Monday, February 19, 2007

i'm feeling very discontent today and am begining to question the wisdom of trying to make a career out of writing.

here's the thing: i'm a people person. i love being around people. i love talking to them and learning about them. i like being part of a team that's working together towards a common goal. but writing is such a solitary act. when i spend an entire day writing (like i have today) i find that i'm not in a good mood at the end of the day. instead, i feel lonely, and a little sad. working in a cafe helps a little because at least then i'm able to interact with people. but my work is still solitary work.

for the past couple of months i've been writing a real estate course that actually pays very well. despite the monetary compensation, this assignment has been a huge struggle for me. i'm not enjoying my work. it's not energizing, it's draining. i struggle to work on it for just a few hours at a time.

it could be that i simply need to start writing about things i care about. maybe it's time for me to re-start writing my book, or pursuing different clients - people who work with at-risk youth, for example. but there's where the internal battle starts. i want to write about the things i want to write about - but as soon as i sit down to do it, this little voice in my head tells me that i don't have anything valuable to say. i mean, it's all been said before, right?

i think i could be a good writer. i think i could be a successful writer. and to some degree, i already am. but if i could just start focusing on things about which i have a passion, maybe i wouldn't feel at the end my days the way i'm feeling at the end of this one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

a blessing to the nations?

I find that I have an ever-increasing burden on my heart to find ways to help God's people, His Church heal.

I know so many people who have been not just hurt by the Church, but used up by it. I try not to rant and rave or become hard-hearted (again). I just want to see people healed. And I want to see people in leadership learn to truly value those on their staff and those who volunteer. I feel like our current path is so far removed from what Jesus originally had in mind. We live for the Sunday service. But can a disciple be truly discipled just one day a week? What about the other six? And what about the ones who work so hard to make our Sunday events happen? Are we caring for them? Sadly, the majority of the evidence says "no", disciples are not made on Sunday mornings (or evenings), and we're not caring for those who make our Sundays happen.

I've seen it over and over again... God's Church uses the talents and passions of God's people, only to discard them when they're worn out. We don't truly love. "Love your neighbor" isn't an option. It isn't a "spiritual gift" and has nothing to do with how a person is "wired". "Love your neighbor" is a command. And if we're truly being transformed into the likeness of Christ, love will come naturally. So maybe that's the root of the problem. We don't love because we're not being transformed. If not, why not? Why aren't those who claim to follow Him becoming more like Him?

And what do we do with those who have been so badly hurt; whose talents and gifts have been used; who have been traded like a commodity thats value has dropped on the stock market?
How do we help God's people heal?
How do I help God's people heal?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

As I continue to process the events, not just of the last couple of weeks, but the last couple of months, I see a pattern. It's hard to explain in a short blog post, but I'll do my best.

Two years ago, I came back from a missions trip to Amsterdam and started seriously thinking about moving there. A year ago I came back from another missions trip to Amsterdam and was certain that I wanted to move there. I've spent the last couple of years "preparing" for that move. Part of my preparation has been to sever ties and pull up roots. My life was almost completely "transportable". There wasn't anything keeping me here. I didn't even have a car or cell phone in my name. It's like I was just hanging out waiting for God to give me the green light to move to Amsterdam.

Now I'm seeing that I was getting ahead of God. I don't know how Amsterdam factors into my life or my future. But right now, God has me here.

Through the events of the last couple of months (not just the car or the purse stealing events, but other things as well) God is speaking a clear, unexpected message: "stay put. Get rooted and grounded here - where I have you now." I need to embrace my life here, instead of seeing it as an hurdle I must jump on my way to Amsterdam. God has a place for me here. For how long, I don't know - but duration isn't the issue. The other surprising thing is the peace and joy I began to feel as I started to understand what God was saying. I like that there's a place for me here. That there's work for me do to, and a part for me to play in building His Kingdom here and now.

Truly, God is faithful, slow to anger, rich in love, and good to all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

why do we fight so hard?

it's no secret to those close to me that this week has basically sucked. i know that's not an eloquent way to put it, but it's the best way to put.
i don't quite know how to express all that's running through my head, but i'm going to try. mostly because writing it out is theraputic for me.
this week i lost my purse, my license, my passport, a paycheck, and now my car. the lease assumption that paid for on my car never happened and i'm not able to do the lease buyout i had been planning. the most frustrating part is that, though the mistakes on the account were made by chrysler financial, no seems the least bit interested in making it right. their solution is to offer me a lease on a new car. and i was actually considering doing it. but i felt like i was making a decision out of fear and that i wasn't really thinking things through. so i told them i'd have to think about it.

today, i was working at genesis and beau gave me a copy of the song "psalm 145" by shand&shane and said 'i think you should listen to this.' have you ever read psalm 145? it's amazing. so i listened to the song most of the day today and finally felt myself starting to relax.

now, i'm sitting here in the coffee beanery in berkly. i was going to do some work, but i feel like i need to read my bible and spend some time with God instead. at least for a little while. so i closed my books and got out my bible and journal. as i started doing that, it occurred me that God seems to be changing the direction of my life. at least where finances are concerned (and that's a good thing.. the direction of my finances needs to be changed).

but changes are hard. and scary. and we (or *i*) try so hard to keep life going in the direction it's been going all along. why is that? why do we fight so hard to keep going in a direction that's not good or right for us? i've been praying and praying for God to guide me in getting my finances on track, and that's what He's doing. i'm not saying He's responsible for my purse getting stolen, but i think He's had something to do with the way this car lease has turned out.

if i were able to do the buyout, i'd be taking on an $8,000 car loan. as it stands now, it looks like i'll be able to pay cash for a $2500 car, have no monthly payment, and not have to have full insurance coverage. it's a much better financial situation, but getting there has been painful this week. and it's not over. i still have to find my way around for the next couple of weeks until i have all the money to pay for the car. and if, for some reason, that doesn't work out, i'll still have the money to pay cash for something else.

sometimes i'm not good at recognizing God's correction in my life, and i don't know if it's because i'm not sensitive to His moving, or because i get so focused on one particular direction that i can't see anything else. i'm like a horse w/blinders on... i can see what's right in front of me, but it never occurs to me to look right or left. unfortunately, that realization shows me that my focus hasn't been on God in this situation. i've been focused on *my* desired outcome, and i've just assumed that God wanted the same outcome i did. i never even asked Him.

why do we fight so hard to keep going in the same direction? am i the only one who does that?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

a pleasing aroma

over the last few days, i've been studying the significance of words like "fragrance" and "aroma" in scripture. i'm intrigued by a verse in the new testament that says "we are to God the aroma of Christ..." (2Corinthians 2:15)

the old testament is filled with various offerings that were made to God. the burnt offerings were called a "pleasing aroma" or "pleasing fragrance" to God. but why? why was it pleasing? i found one study that said "this positive imagery of scent represents God's satisfaction in experiencing proper worship of Him". maybe this is why God didn't look favorably on Cain's offering (Genesis 4:5)

Another source said that "fragrance... was an expression of worship & devotion; well-pleasing to God".

So it isn't the fragrance itself that's pleasing, it's the source (genuine worship) that makes it pleasing. So if we are the "aroma of Christ"... we carry His fragrance, His worship - the worship of ultimate sacrifice.

And why fragrance? Why not a touch, or taste? Why the sense of smell? I started thinking about the significance of smell, of scent and here's what I came up with (feel free to agree or disagree)

1) smells often (or at least sometimes) create an emotional reaction. The reaction often comes from a memory, which is also triggered by smell. For example, when I was growing up, my grandparents lived on a farm. My grandpa had a workshop where he made wooden things - chairs, tables, stooles, etc. To this day, the smell of sawdust or wood takes me back to those days in my grandpa's shop. I immediately feel nostalgic, warm, and safe. I always felt warm and safe in my grandpa's workshop.

2)smells are often associated with specific things. this is closely tied to #1. The memories triggered by smell are often very specific. For instance, an old roommate of mine used to always wear a certain perfume. Though we haven't been roommates for close to 5 years, I still think of her everytime I smell that perfume. It doesn't matter how many other women I know who wear it, it always reminds me of her.

3)smells permeate everything. I love incense. I burn it in my room alot. If I burn A LOT of it, I notice that my clothes start to smell like incense. Smell can get into the very fiber of things. Similarly, as we are continually exposed to Jesus, we begin to take on His fragrance, and will eventually begin to emit the same fragrance. As we spend more and more time around those who don't know Jesus, His fragrance (which is now ours) will begin to settle on those people, too. It says a lot about the importance of personal relationships. If you want to put perfume on a friend, you have to be close enough to her to do it. So it is with the fragrance of Christ.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


my purse was stolen today. while i was in church. i don't know if i left my door unlocked or what... but the door was unlocked when i got in my car. i had put my purse behind the seat, and when i reached around to get it.... nada.
unfortunately, i had "packed" my purse in preparation for tomorrow. so it contained my paycheck, my passport, and some other things. so i have no form of indentification, no way to get money... nothing.
of course... me being me the first thing i do is slip into 'problem solving' mode. i contact my bank, and try to call the police to file a report (fyi - their office closes at 8pm), and call my mom to see if she can send me a copy of my birth certificate.
once all that was done, i had my freak out moment. i cried, i got really mad, and felt scared. everything that identifies me is gone. that's what i kept thinking... saying in my head.
and i started praying, though not in a nice way. mostly, my thoughts towards God centered around the fact that i've never had my purse stolen before, and the one time it happens is the time **everything** is in it. why? why couldn't He have protected my car, just this one time? why let *this* time be the time my purse is stolen? why not let it happen on a night when i don't have anything in my bag? i felt so lost. like i have no identity if all of those things are gone. i can't prove that i'm me.
because God is God, He let me vent. and when He answered, He answered with grace.
it was a strange time for a lesson on my identity, but that's what He used it for. without the drivers license, without the passport, without the money... i'm still me. i am who God says i am. the documentation is just a formality. the money doesn't affect my worth.
granted... i still have to replace it all 'cause i'm not able to do much in our society without i.d. and money. but... though i'm currently anonymous in the "official" world, i'm still fully known and fully "i.d.'d" by God.