Friday, October 27, 2006

morning people

I am not one.

Some people bound out of bed at 6 or 6:30, eagerly excited about the new day. I tend to roll out around 7:30 or 8, and it takes me a while to get going. A full thirty to sixty minutes to clear away the mental fog.

With my current state of employement (self) this works well. I can roll out of bed at 7:30 or 8, and start working by 9am.

But should I ever find myself working in "the real world" again, I may be in trouble.

Our current workday schedule must have been devised by a morning person. And did I mention that I'm not one?

Monday, October 23, 2006

blurry lines

I have a favorite sweatshirt. It's bright blue and says Jones Soda Co. It's warm, fuzzy, and cozy. Cuddling in front of the fireplace kind of cozy. It's got elastic bands around the sleeves and around the waist. But the one around the waist doesn't fit snug around my hips anymore. The threads that are meant to flex and stretch, then return to their hip-hugging shape, have been stretched too much. Some have broken, and the band isn't able to return to it's original shape.

So it is with my perception of reality. The threads that had been stretched and tested have been broken. I can't return to what I 'knew'. I can't re-assume the old shape, the old understanding. And it's good, but has left me feeling a little shaken.

I spent my formative Christian years in a church that didn't believe in things like healing prayer, or miraculous signs. They believed "God doesn't work that way anymore". I'd always struggled to accept that belief. The idea that we can know how God will or won't work seems quite arrogant, and places man on a higher plane of understanding than I think we're capable of. Plus, it lacks the very faith by which we're meant to live.

Over the last couple of years, through various people and places, God has been peeling back the veil of "reality". That thin veneer which separates the physical from the spiritual. This past week He removed it completely. And I finally understand.

The spiritual isn't something we try to attain, or reach. We're walking, talking, living, and breathing in the spiritual every moment of every day. Like walking through the marine-layer fog that rolls into the coastal towns of California, the spiritual surrounds us. We just have to learn how to see and hear it.

We are, primarily, spiritual beings. We've let ourselves be convinced that this physical world is the only reality that exists here. We've let well-meaning preachers and teachers convince us that true spiritual experiences must wait until we cross the gates of Heaven. Yet Jesus came to declare "the kingdom of Heaven is near".

Truly, it is near. Nearer than we can imagine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

oh to be home...

It seems that nearly everyday I talk to someone from Amsterdam. whether via email, phone, or chat, I hear from someone almost everyday. They are my friends. We encourage each other, pray for each other, tell stupid jokes and share funny pictures.

If you came to my apartment, you'd see that Amsterdam pics dominate my decor. Some are pictures of the canals. Many are of the people; either members of short term missions teams i've been blessed to be a part of, or the lucky ones who currently live and work in this beautiful city. You can't look anywhere in my home w/out seeing something that has ties to Amsterdam.

The truth is, I'm always homesick for this place.
Don't get me wrong, I love being in the states. I have wonderful friends here, my family is here, my church is here, and God has given me meaningful things to do. But my heart is in Amsterdam. always.

today i chatted with Andrew B for a short while.
"I pray for a speedy approach of that auspicious day" he said. "that day" being the day I arrive in Amsterdam, not as part of a short term missions team, but to stay. "you've got a family here." indeed I do. He says the fall in Amsterdam is "outstanding". I can't imagine it being any other way. I told him that I can't wait for the day that he, Jeff, Courtney (face it girl... you're going back too...), and I could sit down to lunch at Cafe Toussaint. Or spend an afternoon praying and sharing the Gospel in the Red Light District.

I also talked to Jen Ross today. we've always communicated via email, but I finally downloaded Skype and we're going to try and actually talk sometime in the next few days. Jen and I talk less about Amsterdam, more about life in general. We shared some significant prayer requests, and continue to encourage each other in our business endeavors.

I talked to Eva today too. Eva is in the States right now, raising support to go to Amsterdam as a full-time missionary. We talked about our mutual desire to be back there as quickly as the Lord will allow. We talked about the challenges we often face as we pursue the vision God has given each of us for life in a foreign country.

Yes, they are my friends. And I miss them.

And I miss the city itself. I miss the sounds of the city. The tram bells, the bicycle bells, the myriad of foreign languages, and the hushed conversations. The small cafes, the tranquil canals, and the unique architecture.

Mostly (and this will sound strange) I miss the spiritual battle. Were everyone I know and care about to leave Amsterdam, I'd still go. Because ultimately, my heart's desire is redemption. Redemption for the people of the city. The women in the Red Light District. The drug dealers, the addicts. The college students who have told missions team members "no, my life isn't missing anything. I've got everything I want." You may have everything you want, but you're missing the thing you need most. The One you need most. I long to stand on the bridges in the Red Light District and tell the enemy that we're taking back this ground We're taking back these people. That this is still God's creation and these are still God's children and as His ambassadors, we're taking them back.

Yes. I'm homesick, today. But then.. I'm a little homesick everyday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I feel like my relationship with God has taken a new twist. But I don't know how to put it into words. Lately it seems I'm learning about the rewards that come from persistence.
Perseverance is something I struggle with. Always have. I'm great at starting things. I love the exciting of new things. But, inevitably, the excitement wears off and the new thing takes work. Lots of work.

I've come to that place with my business. And I've spent the last two months looking for a way out. Looking for a "normal" job that will give me an easy out. But time and time again God asks me why I'm giving up. Of course... He knows the answer. This is when I always give up. When I hit that wall and suddenly realize that if I'm gonna make this thing work I've gotta dig in my heels, dig for a deeper level of commitment and persistence, and make something happen.

Of course, my tendancy to give up comes from my own self-doubt. I give because I don't believe I could make it work anyway. Whether it's business, ministry, or even a difficult relationship. I don' t think I have the power or ability to change things or make them better.

But over the last few weeks I've had to be persistent with some things. My business, my car, my finances, even some of my clients. At first it was hard. I could feel my face get flushed when I was on the phone with a client or my auto finance people. But this week, it was like someone flipped a switch. Suddenly the persistence felt good. Rather than feeling like I was "bothering" people, I felt perfectly justified and reasonable with my requests.

It's been a rocky few weeks. Actually, it's been a rocky few years, because I've always struggled with being assertive in certain areas of my life. People are always surprised to hear that because for the most part I'm a pretty strong person. But when it comes to areas relating to finances, I've always had a hard time. Funny... I just realized that it's all money-related stuff. Interesting.

And with that, I'm suddenly done reflecting. Guess I'm just tired.
Night all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

oh Lord. not again

sometimes this blog is just a place for me to post random ramblings. sometimes it's a place to share God's lessons and revelations. other times, it's therapy.
tonight it's therapy.

today a man walked into a one room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and shot more than half a dozen kids. all little girls. several of them have died, and the gunman later turned the gun on himself.

it's after midnight, and i should be sleeping, but thoughts keep running through my head. chasing sleep away. thoughts of those poor kids. thoughts of the families and friends left behind. and thoughts of how eerily familiar this story is.

i can't escape the thought (the certainty) that our kids are under attack. the enemy is mounting an offensive against a generation that's powerful and passionate enough to put him in his place. it doesn't take a prophet to figure that one out.

the news is filled with stories, not just of shootings, but of abuse, of neglect, of addiction, of degredation. our kids are under attack, and as a society we've pushed away the only One who's powerful enough to stop it.

today i heard a message about the importance, as a Christian, of reflecting the image of Christ. Using the moon as an analogy, the speaker said "the tide isn't turned by the source of the light, it's turned by the reflection of the light." the idea is that, as the moon reflects the light of the sun but also controls the high and low tide, so we - as we reflect the Son - also control the tide.
if that be so, and i believe it to be true, then we've got to start reflecting Christ and turning the tide that's stealing away our childrens' innocence, faith, future, and very lives.

truly our battle is "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

our battle is not against flesh and blood. so we've got to stop relying on our victory over flesh and blood. we're not winning on that battle ground anyway. we've got to learn what it means to fight the spiritual battles that rage. we've got to learn what that looks like and how to engage in it.

our childrens' lives depend on it.

as for me, i'm an inexperienced spiritual "fighter". but i'm learning. i'm willing. and i'm angry. so if the "spiritual forces of wickedness" want our kids, they're gonna have to go through me.