Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Simplest of Truths

These past few days I was at a conference in Indianapolis with Cru, the Christian group I'm part of on campus. In all honesty, the night before the conference I was 99% sure I wasn't going anymore. I had had a rough week and was so overwhelmed that all I wanted to do was to rest.

But I went. And I can safely say that I have no regrets.

Now I'm not saying that the conference was all kicks and giggles. It was rough, and I was a hot mess the whole time. Things I thought I had dealt with two years ago, that had crept back into my life this past summer in Detroit, were this time thrown so plainly in my face that I had no choice but to deal with them plain and square.

One night in particular, during the evening talk, I found myself leaving the meeting early--the meeting was about following Jesus where He leads, and I wasn't quite in the mood to listen to a spiel on surrendering my rights to a God who I wasn't too pleased with at the moment. I was about halfway to the elevator (to return to my room) when a friend suddenly popped up beside me, apparently having followed me after seeing me leave. We found ourselves in the prayer room, and before I knew it, my perfect composure became a drenched, melting puddle on the floor. My walls came crashing down, and my anger with God skyrocketed.

Sometimes I think we forget the simplest truths that make Christianity what it is. Like how, because Jesus died for us, His Spirit comes to rest in us when we accept Him as our Savior. It's so easy for me to forget this when I'm going through trials. I'm so quick to get angry at God and demand why He has left me to deal with everything on my own. But if Jesus' Spirit is truly inside of me, then this is also true: that everything I experience, He experiences. Evey tear I cry, He cries. Every rejection, hurt, and adversity I experience, He experiences. And every time I think God has left me, I'm wrong: "When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit" -Ephesians 1:13. Note how I bolded and underlined that--sealed. That means it's a done deal. He never leaves us.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions (mostly because I lack self-motivation about two weeks in) but this year I think I have a pretty worthwhile resolution, and that's believing that God is good in every trial and every joy. I will choose to cling to this truth as I enter into the new year. And all I have left to say is, bring it on! I've got something worth fighting for, and His Spirit lives inside of me.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Roller Derby

I recently became a friendship partner through my county's Children's Services volunteer program. I was paired with a sweet, but rather sassy :) ten-year-old girl about a month ago who absolutely loves to go skating. So naturally, when the program hosted its annual roller skating party, we were one of the the first to RSVP. Not only did me and my friend manage to not fall the entire night, but I had a fun time watching all of the other children with their volunteers having a great time.

But one little boy in particular caught my eye that night. He looked about 8, had blond hair, a baggy t-shirt and jeans, and a rather focused facial expression that portrayed nothing but pure contentment. No matter how hard this boy tried, he could not stay upright in his skates. I have never seen anyone so uncoordinated! The more he tripped and dived, the more I smiled. And before I knew it, I was being my overly emotional self and had tears in my eyes, realizing that I had so much love for this little boy I had never even met.

And you know what, I think that's exactly how God sees us. As we're slipping and sliding and barely able to stand, he's looking down on us, smiling, filled with so much love that He is brimming with delight.

I think it's really easy for me to forget this fact as I go about my typical week. There are so many times when I just want to scream--"I'm trying Lord, I'm really trying!" When in reality I eventually end up throwing in the towel, defeated. Sure, it's easy to lie to myself, to tell myself that I'm "trying." But to lie to my Creator? The one being who literally knows everything about me. Who am I kidding?

Trying is not something I can do by my effort alone. When I'm trying to pull energy out of nothing, it only makes sense that I eventually call it quits. But rather, I'm learning how to be filled with the love God has for me, the joy He has in me (His creation!) even when I'm face-planting in the skating rink. It's only after I allow God's truth and promises to fill me, that I can truly try and succeed. Because then, and only then, am I giving out of a satisfied spirit rather than an empty one.

God honors my effort, but I also believe He has great empathy for me as I try to make it even one lap around the rink on empty fuel. Every time I fall, He's smiling saying trust in me, experience my love, we can do this together.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can use one little boy's clumsiness to teach me so much about Him.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Damsel in Distress

Sometimes it's hard to view God's character as constant when our anger toward him seems to pile up like old laundry. It's smelly, and we know it will be time consuming to sort through and clean. And sometimes, you find an old sock in the process, and you begin desperately searching for its completing pair, only to end up throwing it in the bottom of your sock drawer, leaving it forgotten.

But I think God knows that the last thing we want to do is deal with Him when the going gets tough. He knows it’s easier for us to ignore Him until we’re down to our very last pair of underwear. Then, and only then, are we forced to deal with the situation at hand. It becomes a state of urgency.

This past summer, I went on a mission trip to Detroit, MI. Over the course of the project, I was overwhelmed with sin I had been ignoring for the past 2 years of my life, and even more overwhelmed by the brokenness that I hadn't quite sorted through regarding my past. All of the students on the project were given a book, Mercy Streets, to read as a means of preparation for doing ministry in the city.  Mercy Streets followed author Taylor Evans through the streets of New York City as he desperately tried to discover beauty amongst city life. In my own adventure in the city of Detroit, I was confronted with more homelessness, boarded buildings, and overall crime than I had witnessed in any other city I had lived in or visited. It was easy for the Enemy to take hold and try to show me that there was no hope for the city’s future, that beauty was simply non-existent in the city, and that the Enemy himself had won over. But in the midst of all of this, one quote from Evans’ book seemed to pop out at me—“disaster will trigger sorrow from other grief in a person’s life…” (p.108).

Naturally, experiencing any sort of traumatic event will resuscitate the same emotions that a past traumatic experience originally produced. The anxiety disorder I developed during my 5 weeks in Detroit was not a result of the brokenness I witnessed in the city. Rather, it was a result of God finally showing me that my smelly laundry was blocking my only way forward.

Bring on the detergent.

These past 5 months have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, filled with drama-queen anger toward God and bitterness toward the corruption I witness while driving through the streets of Columbus. And no, although I have screamed and even cussed God out on occasion, that doesn't mean that I haven't latched on to the truths that have so kindly been shoved down my throat a time or two—God is GOOD and He is faithful, He is a REFUGE, and He loves me more than I could ever possibly fathom. Faith is not a feeling. My anger toward God does not define who He is. Rather, my anger defines how much closer I am to sorting through that last piece of smelly clothing in the towering pile of laundry that sits as a barrier between me and God. And when it comes down that last, single garment, I know that I will finally understand what true intimacy with God really is.
So I ask you this, are you ready to start the journey?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Shepherd

Building, it escalates
       steadily persisting up and over
       encrusted deep beneath the shielded surface.
Minuscule speckles sprinkle the caked dirt
       hollowed caves carved into the deficient surface.
Deeply engraved, harassing all happiness.
Until It pours out, scattering infinite fractures
       as crystalline droplets fall in frayed fragments
       striking the marbled coldness, the surrounding shadow prevails.
Until the beams gather and extend
       radiant against the stark contrast.
Until it embraces.
       encompassing all dejection.
Until He comes home
       and gathers Hid lambs into his cradling arms.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Walk

Hand in hand, level ground
       firm grip--loosening
       as they dip, downward falling
       trying desperately to clasp.
Side by side, inclining ever so slightly
       You wipe the sweat from my brow
       as the sun reaches its highest peek.
Three feet ahead, I stumble
       falling to my knees
       blindingly alone, as the sun goes to rest.
Alas, sole footsteps fading
       eyes blur, body weakening
       as darkness consumes all radiance.
And then, a sudden brazing brush
       clasps and cleaves my hardened flesh.
Warmth adorns, as gravity lifts
       Spirit whithering, now emanating in full bloom.
Scintillating light casts far upon the structure
       so securly constructed over my inevitable malaise.
Three feet ahead, I gladly stumble
       into Your protecting arms of eternity.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Flooding through the blue crossed coercion
       pulsing, breathing, fading.
Tirelessly projecting, yet never complying.
       dimly progressing, slowly tarnishing.
Alas, evaporation meets pixilation
       as it shatters into the obis.

Until Your arms open wide
       embracing the broken tangles,
Until Your love covers all
       the broken crevices of my heart.
Until You softly whisper sweet sorrows into my ear.
Well done, my dear child. Well done.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How MY Story Met THE Story

I grew up going to church and learning all about God’s love for me; but my faith was a once a week, one hour event constricted exclusively within the context of a church.

When I was 12 years old, I started crying myself to sleep every night. Throughout junior high, my feelings of unhappiness worsened, and I began to have crying spells with no explanation as to why I was upset. I started having repetitive thoughts, thinking about how no one would miss me if I were to die—on my worst days I thought no one would even notice. My mind was in constant battle mode, teetering between society’s view of typical teenage emotions and how I measured in comparison. I was in denial. Surely it was just the hormones kicking in?

But high school wasn’t easy. I continued to struggle with loneliness, and my sophomore year I was diagnosed with chronic migraines—by junior year I was getting headaches every day.

Through all of this, God wasn’t doing what I wanted Him to be doing in my life. So I shoved Him to the back burner, choosing to pay no attention to a God who I thought wasn’t paying any attention to me. I was selfish, and unhappy. I began to deny God’s existence and completely disregard the friendship we had once shared.

 I came to Ohio State in a very fragile, hesitant state.  My sister was involved with Real Life (a Christian organization) on campus, so I started going—mostly for her. Fall quarter of that year, I became a queen at going through the motions. I attended bible study and Real Life every week, and even started skimming through the bible on occasion. I was searching for something, but I didn’t know what.

Then, a wonderful acquaintance (who I can now call a great friend!) shared with me what it meant for God to be on the throne in my life—what it meant to put complete trust in Him and surrender my life to His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Shortly after this I found myself at Fall Retreat, where I continued to hear even more about God’s grace, understanding, and complete and utterly beautiful love.

A week later, I gave my life to Christ—surrounded by the beautiful scenery of a dormitory bathroom. I yelled at God, telling him I was angry for all the pain He had made me suffer, for all of the years my heart had been filled with grief. But I told Him I trusted Him. That I was giving myself completely over to Him because He died for my brokenness and sin before I was even born. And through His death I am made perfect in God’s eyes.

Over the past year and a half, Jesus has continued to knock my socks off.  Through the power of prayer, God has blessed me with the happiness that I never even imagined existed.  He has healed broken relationships from my past and filled the void in my heart that I had been burdened with for 7 years.

My life is by no means perfect; I still sin and feel broken and hurt from time to time. But knowing that there was once a man who walked this earth that came specifically for ME and suffered and died specifically for MY sins is the greatest comfort in the world! I am so thankful and proud to call Jesus my Friend, my Healer and Savior, My God.