Monday, July 29, 2013

In Being Alone... I'm Learning More About Love.

I tend to think more when I'm by myself. Tend to process more. Tend to learn more. Tend to write more. There are days like today when I am thankful to have a place to spill my thoughts on pages. To be raw and real and open. It could also be that the company I've had for the past five days have consisted of two interesting smelly fish and a playful fluffy golden retriever. So there is a lot of space in between to really think, to really grasp onto and try and understand the lessons I am learning and growing from.

The other day I had to really sit down and think about my life and I had to write about it and then share about it. This particular area of my life isn't something I really enjoy talking about, it's a struggle to write about, struggle to think about, struggle to talk about. But God has given me a beautiful story to share and who would I be to not share the love and the grace and the beauty that Jesus has wrecked my life with. Especially in being single.

Another couple of friends got engaged this week. It was there the moment I opened up Facebook. It's kind of funny, because if I'm honest two, three years ago my heart got pretty bitter when I would open up my news feed and see all these happy couples with there nose touching pictures and there strategically placed hands in photos so a giant glittering ring could be seen. I honestly would roll my eyes in disgust. Weddings, Marriages, Engagements all of it just made me sick. Not because I hate it, but because I so desperately wanted this. But looking back from this moment, from this MOnday night, I'm seeing that in being alone, I've learned so much about love.

Not a romantic kind of love. But a love that is unconditional. Love that never leaves, never forsakes, never runs out, never gives up. God's love. And I don't think I would have ever been able to learn about that if I didn't spend my days with dogs, and fish, and traveling the world, and with people who I seem to find unloveable, and with the people the world deems unloveable.

If you would of told thirteen year old me that at 22 years old I wouldn't even have a prospect of a dating relationship, she probably would have thrown at temper tantrum, cried and scream some unnecessary words and pouted for the next couple days.

Thirteen year old me is so immature.

But to be honest I am so glad that I'm alone. Well alone in a sense because God is always with me. Truth be told I've learn so much more about love in this area of my life than I thought I ever could. God's been teaching me to love, even when it's difficult. And trust me when I say this, most times it is. At work, in school, in the day to day. When people are so unnecessarily rude and all you want to do is just hit someone or something and yet there's God whispering in my ear. Smile at them. Offer help to the woman yelling at you. Follow that man around the store and carry all his things for him. Stop on the side of the road for that girl with her thumb in the air. Drop the money I have blessed you with in that man's cup. Love them.

And I'm learning from this. Learning that Jesus didn't mean just love those who fit into our idea of lovable. He meant those who are broken; those who are scarred; those who no one else will touch. Jesus meant love them all. We don't pick and choose, Jesus never did, so why, as follower's of Christ, should we?

I'm learning that there is more than just this romantic love that everyone is so bent on having. I'm learning that there is love so much greater. Love that is so much stronger. Love that truly conquers all. His love. Love that is stronger than death. Love that conquered the grave. Love that water cannot quench and floods cannot drown. His love. Beautiful love. Grace-giving, Faith fulfilling Love.

And in the five days of being alone and in the two days I spent addressing the singleness of my life. I saw something that I have been missing. That I'm not really alone, that this love that is overflowing inside of me for so many people and places and things is not my own but God's desire, God's love in me and it's a beautiful thing.

Nothing could put this fire of love out, no water could quench and I'm thirsting for more. I can't wait to be so covered in love that it pours out onto those who feel unloved, who the world thinks aren't good enough, who need His grace-giving, faith-fulfilling, life changing love. I want Him to be that Love through me. That there would be so much of Him that I am not seen. That's what I desire. More than a fluffy white dress, or flowers in my hair, or a ring on my finger. I desire more of the Father's love. So so much more.

Drinking in more of HIS love,

HIS and yours,


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Storms, Fog, Oceans Waves.

 "But it is in storms that He does His finest work, for it is in storms that He has our keenest attention." -Max Lucado.

Lately it's been stormy weather... Not in a light shower kind of way, but in a stand in the down-pour, hair soaked, clothes drenched in thirty seconds kind of way. Lots of lightening and thunder down in my heart. Lots of walls crashing down and waters flooding through.

And you know where I've been....

Hiding in the boat.

All of the sudden all these things came rushing in over me, decisions, frustrations, emotions. Lately I feel like I complain more than I rejoice. Like my life lately has been just one big sad rainy day. And there I am hiding behind the sails, in the boat. Trying to stay dry, trying to not get my feet wet, trying to not let the waves overtake me.

And God's saying "Cami, take a step over the edge. Take a walk on the water with me. I can calm these waves. I can lighten the rain. Look at me and only me and you will see."

But I haven't been looking at Him, not lately. I've been looking at the mess scattered around me. At the waves crashing against the sides of the boat and threatening to tip me over. At the decisions I think need to be made in an instant, and the unknown future. And the water's been spraying me in the face as I peak over the edge and say "No, no thanks Jesus, I think I will just stay here, where it's dry and the waters can't get me and the sharks can't swallow me whole."

The storms in my life lately have reminded me a lot of Tanzania. Like the one day Caren and I stood in the doorway and watch the rain flood the compound, and Momma Esther couldn't go to work because she couldn't walk to the bus stop because the roads were washed away. Most people just quit everything for the day and watched the rain fall down. They didn't want to brave the storm or the waters rushing over the roads. Who could blame them, it looked dangerous. And that's kind of what I've been doing. quitting the days. watching the rain flood the streets of my heart, watching the waves crash against my soul. My anchor firmly planted in the ocean floor, yet my mind franticly searching for some place safer, in the boat. Behind the sails.

And I can hear Him calling my name. "Cami, Cami, Cami."

"No, No, Just No." I can't handle it, I don't want it, Give me something else, anything else. But not these waves. Not this tossing and churning of the sea. Not these storms. I can't swim, I don't want to swim. I don't want to get lost at sea, God just no.

So I took a vacation. I took two weeks off from work, stopped answering text messages from certain people, stopped worrying about jobs and offers and money, and just drove 18 hours with my sister and my mom. and it was good. The waves were still flooding the decks of my heart, but they weren't as big and weren't as hard-pressing. I just wanted to run away from it. I started paddling my little sailboat as fast as I could in the other direction. But when I got there, the waves were higher and messier.

Waves of saying goodbye to my best friend and sister. Waves of realizing that she's not going to be right across the hallway from me anymore. Waves and waves and tossing and turning. And I felt sea-sick. And it hit me on the way home as my brother drove 90 miles an hour down the freeway, I laid back in my seat and let the tides fall from my eyes. I let the water's rush over me. And for a moment i felt like I was floating out to sea with no life jacket. And my head was under water, and I could feel myself sinking down deep. Eyes heavy with lack of sleep and tears. Heart aching with so much stress.

I opened my eyes and we were driving through fog in the mountains and as we pulled through the last bit of fog I looked up into the sky and there it was. Bright. Beautiful. Colorful. A Rainbow. And I kind of chuckled and my brother looked at me funny. It was there. It was His sign to me. I don't care what anyone says. That little tiny rainbow was my rainbow for my storm.

I needed to be in that water. I needed to be in that storm in the midst of the waves. Not to get lost at sea and not to be over taken by the water, but to be cleansed. To be washed by that water. To realize that only by looking to Him and running to Him and not away can I step over the edge of that boat and walk on the water.

It's kind of goofy, I know. Rainbows and Storms... so Noah's ark, but hey God has an amazing sense of humor and a knack for beautiful stories. So right now I'm walking, slowly but surely on the water clinging ever so tightly to the hand of my Jesus. Because through the storm He is my rock, He is my foundation, with Him I will not sink, but I will stand on the water.

Feet Wet, Heart Dry, Holding onto Jesus,

HIS and yours,


Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Though I Fall... I Will Rise Again.

It's been a rough couple of weeks... actually it's been a rough couple of months. It's just been days that are wrecked, sad, tear-filled, sleepless, bruised, and heart-wrenching.

And I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of being sad.

I'm tired of being frustrated.

I'm tired of the bruises and the sleepless nights.

I'm tired of feeling run over and wrecked constantly.

Basically I'm just tired.

Tired of trying to take control of my situations, instead of letting God lift the weight from my shoulders and taking the burden from my white-knuckled grasp and picking me up to sit on His knee and holding me tightly as I cry into His arms.

Lately though I haven't been running to my Shelter and my Refuge. I've been staying away from my hiding place and I've let myself roam out into the wilderness with no covering and no shield and I've felt it. I've felt the world's claws in my back and slaps to my face. The world screaming at me for money and materials and my life. The world stepping on my fingers and tugging at my heart and overloading my brain with the ideas of what is a necessity. Telling me that my dreams and my hearts desire will never work out. Not with the low paying job I have, not with all the bills I have to pay, not with the amount of cost it goes into getting my nursing degree. and Africa, just forget about it. I'm never going to make it. I'm never going to do it. I'm anxious and edgy and cranky with the people I love... And out in this wilderness all I hear is the word no... All I see are people hurting people. All I feel is pain and madness... And it seems everything I touch begins to fall apart. It's seem that I am falling. With no shelter and no covering out here trying to make it on my own.

I am falling and flailing through this messiness.

And all I really want is a way out. I want an escape.

But that's not what I need.

Throughout the Bible, God is presented as a hiding place, a refuge, a stronghold, a shelter. Not as an exit or a way out.

God shelters us in the place that we are. He sits down with us in the right now. He invited us to stand in the messiness and go deeper into it to join Him. To hold tight to His hand and know that He and only He can bring us through the wilderness.

And I've missed that. Even this morning I read the words "The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trust in Him and I am helped." and I missed it.

I am so blinded by the words in my head, I missed the words on the page. His words. I'm trying so hard to block out the screams from the world that I'm missing the words God is giving me through the people in my life. His words.

Because a part of me, the part of me that was taught in all those cookie-cutter Christian living ways, that was told when I was 6 years old at that church that if I let Jesus in my heart I will no longer struggle. I will always be happy and I will always know where my life is going. That at 6 years old I believed this lie. I believed that following Him would mean my life would be perfect. But it's not. And it's not suppose to be. And I think this is where I missed it.

Following Him looks a lot like dealing with all the issues everyone else does- disappointments, tremendous joys, uncertainty, sadness, struggles, the lot. But it also means having my mind changed all the time as I learn how Jesus would've dealt with the things I do.

"Following Jesus is about having your paradigms shift as you navigate a wide range of emotions while living the big life Jesus invites us into." -Bob Goff.

No I don't have it all figured out. And yes I still have all those feelings rushing around inside of me. I am filled with frustration and uncertainty. And God is constantly asking me to Be Still. to run to His shelter. To sink my feet in the ground next to His and go deeper in the messiness. Because God makes beauty out of messy things. And right now I'm feeling pretty messy.

Basically I need to listen to my mother. Stop being so frustrated that I'm not in Africa and take one day at a time. To rest in knowing that God's got me. That He knows what tomorrow brings, He's already been there. To know that He's going to take care of me. My finances, my job, my schooling, my life, my Africa. He's got it all in His hands. But most importantly He's got me there too.

He's showing me that even though I fall. I will rise again. That He is rising me up.

That even though right now I am uneasy and uncertain. That His yoke is easy, His burden light and He is certainly always here.

Though I fall. I am rising again. He is rising me up. And I just need to rest in that.

Sinking in, Reaching out, and Rising Up,

His and yours,


Saturday, July 6, 2013

I'm broken, I'm healing, I'm learning.

I haven't been sleeping very good lately. Actually I don't even know if I am really sleeping at all. Coupled with stresses of work, worldly issues, and my mind and my heart being 8000 miles away. Leads to a migraine, sleepy, cranky Cami. Not a good combination. One that is not me.

It all started on Thursday.

I was sitting in a book store coffee shop enjoying books and coffee beans, minding my own business when I saw it. Five feet away from me words screamed from colorful covers. Flawless. The Best Abs. How to make your man Happy. The Perfect Bikini Body. Lose 10 pounds. Words after words after words. Then I glanced to the right and saw The Bible 50 ways it can change your life. So I may or may not have found all the copies of that magazine and used them to cover the perfect body and the best abs, but really that's beside the point.

The point being that these messages are everywhere, and they are literally driving me mad. No I'm being serious. The things that this world puts stock in, the things this world calls beautiful, I find quite ugly. It's so hard for me to explain. It's so hard for me to even comprehend. I don't want to be flawless. I don't want to lose 10 pounds, I don't want a perfect body. I don't need to know how to make a man happy... Those things don't appeal to me. Those things I don't find beautiful. My calling, God's calling on my life is far more important than any man, than any make up, than 10 less pounds, than a perfect body could ever be... So starts the little tension headache at the base of my neck.

I find beauty in the hard, dark places. Beauty in the way Moses use to tell me how he wants to be fat like me someday. Beauty in the toothless woman handing me her child. Beauty in the ringworm and the sores. Beauty in the little hand grasping mine. Beauty in the coal burns and the holes in my skirts. Beauty in the mosquito bites that make me look like I have a disease. Beauty in the dirt covered feet and greasy hair. Beauty in the little bit of hope that love gives people. Beauty in the place where there are no need for words exchange, just a hand in hand and a head on a shoulder and child sitting in a lap. There is so much beauty hidden in the world and yet it seems what we are focused on is this beauty that fades, beauty that will never last.

Beauty isn't in losing 10 pounds. It isn't in having the perfect face or perfect body. Beauty is in the way God transforms broken lives. Beauty is in the way that no matter how a person looks, with Jesus they are beautiful, with Jesus the only thing that matters is the heart. I think too many of us have lost sight of this. I know I often have.

But this it where it started.

I became restless with this. Restless with the way these messages scream at me and my mind began to wander away... 8000 miles away to children who are raising children. girls who are being sold into a life of darkness and death. To grandparents whose children are dying and are having to raise their grandchildren. To the man who walked in to the village that day with shoulder pain. To the little girl I carried on my hip for hours. To the family I lived with for two months and miss every day. My mind goes there, because the people there loved me without knowing me and I loved them with every part of my heart, every part of my soul, with every fiber in my being.

But people here... They are not easy to love. Everyday is a new challenge. Friday was a big challenge. When a customer was unnecessarily rude to my fellow employee. When she treated this wonderful woman like she was nothing. When she stuck her hand in her face demanding her change, then yelling at her for no reason and then pushing her cart into the others and stomping out of the store. No I'm sorry I did not love this woman. I wanted to yell at her, scream at the top of my lungs. "How dare you. How dare you treat someone like dirt. Have some decency. Have some courtesy, Have a heart." But I didn't say anything. I comforted my fellow associate and went into my office and cried. I cried because love is not easy. grace is not easy. And yet Jesus loves this woman. This woman, who I do not know, but He does. I don't know what she was going through. I don't know her life, her wounds, her scars, her hurts and He does. So all I can do is try and not be angry, try to be a little bit more loving and a little bit more gracious, because everyone is fighting battles and somedays are harder than others. And Friday... Friday was hard.

So I got home after the stressfulness of customers and associates and bosses and life and feeling inadequate. I laid on my bed looking at pictures from Tanzania and Kenya. Tears filling my eyes. My mind again 8000 miles away. And I closed my eyes with faces imprinted in the back of my eyelids. Because I wanted more than anything to be there holding there hands, cradling their faces in my palms. Laughing and Singing. But I wasn't and I won't be... not for a while. And it is hard. Hard to come to terms with. Hard to be okay with. Hard to sleep on.

And I woke this morning with a pounding in my head. My vision blurry and my stomach lurching, feeling as if I didn't sleep even one hour. I woke up to a migraine. I woke up to not wanting to go to work. But I did and the entire drive to work I had trouble seeing. But I made it there and could only handle being there for three hours. I did my office work and then drove back home. Sick and tired and aching. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually...

And I had this upset feeling in my gut as I drove toward home, feeling like I am not doing anything for the Kingdom. That I'm just waiting around for something to happen and God's saying to me. "Cami I don't want you to wait to get messy in ministry. Get messy now. Just because I don't have you in Africa now doesn't mean I don't want you to be my hands and feet. No matter where you are, people need me, you need me. Be me to the lost, to the broken, to your family, to your friends. Your ministry doesn't end just because you are home. Your ministry is everyday, every hour, every minute, every second of your life."

I have forgotten that.

Climbing into bed, wrapping the sheet around me I cried a little more. I cried out to Him. "God take it, take it all. Teach me to be messy in ministry here. To see beauty here. To love here. To be Your hands and feet here." And letting out a big breath I was holding in, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. Yes... I still have a headache... it's a dull roar compared to the full on lion it was earlier. But I think it's a pounding reminder. That God is slowly healing me. He's slowly working out everything and He's asking me to be patient, to focus on Him and not the pounding. To look around and see the need for Him and go.

To not wait for the migraine to realize that people are experiencing this kind of pain everyday. And He's asking me to be the healing hand He uses. To be the kind heart, He loves through. To be His hands, His feet. To Shine His light. Right where I am. In this moment.

Seeking out the need for HIM,

HIS and yours,


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Jesus gave me Words mixed with Coffee...

I was having coffee with a friend this past Sunday. The coffee was really strong and kept me up half the night, but the conversation was a million times stronger and I think that's what kept me up for the rest of the night. 

We talked about a lot of things, but there was something that kind of hit me in the heart. God's been really good at doing that lately. Just hitting me right in the heart. 

He paraphrased a C.S. Lewis quote that I had never heard before. The paraphrase made a really good point in what we were talking about but it made an even bigger point in my heart. So on the drive home I thought about it, replayed the words in my head. When I got home and as I ate dinner I thought about it some more. And then laying in bed, tossing and turning I thought about it. There was something about those words, something about that quote that made my heart unsettled. Finally I slept, and when I woke up I didn't really think much of it anymore. 

Until today, when the quote he paraphrased shows up word for word in the book I'm reading and my heart kind of goes "oh God, there you are." The quote is this:

"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased." -C.S. Lewis.

I read it over and over again. Color it with my bright pink highlighter. Heart churning, mind racing. God what are you trying to show me. 

I'm making mud pies.

I am making mud pies.

I am that ignorant child making mud pies.

You see I'm trying to be content in the life I am living right now. But God is saying "no, there is so much more, look up from the ground and into the sky!" 

So I've been trying to look up more and to be honest it scares the living daylights out of me. The things that God is asking of me. It scares me. Because I know that some of these things are going to make people upset, they are going to make me have to step out of my home comfort zone. And those are two things I don't necessarily like to do. 

He's asking me to stretch, to dream bigger, to live bigger, to make my desires stronger. Because right now they are weak compared to all the things He desires for me. All the things I've been blinding myself to see. The things that I am feeling and wanting to do are frightening to me. 

He is asking me now "Will you take what defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?" 

Will I let go of my pride and my stubborness and take the leap of faith and let Him do what He wants in this moment and in the moments to come. 

It's an everyday choice, one I've been struggling to make. 

Do I go back to school and get my nursing degree?

Do I take this new job if it's offered to me?

Do I get involved with youth and let myself be open to the things He wants to do?

Do I trust that everything that's been going on in my heart and mind He knows and has a purpose and plan for?

Will I, unlike the rich young man give up all my possessions, all my hopes, my dreams, my future, give everything up, no matter the cost and follow Him to wherever He decides to lead me.

The answer to all these questions is Yes.... though my voice is shaking, it is still Yes.

Why would anyone say no?

None of the stuff I am holding on to is going to last, including myself.... That it won't take dying for me to give away my stuff.

Life is dreadfully short and withering away and I want to arrive at heaven's gate screeching to a halt because I have ran the race with full abandonment and can't figure out how to put on my breaks. 

I want what I do to point to Jesus. 

So each day I challenge myself to let go of myself...

My pride. My ambitions. My fears. My future. 

And know that He's got it all. Every little thing. 

Through my friend, Jesus gave me words mixed with coffee. 

And He gave my heart a new challenge...

Accepting His Challenge, His Calling,

 HIS and yours,