Friday, December 20, 2013

Crying in the Bathroom Stall

…drip

…drip

…drip

The faucet slowly releases little droplets of water into the tub.

…splish

…splash

They hit the cold porcelain and find their way to the drain. 

Lately it has felt like I am curled up in scalding water in a porcelain tub. The steam burning my skin and water enveloping me as I sink underneath, holding my breath until my lungs burn. My head filled with liquid, shutting out the rush of the world. silence. so much silence.

and I've come to know silence well. Because when you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, but with weight, exactly like water. 

and that weight has become heavy, oh so heavy upon my back and upon chest, upon my eyes and upon my heart. The silence of me. the silence of people. and at times it seems the silence of God. 

Someone found me in the bathroom stall today; head between my knees, sobs throughout my chest, crouched down, leaking tears all over the floor. They thought I was sick or injured, no, just overwhelmed. I was just cursed and yelled at on the phone for our store not having a book in stock for someone's Christmas present. 

People are brutal. 

But it hasn't been just that one time. This has happened many times. The short tones, the huffs over the phone, as if it is my fault that this gift will not be hand delivered to the person. And no matter how much I apologize, no matter how much help I offer. I'm still just a "stupid f***ing customer service bitch who doesn't know how to do my job." And one can only take so much, until words start to sink in, until words start to wound. Until one is found crying in a bathroom stall. 

Just shake it off, brush it off your shoulders. but I can't and I won't, my heart is a sensitive one. and people...

People are brutal. 

and I keep thinking, God I did not come home for this. God where are you in this? And I can't seem to find Him, I can't seem to hear Him. I want guidance, I crave it, desire it, and yet I feel like I'm wandering waywardly in the dark, my hands out in front of my face, praying I won't hit anything that will damage me too badly. 

Over and over in my head I hear, "We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

and deep down I know He is here. and it seems I am so deep inside, I see no end in sight, and no distance. and maybe, just maybe I'm not suppose to. but i want to.

I want an end to the madness. To the brutality of people against other people. an end to customer service. 

I want an end to the debate over what is a sin and what is not. 

I want an end to being so lost in the world, that I lose who I am in Jesus. 

He did not come so that we could live a cushioned lifestyle. He came so that we could lose our lives so He could save them. He came to turn our lives upside down, so that they could be right side up. and our heads are stuck so far into our own lives, into our television sets of reality TV, that we are lost to the reality of the REAL world. 

to the massacres in Syria. 
to the empty hearts in America
to the the desperate needs of those around us.
in every country.
on every continent. 
we are blind to what really matters. 

and we push and shove to get the next best iPhone or whatever, but we're not pushing and shoving to fall at the feet of Jesus. to love on the lost, the damned, the oppressed. there is no pushing and shoving all I see is running and fleeing. 

We are all sinner in need of saving grace, and sometimes through His silence He is showing me that grace is what I need to learn more about. Of receiving it and giving it. Because it's not easy to be grace giving, it's not easy to tell someone to have a nice day after they scream and yell and curse at you on the phone. 

But it's all in trust. all in faith. Faith, a choice that doesn't feel like a choice, because love is always greater than the sum of it's evidence. Love is always greater. He is love. and I am called to love, even through the silent moments. 

My heart is hurting. But I need to step out of my porcelain tub, unlock the bathroom stall and just keep on going. keep on pushing and shoving through, reaching out my hands, even if it seems dark, to the people God is calling me too. Even those unruly customers on the telephone. 

Because We are faithful to Him who is faithful... because of who He is. because He's worth all of it, whether we feel it or not, we are to be His hands and His feet.

There is a God to know.
There are people to love, to listen to, to clothe, to care for, to feed. 
They are both friends and total strangers, both next-door neighbors and brother and sisters across the oceans. 
There are mouths to feed, feet to get dirty and hands to hold, children to love.

Going in Faith.

But it is all grace anyway. the giving and the gift- grace.
We ask, and He gives
and gives.

Sometimes when we want it, and sometimes when we need it, Sometimes the same, sometimes different.
But there is always Grace.

And sometimes you have to be crying on the bathroom floor, to finally hear a break in the silence.

"Be still. I am here." 

my bones are tired, but they're still shaking. My heart is torn, but it's done breaking. My hope is set on things unseen. 


HIS and yours,


 Cami 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

a letter to the little girl I know so well.


 A Letter to Myself At 13:

     There are so many things I wish to tell you. So many things I wish to say. I know you. I know you oh so well. I know your tender heart, and your mind-numbing thoughts, and your leaky soul of creativity. I know your longing for a deep kind of love, for something more than this world, for your passion and constant yearning to reach for people and grasp them tight and love them without reason. I know, because I am you; I'm you at 23. 

   And let me start by telling you one thing, one very important thing that you will tend to forget the next ten years of your life. You are without doubt loved beyond recognition, loved without bounds, loved unconditionally. "There is no Flaw in You" (Songs 4:7). Just take that bit of information and write it down on the edge of your heart. Scribble it across those walls you've built up to keep yourself safe. Because love is going to tear down those walls… God's beautiful love, and you'll never see it coming. 

  I know you're rolling your eyes at me right now. God, yeah right. Trust me, He's already been working in your life, since the day you were born. Stretching and working and molding the clay. you'll see and you'll never be the same, my beautiful soul, my beautiful sister, my beautiful self. Your harden heart is already being softened and molded. And that is a beautiful thing. 

  There are going to be times when you feel you give your love too easily to people… And there are going to be days you want to rip your heart right off your sleeve and tuck it deep within your pocket. To hide and protect it from curious eyes and judgmental fingers that stare and poke. Don't do it. Don't hide away your heart from the world. Don't tuck your hands in your pocket and shrug your shoulders like you don't care. Trust me little girl, God is calling you to much greater plans, much greater things, than what you can see in this moment. 

  The hands that touch and prod your heart are going to leave fingerprints for years and years to come. Hands from all over the country and all over the world. Hands of family, hands of friends, hands of First Nation children, Hands of Prisoners, Hands of Ugandans, Hands of Haitians, Hands of Germans, Hands of Kenyans, hands of Tanzanians, of orphans and widows and missionaries. Their hands, their faces, their names, you won't be able to forget and you won't ever want to. God is calling you to these people, to love recklessly.  I know it's hard to understand, especially right now when all you can think about is surviving Physical Science and Algebra one. 

  And I know you've felt it. Those feelings that seem to get so big in your chest, like something is so beautiful it aches. You can feel it now, in these tough moments of high school. They are preparing you for what is to come. For the tough moments in College and traveling, and relationships. in ten years there will be two people, two strangers who are going to speak words that will move your heart, "There is a radiance in you that this world needs." God's radiance. The radiance of Christ. 

 In this moment, deep down I know your heart is yearning for something worldly, for that amazing man to come sweep you off your feet. My sweet girl, he is not coming. he will not be coming and in ten years he will have yet to show up at your doorstep. But trust one thing. Jesus. the One amazing Man who doesn't need to show up because He's already with you. You're yearning for that romantic worldly relationship is going to fade out. I know it's a miracle and hard to believe. But it is going to be overshadowed by your need for Jesus and your heart for serving Him and Him only. You, my dear will not be content to live a merely "normal" life or settle for any average existence. You are destined for so much more.  

 Cameron, You are brave and strong and fierce, and you are that way for a reason. You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love. You are sensitive, and opinionated, and sometimes quiet, something not everyone knows how to understand. You are reckless, and bold, and will constantly be moving, something that not everyone will know how to grasp onto. But God  has so many amazing things planned for you in the next ten years. 

 Be patient, get out in the world and start doing, but wait on Him and only Him. 

  Remember, waiting is the great grace, a subtle sign for those with eyes to see, reminding us that there is work yet to be done-- not just around us, but in us. There is much work to be done in you, and at 23, there is much more work to be done. Waiting and patience will become your prayer, your necklace. God is working so much. It's hard to understand right now, but Trust in Him, it's easier said than done, step out from your fear and trample it beneath your feet and free fall into His amazing Grace and His Loving arms. 

 Don't lose your love or the fire in your belly. Don't lose your compassion, it hurts, especially when you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything, And you cannot turn away. Your big heart will make sense to you in years to come. And sometimes words just won't get you there… they won't let you say all the stuff from deep in your heart, stuff that no dictionary has a name for. But never stop writing. And never stop sharing His stories... This is one journey you are going to want to write down. 

 Continue to share your heart with people even if it's been broken. You are not weak just because your heart feels so heavy. The heaviness is what you will ask for. The heaviness is what you need. It is your deep love for Christ and the burdens He has given you that will push you forward. Never let go of that. Never let go of Him.

Keep growing. Keep seeking.

Be Passionate, Be reckless. Be bold.

 Love God, Love others.


  I may be far away, but I will always be within reach. Always.

    HIS,


   You at 23. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Airport People.

I have these boxes full of knickknacks, all very odd but none of them ends in themselves. My mind is like those boxes. A variety of trinkets, information, memories; many things I should just throw out but never do. And I have this deep seeded desire to take my brain out of my head, wash it in the bath, towel it dry, and then put it back in my head.

Because I think that maybe if I could wash my brain clean, I could wash away feelings along with memories, but unfortunately that is not how it works. No matter how much I wish it to be so. I can't remove my brain from my skull and I can't remove my heartache from my soul.

 Lately I've been living too much in my own head. Digging through thoughts and memories trying to find the right one to push me forward. But honestly it has just be drudging up the past and causing me to look past the people being placed in front of me. I've been knee deep in my own mess, I haven't even looked up to see that God is standing knee deep with me. 

Yet then there's the moment… the moment I look up, and I feel Him all around. I feel His sturdy arms grasp me and lift me up out of the muck and into His arms; with just a word, a single phrase, spoken by a person in an airport on a plane. 

I have this love-hate relationship with airports. They take me away from the people I love and yet they tend to always bring me back to them. And I love the way you can get to know a single person on an airplane, sharing stories and life, but never sharing names. You can learn a lot about a person on an airplane, about life and hopes and dreams and faith. You just have to be wiling to open your eyes, your mouth, and your ears. 

My eyes were shut and my headphones were in. I was thinking, deeply thinking, digging through things in my mind, trying to decide what my next step would be, when he tapped me on the arm. I open my eyes took out a headphone and said "Yeah?" he looked at me confused and said "sorry it was an accident." His brown hair was spiked up in the front, his dark brown eyes looked at me gently, scanning my face. I couldn't decide if I should just turn and look out the window or say something else.

"So you live here or just visiting." he spoke words that would begin a long conversation. 

We talked about life and jobs and relationships. It's interesting how easy it is to talk to someone you know you may never see again. The heart kind of beats faster knowing that these personal things, these passionate things being shared with a complete stranger are safe. I'll never see him again and we never asked for each other's names. 

He was at least 30, with his salt and pepper hair. He worked in investment and was coming to Iowa on a one day "pain in the ass" business trip, as he put it. He wasn't married, just to his job. He traveled about five, six times a year to look into companies. He talked for a while and I just listened. He was interesting and smart. Most of what he said about investments I couldn't really understand. He talked about life in Philadelphia and such. And it was nice to listen to someone else, beside my own thoughts. 

Then he asked about me. 

I told him honestly I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. I talked about doubting what I felt I should be doing with what everyone around me believes. I talked to him about nursing and Africa and my deep passion to serve God and help others. How I feel like I just want to do what's right and love on everyone, but recently even that's becoming difficult. That lately it's felt like I'm all alone in the world and I don't know where to turn. That right now I'm just placing one foot in front of the others but most days I just want to stay in bed and hide from the world. 

I had nothing to lose, I let words fall onto the arm rest between us, spilling thoughts and ideas to a complete stranger. I had no idea where this trust in this random man had came from. And as the plane began to descend I felt a sense of peace, to have finally gotten so much off my chest and out of my head.

The man looked at me as the turbulence swayed the plane back and forth and smiled. "Can I say something without creeping you out?" he asked laughing. 

"Of course." I'd just spill my heart from my chest to this man, I was surprised he wasn't creeped out. 

"I think you know exactly what you need to do and where you need to go. Of course I don't know you at all. but we don't necessarily decide the weather, or the way the day is going to go, we only decide how we live within them. You have to decide how to live within the days you've been given." 

I kind of smiled as I felt the wheels of the plane touch the ground. "easier said than done." 

"Just because circumstance are ugly, doesn't mean there is no beauty in the midst. You just have to move your feet. Because if I can be bold, There is a radiance in you that this world needs."

I looked at him speechless as the people around us began to rise and grab their bags overhead. I couldn't say anything. He got up from his seat in 12E, grabbed is Ralph Lauren jacket and shook my hand, "It was very nice to meet you." and he was gone. 

I sat in 12F looking out the window of the plane, watching people's bags be tossed to and fro, until I was the last one there. I grabbed my bag from the overhead compartment replaying the man's words in my head.

How did a complete stranger know exactly what to say to reach in and start a spark in my heart?

When I reach deep down, pushing pass the heartache and climbing walls that have been built up with brick and mortar and crawling through the electric fence to the depths of my heart, I am beginning to see what this man saw. What Ruth saw so many months ago. Radiance. His radiance. That lately I've been pushing my faith and His radiant light down trying to decide where I should go instead of letting Him lead me. That my walls and fences have done a good job at keeping people out, but also keeping my faith bottled up inside of me. And God, using this random stranger has taken bolt cutters to that fence and a sledge hammer to that wall, and I am discovering that through this one moment, a stranger totally unknown to me had been awoken.

And I have to say that He is pushing me to become a better woman than the one I have been. 

To be a woman who doesn't shut herself off and hide from the world. but a woman who recklessly loves Jesus, no matter the cost, a woman who will continue to love people even through her broken heart. a woman who chooses others above herself. a woman who travels the world, who lives on mere whimsy and faith. a woman who isn't defined by anyone or anything but Jesus, and His life inside of her.

I don't know where you are these days, what's broken down and what's beautiful in this season of your life. I don't know if this is a season of happiness or one of sadness. But I'm learning that neither last forever. There will, I'm sure be something that invades this current loveliness. That's how life is. It won't always be happy, but it won't always be sad either. If everywhere you look these days, it's wintery desolate, and lonely, believe in the spring. It always comes, even though someday it's nearly impossible to imagine, ground frozen, trees bare and spiky. New life will spring from this same ground. This season will end, and something entirely new will follow it. 

God has a plan in all and I hope I never stop discovering new things about Him and experiencing new ways of hearing and seeing Him. Right now I'm still struggling, but I think that a life chasing after Jesus will always be a struggle, because there will always be the enemy raging battles against us. 

And right now I feel I am in the hard, beautiful middle of faith. And it's exactly where I'm supposed to be.



HIS and yours,

Cami 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lost Faith…

I've realized there is something incredibly honest about trees in the winter, how they're experts at letting things go. And maybe, just maybe I could really learn something from the trees.

But truth is I am doubtful in a way that would make Thomas cringe. And I am unfaithful to the point where Peter would look away from me and shake his head. I've heard myself speaking things I swore I knew belong to me, but now here I stand questioning them once again.

And right now all I have are shaky hands and one foot on either side of a fence I am too afraid to tear down.

As I pick up the wrappers of chocolate and sour candy that I've been consuming for the past week, I can't help but honestly say this is not what I thought my life would look like at any given moment.

I would have thought I'd be working a job I love or that I would be back in Africa by now. But I'm sitting in my bedroom, surrounded by sour patch kids wrappers wondering how God has ever seen me fit for ministry. Truthfully I don't really want to leave my house or shower, no not just because of heartache, but because honestly I have no idea where to go or what to do. I don't want to run into people to receive the "oh you're hurting look, let me offer you advice and a cookie." I don't want to have to put on a mask of everything is good. Everything is not good. Everything has not been good for a long time.

Gosh, I'm hurting everyday… what makes this hurt any different. Why because it's visible, because it's on this side of the ocean. because it has to do with what every American Dream is about. because it's not about the little girl I fell in love with in Tanzania, but about something I never actually had planned for.  I just want to understand… where were these people when I returned home months ago broken and bruised. And how do you explain that to people… how do you show people you're not bitter but just still hurting. how do I explain that I haven't lost faith in Jesus, but in myself. How do I explain that my life is nowhere near what I thought it would be and I am not okay with it. I'm dissatisfied and trying to figure out what to do with that.

How do I stop saying I am fine and be totally honest… face-to-face. So many people want to talk, but honestly I just don't know what to say… and I don't want to talk. I want to go… move… do something, anything. But honestly the hope I had in who I was is a pretty dim light right now.

I have very little confidence, very little motivation, very little drive. It could have to do with unnatural amount of bags of chocolate and sour candy I've consumed. It could be that right now I'm feeling lost and unsure about what to do next. I just feel so naive. so dumb. just so stupid. Just so many unknown variables in this equation of my life and people keep saying you're strong and independent and confident. But I'm not. I'm not.

I have never felt so weak.

And honestly I've been spending most hours of my days looking at pictures of Hollo and Justin and Suzanne and Caren. Of Tanzania, of Kenya, of Uganda. Looking back to the place my heart is and maybe it's why I feel so much pain… because my heart has never fully been here and I have no words for people around me who want to know why I hurt so much. That I have no job, no income, and I feel like I just lost my best friend. Maybe it's that fact that deep down in my soul I know God is doing something but I just can't find enough faith in myself to even wash my hair.

I know where my truth lies. In Him.

I know where my confidence lies. In Him.

I know where my hope lies. In Him.

I know where my faith lies. In Him.

My soul is thirsty for Him in this dry and weary land.

I'm all out of candy and tears. I'm just trying to move forward one painful step at a time.

But that's how this life is supposed to be, it's not suppose to be rainbows all the time… sometimes there are storms. and maybe I just don't want to be a Christian anymore.

because they think they always have an answer for something, a problem to solve, an idea to put into action, a understanding in confusion. And I don't. I honestly don't. And I don't want to be that anymore… I don't want to be a Christian anymore. I just want to believe and love Jesus and do my best to love the people around me.

I don't want to have an answer for everything, because I know I never will. I don't want to solve all the problems, because I know I can't.

I just want to put my hope in Jesus and have faith and know deep down He will lift me up. That He knows where my life is leading and I just need to throw away the candy wrappers, wash my oily hair, put on a jacket and head out the door. I just need to move. to go. to stop looking at pictures and trying to remember memories and to go and make more memories. To love boldly even when it hurts.

A friend once told me, "there is no such thing as wasted love." and I believe her, because the love Jesus has lavished on me is no waste at all, and my responsibility is to lavish His love upon others. Even when I feel like I'm doubting myself, even when I have no faith in me, He does; and that truly makes all the difference. 

And He's showing me that I need to learn from the trees. I need to let things go. I need to stop holding on so tightly and let Him carry me. It's a lesson I'm constantly being taught. That I need to let go of all I thought I would be and just find who I am in Him, and everything else will come to be in His timing.


Finding myself in Him,


HIS and yours,


  Cami







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Over thinking to Going.

The rust-colored leaves smell of spices and earth as they crunch underneath my bare feet. There is a chilly breeze blowing through the dead-limbed trees. And for this early in the morning, I'm carrying far too much inside of me. And I need to remind myself to hold on. to slow down. and to breathe in. deep. and to let it out slow. To remember that some mornings I am going to wake up and not understand, not grasp ahold of the clutter of feelings rolling around inside of me. That some days it takes a cold walk on a chilly morning over crunchy colored leaves to let God take hold of me. 

I quit my job. I quit my job. And here I sit a week later sprawled across my bedroom floor wondering what is next. Wondering why I am here, Wondering why God has lead me to this place, to this moment, at this time. And I feel I've spent the first three or so years of my twenties in wonder. I realize that I'm not alone, I mean who in their twenties has life even figured out. That I tell teenage girls all the time that it's okay to be a mess sometimes, that it's okay to not be perfect and it's okay to not be okay, it's just means you're in the thick of living. But sometimes I am hindered by my own advice. Sometimes my advice sounds better spoken to others, rather than to myself. 

Ask anyone who knows me well, I tend to over think things too often. Especially now with all this time on my hands and the hours i've spent laying on my couch watching Netflix to try and block out my thoughts, over thinking has become kind of overwhelming. Over thinking jobs and nursing school and my family and kids in Africa and kids in Ogden and how do you tell someone how you really feel about them. How do you take everything you've ever known yourself to be and move forward into who you're suppose to become. 

And i'm finding that I don't want to be an idle woman. I don't want to be one of those women that puts her life on hold, too busy over thinking things, over analyzing moments instead of enjoying them. I don't want to spend the remainder of my twenties and thirties and the rest of my life wondering what's next. Wondering when I'll find the right job, wondering when I'll find the right words to explain my heart. Wondering when I will see those little faces again. I don't want to wonder my life away, I want to become somebody. To become the woman God has created me to be. 

To not sit idly by, even now with no job. I want to stop wasting my days with Netflix and romantic comedies. Trying to get lost in thoughts instead of lost in people. In the people He has placed in my life. To stop waiting for people to call me, to respond. But to keep reaching out even if it means coming back empty handed. I want to use my hands, my head and my heart for the good of others. 

Because this relationship with Jesus, this life I am living for Him and with Him is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with. 

To run recklessly and to love unconditionally. 

Jesus never said "Think and then go…" He simply said "Go." 

Where? I have no idea at the moment, but I need to crawl out from underneath my pillows and blankets, turn off the TV, take a shower, throw on some clothes other than my pajamas and do just that. Go. 

Go find someone to talk to.

Go find that job.

Go apply to nursing school.

Go tell him about my heart.

Go pray for that child.

Go find a way back to Africa.

Go all in His timing. I will Go. 

To stop sitting and wondering, but start going and wandering.

His hands are guiding my life in a beautiful way and I need to stop guarding my life and start giving it away. To stop being timid and speak. to stop dying and start living. Really living. 

That yes I carry a lot deep down inside of me. And I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it all. But sitting around waiting for life to happen just isn't going to cut it anymore. To constantly remind myself that yes, He is in control, even on the days that seem like they are spiraling out of control and I can't explain myself or anything else around me, that I don't need to over think a single thing, but to remember that God is in it, molding me, shaping me, changing me into the woman I am supposed to be.


Going in His Grace,


 HIS and yours,


   Cami




Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Wordless Post.

I didn't know, words could be so heavy.

Heavy like a first snow on a broken tree branch.

Heavy like one hundred pound weights on my chest.

Heavy like a tension headache in the back of my brain.

They're burning and building and sinking and swimming around up there and I've been struggling to let them go. To lift the weight of thought from this brain of mine and just let it all go, let the worries go, let the struggle go, let the pain go, let the loneliness go. Just let the words go.

To find the synonym, the antonym, to dig through a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, to find the one thing to describe it all. To be able to cut open my heart and let the feelings bleed out. For the word, the phrase, the single sentence to explain to someone, anyone what is going on inside me.

But rarely do we ever tell people about the true depths of our struggles and our loneliness. About how with each passing day we feel more lost than the day before, more alienated from those around us and we're not sure how to fix it or where to start.

And as I sit here drinking my cup of tea, letting the heat scorch the back of my throat and letting the warm liquid drain into my stomach. Feeling it's warmth splash into my stomach and into my soul I can't help but compare my tea to the feeling Jesus gives me, even in this moment of wordless struggle. Even when words cannot find their way out of my head and onto my tongue. Jesus finds His way through my mess and into my heart.

I cried at a gum commercial today.

And at first I thought I was going crazy as I felt the stupid tears on my cheeks and then I realized I've been bottling up so much stress and anxiety and I've been miserable for so long that it was bound to leak it's way out over my eyelids. It just hit me at a strange time, sitting on a chair in my living room watching a Extra gum commercial.

It seems to me that the years between eighteen and twenty-something are the hardest, psychologically. It's here that we realize this is make or break, we no longer have the excuse of youth, and it's time to become and adult- but we are not ready. I am not ready. I don't know if I will ever be ready.

Lately I'm just heavier than usual… I fell more broken than usual. I don't feel like Cami. I feel like a shell of Cami. I feel like I'm going through the motions of my life. That I am spending so much time trying to find the words instead of just letting the words find me. That I let the misery of my job seep into my soul and destroy my spirit. It drains me, wrecks me, causes me to weep and stumble and wrack my brain over what I should do.

But I know what I should do. I know what I need to do and I know what I have to do. And it's hard. And it's caused me to curl into a ball into myself and really pray, really discern, really focus on Him and trust that He has it all under control. To know that right now I am hurting and that's okay. That right now there are many hardships. But that they are preparing me for something better. They are teaching me a greater lesson.

That right now I have to choose what to keep and what to leave behind.

And as I sit here staring at my empty cup of tea I have decided to choose to make room for all things beautiful, lovely, peaceful, admirable, lovely, and wonderful in my life and in my heart. To choose the things that bring me closer to Jesus.

To let go of the words I cannot find. To let go of the mess and the misery and just let Him work and know that He will provide no matter the situation I am finding myself in.

To find Him every day, in every thing.

To not try to make every one else happy, to remember that He is the author and perfecter of my life. To not be afraid of my truths and my life anymore. To not omit pieces of myself to make others feel comfortable. To stretch out my hand in faith and touch His robes.

He is with me, even through the tears over a gum commercial and the wordless description of what is going on. Because He knows me and the depths of my heart and I find peace in that.


Letting God Move,


HIS and yours,


 Cami


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Life at 23...

On a day like today, most girls my age would want to be waking up to an array of colorful balloons and flowers and presents overflowing, to a pile of new clothes and shoes and gadgets galore.

But if I am going to be real I am most certainly, without a doubt not like most girls... and if one were to take a peak into my room they would not see gadgets and shoes and piles of clothes, but paintings and pictures of another country, of little ebony faces that are engraved on my heart, of sandals that have walked miles and congas that hold stories. And instead of colorful balloons and presents, I wake up longing for little dirty hands on my face, and dusty feet in my sandals, wishing to smell trash burning in the distance and the loudness of the roosters crowing through my window. Aching to hear the laughter of my Tanzanian sisters, echoed by words in Swahili I don't understand. To not have my feet tangled in a bed sheet, but rather a mosquito net full of holes.

And today is a day just like any other. Of longing for the place I unknowingly left my heart behind in. and a year ago I was flying on a jet plane to this place. a year ago today I turned 22.

But today I'm 23.

And I'm not flying across the ocean.

Today I am 23.

But I still feel 22.

My thoughts are still 22.

My heart still feels 22.

and yet here I sit... now at 23.

I just don't know... I guess I've always thought that something magical should happen when we have a birthday. Like all the questions we've found ourselves asking are finally answered on the day your age number changes. Or like the way the beast is transformed into a man at the end of the magical movie. But my life is not a Disney movie, and there really is no way of knowing if that man is still the beast in his heart. Just like I'm still struggling to find out if I'm really 23 or still 22.

And I think what the problem is, well it's that I just grasped onto the fact that I was 22. I felt like I knew what 22 was and understood it and now I'm 23 and just as confused as I was that day one year ago, when I turned 22.

Truth is we are all the ages we've been. Somedays I'm five, somedays I'm thirteen and somedays I'm 22... or is it 23?!?! And there all complied underneath to make the person I am today, and I'm still trying to grasp a hold of that. Still trying to unravel the mysteries with every year that goes by.

As I sit here and reminisce over this past year of my life. Peering about the long journey I've taken to get to where I am right now, I'm seeing that I've changed. A LOT! That I am not the same person I was last October. And that maybe, just maybe I'm more of 23 than I'll let myself believe.

Okay no, no matter how much I wish I was, I'm not boarding a plane bound for Africa this year. But that doesn't mean God isn't sending me places. He has definitely shown me what growing really means, temporarily surrendering my security in my comfortable places to see His greater picture and His greater glory for my life. It means that somedays... most days are going to be excruciatingly difficult. But I'm finding that as I take one step to the next, Life isn't exactly what I expected.

It's greater and bigger than anything I could ever imagine. It's harder and fuller and challenging, yet beautiful and full of joy and so much love!

Granted I am much heavier than I was a year ago. My heart, my mind, my shoulders weighted down with burdens and desires I never knew I had. And this past year there have been many moments I have struggled with what God expects of me. He has changed my perspective on life and what is important. I'm seeing that the things I used to love and thought I found joy in are nothing compared to the things and the people He has now placed on my heart.

That I tend to spend less time with my books and my television and more time with people, talking and praying and thinking about people. I find that my bed has lost it's comfort, knowing that there is a child 8000 miles away sleeping on a dirt floor. I am seeing that what my face looks like and the way my clothes sit aren't nearly as important as the words I am saying and the actions I am taking against the injustices of the world. And I'm finding that the petty, stupid things I used to make such a big deal out of, are really just petty, insignificant things when I realize that the widow I fell in love with months ago could no longer be living and I have no way of ever knowing.

A year ago today on my plane to Tanzania I wrote in my journal...  And I think there is pain in being a disciple. Pain that becomes joy in the end, but pain that no one seems to ever talk about. The pain of leaving the ones you love behind. Peter must have felt it, and James and John. Paul must have felt it, and Jesus most definitely felt it. But I think that is part of suffering for the gospel. Leaving. Always leaving and moving on, never ever forgetting, but continuing on the path. But to show the love of Christ, to sacrifice my life. To be burdened by the lives of other who do not know HIS glorious love. That is worth the pain.

And 23 year old me would have to agree with 22 year old me. There is pain... so much pain. And the pain I felt that day is similar yet so much different than the the pain I feel now. The burdens are the same, but the people and the actions are so much different.

Today I celebrate another year of life and God has blessed me beyond measure! But my heart is with those who don't get that chance. Who are dying right now. You see my heart has changed. And as I get older I am seeing there is less and less time for the people around me to see Jesus. And I'm wondering why in the heck it took me so many years of hatred and selfishness to see this. Why it took me long fights with roommates and friends that I could have easily solved with selfless love. Why did it take me so long with focusing all on myself and not on the people around me to see that my life is worth far more than me.

That my life was made to be a carrier of the gospel, and living out my faith privately and for myself was never an option.

That 23 is for Christ, just as 22 was and the years to come are. That there are no ifs or maybes when it comes to Jesus and loving His people. There is only Yes and Send ME. That in my heart there should be no room for me. And as my heart gets crowded with Jesus I will invite people into the party. People that the world may hate and despise, but who I will love, because He loves them. That they will come into the room and see that this love, His love is what they were created for.

That my life would be an outpouring sacrifice. That my life would be one full of love and selflessness. My life would become God's... His hands, His feet, His heart, His strength.

That my love for Jesus and my love for others would be what stands out about me and nothing else.

No matter where He takes me or who He places in my path, starting now, at 23 I will follow unashamed, unabashedly forever and ever hard after Him. To love recklessly, to living radically, to spill my life out for the gospel, which is Jesus Christ.

Feeling 23,

 HIS and yours,

   Cami

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Heaviness...

My once clean floor has now become a pile of haphazardly tossed clothes. My bed hasn't been made in weeks and I can't remember the last time I actually saw the top of my dresser.

   My memories from Africa are fading.

And I'm looking at pictures and reading through my journals.

   My heart is heavy. Weighted down by the inability to recall a child's face or voice. Weighted down by the burden of so much love. Weighted down by the life around me that has seemingly returned to normal and I'm still reaching back trying to hold onto something that I am still struggling to unravel, still struggling to understand.

  And my mind has been plagued with those faces across the ocean, burden by their hurts and pains and the things I can only imagine they are going through, and also filled with faces from home, new faces of kids and people I have began to fall in love with. Worried and burdened by their struggles of home life and school and bullying and unknown issues.

 I feel so heavy. My mind, my eyes, my heart. Heavy.

   Lately I've lacked the motivation to even brush my hair, or pick my clothes up off the floor, or even pick myself up off the floor.

  I spend most of my days at work and when I'm not there I spend most of my time face down on the floor of my messy room, thinking, and praying, and crying. Heavy. Burdened.

  And I forget I asked for this. I prayed for this. To be burden with love. It's a beautiful thing. It's a hard thing. But most things worth living for, most things worth fighting for are beautiful and hard. But the longer I'm away from Africa, the heavier I get.

It's hard to explain. That my heart is here and there. Two places, two homes. My heart is in the hands of those ebony faces, and my family I lived with, and the sick and dying, and orphaned and widowed. But my heart is also here, in the hands of my sisters and brothers and parents. In the hands of him. in the hands of friends, and in the hands of these beautiful new kids that I've come to know and grown to love.

And the burdens are there. In both places. Deep in my heart.

If I'm honest right now I'm weary with life and not sure what to do with myself.

Memories are fading and I just want to hold onto them tight.

And I'm looking at God asking Him what He wants with my life? Whatever it is I want Him to take it. These burdens I have asked for and received and now I am trying to figure out what to do with them. And I'm realizing I'm not alone in this. That there are others with burdens just like mine, who are in my life to talk through things with me, and love me even when my eyes are puffy red from crying and rambling through prayers. I'm seeing that God is ever-so close to me as I continue to draw nearer to Him.

Realizing that what I've asked for I must also continually give right back up to Him in faith and in trust. Knowing that I can do nothing for these kids, for these burdens on my own, without Him. And I'm seeing that even though the memories fade, my love and my passion will not.

That even thought right now I feel like my heart is all the way at my feet, weighted down, that He is lifting me up, He is showing me that I need to stop over-thinking and just start praying more. To continue to seek Him and His will for my life. To stop trying to second guess my path, because He is leading me.

  To find Joy.

   Even in the most unlikely places.

 And I think I will start with picking the clothes up off my floor.


  HIS and yours,

  Cami

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Love is not tolerant.


Steel metal colored clouds consume the sky. The sun, hidden behind them, the way I would love to be hiding under my covers.

It is raining.

I stand outside letting the drops hit my face and roll off with the wind.

It smells beautiful. A smell so fragile I need to inhale deeply to grasp onto all its fragrance. Clean and crisp with a hint of something clinging to the edge. Memories, of ebony faces, and the time it poured as we walked to the dukas and sat on the barbers couches until the clouds stopped crying over us. Of the first time I met them and loved them. Of the endless days of walking with squishy wet mud between my toes.

Coolness surrounds me and I close my eyes to relish in the moment, in the memories, in what the smell of the rain brings.

I cannot capture the words.

I cannot capture the memories fast enough.

I cannot capture the beauty and grace of God.

All in the rain.

My African blanket is pulled tight over my shoulders as I write this. I'm cold like always, it's a never ending thing, no amount of hot chocolate or layers of clothing seems to keep my body warm. So I'll just pull on my wool socks and lace my fingers through my steamy mug of chocolate and pour out the warmth that is coming from my soul.

We all have treasured words written upon our hearts. They're the truths we keep locked beneath a cage of bone and a cloak of flesh; and I don't think there is ever a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why things happen or why things ends or why or who we are. You want one and I want one, but there isn't a pretty definition to tie it all up in a bow and deliver. I think it comes in bits and pieces, of growing and loving, of trusting in God. And we stitch all these things together where they fit and when we are done there may still be holes in places, we are imperfect, and yet God is still working and still moving, There is no other way.

I am just blown away by God. Blown away by His faithfulness and His love for me and just the way He sneaks in all quiet like and answers my prayers and blessed my life. And I'm just mad at myself for how selfish and how ungrateful I am. Seriously, I mean "Paul said it perfectly, 'I am the worst of these!' but every now and then I swear I think I got that guy beat."

And we could boil it down to me being hard on myself. But I am not. I think that's what this world needs. Christians, Christ followers, reckless Jesus lovers to be hard on themselves. We are too easy on ourselves. We are tolerant. We don't want to make people upset, So we walk on eggshells and go to church on Sunday and say we will do all these things. But we go home curl up on our couch and watch as the world literally goes to hell.

Do we speak out about the racism about Miss America, Or stretch out our hands to the families and victims of the shooting in Washington D.C.? Are we really praying for Syria? What about that kid in the back of the church, searching for answers, did we just walk past him?

We're not fighting the good fight. We're not running the race. We're not fleeing the evil desires. We are not loving.

Love is not tolerant.

Love speaks out. Love throws punches. Love sprints. Love crushes evil with good.

We have this checklist, these guidelines we think comes with following Christ. Go to church. Read your Bible. Tithe. Say grace before meals. But that's the thing loving God is not a checklist, it's not a thing to do. And I am the worst of these. I get so caught up in the things pastors and teachers and books have said define what it means to be a Christian. But there is only one definition of a Christian and that is Jesus.

And we're missing the point. I'm missing the point. That there are much greater things going on out in this world than what Miley Cyrus's new video means, or what's trending on twitter. There is a full out war, there is a battle raging. For souls and live's.

It's not who belongs to what church or what kids belongs to whom. They are all Jesus's and we are getting lost in competitions rather than loving. Lost in numbers rather than sharing Jesus.

Yes, I'm ranting. I know it. But as I sit here wrapped in a blanket, hands warmed by my mug I can't help but be angry with myself.

I didn't thank Him for the breath in my lungs today, for the roof over my head, for my family, my friends, for my little blanket and my mug. I missed it. And it kills me, because the rain reminded me of these memories. These faces of children and women and families who may not have breath in their lungs today, or a roof, or even a tattered blanket. My heart breaks for the injustice of these faces in my mind and heart. And my heart breaks for the blindness of my generation and so many generations before and after me. Caught up in self, while people are literally DYING out there without hearing about or feeling the love of Jesus.

It wrecks me. And so my cheeks match my windows, water trailing down. As I cry out and pray that God open eyes and hearts. That we become a people, that put down the guidelines and let go of self, and of ideas and competitions, of trying to be the best. And just let God have us, hold us, and lead us to be His hands and feet.

To stop being tolerant.

To stop pining for attention.

But to begin loving until it hurts.

And as Mother Teresa said, "That if we love until it hurts, there can be no more room for hurt, only more love." Until the day Jesus returns.

Having a heart that breaks for what breaks HIS.


Sitting with open hands and a tear-streaked face,


HIS and yours,


   Cami








Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm feeling messy...

Writing is safer, somehow
because my pen cannot stutter like my lips do,
and words get stuck in throats,
not fingertips,
And I can't stumble
on paper trails of blue lines
because writing is definite and clear
and no one can tell if I am crying
or laughing
through written words alone.

In writing I can explain who I am and what I feel. I'm not looking into faces or staring into eyes and empty places. It's me, my pen, my paper, and my thoughts.

Which can be a scary place. A place where I come alive. Where I am seeing that sometimes people are not who they seem to be and sometimes people are exactly who they need to be. Sometimes people are going to use you and sometimes people are going to love you, regardless of what you do.

A place where I am constantly hunkering down next to Jesus and asking "What next? Where to? How long? Why me?" Where His arms are wrapped around me in a gentle way and He's leading me, He's showing me that sometimes I have to do things that I don't like to learn more about the things I love. That when I sit down with my pen in my hand and look at the big picture, His hand is in it all. He's guiding my pen, my words, whether written or spoken and He's showing me great and mighty things.

It's moments like these where I realize that when I don't over analyze, when I stop thinking so much He brings an answer into the light. And sometimes it's not the answer I necessarily like, but it's just the answer I need.

I was not made to work...

Okay before someone goes and calls me another lazy person of my generation, let me clarify.

I was not made to work this quote-unquote 9 to 5 job. (technically those are no where near my hours but whatever), You see lately I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by this idea that I could get stuck in this job. It's kind of something that haunts me. I don't want to ever feel stuck. ever. anywhere. Stuck means compromise. And that is something I promised myself I would never do.

You see honestly, most days I feel like I'm not doing the work I was made to do. The Kingdom work. Most days I feel like I'm just another face in the crowd. Standing in a retail store, helping guys pick out ties and underwear, carrying furniture for little old ladies, and slowly being snuffed out by the workforce world.

I feel like I am not fighting the good fight, that I'm not shining Christ near enough, and that my friends, haunts me. Haunts me more than the bills I know need to be paid, and the hours I know need to be filled, and the life i feel wasted at a job I know needs to be worked.

And so many people don't understand, they think it's an easy fix. And all I can do is just smile and nod and pretend like I'm getting along just fine, but I can't really talk about it. Because I can't really explain it. I can't explain that most days I feel the joy getting sucked right from me. That most days I walk around with people who proclaim to be these "Christians" but cut people down and pin people against each other any chance they get. That no matter how much I talk it out, I feel that each day gets worse. Because my heart is not in it. It never has been.

And these people see me as unappreciative, because I can't explain that I don't live, eat and breath my job. That I was not made for work. That I was not made for the workforce.

But that I have been made with a holy purpose. for the Kingdom's force. That I was made for love.

And everyday it gets harder to push myself up from the ground I so easily find myself on. That right now i just feel that nothing is in order and everything is so messy.

And God is showing me that sometimes messy is okay. Because in the messes He is strong. Through my tangled words and stuttered prayers He is answering me.

Because that's the thing. Love isn't beauty, love isn't a plan. It doesn't have a certain beginning and it certainly has no end or visible finish line to those deeply in it. Love happens, and it is incredibly messy.

And through these words written on pages and messy prayers lifted up, God is showing me the things I need to do. That I don't need approval to do them. That it's not going to be easy, but incredibly messy. But that He will continue to love me regardless of the world's view of me. Because that does not matter.

I hate who work makes me become. I hate who I am when I am there. I don't feel like myself and I believe when something is toxic to you, it's time to step away. It's not going to be easy, it's going to be messy. But right now I am leaning ever so close to my Jesus and He's showing me that His wreck is beautiful for my life.

That He's placing people and things and opportunities right in front of me. So I need to stop over thinking, stop over analyzing and just jump right in. He's got it all under control. Even through this messy words of a post. He's showed me a clear path through my cluttered mind. And ultimately it is to His Kingdom and His work and His calling and plan for my life.

Sorting through my clutter with Jesus,



HIS and yours,


Cami





Thursday, August 22, 2013

All Comes Back in Moments.

My little Caren 


"You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place." -Miriam Adeny.

Everything comes back to me in moments...

Moments of bittersweet joy, joy so bright and bold that it could keep the sun ablaze for years to come.

Moments of deep sadness, sadness so deep and tears so wet it could fill the seven seas.

Moments of hardening struggles, struggles so tough it could wear down the strongest man.

and Moments, moments of overflowing love, Love so indescribable, love so high, so deep, so wide that no one could grasp onto, no one could reach out without feeling it wash over them in waves of mercy, waves of grace. Love that only Jesus could give and fill. Love that doesn't come from this world.

Everything comes back to me in moments.

Her little ebony legs hugging my hips tightly as she climbs onto my back and the green and orange conga gets wrapped around her tiny little bottom. She's too big to be carried on my back, but neither of us care, we are laughing. A laughter echoes through the Tanzanian sky, laughter that cause heads to turn to look at the Mzungu and the little African girl. Pure laughter. Her little 5 years old hands are already calloused and tough as they grab my neck and she pulls herself up. Her chewing gum, smacking in my ear, would typically drive me insane, but today it's a sound I take deep within me, to remember this second, this minute, this hour with her. I bounce up and down, and her head hits my shoulders and her sweet high pitch squeal echoes through my ears and fills my heart with so much love and so much joy. We're running around the compound. My sweet little sister, my sweet little Caren. And as we laugh, as we dance, and as she grip my neck so tight, trusting me to not drop her. I think this is what I must look like with Jesus. Clinging to his neck, tied with a conga, dancing and laughing and His heart is filled with joy, the way mine is carrying one of His children, the way He always carries me.

Moments. Beautiful moments.

And I can't believe it has almost been a year since I departed for that country. Since I set my feet on that ground and buried my heart deep in the soil. And everyday is reminder of these moments. Everyday is a transition into the person Jesus is making me to be and what's He teaching me about Him and myself and the people He surrounds me with. Everyday is filled with new moments for me to take down deep inside of myself and remember. Always remember.

But with these moments and with talking with friends and family about transition, those who are struggling same as me and those who don't understand, God has been blessing me and teaching me more about Love. I never knew, seriously, how important love is. People say we throw this word around too much, that it has lost it's meaning. But I think love is to be thrown, to be cast out like a fisherman's net, to cascade over people and draw them in. Love is meant to be spread.

The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you'll see their flaws. That's just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don't last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they're out of money or under pressure, or hungry, for goodness' sake.
Sweet girl and I in one of our giggle fits

But Love. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it's seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship. 

And that is Jesus. and that is who I want to be.

Saint Augustine says it like this "Attract people by the way you live."

I want to live like Jesus, every day, every single moment, hour, minute, the rest of my life. I don't want people to be drawn to me, I want people to be drawn to Jesus in me. that I would throw His love over people and bring them into a big bear hug, that Jesus would use my hand to hold the hurting and my arms to wrap His arms around them. That I would be patient, that I would be kind, and I would be deliberate. Through the hard and pain and sacrifice and through the darkness.

Because He sees the darkness in me and yet He still lets me climb onto His back, wraps me in a conga and carries me through.

I desire to choose each day to serve someone in spite of the filth. I've seen messy and I've fallen in love with it, because in the messy God meets us. He's there. Always.  And in each transition I'm learning to love different people in different ways. I'm learning that the moment I open my heart and my arms God enters in and I am His vessel. And what else in life could be more glorious.

My life was not made to be something pretty. I was not made for storybooks, and princess poems, and easy living.

My life was made to be messy. I was made to enter into the darkness and shine His light. I was made for the roughness and tough love. I was made for reckless love, for dirty hands and dirty feet. Though I feel unqualified, He uses me and it's an amazing thing.

I will not live my life trying to stay squeaky clean to this world. I make mistakes, I get dirty, but God is with me and He dusts me off, puts me back on my feet and leads on. And I will follow.

We are all a bit messy, we all are struggling. And yet God is giving us piggybacks, wrapped in congas, carrying us to where He wants us. Because despite the filth and the mess, He does want us. No one can tell you differently.

Throw out your net, let love overflow. His love. Great, grand love. Be messy and know God is there, always dusting us off and leading us home.




Taking in the moments,


 HIS and yours,


Cami










Friday, August 16, 2013

Customer Service Experience Jesus...

I hate retail.

Okay, sorry not an upbeat way to start a blog post but I just needed to get that off my chest, because I do I really hate it.

But let's be honest, Somedays, like today, are full of testing. And somedays, like today, I just seem to fall short.

Sometimes work just doesn't go the way you plan, such is with life. And I thought maybe by now I would have grasped a hold of that and realized that somedays things are going to go wrong. But I haven't. I'm still learning. And like today, I let myself get worked up because things went wrong and I let myself get cranky and short with people. And as I sat in the office thinking about how I had just snapped at one of my co-workers, I thought. I just totally failed today. I totally failed at being Jesus.

So right then and there I stopped. I stopped counting money. I stopped stressing out over things that weren't working out. I stopped thinking. and I prayed. Prayed that God would turn my heart around. That I would stop praying the day would go faster, and I would stop thinking of ways to get out of the things I'm doing and instead that I would have open doors and opportunities to reach out and to be His hands and His feet. to be Jesus in this retail world.

Retail is hard, and dealing with people is even harder, especially in retail. People want and want and want and they'll do anything to get it. In the store we have something called an OSAT score, basically it's an overall satisfaction of the customer's experience in store. Sometimes we do good and sometimes we don't do so hot. And I think the reflection of that OSAT score kind of reflects the way my life has been lately. I'm never at 100% and I don't think I ever will be, because there is always more to do. There's alway further to walk and further to reach and more room to love. OSAT or not, my score will always have room to grow, as does our stores.

They now want us to greet every customer we pass, it's kind of exhausting to be honest. Because some people just do not want to be bothered, they see you coming and they duck into a aisle to get away. Or there are the one's you greet and they jump about five feet in the air because they didn't know you were there. So I got out of the office, apologized to my co-worker for snapping at her and went on my way to do some good old Customer Service.

As I walked around, the store was crowded with people digging through racks of clothes, I greeted people as I walked picking up clothes tossed on the floor and over the racks. And I saw him, wobbling through the aisle. His mullet like hair kind of haphazardly pulled back into a ponytail. There was some sort of air about him, and you could kind of suspect he has some sort of illness. He approached me and asked me about headphones. He had put a pair over his hearing aids and they squealed something fierce.

He began to explain to me this, which I totally understand coming from the girl who wore a hearing aid in middle school and high school and anytime the basketball buzzer went off, I thought I was going deaf all over again. So we browsed the headphone section up at the front and he talked and talked and talked asking me questions, talking about school, and his life and just talked. And co-workers were giggling and saying things over the headset as they watched me walk the front aisle with this older gentlemen just listening to him talk. I had plenty of other projects to do and customers to greet but I just continued to nod and listen to this man talk about being out of school for 40 years and how when I get to be his age I'll need hearing aids too and headphones that won't make them squeal. He laughed and talked and talked and laughed.

And as I stood there listening and smiling and doing "customer service" I couldn't help but think. When was the last time someone really listened to this man talk. This is not customer service, this is not my job. This is being Jesus, this is being His hands, His feet, His ears. because I really am beginning to believe that customer service, the right kind of customer service is just that. Serving. And that's what God has made me to do.

Granted it's not the ideal place I want to be serving. But it's where He has me right now, and I am obviously being taught valuable lessons. Because like my managers, Jesus wants me to pass every person and greet them in Him, love them through Him, reach out His hands, His feet and be Christ. That not one person would be missed, that there overall satisfaction when they see me, will be that they saw Jesus. That's what it is all about.

He is turning my heart around. Yes, I don't like retail, retail is not my passion and my heart and my suitcases are just waiting for the day when God decided it's time for me to leave retail behind. But right now I have things here and I have much to learn.

So I'm working on that. I'm praying about that. That customer service will bring about a bigger end to a far better means. More than store OSAT scores, or customer returns, or number of sales. But that Jesus would be known through me, in just a simple hello, in just a simple gesture to stand and talk to a man, in just a simple hand reaching out to carry things or offer a cart. In even just smile. That Jesus's light would shine and reflect Him.

That there customer service would experience Jesus. Because I know the He reaches further than I could ever imagine and all I need to do is reach out my hands.

Working on my Jesus Service,


HIS and yours,


Cami


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pieces of Love. Pieces of Me.

I was running today.

Wait. What.

Cami... Running.

Yeah, I know those words don't fit in a sentence together. Like ever.

Cami hates running. I do, I literally hate it.

I run better alone. Actually I do a lot of things better alone. But running is something I prefer to do alone. I'm an ugly runner. Literally i look like a baby deer learning how to walk, and I wheeze and cough and trip over my feet. I run ugly. So I like running alone... there's more freedom to run ugly. But there's even more freedom to think clearly.

Lately I've been running a little after work every day. And I've notice my mind is a little clearer when I finish than when I start. And for me that's saying something. I find I have time to think. to reflect. to listen to the constant beating of my heart and the shallow wheezing of my breath and my feet hitting the pavement and my mind churning and thinking. Thinking of things upon things. Of places. of people. of pieces. Pieces of me and pieces of love. and what those pieces really mean.

If I can be honest for a moment, my heart is scattered in so many different places. There are kids who hold my heart in Alaska and the Yukon, there are prisoners in Texas who hold my heart. Kids in Haiti, kids in Uganda, in Tanzania, in Kenya. Friends in South Dakota, Minnesota, Europe, Nebraska, California, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, the list goes on. My heart is scattered across lands and country-sides and airport terminals. In dirty hands and prodding fingers, my heart has had it's share of bumps and bruises and flips and flops. But I wouldn't have it any other way, I wouldn't change the hands that have reached out and touched my heart. I wouldn't change it because that's the way God made my heart to be. Soft and Strong. Soft enough to care and love deeply, but strong enough to withstand the exchange of hands.

Amazing, actually is the word to describe. God is the ultimate carrier of my heart and HE has allowed pieces of me to be scattered all over the place all in HIS name. It's amazing. Amazing Grace, and Amazing love, that's what it is. You see Those pieces are Jesus. Jesus teaching me how to love deeper and reach further and grow stronger. He teaches me and I scatter them. I reach out wherever I am, and I pray that Jesus is the one being seen.

You see, I want pieces of my heart, pieces of me scattered all over this place. All over this state. All over the country. All over the world. And I want all those pieces to be JESUS. Every last one of them.

I lodge pieces of myself in every place I love. And I have loved deeply every place and every person I have seen. They have carried my heart, even without knowing it. I have lodge a piece of me with them. A piece of love. and love. Love is God. And the more I live radically, the more I love recklessly, the more pieces of Jesus they will see.

And that is the end goal. To love and to make Christ known.

That when I come to the end of my life people aren't remembering me by the clothes I wore or the jobs I worked, or the nice things I did. But that they would remember how I much I loved them and how much more I loved Jesus. That I would have scattered HIS love so vastly and so deeply, that there would be no words said, no songs exchanged, but just love, His glorious, graceful love.

I guess love is what I'm learning and I don't think I will ever be done. Just scattering HIS love and HIS word any chance I get. To love when it's easy and when it's hard. To love when there's light and when it's dark. To love with no regrets and no worries. Because God ultimately carries my heart, and He's placing it in spaces I have yet to even dream about.

Scattering Love,


HIS and yours,


 Cami


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

inexpressible joy, inexpressible love.

  Lately I've been missing East Africa more than my heart can contain. And lately my heart feels as if it can't contain very much. I've had this immeasurable amount of feelings overwhelming my entire body. I can't even contain it in my chest. This inexpressible joy.

Which is strange, real strange. When all that surrounds me and friends lately seems to be tragedy and death and struggles. In the past weeks I've notice this inexpressible smile just hanging out on my heart. This feeling, this emotion, this joy I thought was so unattainable, I haven't been able to shake. And I don't want to.

Granted there are days I am still stressed out at work and people frustrate me and bad things happen, but this feeling in my heart, this emotion of joy and knowing that God is preparing something awesome for me has kind of been blowing my mind as of late.

He's showing me that in HIM no one can take this joy. That there will be dark days, but He's always shining through, like the sun through the clouds. He's showing me to get close to the things and the people I care about. That yes, these things and these people will come and go. And some people just learn to stop caring about them, but that I need to keep reaching out.

That when I keep reaching, God gives me opportunities to share Him and share my passions. Like today, simply bringing Africa shaped cookies to work caused co-workers to ask me why Africa and what I do and why I do it. And yet another answered prayer of God moving in my life and opening doors for me to share HIM and the things I love. It's amazing. He is amazing.

And I've realized that when I don't try to contain, when I don't try to bottle and push down this joy, it helps me love more. It gives me this inexpressible love for the people around me and the task I have to do. In work, in conversation, in whatever. When I let God's love and joy flow from me, it does things. it changes things. it changes me.


It opens my eyes.

It opens my heart.

It opens my ears.

It moves my hands and feet.

Inexpressible joy that bubbles over into inexpressible love. No words can describe the beauty and the feeling that comes from it.

It's easy to shove it down deep. Especially when there are so many other things going on. But there is nothing that can put out this light, God's light once we have it. No darkness is too dark. No ocean too deep. No storm too strong. No river too wide. No mountain too high. HE shines, HE swims, HE calms, HE stretches, HE climbs. it's beautiful.

Don't try and hide the light. It's a beautiful thing. It's a marvelous thing. Shine. Shine the joy of Jesus so bright that others will be blinded by your glow and ask where it comes from. this Joy, this Marvelous Light.

Inexpressible Joy leads to Inexpressible Love. Love that can move mountains. Love that causes blind to see. Love that helps ears to hear. Love that helps mouths speak. Love that can cause a cripple to walk, and a dead man to rise. Love that is God's, Love that He has given us. Take hold of it. Tight with two hands and never let go. Hold it high above your head let it shine out, reach out to others. I promise you, this joy is something that causes change.

Yes I still miss Africa and there are days I cry and scream and just want to go. But I'm seeing through this joy, through these lessons. That everything right now is preparing me for what is to come. So maybe I won't return to Africa in two years like I planned, it may be longer. But I'm learning that Love lets go of its plans, to reach out and hold on to what is right in front of it. So that's what I'm going to do. Let go of my plans and reach out, who knows where God is going to take me.

I'm all in.

Letting Go and Reaching out,


 HIS and yours,


 Cami