recall telling my parent’s what happened that night. I wasn’t sure if it was real. Did that man really need to just use the phone? Or did he know that a young girl was home alone? Just like today, it felt like a dream — a nightmare. Would anyone believe me?

I went back to sleep and woke up at a reasonable hour still thinking of that nightmare. I know why it popped up in my head. I am now living alone and with that comes some fears. I am thankful to live in a multi-family dwelling, so I am not completely alone. I also live in a dense city, so that too also quells any fears.

Yet, I also know that this morning I was scheduled to be the Cantor and to lead service in the Lord’s Supper. There’s spiritual warfare going on, folks, and I am not blind to it. It’s been happening all weekend. Last night, with this; the night before, waking up in the middle of the night feeling as though spiders were all over me. Yup, another fear of mine, spiders.

I am not surprised by it. Living as a missionary comes at a cost. I know that God will not forsake me. I know that He fights for me. I know that I have weapons of my own to use and that I am not alone.  It will not destroy me, however annoying it may be.

Though it did scare me and scared me then as a little girl, I can’t help but thank God for protecting me that night. There’s so many instances in my life where some very, very bad things could have happened (and at times, some bad things did happen), yet God protected me and/or healed me.

So while the enemy tried to throw me into fear; I fell into God’s love and protection.

And that’s how I woke up.

7 Things: April 2017

1. Looking

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2. Watching

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I haven’t seen this movie in over a decade. I remember attending San Diego Comic Con the year they previewed the trailer for this film. I remember thinking this movie was going to be awesome and change things, but I didn’t know that it would completely change the trajectory of the movie industry.

3. Listening


For those who don’t know me, when I am stressed I listen to the same thing over and over again. So, I am back to The Oh Hellos’ Live show in Boston. This past month has been stressful trying to find a roommate and just dealing with change, so this video has been a welcoming comfort.

4. Reading

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A friend gifted me this and I am really enjoying it. It’s a bit silly, but don’t we all need that sometimes?

5. Sharing

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A friend of mine, Taylor Lyall, wrote a book. Read it!

6. Learning

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I am in the in the middle of Isaiah, Kings, and Matthew and I am loving how much God is teaching me about Him through all of these books. I think one of the biggest lessons is just how faithful He is. I can depend on Him. And even if I don’t like the answer, I know that He is in control, and what He says He will do, He will do. I love that about Him. I also love that I am His. And He is mine. And it’s lovely.

7. Anticipating

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It’s April. It’s time to get some words out of my soul and onto the screen, and maybe one day, paper.

The roomie is out. I have the place to myself for a month. LET’S DO THIS.

Captain’s Log: Day 2

Captain’s Log: Day two of living alone. The dishes are stacked high. I am not wearing pants. I’ve watched an entire season of Parks and Recreation. And the tub has dried pieces of flowers from the previous night’s bath. 

Yup.

It’s been years since I have lived alone. Well, since August 2014! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long.

The past two days have felt odd, mainly because it feels like nothing has changed. Sure, some things are missing in the house now that my roommate moved out, but it’s nearly the same. It wasn’t until last night whilst reading in the bath thinking, “Oh, I should hurry before Jemma gets home. She may need to use the toilet,” that I realized she isn’t coming home. Nobody is coming home. I CAN STAY IN THE BATH ALL NIGHT LONG IF I WANT. And all night I did! Well, an extra hour.

Although this is just a temporary predicament as by May I should have a roommate, I am enjoying this hiccup in my life.

I just hope I don’t pick up annoying habits by the time my new roommate moves in. 😛

*Goes and does dishes*

Looking for a Roommate Sucks

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It’s strange looking for a roommate. I’ve been blessed in all of my years of living on my own to move into a home instead of trying to have someone move in with me.  I was usually the one in the tight spot of having nowhere to go. And now that I have a place and I am trying to find someone, I realize how much this side of things suck.

It’s good though. It’s definitely reinforces what I know to be true: God is in control. His Will not mine. He will provide. And it may be frustrating and tough, but it’s how I react, how I submit, that will determine the success of this temporary season.

I’ll be honest, my brain and heart are in a state of flux. I have gone hours where I am okay, completely trusting God, and then I have a moment that throws me and I have a good five-minutes of just fear and worry.

Thoughts have ranged from:

  • “What if? What if I can’t find someone?”
  • “I don’t want to be desperate and say yes to the first person because I need to trust in God’s timing.”
  • “God, can you get rid of this student loan so that I can just live on my own?”
  • “God, I will be patient. I will wait. Bring someone.”
  • “Let me do all of the things to find the roommate.”
  • “Well, looks like I am living on the streets. Here, let me sell my books.”
  • “I need help.”
  • “I don’t need help.”
  • “I am not alone.”
  • “I feel so alone in this.”

Suffice it to say, I am learning to trust God in this. I am not all the way there yet.

He has reminded me of what He has brought me out of and how He has provided for me.

And I also keep repeating Philippians 4:6-7:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God will get me through this and it may not look how I envisioned either. Who knows what will happen by May 15.

If you’re reading this, please pray for me.

7 Things: March 2017

1. Looking

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Me, at the laundromat, makeup free, bags under my eyes, looking haggard though it doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the inside of me. So, that’s good.

2. Watching

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3. Listening

This has been my go-to live music to listen to whilst working. It’s empowering.

4. Reading

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5. Sharing

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I booked a cabin with my best friend in the Scottish Highlands for my 32nd birthday. It’s named after the Tawny Owl, which I will be able to see and hear. My people. I am incredibly excited and thankful that I get to celebrate my favorite number in my favorite country in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees and ponds, all of which will be in the winter so everything that scares me about these woods will be dead or in slumber. So, it’s a win win for me.

6. Learning

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It’s been about six months, but I am back and taking this Udemy course from NT Wright and it’s fantastic. So many things I am learning that are blowing my mind. Connections I didn’t realize. I am just falling more in love with Scripture and with God through this class. I highly recommend it!

7. Anticipating

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I am excited to teach at another Kindred, women’s ministry, event this month! I am a little nervous, as per usual, but I am also excited to just talk about God and how awesome He is and how much freedom we have in Him. If you’re in the Chicago area and you’re a lady and want to attend,  let me know and I’ll give you the details!

This also marks off another item off my bucket list (Teach at Kindred, check!).

He Entered Without Knocking

23526522I am listening to the The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski and it’s been quite the treat.

While on the treadmill this morning I heard a quote that struck me (here’s my paraphrase): “He entered my heart without knocking.”  Who said it? I don’t know. Unfortunately, with audiobooks it’s hard to go back to something, especially when you’re exercising.

The chapter was on C.S. Lewis and his early years of being an atheist and how God was bringing Christian writers into his life causing him to question his beliefs. He references this in his autobiography Surprised by Joy:

A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.

Every time I read that quote I cannot help but give a good, grateful chuckle because it was not only true for Lewis, but true for me too. For him it was George McDonald and G.K. Chesterton, and for me, J.R.R. Tolkien.

It was as this author said, like someone entering my heart without knocking. Just one day there was a truth that had taken up residence and everything started to make sense. Christ was real! The myths found in Tolkien’s work were not just stories but echoes of the truth that we indeed are in need of a savior.

The door that was kept closed and locked filled with doubt, anger, and unasked questions was now open, and without me fully understanding, I was able to make space for the Holy Spirit.

And I will be forever grateful.