june says hello

I’ve poked and prodded and updated my blog theme in hopes of being inspired to write. Not for lack of things to say…but for the focus to sit and write. I peaked at my Pinterest feed and found a nifty post on things your blog needs. It was great, but aimed more at “bloggers”. I realized I missed the old community that I used to find in my google feed reader. Gosh, I haven’t looked at that in years. I miss the way we used to just share and connect, heart to heart. Now it’s all about having the right niche and themes and settings and audience and monetizing, and I’m just over here, doing the same thing I always have…I think…writing what’s on my heart. Part memoir-part rambling-part journal-part did I share too much like that was my diary-and part that was too vague and artistic. Words, free form poetry. Run on sentences are my jam. (Sorry.) I don’t blog for you. I blog to process, to share, to see the words form outside of my head, to piece things together, to be real, to share what I am passionate about and can’t stop thinking, breathing, or speaking about.

[for example: abolitionist, identity, trust, goodness, love, contentment, holy yoga, my church, my friends, my city]

And there’s this part of me that sees the changes…the MASSIVE changes in my life and my heart, in who I am…and I want to scrap the whole thing (the blog, that is) and start over. But there is this other part of me that knows the value of being able to look back and see how far I have come. The value of continuity…somehow…perhaps. Yet I long for a blank canvas, for the room to breathe and cover that new canvas. For the process of creating, thinking, wondering.

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I just returned back from a trip to a place that I used to live. And it was strange being back. I was nervous and apprehensive because I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, being back in a place I used to call home. And it was wonderful to see faces and loved ones and hugs and baby snuggles and coffee/lunch/bbq dates and just sit and talk and talk and heart to heart and reconnect. It was a whirlwind of a trip. I tried to take it all in as best as I could. But I came back exhausted from traveling and restless. And for two weeks I have attempted to identify the restlessness. It’s internal, very internal. I don’t know what to make of it, so I have sought peace, calm, focus, shalom. I found some of this in Isaiah 26:3 which says:

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

perfect peace

I looked up the hebrew words for perfect and peace and found them to be the same word. Shalom, shalom. Peace, peace. Double Peace. It has been my focus and calm in the midst of this restlessness. Even the thought that I ought to sit down and just write brought a sense of calm.

Even right now as I right, the slowing, even as my fingers dance on the keyboard is calming. It’s strange to think how long it’s been since I have done this…and on a regular basis. I am brainstorming some ideas of how to get myself to write. Because I need it. So hello June, and hello blank canvas.

dad's inscription

tears and stolen blessings

dad's inscription

Some of my most prized possessions are those inscribed.

Last reminders of his presence on earth. And the tears fall as I run my fingers over his name. And I wonder what other wisdom he might have imparted if only we’d had a bit more time. If only he hadn’t gone downhill so quickly. If only he would have imparted some wisdom and a blessing before he entered into eternity.

Some moments I feel robbed of blessings. Robbed of moments that I should have had with my dad. But I know he prayed for me daily, prayers of blessing I will never know. But I have to believe that every hour was known, and the timing was as it should be, though it’s never long enough. I have to settle for the many memories that I did have. For the blessings that he did leave behind, like this one. Even though my love language of words craves for more detail. More descriptions and more adjectives. All he left me was that “God would bless me as I follow his path.” it doesn’t feel like enough. And maybe it isn’t, but it sure is a lot. And maybe one day I’ll be able to look back on my path and see so much more.

dad memory collage

Tonight the tears fall and I rest in the arms of my risen Saviour, in whom I sometimes bring more questions, and have to be okay with mystery, and the pain and the tension of the world not as it should be, but caught in the in between, in the already and not yet. Caught in between an eternity to come and the reality that the kingdom is here now; eternity has already begun.

village

somethings can’t be titled: village easter memories

fam

As I reflect on the somber meaning of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, I’m hit with the reality that the day that follows Easter this year is not a joyful day,  not for my family. I had a lot of emotions last year around this time, they came earlier, I think because Easter was earlier in the year.  But this year while not as heavy as the previous year has also been heavy. A different kind of heavy, but somehow, still heavy. Last year was heavy with healing of layers upon layers of hurt, anger, and anger towards God that revealed doubt; a lack of trust, which has been rebuilt this year, stronger than ever, but heavy nonetheless.

As we sat around a table eating tacos and burritos at a local taco shop last night, contemplating the Good Friday service and worship experience sitting in a room with the disciples as they processed, verbalized, and grieved the loss of our Saviour. I mentioned that there has always been something about the season surrounding Easter that is very significant; marked almost.

As I read through the gospels’ accounts of the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus this morning, I was transported to a time when I was on an island surrounded by white sandy beaches and in the midst of a dramatic reenactment of the events surrounding Christ’s death. It has been a very long time since I thought about that, but in that moment I was there, watching the betrayal. Watching Peter cut of a soldier’s ear, watching Jesus heal the ear and watching Judas betray Jesus, and Pilate and Caiphas.

And then in search of this beach on google maps at my mom’s suggestion, I ended up in the village where I spent many of my early childhood days.

village

As I’m soaring over my Island Village home via Google Earth, my heart is heavy as I think of all the memories, all the moments, of my childhood and the weight of it all. So much good, and so much wonder. The weight isn’t sadness, though there is some. The weight is the significance. Of everything that happened in that one place and so many other places. It was in this very place that I first gave my heart to Jesus, after watching my first reenactment of the passion play on this exact grassy field. Right here.  And  it is one of a myriad of reasons why the Easter season means so much to me. I can’t totally express everything. Just to acknowledge the weight. And how I wish I could relive some of those moments one more time with my Dad.

Just playing, exploring, riding bikes, and dad’s motorcycle, and fishing for shrimp, swimming and playing in the warm ocean waters of the tropics. of the simplicity and the nightly lantern lightly rituals. Of fetching water from the well, and of watching a well dug deeper. Of watching the gleam in his eyes as he shared magic tricks or just made the village kids giggle.

I miss that.

And I’m allowed to miss that, and it’s not weird and it’s not obsessive. I just miss that.  And I’m grateful for the tears and the sad songs. Because it means that I can feel and the loss is real.

holy saturday

On this Holy Saturday

holy saturday

On this Holy Saturday, I am resting and sitting in the tension between the death of Christ and the coming Resurrection that we remember on Easter Sunday. As I read Mark, John, Luke and Matthew’s accounts of the betrayal and trial and death of our Saviour I find myself wondering if I would have stayed by Jesus’ side like the women did, like Mary Magdalene and the mother of Jesus. Or would I have fled, like the disciples, whose good intentions weren’t enough to stay.

I think my honest answer is I would flee, because that is my usual response. I flee, I run, I quit. But I am learning to stay. I am learning to press in even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, and even when it costs me. My hope is that I would learn to love my Saviour extravagantly like the woman who poured out expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. To love and serve him with everything I have. That’s who I want to be. And this morning as I spent time reading and doing yoga, I am learning that I am stronger than I thought I was. I may want to stop but I am learning to push through, to breathe deeply and push through and worship him with all of me.

He is trustworthy

I feared that the events of the past 3 weeks would drag on and be discouragement after disappointment, as they had in the past. Instead, God has totally been present. I have felt carried by prayers of others, of my community and friends and family.  I have failed and there was a mess. And through it all, I recognized my inadequacy, and entrusted my future, my income, my work, my life into the hands of a trustworthy Father.  When I acknowledge my failure and inability to fix the mess I had made, Jesus came in and  has been making something else of my mess. And this time I knew I could trust that he would take care of me. And he has, he didn’t waste any time showing me how loved I am, showing me how much it’s not about me. And how much he can be trusted.

sad

And somehow, even through the fears, the worries, the tears, the surrender, my hands have remained open.

abide

apronI went from picking  up my final check, to walking to staples where I had copies of my resume printed and walking all the way home
searching for places to leave my resume, to walking into one cafe and walking out with a job.
There have been many of these moments. God has been surprising me one day after another, one moment after another. He has been providing work, through various avenues.

Last week I worked four jobs. I connected with my temp agency one week ago and had work the next day, spending four days in one of my favorite buildings in all of Chicago.

chicago chicago  chicago chicago

Today, while recovering from the past week and resting and littering the floor with tissues from a stuffy nose, I took phone call after phone call and have an interview and a new placement that starts tomorrow. All of this has been such a whirlwind. It has sped by and gone so quickly, as I have needed it to go, in order to keep up with my expenses, and thankfully so. Many unknowns remain and I am sure many more lessons will continue to be learned, but tonight I thankful to  be a daughter and a child of God.

be still

This process has felt more like a reminder to rest and trust in Him, and less about doing it all on my own. There is a fine balance somewhere between taking the reigns and falling into His arms, and I have leaned heavily on those arms while trying to do my small part, and continue to be obedient and follow where he leads me.  Tonight he whispered that I should stay home tonight and rest.

be still

And the funny thing is that is what I’ve been doing all day. I simply answered the phone and was open. I think he is showing me that he is absolutely trustworthy of my life, my livelihood, my needs will be taken care of and most of all that my identity is completely in him, in my inheritance in the kingdom, and in my Father.  He is proving to me that there is value in being still. There is value in waiting for him to lead the way. And it’s not about performance, it’s not about production, it’s not about being good enough, it’s not about being anything.  It’s all about Jesus. And his strength, his love, his grace, his mercy, and his provision.

2e83c99ebeb011e38f960002c95498b6_8

And oh, how he cares for me.

surprised by God

Surprised by his grace, mercy and love for me.

-Lori

Kari Jobe Concert1

open hands

Kari Jobe Concert2

I showed up, tired, wondering why I had gotten up so early that morning, but I was excited to be there.  I was determined to meet God, experience his presence and hear from Him. I had purchased my ticket determinedly. I arrived with expectation. When I found my seat I was content. And then more people began sitting around me and I was getting distracted, lacking the focus that my tiredness was zapping from me, and since I wasn’t enjoying the opening, and my phone equally zapped, I grabbed my charger and headed for the lobby.

The cushy theatre lobby carpeted floor provided for a great seat with plenty of outlets.  I parked myself next to one, hit airplane mode and sat there with my eyes closed for a few minutes. As I watched the battery percentage rise, I found myself laying down next to the wall, just outside the entrance. I was a little frustrated that I was out here and that I wasn’t enjoying the music in there, but I was too tired to fight it.

Charging my phone in the lobby

After intermission I headed back in, happy that all was fully charged and even feeling abit more energized myself.   I was enjoying and connecting with every song.  I knew why I was here and I needed to get on my face and my knees. I walked slowly to the side and rear of the theater and found plenty of open space and solitude. As I prayed I sensed God’s voice and I knew what I had to do. I quickly texted a friend what I had to do to back me up and after some time, I headed back to my seat for the end. After the encore, I just sat there, taking it all in. People all around me were leaving, and I sat still.  Then, this sweet young girl named Marie courageously approached me and asked if she could pray for me. Of course I said yes and I was amazed by the wisdom and timeliness of her prayer for me. Words I needed to hear.  I thanked her and walked slowly to the entrance as I ordered a car to come pick me up and take me home.

Kari Jobe Concert3

Everytime Kari Jobe releases a new album, I’m always amazed at how much I connect to the themes of her music, the seasons of life that shaped those songs and the words and prayers that  are sent back to God. This was no different. But so different from her previous album. Her album releases at the end of this month and I am already counting down because I can’t wait to listen to the songs that spoke to my heart this weekend. Songs reminding me where to find my satisfaction and contentment and how loved and who I am. (I am all He says I am, and He says I am His own)

Kari Jobe Concert1

You don’t just move to a new place and start over. Not at 29. When you move across the country at 29 God breaks you. He purges you of all the ugly. Ugly motives, ugly hopes, ugly ambitions. He sternly invites you to please let go of the junk that is holding you back. To mature and grow in wisdom and to break the hard, calloused heart you had, put your dreams in the fire and walk away from everything. Sell your car. Sell your iPad.  Change everything. But in place of that broken calloused heart, in the midst of rejection and vulnerability and risk and loneliness, he comes rushing in and makes you fall back in love with him like you have never loved him before. And this tenderness that came as a result of all of these things…this journey, this process…the pain, the hurt, and the buckets of tears. Owning up to the sin and junk in my heart. The pride, and anger and jealousy and envy and entitlement. Owning it all and begging God to clear it all away.

And somewhere in this process, through the dark winter of the soul, he rescued me. He showed up. With open arms and is leading me through a transition that I know nothing about.  And I’m not afraid. Because he is trustworthy. And I don’t feel that stubborn resistance rising up anymore, and that openness is freeing, grace, and full of life. Open. I just feel open. Open hands, open heart, open for Him. For His plans. For His Love. For His Goodness. For His Peace. For His Joy. I’m open.  And I couldn’t be more excited to be in this place. I can’t wait to dance.

Artisan Soul – Notes from the Book Tour

The Artisan Soul

All I have are tears. Tears and feelings. And questions. Something stirred inside me and I can’t even put words to it. Some notes from tonight. Writing and rereading these was a helpful process. Though I don’t feel anywhere near a conclusion, no resolution, lacking a cadence. It hangs, tension. Just as he said. Also, if you’re an artist, you have got to get your hands on this book.  It’s late..but I might start reading it tonight already.

THE ARTISAN SOUL | Book Tour with Erwin McManus

It is a manifesto of Creativity.

Jesus is the one thing that is real.
It’s easier to be an art critic than it is to be an artist.

Paraphrasing his thoughts on: “Our language betrays us”. ‘It was the Lord.’ No, our hands made it, our words crafted, our thoughts conceived it. We need to find new language for creating without fear that we are taking away from God. No, we shouldn’t fear taking away God’s glory from him. Who are we to think that we are big/strong/powerful enough to take away God’s glory? (my own thoughts)

The question is not are you creative/are you an artist… The question is WHAT WILL YOU CREATE?

We were created by the Creator to create. It is an externalization of the human spirit.

Dream. Risk. Create.

Stop seeing humans through the lens of the industrial revolution. Take back our image bearing, uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully made, we are works of art.

Every human being is a creative, an artist.

It is time to take back the scriptures from the conformity, mechanical, industrial, man-made machines and LIVE creatively – as creativity comes from the Creator.

Creativity is an expression of the divine. The image of God dwells within.

Artisan Soul Quote
Create room for failure. Failure is NOT the End. Failure does  not mean that God is not in it.
Raw beauty, naked, vulnerability = beauty and art.

We are simply to bring what we have to him and He can use it! Water into wine – God created water before Jesus turned it into wine. He used the servants to bring him the water, which he then used to turn into fine wine. A quality product.

We dishonor God by putting his name on it. (It needs no explanation)
Christians have become a synonym for below average, bottom dwelling, scraping the bottom of culture.

Implicit vs. Explicit. (implied, but not in so many words)

Quality of the product leads to the creator.

It’s implicit. Doesn’t need to be explicit.

“European” Style: Expression of lifestyle rather than brands. Brands in America are based on selling what people want/buy rather than art.

Jesus is a kind and generous space.
The church was not a kind and generous space.  (for artists, and those who didn’t think like everyone else)
–> it criticized, called names, in the name of theology and doctrine. orthodoxy.

Like a child – faith like a child, creative geniuses and language savants – as young children we are full of creativity and so much more. Go back as you were so that you can become.

Awe = is the secular idea for worship. = it is when we come to life.

Worshiping God will create tension in you.

Risk. –> Love

The greatest informer of art is Love –> Risk again.

Time to become pioneers and intersect Creativity with Spirituality. Before it’s taken away from us.