Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Time for Anger

A couple hours ago now Ciara Cruz (Ceina's mother), sent me a long and terrible text regarding Jonathan. I have never felt such anger course through my body. I felt hot and my stomach twisted inside as I pressed send with trembling fingers. Ciera answered my call on the second try and I yelled at the top of my lungs, "Don't you ever send a text like that to my phone again!" With each word my anger mounted and she tried to explain but before she got a word out I yelled again, "I don't care. You have something to say you say it to him on his phone. I don't ever want a - a - a text like that sent to my phone again!" And I hung up. My body was trembling, my hands were shaking and I was breathing quick, short breaths which matched my racing heart. All that would calm me down was Jon holding me close. He was quiet, calm and a steady rock to my pounding heart. I leaned into him, breathing slowly, trying to control the quick short intakes my body wanted to produce.

Should I have yelled at her? I'm not too sure. She somehow sent those texts to my phone on accident from what I understand. I know that accidents like that happen - however they don't happen often. She should have been more careful and thus made a bad mistake today. For the next hour and a half she called Jon and I multiple times. She continued to send Jon terrible texts and sent me texts telling me to stay out of their business.

I am feeling much more calm now. The storm has passed and I was able to ask God to send her some Heavenly Help. I didn't spend much time on that prayer mind you; but God heard it all the same. Tomorrow morning Ciera is dropping Ciena off at my house because she did not get a sitter for the hearing tomorrow morning. I pray that God gives me wisdom to allow the Holy Spirit to be alive during that exchange.

But seriously...I don't think I have ever been so angry in my entire life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's All Hit and Miss Lately

Well it's a Thursday, our designated Date Night. It was a little different since we had a dinner/interview with who may possibly become one of Jon's professors next semester. I was pretty tired after dinner since I had an 8-hr work day already but since it was Date Night and we had been talking about going east coast dancing for almost a month now, we went dancing.

The lesson was fun and Jon was so cute in his red polo. ;) It was my first formal swing lesson so it was good for me too. After the lesson we sat and watched all the pretty people and their smooth moves. Jon FINALLY asked me to dance! :p However within 10 minutes we were both frustrated. Well, maybe I was the one frustrated. Who knows. Either way, we couldn't seem to get our feet right and were mostly awkward together. Maybe I expected too much and maybe he was nervous.

So why is something as simple as dancing turning into a stressful event? Well, it could be that we are stressed out and it's coming through in what should be a fun evening together.

It was a little after 10 and I was ready to move on from dancing. It just didn't seem fun anymore. We debated on having a drink before leaving and after much deliberation we had some tequila chased down with a cold beer. Yuuummm. So, since we're just sitting there sipping away, Jon decides to try and figure out why we are so stressed out in seemingly every area of our lives. This then led to much venting on my part.

Many of you know I had coffee with Ciena's mom a few days ago. Since then I have talked to her every day. Is this a God thing? I think so. But what I realized tonight is that I feel good after talking to her even though it's only for a few minutes. Do you know why? Well let me tell you. It's because she is someone to talk to about my day whether it's about work or what I have going on that day. It's kind of weird right? Yeah, well Jon thinks so too.

After having coffee I was surprised by how many people sent me a text asking me how it went. It meant people cared and remembered. Why is that so surprising to me?

I'm soooo frustrated lately. I feel like I'm reaching out for relationships in different ways and nothing seems to stick. Every week at church I wonder if I will make a new friend during the greeting time. So far no luck. Friday nights are supposed to be double date nights. However if we can't find other people to go out with, well, it's not much of a double date is it?

A few nights ago Jon and I really needed to relax, laugh and talk about meaningless things in life. So we tried to get ahold of some people to come over to play games and share some margaritas. The options in my phone book were limited and no one was available - it was short notice I know. I also understand that I am feeling sorry for myself right now. Oh well.

We have friends, don't get me wrong. But it's totally hit and miss. And it's not that him and I need friends, it's that I need someone to vent to or talk to or whatever. Why is it that I am the one always initiating? Jon and I have a great time together. I love going dancing with him. I love it when he takes me out. I love it when we take the kids swimming. But I feel strongly that we both need an outlet with other people.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Maybe We Should Laugh A Little More

I know what it means to come along side someone and take some of their hardships onto my own shoulders. I know this because my own shoulders ache and my chest doesn't seem to get as much oxygen as it should. What keeps me going is the hope I have in Christ that if we can hang on for a few more months the doorway of a venomous oppression will be forcibly closed.

Most of the time I try to ignore the evil that can so easily trap us into the cell of hatred. But now Jon and I are faced with an unashamed hatred on a daily basis. It isn't the insults that bother me. It's the constance of them. We can't escape. I must not be so strong in my faith because I allow one person's selfish desperation to erase my smile, quiet my laughter and harden my heart towards what is true and good.

So I pray. I pray that God draws her to Him. I pray for wisdom and strength for Jon and myself. And I remind myself to laugh. I'm learning to have fun even with the seemingly mundane tasks such as running Evan through Macy's to the restroom or laughing as I watch Ciena splashing and spitting as Jon calmly continues to giver her direction on how to swim properly. This is what we need to hang on to and in these moments I feel my shoulders relax and I let out a deep sigh of contentment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shades of Gray

I'm graduating in December, I'm dating a wonderful man who loves God and me, I get compliments on Evan everywhere I go, I have summer work and a growing relationship with Evan's dad and step-mom.

Phew! Sometimes things seem to be moving so fast that I need to say, "Hold on, let's stop and breathe for a few minutes."

But hey, no time for that right?

In this moment I feel that I have nothing meaningful to say but I haven't been posting as often as I need to be. So I've been sitting here thinking about what God has been teaching me. It's a hard question to answer which must mean I haven't been learning anything. However that's a harsh statement because I talk to God every day and read His Word...most days.

I have an ongoing struggle with black, white and gray issues of the world. It's a tug of war for me constantly. It seems that things I've grown up believing to be black and white issues are actually full of shades of gray. So where's the balance? I suppose it's a matter of discernment that can only be found through the Holy Spirit. Then again that sounds like a wishy-washy answer to some of life's hard questions. How is one able to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying? Some would say it's a feeling. Some might say it's a voice in their head. Other's might say it's through the Bible or another person's words. Then again, sometimes we say we are being led by the Holy Spirit when in reality we are following our own selfish desires.

Maybe the Spirit speaks to use through our natural gifts of encouragement or servanthood (1 Samuel 10:10).

John 16 says the Holy Spirit was sent to "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin" I suppose this is where our innate ideas of right and wrong stem from. This passage, when read in context, says the Spirit is sent to convict us of our sins "because men don't believe in [Him]." I truly believe every one of us is faced with the decision to accept/ignore the notion that there is a God who desires an intimate relationship with each of us individually.

What do you think?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Go For It!

It's the end of April and a post is long overdue. I felt bad for not keeping up with my posts in Costa Rica and then I kept putting it off, putting it off, so finally, I'm just going for it!!

I figured out about ten minutes ago that I am going to graduate in December as planned. Earlier this semester I was feeling completely overrun with school (18 credits) and decided to drop a few classes and just graduate the following May. Well, after looking at my degree audit, I only need 17 credits. And the classes I am taking are relatively easy. The reason this semester has been so hard is because I took a lot of time consuming classes. This brings me right into...

My future.

For the past few months I have put my future on the back burner with the thought process of God is control, He will take care of it. So when people asked about my summer plans or graduation plans, I said stuff like: "I don't know, wherever God wants me." Sure that sounds great and Biblical, but really, was I expecting God to mail me a letter specifying what I should do with my life in bullet points and italicized font?
I've been a Christian my whole life so those church answers are easy to come up with - at the same time, I think I've used those 'church phrases' as an excuse to not make any decisions and think about my future. Now that I'm finally being honest and seeing that I will be a college graduate in a matter of months, I'm a little freaked out. Yes, I should be relying on God with my decisions. But sitting around isn't going to cut it. This is a new thought process for me so I'm still not exactly sure what my plans are - I just know I need to start making some and then allowing God to maneuver them according to His will.

Speaking of His will for my life, God has done many things in my heart this semester, particularly these last few months. I went on my first overseas missions trip to Costa Rica and although it was only one week, it has impacted my life and the lives of those around me. Because I have changed, others have reaped the benefits. I have become a better mom, friend, sister and Ambassador for Christ. In Costa Rica I learned that I have a desire to see God's Kingdom grow. I learned that life is very different outside the United States and I no longer take our fancy public restrooms for granted. I learned what it means to seek after Christ. And yet, it was only the tip of the sword. There is more to be found in my walk with God and that is what I continue to seek in the midst of my busy life back in Idaho.

I think in Costa Rica I learned to listen. I had to listen to a new language, a new culture. I had to listen in order to understand. Since I've been back, I don't listen to music and the radio nearly as often. I have turned the radio on a few times but it was just monotonous noise. Instead of plugging my ipod into my ear while I clean for three hours, I allow silence. I am no longer stressed out. Instead I have found that by limiting the noise around me I am able to think deeper and understand more. It's a little hard to explain.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day Three!

It´s dark out and there is a slight breeze coming from the open gates. Andrew is picking away at the guitar, there are candles lit around the room and hallways and half our group is in the kitchen cooking dinner for themselves. For me, this is a time of reflection, however surface or deep it may be.

We started off the morning with a Bible study time at the Crusade house with Carlos and Tatiana. We read from Romans 10 which is a passage about sharing faith. I think it directly correlated with what we are doing here in San Jose, Costa Rica. One verse said that the feet that bring the gospel are beautiful. However t went on to say that some will not listen.

Holly and I found this to be true during our sharing times today. Yesterday I was encouraged by conversations with Tiqos that understood what it means to have a personal relationship with God. Today it felt like the Tiqos God brought us to understood the idea of God, but not in a personal way. On the surface, I feel like not much was accomplished. However I know in my heart that God was at work and He will continue to be at work.

At the end of our sharing time today I talked with Donald for a few minutes. Hé´s from Costa Rica but has spent the last five years in Mexico working. He´s been back in this country for about three weeks. I found out that Carlos had brought him to Christ in 1999. He asked me what I liked about talking to the Tiqo´s. I replied, telling him I appreciate the openness they seem to have for deeper questions and their willingness to put up with my terrible Spanish. He said this is very different from how things were five years ago. Hmmm Is God at work on this campus? I then asked him if he had spent much time in the states. He said he had, and that it was very different. Apparantly, no one would help him when he needed directions and stuff like that. In those moments, I felt ashamed of the American culture I have grown up with. Here I am in a foreign country surrounded by people that sometimes go out of their way to help me out. But when the tables are turned, how often do I turn away from someone who needs help, foreigner or not? I sensed disappointment from Donald and I feel like his view of the American culture apart from who he knows through Crusade has been stained.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Costa Rica Day 2

This morning, showering and eating a yummy pancake and watermelon, I was able to spend some time in the Word swinging in the hammock in the back of the house. I was able to spend some time getting my heart right and prepared for the day.

Today went a lot better for me. I was feeling a little more energetic about things and was looking forward to where God would bring us. So, I was partnered with Ralph who has been involved with Crusade for a loooong time, 24 years maybe, to share our faith until we all met again at noon. We picked a group sitting opposite a large fountain and within minutes I was talking to three tiqos. That number quickly changed to two. Then back to three later. HOWEVER talking may not be the appropriate word since I know very little Spanish and they knew very little English. We all did our best and we shared many laughs together. I am pretty sure they made fun of me a little but that´s okay because I made fun of myself too. Haha. We were able to talk about God, though, and that was encouraging. For one thing, I was having my first spiritual conversation with a tiqo! Secondly, we were communicatin!!! Even if it wasn´t perfect. Haha There was one girl in this group of males and eventually she joined our conversation and then her and I were deep in conversation about faith, Heaven and Hell and more. Her English was very good and we were able to get very deep with our thoughts. It felt so nice talking to her and she was so sweet that I was sad when they had to leave.

For the second part of the day I was with Alexis, a girl on staff with Cru. We were able to get into a really good conversation with two girls who spoke excellent English. It´s interesting learning how different people in this culture relate to God and seem to be Christians without really know it. At least, they don´t know the term. Maybe.

So far I have not been anywhere with air conditioning. But I don´t mind. There is a constant breeze and windows and doors are left open everywhere to let it in. I love the constant flow of fresh air. Yet, at the same time, all the buildings are behind iron gates. At first I thought it was ugly and wondered why everyone wanted to be so private. Then I learned the gates were due to high crime rates in the area. It all made sense. My purse has been glued to my person ever since arriving in San Jose. It´s become second nature to have it hang in front of me, always with my hand laying across it.

It´s only day 2 and I feel like I have already shared my faith more than I have in my entire life. However I do´nt think that´s true. I¨m just doing it in a different, more direct way. And you know what, Í´m enjoying it. I¨m looking forward to getting back home and using my new skills on fellow students.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Costa Rica: Day 1

I couldn't help but wear a grin covering my exhaustion from the red eye flight that had just landed. The yellow lights were on and I slid towards the middle aisle as Jake, my flight companion for this last leg, stood up in preparation to leave. However maybe he just wanted to stretch his legs. We sat in the very last row of a very full air craft but I didn't mind. We had three seats between the two of us. :) The back door opened.

"Buenos dias," I heard. I turned my head and caught a wiff of sweet humid air that held the faintest scent of cinnamon.

"It smells so good," I said. "What is that?"

"It's Costa Rica," Jake said matter of factly. What a wonderful aroma that snaked up my back, through my frizzy hair and into my face. I breathed in deep and couldn't wait to step into this Wonderland. Finally we were walking through the stuffy tunnel that lead to a rather large cinnabon stand right outside our gate. As I joined our group of seven other tired looking individuals I couldn't help but feel the tiniest hint of disappointment that Costa Rica wasn't the Wonderland I had in my head just moments ago.

We rode a large bus headed towards the hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was slightly humid with a soft breeze, a perfect combination after having spent all day in an airport and a stuffy plane. I watched everything whizzing past wishing there was time to take it in. The signs that read in Spanish were fun to try to decipher and I was impressed by the rich vegetation that seemed to engulf this city. We drove through what seemed to be some down town areas. I was astonished at the amount of people walking in the streets in the midst of heavy traffic. I was definitely not in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho anymore.

Every one of us spent the day walking in smelly, sweaty clothes around the city and campus. It was exhausting, equally exhilerating and I found challenges immediately. First of all, I found that I was in need of a serious attitude check. Ummm complain much? Yes, in fact I do. Even though I realized this early on, my outlook didn't get much better. I found myself going from complaining about being tired and not knowing enough Spanish to being uber excited about running across busy intersections with Jodi by my side. Crazy much? Yes, I am indeed.

We came on this trip to be a servant to those around us and learn about a new culture that would take us out of our comfort zone. I didn't know this three days ago, but this is going to be quite the challenge for me. I may be outgoing at home, but here, in a new country full of new smells, sounds and people, I am not comfortable. To top it off, we were sent out to share our faith on campus. Our first day. Our eyes were bloodshot. We hadn't showered in two days. Whose idea was this again?

I felt pretty insecure which I often try to cover up with silly chitter chatter which usually backfires and makes me sound dumb. Today was no exception. Thus, I learned a lot and am equipped for a new day tomorrow to do it all over again. Jodi and I paired up for sharing today and I'm glad for that. She showed me some sights on campus including the TV studio on campus. I had a bit of fiasco when it came to ordering lunch - quite simply I froze and looked to Jodi to talk for me in the lunch line. Yeah, lame-O (me). Jodi was great trying to get me a little more comfortable in this new world.

I sometimes think I should be in the amazon what with being covered in light humidity and hearing strange squawking sounds in the unfamiliar trees towering over my head. I think that's one of my favorite aspects about Costa Rica so far. The sounds. I've heard them on the movies, but here I am in real life. I wish I knew how to describe it. As for right now I'm not even going to try because I don't even know how to begin. But it's rich, deep, melodic to the rhythm of this place.

The day is not over and I'm sitting in the backyard of the hostel listening to Jodi have a conversation with another guy that is staying here. I love it out here. There's a cool breeze, grass, cactus trees, a tiled table and benches, even a hammock in back corner half surrounded by plants and a large tree (Jodi is swinging in it now). It's relaxing and a perfect way to spend an evening or morning - before or after the sun has been high in the sky.

Until next time, thank you for joining me on this journey. Please pray that we are bold in our faith, speaking only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Theft is a huge issue in this area as well so please pray that we remember to be careful and that nothing gets stole. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are We High Or On the Edge Of Burnout?

I suppose getting sick was inevitable. I was up late every night, up early the next morning, running around like a crazy woman during the day. Then this morning I decided to make it all stop. I cancelled everything I had to do for the next two days and postponed it (except for a mid-term that I'm still working on). It's been nice. I watched TV and napped all day - much like a cat, except for the TV part. I'm feeling relatively better now and started to kick myself for cancelling my shoot tomorrow. Then I figured, It's just as well. Now I can use that time to finish my mid-term, spend time with Evan and prepare for my trip to Costa Rica. I kind of think this was God's way of getting me to slow the heck down and remember what really matters.

Which brings me to what has been on my heart these last weeks since I've posted. First of all, I have been learning to be content with where I am right now. Learning may not be the best word because I'm not sure I've "learned" at all. It's more of a mindset I think. God knew I would be here, in Moscow, single and sharing my two-year old with his dad. Because God knew that, He planned for it. I just don't know what the plan is. For a while I nursed dreams of doing something great and exotic with my life so that I could not be tied down in Moscow or even in Coeur d'Alene. However the truth of the matter is I can serve God wherever I am at, and that's what matters. Now that's not to say I've given up on life. I've simply begun the process of giving God my dreams and desires. This sort of brings me to my text topic of conversation.

I've been struggling with my ideas of who Jesus is, how I can life my life to glorify Him, and why I want to spend my life searching for truths that I may never fully understand. Phew! That felt like a lot to say in one sentence. Let's take it apart piece by piece.

Who is Jesus? A friend gave me some support money for my trip to Costa Rica not because she supports the organization I am going under, but because she supports me. (For those of you who don't know I am leaving on Saturday with other students and staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for a trip to San Jose, Costa Rica.) I found this very interesting and tried to probe more out of her. I didn't understand how she could support me, a Christian, but not the Christian organization itself? What she said was she doesn't like how Campus Crusade goes about their mission work. This made me even more curious but we didn't talk much past that. She said faith is a journey and she wants to support me in my journey. I really appreciated her support and faith in me, but I went home deep in thought. I had to re-work my faith, the basis of who I am. The conclusion I came back to was that Jesus did indeed come from Heaven to become the perfect human. This happened a long time ago, but He's alive in the hearts of His people. Jesus did die on the cross for my sins, all of them. And that is why I worship Him.

So now how do I live my day to day life to the Glory of Christ? It sounds simple to me in theory, but in actuality it's so much harder. I feel like I know every "do" and "don't" which causes me to have very high expectations out of myself. When I feel like I stumble, I turn into a failure and don't feel like I can go on in faith. I have struggled with the same sins for years and to this day they won't go away. Every day I have to wake up in the morning and say, "Lord, I give this day to you." However it's rare for me to actually do that. Therefore, I fail. Then as I go throughout my day I find myself very frustrated and lash out on those I love. Well, once again I'm a failure because I'm not giving my frustrations to God like I'm supposed to. Oh, yes, then there are those bad words that aren't supposed to be said in church right? Well sometimes it feels really good to swear really loudly (when no one is around of course). But then I have to deal with the guilt because I said a "bad word." It's all the nitty gritty stuff that gets me down.

I know a relationship with God is about the state of the heart, and if I had a pure heart, it would come through in my actions. Sometimes I think I just get tired of trying. And here is the last statement I made earlier: Why do I want to spend my life searching for truths I may never find the answers to?
I think this sums up my struggles as a whole. It correlates directly with my friend who supports me but not Campus Crusade. It relates to my idea of how to have a relationship with Jesus. There are some aspects of life and humanity that I will never completely understand until I get to Heaven. That's okay. But what about the day to day stuff I just finished talking about? I don't like feeling "high on God" or "high on religion" because I know that when things get tough again, I'll lose that "high." It's almost like it's superficial religion on the edge of burn out. So once again I find myself questioning the truths I have grown up with. A friend described my view of Christianity and the world as very closed off and boxed in. Maybe he's right. Maybe he's not. I don't freaking know. I'm just trying to life my life the best I can. Every time I get this way, though, I come back to the basic truths I hold in my heart. Jesus did come and die on the cross, that is why I choose to serve Him. I wish I didn't forget so easily. I wish I could understand God's love more so that I wouldn't feel so ashamed to come to Him in times of trouble and sin.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

To Suffer Is To Gain

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

I don't really know what I want to say about this right now because I'm extremely tired. This verse was talked about tonight at cru and it's not something I think about often when going through hard times.

Verse 18

If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

If we are not able to make wise choices on a daily basis and live out our faith as if we really believed it, how will someone who has never met Jesus ever get a chance to see Him?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Letter

Jessica Samson

505 Indian Hills Dr #D3

Moscow, ID 83843

(208) 661-3850

February 16, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow. Is it really two months into the New Year already? Life is very busy for me here on the Palouse and I’m sure it’s just as busy for you! I would like to take a few minutes to share with you how God is at work in my life. At age 22, I’m finally starting to understand what it truly means to step out in faith and be an ambassador for Christ. This revival started during New Year’s at a Campus Crusade for Christ conference in Portland, Oregon. There I was blessed to spend five days getting to know other students around my town that love God on a deep and personal level. Conference is where it started, but that’s nowhere near the end.

My application to go to San Jose, Costa Rica on a short term mission’s trip has been accepted and my passport will be here soon. This trip is completely out of my comfort zone because I have very little experience sharing the Gospel with strangers and have forgotten most of my high school Spanish. However, I have no doubt that this is going to be an amazing experience.

Our main goal is to share the Gospel and seek God in a new culture. We will be sharing our faith on campus and trying to meet as many students as possible to gather contacts for the Costa Rica staff there. We hope to be able to spend a day at a local orphanage as well. At the end of the week we will hold a “fiesta” where we will invite all the students we have met and have more opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations and friendships.

One of my prayers for this trip is that the team I am heading there with will have an open heart to what God has for us. Another prayer is that we are each able to reach our financial goals of $1,400 per person by March 11. We will leave out of Spokane on March 15 and return on March 22. This semester is literally flying by and this trip is quickly approaching.

If you choose to be a part of the financial process in the amount of $50, $100 or any other amount, please make your check payable to Campus Crusade for Christ. Any amount given is greatly appreciated.

I ask that you keep me, my team members and the Campus Crusade staff in your prayers during these next few weeks and particularly during our trip. I also ask that you come alongside me and pray for those we will meet who don’t know Christ. Through this kind of giving you will be a huge part of what God will do in Costa Rica.

In Christ,

Jessica Samson

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Productive or Not? Tell Me What YOU Think!

I've been struggling with what to write as my post for this month of February. It's not that I have something very profound or life changing to share although I feel like I should.

I just finished meditating on God's Grace and it was very hard for me to sit still, be quiet, and not get sidetracked with thoughts of all I need to be doing. So far I have gotten very little homework done this weekend which is stressful to me because these are my main homework days. However I'm also accomplishing things. I'm developing and nurturing friendships, I'm getting bills and finances taken care of, I'm getting my house cleaned, I'm making meals, I'm spending time with Jesus Christ. The latter is the most important accomplishment and alongside that is the relationships with other people. They go hand in hand. Thus, I am being productive in a way that will impact more than just the upcoming week.

I've been thinking a lot about internships, jobs and graduation the past few weeks. Where to go? What to do? How to do it? Does it really matter? In all honesty, I don't have huge aspirations when I think about getting a job in the real world. I think sometimes this thinking is out of fear because I don't have enough faith in myself. But then I get inspired by Focus on the Family or a friend who is following God or an opportunity for overseas missions. My pulse quickens and my mind sharpens as my ears perk up. I know I can serve God from anywhere doing anything, but I don't want to just be "anywhere" doing "anything." I want to do something great and worthwhile that will change lives and further God's kingdom. But how can I do that when I'm so insecure in my faith as it is?

Maybe my insecurities come from an unwillingness to face the person I should/need to be. That's a hard pill to swallow. It's so easy to sit around licking my wounds pondering all the horrible things then getting up to do something worthwhile based on my personal convictions. Maybe I'm afraid of what will happen if I actually get an internship - regardless of where it is or how long it is. Maybe I'm afraid that life will not be so easy and I'm going to face hard obstacles. And - oh my goodness - I might even cry and want to give up when things get hard. But that any different than now? Hmmm Let's move on shall we?

Like I said, I have no profound insights to share at this time. I am simply attempting to hold myself accountable to me, to God and to my friends. There are some incredibly large blank spots between dates in the many journals I have kept over the years. I have found that when I quit journaling/blogging - I am in the midst of battle and am probably losing. I'm very happy sharing what's going with my life when I'm feeling good about it. However when I start making wrong decisions, I stop wanting to confront the issue of where my heart is at. And that's the real danger. Writing/journaling keeps me very in tune with the inner workings of ME. When I don't want to deal with that, I don't write about it, only think about it after massive amounts of alcohol. But this conversation is for a different time....

Thanks for reading. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Big, Blue and Beautiful

I can hide behind many things. People. Books. Even my own reflection. But when black tears stream down my face and wash away the foundation, I can’t hide. Hollow eyes stare bleakly through the glass as all my weight relies on the cheaply made countertop. The walls close in on me so I bow my head and enter into darkness. However darkness is worse than the bleak white infiltrating this small potty and shower room. I lift my head and open my eyes to a young blonde with puffy red eyes. The deep blue I used to see in them has been reduced to dull gray. Her hair is a bit frizzy and cascades down the sides of her face. I think if she wiped her eyes and smoothed her hair, she would be quite pretty. However it’s her eyes that intrigue me. They hold a hint of familiarity, like a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for a number of years.

I have spent the last 22 years hearing stories about what a charmer I was and how my mom could never get out of the grocery store without a stranger stopping her. “You have such a beautiful baby girl,” they’d say. These stories are all fun to hear, but my favorite ones are about the mirror.

I couldn’t crawl quite yet, so maybe I was around six months. I was the chubbiest little thing around our small town of Rapid City, South Dakota. Huge rolls of fat took over my stubby arms and legs; my hair was sparsely blonde so my mom taped bows to my head signifying I was a girl – as if my alluring blue eyes and long eyelashes didn’t give that away already. I lived in the solitary world of being the firstborn during those early months. Maybe this is why I became so fascinated with the tall mirror that sat in the dining room. Or maybe I was looking for a playmate and found one in myself. Regardless, my parents found my early infatuation with the looking glass comical yet adorable.

This is the way I think it worked. I would start off in the living room, maybe the kitchen or office, playing contentedly with my toys. When I saw a flash of light come from the dining room I felt the urge to explore. I made up for not being able to crawl by scooting on my little bottom into the dining room. What I found there was beyond my infantile imagination. I didn’t know what it was, but it captured my attention during our first moments together. After finding this happy place I began to visit more often, leaving my favorite toys behind – the attached suns that went in circles, the rainbow rattles, and the chew toys for my aching gums.

I still find it hard to believe that I could be happy sitting and staring, maybe laughing, then sitting and staring again. This would go on for over an hour, maybe even two. However my parents claim this to be true whenever I ask them. I wish I could go back to that young mind and ask why I was so enthralled by my own appearance. Since I can’t do that, I can only conjecture. I must have liked what I saw in those early months. I imagine there was a deep fascination with watching this other person smile, laugh and move in the exact motion and time that I did. The art of scrap booking has made it possible for me to understand the features of my babyhood. Every time I am drawn to the eyes. They hold the most intimate details of stories told and untold. Knowing who I am now, knowing what draws me in, I imagine a dazzling reflection of one set of eyes I would one day know to be mine. In these moments, I was new to the woes of the world. I was innocent.

Warm water rushes from the eroded faucet into my open palms. I close my eyes and wash away the tears and mascara. My face is dripping wet as I reach for the blue hand towel. I mop up and glance at my reflection as I set the towel on the wet countertop. I almost forgot she was here. Relief breathes out through my pores because I’m not completely lost anymore. The girl I used to be is still inside somewhere. I just have to hang on to that vague yet unwavering familiarity I have with this girl looking back at me. Somehow, she knows more than she’s telling. Her eyes are no longer bleak or hollow and her cheeks have some color. This is the girl who feels remorse. This is the girl I need to see more of.

It’s funny how reflection can play the meanest tricks. For instance, I make it a habit to avoid the mirror on my way to the shower in the morning. After my eyes are a little more alert, it’s okay to glance at the reflection. Image follows me around everywhere I go. It’s in the black computer screen, a store window, a passing car, my spoon with breakfast, my living room, my hallway, my bathroom. I can’t help but glance whenever I get the chance. But it’s not until the end of the day that I am able to see who I truly am. Underneath the eyeliner, mascara and blush is a person I don’t often allow myself to see.

I have high expectations of how I should live my life; God only knows why I make them so high since I rarely seem to reach them. When I make my first mistake, my first slip-up, I lower the bar. But I still can’t get to it. So I lower the bar again. Before I know it, the bar is at eye level. All I need to do is reach out and grab it and I’ll be on my way back up to redemption. But I can’t. Mistake after mistake has blurred my vision so it’s very dark. I don’t even know the bar is in front of me anymore. I have no faith of reaching it.

I lean in unstably for a better look. So does she. We stare at each other for a while, both engrossed in our own reflection and learning the details of whom we are and who we will be. Over time that reflection changes, and both of us grow. We get bigger, we can walk and talk, we can stand and run. Hair grows long as baby fat disappears. Boyfriends come and go while best friends never leave. Puberty sets in teaching us the ways of beauty. Without realizing it, these are two young women. They grew up closer than sisters. But something happened during the loss of innocence. We parted ways. The girl I saw in the mirror was no longer the girl from my childhood. Images from Hollywood infiltrated her safe world and taught her to be one with suffering. Thus, I have been shaped by a broken mirage of the world. Wholeness is not possible in this place.

It’s a long road to recovery and I’m picking up the pieces as I go. Some are easy to find and some are well hidden. Sadly, some pieces may never be found. Once Pandora’s Box is opened, it’s rare to close it again without losing some of the self as well. So now we finally come together in a moment of truth. The façade of who I pretended to be has been wiped clean and I’m ready to begin again.

Bright blue eyes stare into mine now. Her eyelashes are still full and very long; there is no need to add embellishments on what is already beautiful. A hint of a smile touches her lips and I feel that same touch on my own face. Her cheeks have gained all its color back and she’s standing tall like a mountain. Her golden hair is neat against her face and flows lazily past her shoulders. The reflection is clear and I know exactly who I’m looking at. She is the child who used to love to watch herself in the mirror as she walked by. She is the teenager that did everything possible to change her appearance and become someone she wasn’t. She’s the young woman who walked around wearing a mask every day until ripe guilt forced that mask to fall. She is the young woman who is broken because of the selfish person she somehow became. She is the young woman gazing into her own reflection. She is me. I am her. We are the same at last.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Questions and Answers...Sorta

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to know God and essentially, to love Him. How is it that I am supposed to love a person, a being, a deity that I don't get to go out to coffee with? How does that make sense? These are just some of the questions that I am struggling to answer every day. It sounds silly to me, to be asking all these questions. I've grown up in the church and I know all the technical issues. The real struggle is how can I live a relationship with God daily? How can I make that a reality?

These past few weeks I have been specifialley thinking about how to love God. To love someone, you must know him. So in order for me to show God I love him, I must actually love Him. To be able to love Him, I must spend time with Him. Here are a few ways I have found to do that. They are simple, but it's been quite a while since I have put them into practice.
  • Reading the Bible: I never know where to go or where to begin. Genesis? Matthew? Supposedly it's all good stuff right? Well, since getting involved in Real Life on the Palouse, I started getting involved in a Care Group and even just finished the two week membership class. These have both been great tools for me. I am also finding that the more I read, the more I WANT to read. Crazy eh?
  • Quiet Times/Prayer: At almost any point in my life, I will tell you that I pray on a regular basis. However I think there are different kind of prayers. I think there are prayers I say (out loud or not) that make me feel better. I say a prayer here and there because I know I should and I want to stay on "good terms" with God. Then there are the prayers where I am able to pray with my heart. It's earnest, emotional and satisfying. My prayer life has grown and become more intimate since I've been reading my Bible although nowhere near where it should be or where I want it to be. But that's the beauty of Christ. He will meet us where we are, we only need to ask.
I think I'm starting to get to know God - again.

Like I said earlier, I've been thinking a lot about loving God and what that means in my my life. On my way to school I flipped on MOODY radio and there was a guy was speaking about this very subject. (Gee, God. Are you trying to tell me something here?) Well, one of the best ways to love God is through our obedience to him. Here is the analogy he used:

I am Christ's daughter, His little girl. I am also my earthly father's little girl. Now, if I am sinning physically, I'm trying to be eloquent and say HAVING SEX, my dad is not going to be all "buddy-buddy" with that guy. They will not get along and friendship is out of the question. It's the same with my Heavenly Father. If I'm living in sin, whether it's sexual sin or some other addiction, I cannot be friends with God. He does not condone what is harmful for me. Does that make sense?

Obedience is sometimes one of the hardest things about living a life for Christ. But something he demands of each of us as his followers.