Holler

If I could create a drawing that described this year, it would probably be a comic strip. The whole thing would be a roller coaster ride.

After sitting here thinking for a while, I realize that describing the pictures I would draw is probably less effective than just describing the year itself.

January: This was a month of great elation. I had just completed the School of Biblical Studies, which is a marathon of studying for 9 months. I had puffy, bluish skin under my eyes and a great big smile on my face.

February: I went home for 6 weeks to “raise support.” I put it in quotes because that is not as concrete an activity as some might make it out to be. Basically I hung out with my friends, made new friends, and spoke to a few groups of people about the work I feel called to do as a Missionary….

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Satellite Heart

Tonight I wrapped up a very mini series with the program staff here at Warm Beach Camp on Intimacy With God. What God gave me to give to them was pretty basic, on one hand, but also felt hard to execute. The two main things that I felt I was supposed to talk about were the spiritual principles of intimacy with God from Psalm 63:1-8 told through the lens of my own story with God.

The four spiritual realities that I found in those verses were these:

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Burnout For Jesus

I felt a call to be a missionary when I was 17yrs old. It started with a concert put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. I read a book written by the guy leading the organization (George Verwer) and I started filling out an application to join them. It was part way through the application that my heart sunk right to the floor…

They wanted to know if I’d ever struggled with depression.

Bummer. I had and I did.

At that point I actually allowed the question to stop me from moving forward. I can’t remember if I thought I might ‘get better’ and be able to apply later on or if I just lost hope in fulfilling this great calling.

Four years later I went to Bible college for a year because I thought maybe this would be the preparation that I needed to finally become a missionary. Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well academically. The only class that I passed the second semester of my freshman year was Christian Missions. It was in that Christian Missions class that I began to understand a little bit more about what missions might actually mean… but it was a strange lesson. A few books I read informed me about the experience of past missionaries; From Jerusalem to Iryin Jaya, Bruchko, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and a book that pertains to ministry, A Man Called Peter. There were others, but these are the ones that stick out to me….

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What it Takes

Last week I had my first meeting with a Life Coach. You know what that’s all about, right? Of course.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but it’s pretty awesome. Digging deep into the root of problems is one of my favorite things to do. No, really. I mean it. I also like to eat ice cream and lay near the ocean and listen to the surf come in and out. I won’t say they’re all equal, but since I’m not eating sugar and the beach is several hundred miles away, I’ll settle for poking at inward hurty places.

Here’s why; God shows up. He just barges right into these situations and speaks the truth….

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To Build a Home

I‘m grateful to realize that the story I’m about to share has already been shared with several friends in person. Living in Colorado and being so busy has made that a  near impossibility for the last year. I forgot what it was like to get to share a story so many times out loud that it gains something vital in each telling.

To begin, please imagine you hear swelling, dramatic music

I’ll start with age 17 when I felt called to be a missionary. I thought that meant I should go to Bible college and although I didn’t actually need to go to college, God used that year at Moody Bible Institute to work a lot into my life. After failing horribly in my classes and feeling horrible for a good, long year, God led me to an organization called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I did a DTS (Discipleship Training School) for 6 months in 2003 and had a real experience in missions. During that time I came to the realization that what I really needed was a real home and community in the USA  from which to be sent.

I had no idea how to find a home, let alone how to become a meaningful part of community….

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The Cycle of Surrender

There are predictable stages to my cycles of growth. Unfortunately several of these stages are so disorienting that each time they occur I feel like Alice sliding down the rabbit hole. And they are only predictable in retrospect. I guess that means they aren’t predictable, but identifiable.

I get lost in my head sometimes. Some places are dark and foreboding. Some thoughts are loud and overbearing and sometimes they lie.

I don’t mean that I “hear voices,” but my own voice, or the echoes in my memory of things other people have said- sometimes these become more vivid than the real world around me….

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Birds Have Nests

The simple definition of sojourner is “a temporary resident”. To me the word conjures up so much more.

As we were reading Exodus, I was moved by the command in 23:9 which says “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  God is talking to people of Israel who had spent the last 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They were clearly not treated like honored guests there, but driven hard. They were oppressed, to be sure.

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Anytime, too that either Exodus or Leviticus talks about a Sabbath rest of any kind, it mentions the sojourner or the “alien” among them… Make sure they also get to rest. Any guest should be treated like family. Conversely in Leviticus 25 it talks about what you should do when your own brother is too poor to own his home or even “maintain himself” (vs. 35), you are to treat him like a sojourner- you won’t make him work for you like a slave, but treat him as an honored guest.

There is God, being funny again. Treat strangers like brothers and brothers like strangers. It actually makes so much sense, right?..

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Thus Sayeth

God speaks. This particular truth is one I have known for a long time. I experienced God speaking when I first started following Him at the age of 16. He spoke to me on my front porch while I was smoking a cigarrette. Since then, I have believed He would speak in many important (and “unimportant”) situations.

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The reason that I want to study this truth (this last week I did this specifically while studying Genesis) is not because it is new, but because I am learning this in a deeper way the last year. Several years ago I went through what seemed like a very “silent” time on God’s part. This lasted about 4 years. I’m sure He was not entirely silent, but hearing from Him, be it direction, comfort, correction or discernment, was VERY difficult. Looking back I know the reason, but still it was a confusing and painful experience.

For the last year and a half I have heard A LOT from God. He seems to be speaking all of the time. So when I came to reading Genesis and then deciding on a theme, I immediately thought of “God speaks”. Maybe as a way of girding myself up for any time in the future when I may struggle again with this reality. I find His communication so precious that I don’t ever want to lose it again.

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At the same time, as it is seen in Genesis, God speaks when He chooses. He says what He chooses and to whom He chooses. This is also super important to remember and hang on to. He is not a vending machine for direction or comfort. He is a friend, a master and all those other things that involve relationship….

 

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Tuesday’s Child

Sometimes posts are more fun with bullet points.

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* Next week we start on the Old Testament! I’m actually excited. I feel a kinship with those ‘children of Israel’… and most of the adults, too.

* I’ve been having stomach problems for a few months, so I decided to try cutting out various things for various times to see how my body reacts. Right now I’m off gluten. That’s on top of not eating sugar or sugar substitutes. Whoa….

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After the Storm

I did not end up having very much time alone during the break to read, but yesterday and today the perfect thing happened. I realized how much I needed to purposefully get alone and I found the perfect book to end this Week of Worry. A few weeks ago a guy came to teach in one of the schools here. I hadn’t met him, but there was quite a buzz about his presence here as he is well known and well loved by many. As a result of what I heard and then a story he told one night in a big group meeting, I was quite interested in his books.

What I picked up to read yesterday was his personal account of being imprisoned in Iran in 1997 for 9 weeks. This is not even close to the same as my current situation, but what was similar, which is impacting me right now, is God’s character throughout this man’s story. While he tells the story from his own eyes with humble honesty, what stands out is this mutual and deep love between him and God. What it is like to walk with God is so palpable and transparent and so completely my experience that it was almost as if I came to a friend and told them how I was struggling with worry and they told me their own story to remind me of the truth….

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