Sunday, October 26, 2014
And there are many moments where I feel I just don't belong to this place anymore. That the things I thought I'd miss aren't really here anymore and the cravings of community and relationships and people who take genuine interest in my life, my struggles, and my ever-changing and growing relationship with Christ are few and far between. And I find lately I've been replacing my heart space with complaining and wishing people would just once, be REAL, rather than taking that space and filing it with Jesus. This is my problem.
More than anything, I need Jesus. I don't know what life would be like without Him. I need Him like air in my lungs and my sweaters on the cold days. He is my breath, my strength, my warmth, and yet in the valley's of life, in the suffering moments, I think, nah, Jesus you take a seat on the bench, you stand in the on deck circle and let me take a few swings at life first. Why.... Why do I do this?
There's this idea that we must be happy, do what makes us happy, live happy. just be happy. But what if that's not it, what if we are not made to be eternally and forever happy about situations in life. Sometimes I don't want to smile and pretend like everything is okay when i have decision to make and the walls of life feel like they are crumbling all around me. Sometimes I want to crawl into bed and sleep for days, sometimes I just want my mom to be here to hug me and tell me that it's okay to be sad, or my dad to tell me I'm brave and strong and that everything will work out fine, or my sister to tell me to stop being a giant baby, punch me in the arm, and tell me to keep going on. Sometimes you want these things and most times you just can't have them. And I'm learning how to deal with that.
I'm learning how to make decisions on my own, learning that sometimes I will be sad, sometimes I will be in pain, and sometimes i will be happy. That it is okay to feel everything so deeply, the way that I do. That life comes at you fast and you have to roll with the punches and have a lot of faith in what you cannot see, because someday you just might see it and it will be a glorious thing.
The hardest part of this season in my life has been accepting that my heart feels broken in the presence of a good God. That the sadness and the loneliness sometimes overwhelm me to the point that I wonder what good it is doing in my life, I wonder if Jesus can feel the heaviness inside my soul. The heaviness of the lives of the people around me, the weights I bear and the breaths I struggle to take as I tread this murky and choppy waters.
But I also have to remember who He is, and lately I've been so discouraged by the people who are His followers, who claim to know and love Jesus, that I've been neglecting who He is in my life. That I've let the busyness of the day to day and my studies and my own selfish desires get in the way of the beauty of what He's made in me and what He is doing.
And so I run. and I keep running. and I learn, and I'm still learning. That sometimes we're the hands, sometimes we're the feet. sometimes we're the ones helping, and sometimes we're the ones in need. But whatever we do in life, we work towards the glory and the goal of the Kingdom. That in the the end, the grades I've received on my exams won't matter and the hours of volunteering i acquire is not as important as Jesus. as people seeing Him, even in my sadness and my loneliness.
That He is the one who is elevated above all. Yeah, it's easier said than done, and somedays the days defeat me and I'm a cranky ole' woman. but you know what, Jesus is still there, tugging on my heart strings, tugging me along this rocky path. Cause life is a journey that we don't travel alone. He is with us always. Even when we can't feel Him, He asks us to open our eyes, to really look and to really see, that He is a work even in the messy, sad, lonely, crapy moments.
So I'm learning this, through tears, through laughter, through angry thoughts. I'm learning that He is the ultimate carrier of burdens and I must drop the weights, must drop my five gallon buckets I carry and trust Him to carry me in return. I mean, He holds the whole world, so I'm pretty sure He can hold me. right?!?
So I let go and let His river's current take me where I need to go.
HIS and yours,
Friday, October 17, 2014
In Hebrew the name Ruth means companion, or friend, or a vision of beauty.
A name that’s been floating around in my head a lot lately, a lot more than usual, and I just can’t seem to shake this name, to shake her face from the images in my mind. And I’m wondering where she is right now? What she is doing? Is she gardening with the other widows? Is she taking care of her many children? Is she picking mangos and placing them into hands of complete strangers, the way she did with me? Is she even still alive? Or is she up in heaven, dancing on golden streets with Jesus? These question plague me, because deep down I know I may never know the answers.
In these moments and small memories, I’m seeing how much this little old widow impacted my life. In the very limited time I spent with her, she allowed me to see myself in a different light, in a loving light. She looked at me like I was wanted, like I was needed. Me, a complete stranger. She made me feel at home in the palm of her hands. Her rough hands holding tightly to mine, dragging me along a path to a garden and to houses and to mango trees. All the while chatting away in a language I yearned to understand. And I remember her uttering a singe phrase and clinging tightly to my hand. I smiled at her and nodded pretending like I understood. And the pastor we were with, turned and said “Cami, do you understand what she just told you?” I laughed and said “No.”
And the pastor looked between me and Ruth and smiled and said “She said ‘in you daughter, I see the radiance of Christ.”
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. In no way did I ever feel like I was radiating Christ, I constantly felt dirty and grimy, like I was constantly in the way. And yet even in those dirty, disgusting, selfish moments, God broke through and shed his light onto the face of a widow.
And I just hope I’m still radiating.I hope that this bright light hasn’t burnt out in the whirlwind of this world and of this life. That even if it has dulled, it’s still burning and shining through in all my moments. That Christ is being radiated from my life.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because my heart hurts, it aches to know where Ruth is, how her health is, how her children are, how her garden is? It yearns to ask these question, to hold the worn hands of my companion, my friend, this vision of beauty in an otherwise dim hard ugly moment of my life.
But not only that. It’s because I think we often forget how much we can impact the lives around us. It’s been two years and I still remember the words Ruth spoke into my life. I still remember the feel of her overworked hands in my delicate ones. I remember her laughter and her brown eyes, and the way her hair was wrapped up in her conga. I can’t forget her.
Recently in small groups we were talking about the Healing at Bethesda. And this got me thinking a lot about how graceful Jesus is. Jesus sought out this crippled man and asked him if he wanted to be healed and then healed him. He spoke words into his life that caused this man to pick up his mat and walk. Was this man worthy of healing, no not really. He turned around and betrayed Jesus, like Judas, to the Jewish leaders. And yet look at HIS grace. He heals him anyway, evening knowing that this once crippled man will use this gift, this healing of his legs to walk right to the leaders and tell them it was Jesus!
Jesus seriously blows my mind!
You see I started comparing this story to my own life. I was, am, and sometimes I know will continue to be this invalid man by the pool, waiting for someone to pick me up and take me where I need to go. That I am unworthy of the healing being offered, because in my heart I know, just like the crippled man, that I will betray Jesus again. And it hurts.
But I’ve seen this story in John take root in my life. With Ruth. At the time of meeting Ruth I was battling, I was sick of everything I was. And then words were spoken into my life that caused healing in my heart and continue to heal me every day since then. And I believe that Jesus reached through Ruth to me. And How do you tell a woman 8000 miles away that Jesus has used her, continues to use her. That in her I see the radiance of Christ. Every single day of my life.
You see like in John, the man couldn’t find anyone to lift him into the pool, and I couldn’t find anyone to fulfill the emptiness I kept seeing in my worthlessness. But Jesus, met the man where he was at, and Ruth grabbed my hand and pulled me back to Christ all the way in Tanzania.
Because even though the man had no way to get to Jesus. Jesus could get to him. And in that time in my life and even now, there are days I just can’t seem to get there. Can’t seem to reach Him. But even thought I can’t get to Jesus, He can always, always get to me. He never fails, never gives up.
And lately I’ve been feeling like I just don’t belong in this place. I feel lonesome, not alone, just lonesome. And Jesus keeps reaching out and tugging me along, reminding me what I’m here for, what my life is for.
I was not made to live a luxurious life, to have the fancy cars and clothes and money. I was made to walk barefoot on unknown roads, to meet people where they are, just like Him. I was made to follow in His footsteps, to live a life set apart.
And it’s so not easy. The desires of this world often overtake me. I stress, I panic, I anguish. And yet He is here walking with me. And I hear the words in Sakuma in my head and then translated into English. “In you daughter I see the radiance of Christ.”
I just hope that I can continue to live out the words that Ruth saw. That I can continue to meet people where they are and speak words of love, encouragement, and Jesus into their lives. That regardless of how bad I think things are, Jesus makes it better.
That I continue to stretch the limits of my faith, knowing that Jesus is pulling me along, that I’m going to be just fine and wherever He decides to take me and whoever He places in front of me, I will reach out in love no matter what. I will be slow to anger and abounding in love.
My hope is that this radiance that Ruth saw, seeps into every motion and ever fiber of my being. That wherever Ruth is, she will see this radiance in herself and others will see it to. We never know how we impact the people around us, and we never know how the people around impacts us.
But isn’t it such a beautiful story when Jesus reaches down and meet us where we’re at.
Sitting in Awe of the Wonders of His Love,
HIS and yours,
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The leaves are shifting colors, from green to yellow and orange to red. And I feel a shift inside me too. A sort of falling, like the leaves do. Like finally my limbs are shaking loose the heaviness and are stretching outward and upward reaching for something else, reaching for something new, reaching for something that has been there all along.
Sometimes I feel like I hold too much inside of me, that all these stories are just crying out to be bound into pages, but I don’t have the time, and time, it seems, is never on my side. Perhaps it’s my fear, that in the silence between stories, in my moments of falling, there’s a fear that I will never find that one story, that good story. And sometimes words seem so empty when ones heart is so full. But I think I have to scribble across the page, type upon the keys, and spill these words anyways, because who knows, someone, somewhere, just might need a story.
Life is such a strange thing. Some days it is good and some days it is bad. Lately thought I’m finding the most dangerous moments is all the ‘OK’ in-between. I’ve seen that I have strength inside myself to persevere and survive through some truly awful days. But it’s the unremarkable everyday that will continue to break me if I allow them to gather in numbers.
It’s the mundane task, the continued routine, the loneliness, the feeling inferior, and the hearing the same old words out of different mouths and nothing changes. It’s hoping for something more in a world that is always taking and never giving. It is the frustrations with feeling like I’m not doing enough, that I will never do enough, to reach out and grasp ahold of what I need to. And so I’m falling again.
And I’m greedy in my nature, I want Jesus and I want so many other things. I know though, if I can’t have both, now or ever, I will always choose Jesus. But even knowing that deep in my heart doesn’t make the want disappear. It’s there and it’s strong.
Recently though it feels like I always write when I’m either miserable or every thing is going right. And I’ve realized that if I always write when my misery is overwhelming or my happiness exudes me, well than I wouldn’t be true to what life is really like. Because I’m not always happy, and I’m not always miserable. Some days, like today, I just am.
But this world is so much more than me. And I think sometimes I’d like to believe that the world revolves around the things I do and the people I am with. But, I’m not in high school anymore, and as nice as it would be, the world does not revolve and survive on the things I do. The world is so much more than me… This life is so much more than me. And I think I’ve been missing the whole point.
I’ve been letting misery and mopey moments get the best of what my life is made for. That I find myself in the midst of situations, frustrated or angry or crying out, and yet there’s something bigger going on behind the scenes, something that I can’t always see.
That in the end all that I am doing is not for the world, it’s not for me, it is for Jesus, it is for the beautiful people I fell in love with 8000 miles across the sea. In the end, all the happy days, sad days, the frustrating moments, the pain, the sufferings, the exams, the days spent in laughter, and the days spent on my knees, face down on the floor. They will all be worth it, when in a place where medicine is not accessible, it will be there and so will I. That I will acquire the skills, by the grace of God, to take medicine to heal the sick, who might have otherwise died. But it’s not just for the medicine, it is for the Gospel, where people who may have never heard or experiences this real, tangible love, they will get to hear and feel, and experience Jesus. That is the point to all of this. My life poured out. My life as a living, breathing gospel. My life for Jesus.
My hope and my goal in this short life is that in everything I do, Jesus is known, and I need to continue to learn to step out of the way. To let my selfish inhibition go and let Him shine through. Because honestly I don’t need the money, I don’t need a title, I just need Him. He’s all I get to take with me.
And there are times I get homesick for a place I’m not sure even exists. One where my heart is full, where I am loved deeply, and my soul is understood. But home is not where we come from. I think it’s a place we find, like it’s scattered and we pick pieces of it up along the way. So I continue to gather up pieces and tuck them away in my heart, until I find my way home.
There will be moments that are difficult, but I have something many people do not, I have a burning desire, a unrelenting love, an all pursuing passion for those beautiful faces across the ocean, and I stare at pictures, in moments I get discouraged and it pushes me to study, it pushes me to ask questions, to learn everything I can. To be as knowledgeable as I can be, to be the best I can be, because it’s all for them and it’s all for Jesus.
And so I continue to look to Jesus and I see the brightest flashes of hope. That even in the ‘OK’ in-between, He is extraordinary, that I do not do things in vain, that there is purpose. I will continue to look to Him, to follow Him, with child-like faith. Constantly reaching out, sometimes falling. Reaching out my limbs for something, for Someone who has always been there and who always will be.
In that I have hope. In that I have courage. He has overcome the world. And I just hope that we never lose our wonder, wide-eyed and mystified. May we be just like a child, staring in marvel at the magnificence of our King.
Writing from the in-between,
HIS and yours,
Sunday, August 31, 2014
In the silent moments
Is when I hear the most noise
And in the lonely moments
I feel so crowded out.
Where do you go
When everything seems lost?
Where do you go
When lost seems
Where you’re found?
And if there’s a light at
The end of this tunnel
I haven’t seen it yet.
But my weary eyes
And my bones
Are aching for some
And it’s happening again. I can feel it, but can’t control it. My eyes are brimming with overwhelming tears and my heart feels like a semi has just reversed and parked right over my chest. And the tension is at the base of my neck, stretching upward into my brain, I can’t catch my breath and everything seems too big and too small all at once. I’m sobbing into my bowl of Captain Crunch, at first the tears ebb and flow like a gentle tide, but now the waves are crashing in like tsunami tides.
And I’m underwater this month. I’m deep and dark, so everything that reaches me comes sopping and soaked with water itself. Everything seems twice as heavy because it comes with this weight of sadness, this weight of anxiety that is already all around me. Sometimes words just don’t get you there… don’t let you say the stuff from deep in your heart, stuff that no dictionary has a name for.
No, it’s not hard. It’s painful.
It reveals my insecurities. Reveals that as much as I’d like to believe I am independent. Being on my own scares the crap out of me. That there is this joy that comes from being surrounded by people who love you, a joy that comes with coming home and being able to sit down with someone and just talk, about anything, about nothing.
And right now I don’t have that. I wake up at six am alone. Get ready, alone. Go to class then to work and then come home, alone. Everything I do lately feels like it’s alone.
I mean there are people around me, in my classes and at work, and people who love me and care for me, but even then there are times when a person can feel completely alone in the crowds. And how do you explain to people this undefined sadness that seems to be hovering over you like an impending thunderstorm. How do you explain to them all the feelings you can’t even understand yourself, without them getting swept away in the high tide?
Making sense of things has never been my strong suit. I tend to overlook things or just be oblivious to the obvious. And I know that God is at work in this. I know, because what other hope do I have, but Him. And people keep telling me that everything will be okay and that I’m strong and that I’ll make it through. But honestly I feel anything but strong, and my floaties feel like they might have a hole in them, and my legs are tired from treading all this water.
And I think that I will inevitably drown in my sadness if all I do is wade in it. Jesus is with me. I have to keep reminding myself of that. I have to keep reminding myself that He is the breath in my lungs, He is the release in my chest, the peace in my mind. That He is the constant lifeboat, always anchored near me, when my floaties fail. And I’m not saying I’m happy, I’m saying that this undefined sadness is easier to swim out of, knowing that my life boat is always there with me.
I mean life is not simple when we have Jesus, but there is hope. And just because circumstance are ugly, doesn’t mean that there is no beauty in the midst. I mean He has blessed me beyond measure with a job, with education, with a group of kids I get to hang out with and love on. With wonderful friends who let me sob through my problems with them and eat their food and sleep on their couch and borrow their sweatshirts when I’m cold. God is teaching me lessons on being patient, on finding joy, on loving, on making mistakes, on being human.
And the waves aren’t easy to walk on.
I’ve failed repeatedly.
Done stupid things.
This journey is a hard one. And sometimes when I go back to an empty house, with nothing but clothes and an air mattress, I’m tempted to just let my head dip under the water and let go. But I hear His voice, reminding me that I am not alone, that I will never be alone. And sometimes I can feel it. That overwhelming sense of the world and its waves crashing down on me. And sometimes I just have to cry in the middle of work, or into my bowl of captain crunch. Sometimes life is sopping wet.
But I’m swimming toward the boat, and I can see Jesus holding up a big fluffy towel. And once I get there, I’m going to climb into that boat, wrap myself in that arms that hold that towel and continue on in this pilgrimage.
Because I must travel on, I must keep going. HE keeps me going.
So I will continue to try and cast all my anxiety on Him, because He cares for me… but for now, on this pilgrimage, I am traveling light with a heavy heart.
HIS and yours,
Friday, August 15, 2014
The weather outside seems to reflect the depths of my heart. Cloudy skies and storms raging, with winds coming in from the north. blowing me over. The rains been falling and if I'm honest it doesn't feel like these dark clouds are going to be lifting anytime soon. And I can feel my feet sink into the ground, like quicksand; I feel it pulling me down. The weights around my ankles too heavy to walk with, the knots too tight to untie. They're dragging, my toes cracking under the pressure, my knees buckling as I try to pick my feet up to run, to chase, to pursue, to follow.The words sounded easier than the action. And I feel like I deserve to know that there will be days where I can barely get out of bed because I will be sad, or sick, or just not ready to face the outside world. That there will be days my feet drag in the sand, and I won't be able to stand because of the weight. That I deserve to know that moments of weakness do not make me fundamentally weak, only fundamentally human, and that sometimes I'm not going to be elusively happy, and that's okay. But "Follow Me," they are just two simple words. Words so simple, words so light, weren't meant to be this heavy.
Because there are times where I feel like I'm not really following. that I'm just kind of wandering around in the dark, bumping into rocks and trees on this not so widened path. Because really I just want God in my weakness, in my pain, in my joy, in my strength, in my complacency, in my love, and in my life. I want God so completely; that everything I do is covered in Him. But sometimes I feel like I am just failing when it comes to these two simple words. That I'm too busy trying to make sure that my life fits into these neat little puzzle pieces.
And yes, I know, I know I overanalyze everything, yes I think about things way beyond the point of thinking about them. I sit here in this little coffee shop, wondering if my wandering is getting me anywhere. Have I really dropped my fishing net and followed after Him, or am I keeping my anchor down at the shore afraid to swim out to sea.
I keep reading in the gospels, how the disciples just dropped what they were doing and who they were to follow after Jesus. To chase, to run, to pursue this magnificent man, and I'm wondering in my heart if I have what it takes to be a disciple. Because I think I'm too selfish and too prideful. I think that these storms raging inside of me are too wild to control, too wild to contain and I'm not sure what to do with all these emotions. And I find myself all too often on my knees or face down on the floor, sobbing in exhaustion for direction, for guidance, for love.
"And oddly enough, it's the storms that whisper His name, the storms that make His presence most known. So prepare, when the seas of life begin to grow restless, because we might be getting ready to encounter God; what a heartbreakingly beautiful thing it is to behold." (-T.B. LaBerge).
God has His hand in all of this, in my life, in the storms, in the chaos. Yes, I still worry, I think it's built into my hard-drive. He creates this beautiful chaos within my soul and I'm not sure what to do with it. And maybe that is the wildness that I'm trying to contain. A wild, untamable thing, that shouldn't be contained. I'm continuing to tread this path, even in with clouds and the darkness, because His breath fills all things with a living breathing light-- a light that thrives in the depths of darkness.
And I think that even through our struggle and our heartbreak Christ finds His way through the cracks. Is it not just beautiful, how we tend to find God when we lose ourselves. Isn't He beautiful, the Creator of the starts and of you and I. Isn't it amazing that even though I feel underwater, I'm not drowning, because He is there swimming with me. He is there guiding me to the surface, through these storm-ridden murky waters.
So I'll just continue to gather these spilled thoughts into messy paragraphs and write through these storms because I'm seeing there are small slight breaks in the clouds. And that's enough to let the sun in. Sometimes things have to crack for the light to filter through.
And His light is filtering through in bright shades that are too wild to contain.
Basking in His glorious light,
HIS and yours,