Hearing those Words, it Makes Me Weak

I'm sitting here feeling disillusioned and alone. To make things perfect, I'm probably hungry and tired and angry too. Drug of choice, anyone?

I have plans for the next while (big plans!) and they just keep getting shut down. I've been stupid and haven't spent enough effort keeping myself sane. Now, here I sit in a full room of emptiness and I have to stay silent to keep from screaming.


I had some realizations last night. There are certain people who I will never have in my life again because they're simply not good enough. The next eight months are not about counting, but succeeding. I'm broken but still loved.

But...but...what is the point?


How Can I Stand Here with You and not Be Moved by You?

What is pressing on my mind? Marriage, surprisingly (or not so much, considering I'm currently in a marriage class).

I have had a recent realization that blows the lid off everything I thought I thought about marriage: I have never before connected my ideal marriage situation to the person I am currently dating.

I'm not dating now, nor do I want to, but there are always possibilities floating in the periphery of my satisfied single state. Yesterday I found myself thinking about what it would be like to end up with this one guy, and I was suddenly shocked to realize that I was interested despite how little he resembles the man I know I need. I'm not talking about nit-picky things like toothpaste squeezing technique or what colour hair he has or if his hands are bigger than mine; I'm talking about the absolute essentials. He has to have a heart for full-time ministry! That one is a no-brainer, and if I let go of that one I have already sold myself out. He has to love God more than me. He has to be crazy PASSIONATE about things, not just float through life complacent with sort of liking some general things that make good small talk. And he has to be just plain crazy to want a house full of kids and me.

I know these things. In the deepest recesses of my heart I know these things, yet when a guy is pursuing me I forget to hold him up against these things. I get caught up in whether or not he makes me laugh, on the colour of his eyes or the way his singing makes me melt. I forget how precious my heart is and how easily it can be broken by anyone but whoever the one will be. I forget how high my standards are when some guy with a killer smile looks my way.

It's pathetic!

In the words of Randy Remington, Tom Gardiner, and whoever else will most likely tell me in the next few days (keeping in true form, as God always does): "Choose wisely."


What a Weekend (and a Splash of Hope)

Some days are without description, as words would fail horribly and only serve to dull the sweetness of the moment. Therefore, I don't want to bog myself down with lengthy descriptions or thoughts that really don't matter.

I realized the other day that I stopped believing in a lot of good things a long time ago. Life isn't perfect, c'est la vie, suck it up. All to say: build dreams that are slightly in the realm of attainable. Stop reaching. Accept what life hands you and be satisfied.
...But that just isn't in me. I was once told that a Christian's worst temptation is not to give in to worldly temptations, but rather to settle for the satisfactory. I think God has far more than satisfactory in mind.

This weekend was beyond description. Amazingly, I was able to focus and just...be. The first night was wonderful because the message was on understanding God's love for us. To truly, fully grasp that concept is a lifelong process, but standing there singing "How He Loves" I was brought back to my roadtrip and the moment I knew that I knew that He loved me. For real. Not some concept for study or a gift only given to the holy, but for me. He loves me, not because I try to be strong or beautiful or smart or likable, but just because. He just does.

And then. The point that brought it all together. Bring on night number two. Before the message, the speaker was giving words to people in the audience, and as he began his third personal message I knew I would be next. First I told God He didn't have to give me anything, I would be satisfied without anything that intimate (and public). Then I begged Him not to. And then the speaker called on me. He asked if I was comfortable with these people, my peers and authority figures; were they a loving family I could trust?
My honest response: "Some."
My real response: "Yes."
Something inside me clicked and I knew this wasn't just for me. Other people needed to hear it too.
He told me it wasn't to embarrass me, but to use as an example. And he pulled out a twenty dollar bill. I had heard of this illustration before in different classes as a visual prop for youth groups, but I had never actually seen it done.
Randy: "Do you know what this is?"
Me: "Money."
R: "A twenty dollar bill. And I want to give it to you. Do you want it?"
L: "Yes."
R: "Okay, just give me a second."
And he crumpled it in his hand (sidenote: American money crumples so much cooler than Canadian). He spread it out again.
R: "Do you still want it?"
L: I know where this is going... "Yes."
R: "Okay, one more thing."
And he smooshed it into an even tinier ball, threw it on the ground and stomped on it. Every stomp was a knife in the heart, a weight on my shoulders, a new memory. He spread it out again.
R: "What about now?"
L: "Yes."
R: "Why?"
L: "Because it's still twenty bucks."
He went on to explain value. The bill still had monetary value, despite how it had been mistreated, crushed and abused. It still had value. I still have value. That's how Jesus sees me, and how He wants me to see myself. I have not lost my value.

That twenty is now the new bookmark in my Bible. Already I can see the creases begin to become softer as the continuous pressure of my ridiculously heavy NASB squashes it into submission. Diamonds are created from coal in extreme pressure and intense heat; gold is refined by burning out the impurities; I am being turned into something beautiful, something valuable, by pressure, weight and heat. The impurities are being burned away in the wake of the Consuming Fire who is jealous for my love. My love. Incredible.

I am not beyond saving. Hope.
He has a plan bigger than all of this. Faith.
It is by His grace and compassion that I get another shot. Love.
And the greatest of these is love.


You Make the Darkness Disappear

I think I have been dwelling in darkness for a long, long time; in so many ways, on so many levels.

I have not been acting as one who lives in the Light. I have been so much better lately, but up until the last two months I was a mess of a hypocrite.

I was walking blind, consumed in a darkness that fogged my spiritual vision until I became nothing more than some sort of mythical, nighttime creature.

My desert (the constant picture of where my spiritual walk was at), though portrayed in bright sunshine, was its own kind of darkness; nothing but horizon and blue sky endlessly is darkness, too. No contact with other humanity is darkness.

I used to describe myself with words like "lost" and "without purpose." Time and time again, my chant rang out: "I don't know what to be without you around!" I felt honest-to-goodness alone.

But I feel found when You stand near. I know what I am when You are here. I know where I am, and my place in Your world becomes so clear. Who drives my soul? Only You.


Isn't She Everything You Need?

Arguably the most depressing time of year, here we are again welcoming Autumn. Besides the endless rain, sudden temperature drop and shortened days, I
cannot imagine why anyone would want to hide indoors and cower under the covers. Darn, guess I forgot to mention school, too. Exempting meals, I have no
freaking idea what I am doing of profit; I've loaded myself down with a
generous helping of 19 credit
hours per week, on top of homework, gratis, and life as
I used to know it. Just when I think it cannot possibly get any worse, God shows up with a new surprise: a
kick straight into a new ministry. Let me be clear that when I say I never intended to do
ministry this year, it does
not mean that I'm through with vocational ministry; all I'm saying is that if I had it my way, I would be taking what I perceive to be some much deserved R&R and allowing someone else to minister to me for a change. Obviously God has other
plans up His immense sleeves.

Quitting has never been something I have been good at. Reasonably speaking, there is very little that I ever consider quitting because of who I am and the passion that drives me,
so I am slow to commit unless I know it is something I'm willing
to give my life to
until God pulls me out.

Vancouver is still
where my heart is at, and nothing I do seems to quench the love I have for this place; not that I am
xenophobic or anything.

Yet, through all this, I guess the main thing I am trying to get across is that I have no idea whatsoever what God is planning, I feel as though I am getting in the way of the great things He would like to give me by my ridiculous, self-imposed schedule, and through it all I just feel very...alone.

Zebras, anyone?


Sunrise / Sunset / Butterfly / Cigarette

I wrote a sermon while in Toronto entitled "You Are What You Love," and for some reason it just came back to me. (If I already talked about this, I apologize. And I promise the perspective on it is now on a whole different level.)

We often say that idols are anything we value above God, but I want to take it to the next level: anything we put on par with God, or even consider in the same playing field, is something we have made an idol of. God is SO huge, SO majestic and SO ridiculously holy, so how can we justify looking at anything in our lives as even close to competing with Him for our hearts?
"They came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved.” – Hosea 9:10
I have loved a lot of things in my life that were not good for me. Are not good for me. I let these things consume my life and drown out God. It's a choice until the point where I have given these lusts (because they're not really love, only a perversion of real Love) enough power in my life to begin acting of their own accord. Suddenly I stop owning these lusts and they begin to own me. And, all at once, I find myself as detestable as those things which I have loved.

Then. Out of nothing of my own volition, God steps down in His perfect grace to bring light into my pathetic little shell of a world. The light casts out the darkness; Darkness flees before Him; and He wipes the walls of my heart clean with His blood. I suddenly find myself new and more joyous than I ever thought possible. So what do I do with this new freedom? I follow the infamous path of Israel and turn my back on Him for something even more stupid as soon as I forget or take for granted all that He has done for me.

So once again I find myself in the midst of questions which, if answered just the right way, will lead back to that same path if I am not careful. The phrase that always gets me is "What does it matter anyway?" and suddenly my defenses are down and I begin to think and romanticize that which is ugly and detestable in His sight. But He has given me a new spirit of courage in the face of temptation, and I think I am going to make it through this fire period.

Right now, my greatest joy and deepest love are only in Him, and I cannot wait to see how I transform as I become that which I love.


Dreaming about as Deep as a Wading Pool

I am being continually amazed by the lengths my heart will go to protect itself. I haven't yet figured out how to protect my heart without hardening it, so I either walk around taking bullets in the chest or else holding up a useless shield of anger or perma-smile or silence, when all I really need to do is invest in a bullet-proof vest.

In general, I can tell how I am doing by going back and reading my blogs from the past week and measuring their tone. It has been a shock to see how sad I have been lately. Sad and disoriented and disconnected. I thought I was doing well, I thought the sunshine was finally here, but I'm still in that hazy dawn, greyish area that comes just before the light. It scares me to admit, but I'm still in limbo. Standing on the edge of a knife can be a perfect balancing act until a slight slip that eventually cuts me in two; so the options are to fall to the one side and trust God will catch me, launch to the other and hope something will break my fall, or stay here and wait to be torn in half.

I want to want to be in that good place. Finally. I really, genuinely want it. And now we wait.


Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

I have been dreaming about certain life milestones since forever ago, since before I can remember, and since before I found out that my dreams were dreams and not certain in the future and not what everyone else dreamt about.

Lately I've been disciplining myself to give up on certain dreams because I like to think worst case scenario so that I will not be disappointed. But God is Giver of dreams. And when I align my heart with His, my dreams suddenly find themselves molding to the contours of His desires for me. So far, at least as far as I can tell, none of my dreams are entirely off-base.

Right now, the one that is killing me to keep to myself is how badly I want a baby. This isn't the first blog on the topic so I'll keep it brief. I guess the only thing that's changed since before is that I don't want one just for me; that is utterly selfish, and how can I expect a child to ever carry the burden of a parent's happiness? No, not for my own happiness. I want to be part of creating with God, to make something that is so much myself and someone else, yet so unique and so unspeakably beautiful just for being made in the image of the Almighty. By no strength of my own, He weaves something beautiful together and then entrusts that little life to foolish people with dark pasts and secrets and hurts and fears....

I want to do it right. To say the wrong things at the wrong times and embarrass them no matter how hard I try to be hip and do all the things I swore I'd do just because my parents didn't which will of course only continue the cycle and take them for ice cream when they've had a bad day and take them for ice cream when I've had a bad day and let my husband build them a ridiculously dangerous treehouse which I will protest but secretly love just because he thought to do it and have breakfast for dinner and help them make Valentine's Day cards with glitter and dress them up as bumble bees and marshmallows and spaceships for Hallowe'en and fail epically while still doing everything I can to raise them to love God and live their lives for Him.

I guess despite all the heartache I'm having to maneuver through right now, all I really want is to be a mommy.


I Got on Just Fine without You, Thank You Very Much

Days like today really make me wonder about the deep, serious things of the world. Spinning over 1000 crepes in one day, all the while standing or running for something or jumping in to help someone leaves a lot of brain time. I had angry customers and tired co-workers and strangers who were far too interested in my life for comfort (or just stared for extended periods of time), and it all made me wonder: what the heck is the purpose of it all?

Church answer: Jesus. Honest answer: it's so hard to figure out. Everyone is running around, living their lives in the way they think is best, and basically just waiting to die. And as I stood there spinning my endless crepes, I wondered what makes me so different. Half the time you could probably say I'm doing the same thing; it could probably be said about a lot of Christians. We laugh when people give the church answer, but what's really so wrong with it? As my good friend Paul once said: "to live is Christ and to die is gain."

The last few days have been rough, but that shouldn't excuse me for becoming apathetic. Do I mean what I say, or do I just say it? I'm seriously being challenged right now.


The Voice of Truth Says "This Is for My Glory"

When we ran our day camps this summer in Toronto, our team of interns each had a teaching day on a certain topic. Wednesday’s theme was prayer. One of the things we talked about is how our natural reactions in the face of hard situations are usually not pretty: gossip, complaining, blaming, fighting back, panicking. We called this “picking up your sticks and stones.” But what we were teaching them was how these things only fuel problems, not extinguish them. We need to pray, because prayer is our powerful weapon; we ask God to fight our battles for us.

I feel like I am in the middle of a battlefield. The playing field? My life. And I cannot fight. I am the battlefield, so I need to have someone fight on my behalf. I need Someone to fight for me.

And praise God, He has given me the strength to run in the right direction. Instead of turning to malicious gossip or fighting or drinking or boys or any other thing I have used in the past to confront or avoid problems, I’ve given it to God. This finally gives me a picture of what “turn the other cheek” is really about. I am being forced to literally say: “Okay, you slapped me good. Ouch. That really hurts. ...Now here’s the rest I have to offer, here’s your opportunity to slap that out of me too. I promise I won’t fight back.” I feel like I am finally learning the meaning of true humility.

God spent all summer humbling me, and now it is being put to the test. But ultimately I need to keep in mind through everything that my ultimate authority is the Father, and He is who I take my directions from. So if He asks me to submit, I submit; if He tells me to cut my losses and get out, I do so. It’s my summer’s pattern all over again: learning to respond to God, whether He says go or stay.

This is also forcing me to really live out my newest mantra: is this for the glory of God? If not, sorry I’m out of here. In every situation.

This is by no means the most difficult period of life that I have faced (see blogs September 2009 through June 2010), but it is for sure the most personally challenging. It’s about self-discipline and setting healthy boundaries and giving everything to God. I have no other choice. This is the place I was in anyway, but now it’s an extreme. I do not know what to do.

I feel trapped all over again.


Back to School Means Back to Blogging!

Every day that I don't focus on God brings me that much closer to losing myself again.
He has to be my focus.
He has to be my everything.
Nothing else matters.

God, I seriously need You. Please remind me when I'm being stupid. Put my focus back to the right place. Amen.


Hardly Breathe

My lack of easily accessible netty hasn't been the only reason for such a long bout of internet silence. I've been sorting through a lot of things, fighting a lot of battles I never even conceived I would have to face, and continuing to heal my wounded heart.

God has been so good in allowing such amazing people to come alongside me and lend their support. This year is going to be a rough one. It will be amazing and like nothing I have ever seen before, both in fantastic ways and scary ones.

If I haven't been responding to your messages on Facebook or answering texts or hanging out with you as much, just assume it's not you. I've been setting new boundaries in my life that are taking a lot of different shapes, but which will hopefully help me a whole bunch in the long run. Right now it's painful and I'm struggling to be this person I know I need to be (and should have been a long time ago), but it's going to take work. Please bear with me. Please don't be offended. Please support me, because some moments I lose the ability to support myself.

Yet even through this stretching process, God has been revealing wondrous things to me. Teaching me to hear His voice again has been bittersweet in the extreme, and sometimes I still have my doubts. But thank You God for being so patient with me and continually being willing to prove Yourself to me. I am in constant awe.

I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind (which, despite appearances, is actually one of my biggest pitfalls when I let it be) while still taking one day at a time. Today is Day 2 of 231. Only 229 left to go.