Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Battle...

"Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is at the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. This game is not over, this battle is not over."
- Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights

I feel like I could almost just leave the post at that. I mean, what can you say after Coach Taylor? But I'm gonna try.

I often lose battles. It might not seem like it, but I do. I don't tend to lose battles with others. No, the ones I lose are the battles with myself. I know the that I should stop arguing, that my point doesn't have to be proved. I know that I should let this person think what they want, because does it really matter what they said over two months ago? Does it? It doesn't, but since I'm not accustomed to losing to others, I keep badgering my point until I've been declared the winner. And as I step up to claim my prize, their resignation and defeat, I lose. 

I lose because I've been called to be humble. To help those who can't help themselves. I've been called to lay myself, my cross, my desires, aside, and to take up His cross. I've been called to love. To show Christ's Attitude, Reflecting it Everywhere. 

It's a battle, and while I constantly seem to lose it, this battle isn't over. I'm the one who decides when it is. Will I continue to lose? Undoubtedly. But I will never lose the entire battle if I continue to struggle, to fight, to realize that I'm losing. It's when I'm resigned to my loss, when I lose myself, when I no longer realize what I am called to do, that the battle is over.

Thanks for reading guys! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and an extremely successful and happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Imperfection or Deception

It's the line between realness and "goodness" that seems to trip Christians up. We're often told that we are supposed to be this picture of Christ, perfect, without spot or blemish. I mean, the definition of Christian I was taught was "Christ Like." I was taught to C.A.R.E. = Christ's Attitude Reflected Everywhere. And while these are wonderful principles that I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH, I think they tend to trip us up.

It is wonderful to strive to be better, to follow God's commandments to the "T". But it is also impossible.

Now, I know that that might be the opposite of what you've been taught, but it's true. 

There is no way that we can fulfill all of the commands demanded in a blood covenant with God Himself. 

Now, before you go off shouting about how could God demand so much of us if we couldn't fulfill it, wait. 

He knows that we can't do it. He doesn't expect that of us.

I know. It sounds crazy, but it's true.

Do you remember the part in the Bible where Abram goes out, meet's with God, and comes back as Abraham? Even if you do, you should go back and reread it. A lot more happened than a symbolic name change, though that's what we tend to focus on.

You see, when you look closer at it, God entered into a blood covenant with Abram. Those things can only be gotten out of by death. Which is pretty intimidating if you're Abram, and your partner in this is God. I mean, God isn't going to screw up, at least not first, and Abram really doesn't have anything of value to bring to this union.

But the most amazing thing happens, and because we don't still practice blood covenants, when we read it, we tend to think Abram is having a drug fueled dream that somehow got passed into the scripture. I mean, that's what I would think if I saw a "smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces." That's not something normal. But if you look into it, that's the part of the covenant where the two parties tell God that if they don't hold up their part of the bargain, He can tear them apart like the animals that they just sacrificed. 

Now, if you remember, this covenant was between God and Abram. Abram was knocked out when this happens, so the only person who was vowing this, was God. And He did so willingly. He entered into a covenant, that said that everything He had would be Abram's, took all responsibility and possible punishment on Himself, and did all of this knowing that Abram had nothing to give in return. He then went on to put part of His name into Abram's making him Abraham, which if you ever have the chance to research the meaning of Hebrew letters and all that, WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

And I know that I've heard this story told multiple times, since I was a little girl. I was raised in a church where the Word was taught. We didn't tie up many of the messages in religious mumbo jumbo, but still, with all that, the part I have always remembered from that story is that God promised Abram some kids. Which is pretty cool, depending on who you ask, but I've missed the whole point. God loves us. A lot.

He wants the best for us. He wants us to choose right. He wants us to choose life and blessing, because He knows that it will help us avoid the death and cursing. But more important than all of that, He wants us.

He wants us even in our imperfection.

Instead of the teaching that we should be ashamed of our sin, that we need to hide it and run from God till we're "fixed," we should have been taught to run to Him, holding out our sin, our brokenness, our failures, and ask Him to help. To heal. To fix, repair, and in general, make it better. We need to stop pretending that we have things under control, that we're these "perfect Christians." This deception, in the end, fools no one, and ends up hurting us and others in the end.

This is why He entered into covenant with Abram. This is why He sent His Son, the Ultimate Blood Covenant. Not to condemn, but to give us Life, and Life more abundantly.

And please don't be confused. This is not a reason to sin. This is a way to finally stop.

Thank you all for reading! You can listen to the sermon I got inspired from here. It would be the one by Terrance Reeves Chong on 12/11/11 called Covenant of Healing. It's free, and it's super good. Have a wonderful, happy, fun filled and Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011


If you know me even the slightest bit, you'll have noticed my self confidence. At least that's my guess. I don't really have many opportunities to see myself through others eyes, so I gotta just go on what I've heard and what I hope I portray.

I never was the girl who did things looking for a guys approval. I always thought, and still do, that they should try and earn mine first. I was not the girl who stopped bringing artichokes to school for lunch because I got made fun of. I was the girl who brought extra to share with anyone who made fun of it and dared them to try some.

I was not raised on the "speak when spoken to" philosophy, though I imagine, at times, my parents wished they had. I got in a heated debate with an elderly gentleman in my dad's barbershop chorus at the ripe old age of three. I remember exactly none of it, but have been told on more than one occasion that no one could hold their own with him, and I did for at least a half hour. I was raised to voice my opinion, to stand strong, to back up my reasonings.

My parents own their own business, and they knew the downfalls of having "yes people" around them. We all know those people. They're the ones who get where they get by sucking up, and not on talent. They will never reach true heights in their organizations, because the only contribution they bring is the stroking of their superior's ego. So I was brought up to be the opposite, almost to a fault. In student council, with nearly every plan that was brought up, I could find a flaw, and usually within minutes. I was consistently told to stop being a "Negative Nelly," to be a team player, to support and not tear down. I never really understood these accusations of me being "negative," because I simply saw it as being helpful. You can't do repairs, fix things, or make things better if you don't know what's wrong in the first place. But its generally not something most people value or enjoy, and it's what I blame my failed run for President on.

I've found that most people find debating and disagreement to be a negative thing, while I find it fun and entertaining. It's my favorite brain activity. I often have ended disagreements feeling recharged, and was only recently told by my mother, that to most they are draining.

Now, I tell you all this, not to sing my praises (because, believe me, this is not a easy or fun road to go down all the time), but to set the stage for what is one of the most trying circumstances of my life: The blind submission chapter of my life.

Now, like I said, I was raised to question. I was taught that you should ask things like why and how. And I fully agree with how I was raised. Self confidence, or lack there of, is one of the worst things that can happen to any person. I would say most "bad things" can be traced back to it. However, this questioning attitude often hinders us greatly in the submission part of our lives.

Now, I would like to say right away that I think blind submission is one of the worst things you can ever do. That's part of how girls end up staying with dead beat guys, bad people get put in power, and a myriad of other things that should never happen, happen because no one has a back bone and won't stand up for what is right and good. Also, I would like to say that true submission does not really happen when you agree with what is going on. It would be super easy for me to "submit" to the call to travel the world. I want to do that. It was not easy for me to submit to the call to go to NHCC. It was, in fact, the #1 on my list of things I would never do. (By the way, don't make one of those lists. I've done just about everything on mine. And I loved every single one.)

While in Mexico, I was in a situation where blind submission was the only option. I had an 11 o'clock curfew, the first one I had ever had in my life. I was told I could no longer spend time alone with these 3 guys, who at the time were the only ones who spoke english and I could relate too. I was told that I couldn't let people know that I used certain feminine products. I was told that I had to be at every single church activity that happened. I was told that I should spend any and all free time I had, with the people who I didn't necessarily get along with, or speak their language, and get to know them better. I was told many, many things, and I wasn't exactly ever asked my opinion, thoughts, or disagreements.

As you may imagine, I was not exactly a fan of this.

This was contrary to nearly everything I had been brought up to be. I was told that I should be proud of who I was, that uniqueness should be celebrated, that my voice should be heard and I should announce my opinions loudly. I had never really done anything that would bring distrust on me, nor been told that I should behave in a manner contrary to how I would normally act. (I'd like to interject here that I am in no way trying to say that I was, am or ever will be perfect. But as far as going through a rebellious phase, it pretty much was a day at school where I wore a polo with cap sleeves and pants that weren't a 100% cotton. And that was about it. ( Side note, my school has gotten rid of that crazy rule now. And I had agreed to it, so I was the one at fault.))

I wanted oh so desperately to fight against this, but I didn't know how. It wasn't like I could just be like "I'm done," and fly back to Minnesota. And just flat out disobeying was never something I could pull off. Some of the rules I knew were there for good reasons, but I just didn't believe that those reasons applied to me. And so I was stuck in a brand new situation where I had no option that I was comfortable with, other than to hold my tongue and submit.

It is difficult, and in some cases, even dangerous, to submit to things you don't agree with, but I would not trade that experience for anything. And I'm not saying like the people and the food outweighed the having to submit hardship. I'm saying that I learned so much from having to say no to myself. Like learning that I do not have to get the last word in, or always be right, or that I don't need credit for every good thing I do. That it's a good thing to let others shine and to take a step back sometimes. That sometimes traditions are traditions are traditions, and my disagreement doesn't matter and really isn't important. I learned that there are things worth fighting for, and I learned how to find out what those are. I learned self control. I learned patience. I learned humility. I learned true trust.

I want you all to know that I hold absolutely no hard feelings towards the people that put me in this situation. If anything, I am thankful for them. For forcing me into that situation. For making me uncomfortable with where I was, so that I had nowhere to go but up, to grow. I know that during this period, I probably wasn't my most pleasant and compliant self, and yet they stuck with me and are now some of my favorite people on the planet. I know that had it not been for them, I would, well, I certainly wouldn't be admitting to people my many, many failings. And for that, I thank them.

The experience of submitting was one of the most painful I have ever gone through. It is not one you should go into while you are weak. It is, however, one, that when approached correctly, can refine you like a fire. And if you're ever in that place, I encourage you to just let go, and let God.

Thank you all for reading. I would again like to stress that questions are a very good thing, and if you have people in your life who are telling you otherwise, you should probably take a closer look at that relationship. Without questions, we don't learn. However, there is much to be learned when we are in uncomfortable situations, so learn to embrace. And as always, please comment away with any agreements, disagreements, similar situations, or random thoughts that come to you, either here, in an email, or on Twitter! I love you all, and I've missed you so much!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's in a Name?

"I am so thankful for that drug lord." These words I never thought I would ever say, and yet this is a direct quote from me. When I was living in Mexico, there was a drug turf war going on in our city. Two rival gangs came in and were fighting, and the process, there were kidnappings and killings that took place. I'm not saying this to put anyone in fear about going to Mexico or anywhere, because if you are called to go, there is no safer place, because you're in God's hands, which is actually safer than being in your own hands in suburbia. This was an annoyance. We were hindered and held back. Our guards were up, we were cautious and careful, which is what you should do, but at the same time, I wanted to be able to go out past 9pm. Anyway, a major drug lord in Baja California wrote in our newspaper telling the dealers in our area to knock it off, that they don't do this to their own people, that they could fight amongst themselves all they wanted, but to leave the civilians out of it. The dealers responded, in the paper (only in Mexico) that this wasn't them, it was others doing it and blaming in on them. A few weeks later, the authorities found a house filled with the local drug dealers, dead, stabbed through the chest with a note, from the drug lord in Baja California, reiterating his letter from before, that they don't harm their own people. Needless to say, things calmed down, and I was able to stay out way past 9 pm, all the way to 11 pm.

"I am so thankful for those druggie Bears fans!" I was traveling from Mexico to Minnesota, flying from Mexico to Chicago, and then taking a bus to Minneapolis. After my flight got in at 8 pm, the weather was declared to awful for the buses to continue, so I had a whole night, in Chicago, alone with my suitcase and ballet flats. After they kicked me out of Union Station because I apparently looked homeless, I wandered the city, in the middle of a blizzard, to a 24 hour dinner. After fending off several "gentlemen," I encountered two guys who were enjoying the city, and wanted to hear all about what I was doing in Mexico. They couldn't believe it, and it was a very interesting ministry opportunity. When it got late enough that I had to make my way back to the bus, they walked with me, bought me some food and drinks for my trip, and a Bears Santa hat to keep me warm. They also paid for a taxi to make sure we got to the bus on time. All of this happened at a time where I didn't have enough money to pay for a hotel for the night, let alone a taxi. Did i mention that this whole time they were stoned out of their mind and lit up in front of me? No? Well, they did.

These are stories that shock and surprise people in the religious community. Being thankful for drug lords and druggies is not something Christians and missionaries are known for.

Often times we write off people because of their name. Their title. Their position. We hear "drugs," and we immediately go to, "Dear Lord, show them the error of their ways!" Now, I'm not disagreeing with that, because drugs aren't legal, nor are they helpful or uplifting in anyway. But I do think that we often limit God by limiting who we will accept help from. We expect to be blessed by Christians, or the nice looking elderly couple. We don't tend to think that God will move in those "undesirables," and in doing so, we limit who God can use to minister to us.

We remember the negative names, like drug lord, but we forget the other names that person has. Child of God is one of them. Loved and called are others. My name literally means God's victorious chosen person. I love it. And as awesome as my name is, so are theirs. They still have callings and giftings on their life that are God given, whether they are walking in them or not.

I am not saying open your lives and hearts to those walking these paths of danger. I am saying, don't shut someone out, turn your nose up at them, walk away, burn all bridges with a person in these life styles, because you never know who God will use to bless you, and in turn, who you can bless.

Thank you all for reading! It means a lot to me! And follow me on le Twit, where I fill you in on all my outrageousness that happens throughout the day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Music(als) Make the World Go Round

For those of you who don't know me, let me first say, "HEY!" with lots of awkward waving, because that's how I roll. Now that that's over with, I guess you should know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE musicals. I was raised on them. I can honestly say that for the longest time, I wasn't actually aware that it was a specific genre, because every single movie I watched had songs in them. Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, Guys and Dolls, a Muppet's Christmas, all the classic Disney movies. As I grew, I was introduced to more, like Newsies and Fame, and with each new musical, my love grew and grew.

In high school, I was a text book drama geek, if geek means super awesome. (It does.) I was in every play I could be, every musical we did, every acting class I could squeeze into my schedule. I went back after graduation and helped direct some of the productions. Scene pictures are littered with props I've taken from my home. I look fondly back on those days. I gained friends and confidence, had an outlet for my general wackiness, and have so many ridiculous and amazing memories from those days.

You might be wondering why I'm going on about musicals, and yes, it is partially because I wanted to share some photos with you all, and because the amazing Miss Bethany suggested it, but also, there is just something magical about musicals. Not just the fact that everyone can dance and sing perfectly, but the almost blind faith at least one of the characters has that everything will turn out alright.

 Against all reason, Sergeant Sarah Brown trusts Sky Masterson; Belle, the Beast and the talking household furnishings; Cinderella, her fairy Godmother. And while at some point in the movie, they get slightly burned, in the end they are always proven right. Sky does come through, the Beast is really a Prince, and Cinderella gets to quit cleaning floors and be the princess she always wanted to be. You always know that good will conquer all (with the exception of Doctor Horrible's Sing-A-Long-Blog. Though... Well, just watch and you'll understand.) 

You see, we need to have that same knowing that good will conquer all, the guy will get the girl, the poor person will find a way to make everything ok, about God. We need to have the kind of faith where we don't even question what the outcome is. Faith isn't something that should be shifted and altered depending on what we're going through. It is something that should be fact, solid. When we get devastating news, when the worst has already happened, we are to remain strong in our faith. We aren't to waiver, even though our prayer wasn't answered, because we know, just like we do with musicals, that God has a plan. His hand is working. He takes our ashes, garbage, failings, hurt, pain, and turns them into something beautiful. We just have to get to the end.

Thanks for reading! I'm preaching to myself, most of the time here, so you know! Anyway, you can and should follow me on le Twitter. I'm occasionally funny there!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Mission

So, to get into the Christmas spirit, since setting up the tree and hanging snow flakes from the ceiling wasn't doing it for me this year, I decided to take part in More Love Letter's project of 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. It's an incredible project, where people all around can write letters of love and encouragement to those who are having a hard time this year. Those writing the letters don't know the people they're encouraging, they are just doing so to be a blessing. So you know, it's not too late for you to join either!

Anyway, this got me thinking. You know, there is one thing that Minnesota is known for, besides snow, lakes, our Oh's, the Mall of America, me, and that would be the "Minnesota Nice." We are legitimately really genuinely nice to strangers here. It's not the kind where we're nice to their face while we give them directions, but the moment they leave, we start laughing about how we really don't have a clue where they wanted to go. I've witnessed strangers drive families home when their cars have stalled, borrow them their phones, shovel them out, and a myriad of other things. I myself, have had my car break down on the side of the road, and can't begin to tell you how many people pulled over to ask if I needed anything. Now, I don't know for a fact this doesn't happen everywhere, but I can say I've never heard of Any Other State Nice.

And while we are very considerate to strangers in Minnesota (for the most part. Obviously you can't go everywhere and expect to be welcomed. In some areas you can expect to be shot (Ok, maybe not shot, but you will get threatening glances.).) I can say for a fact that, at times, it's much easier to be nice to complete strangers than it is to the people we really care about.

Holidays are a time where we are not only around our families, we nearly have them shoved down our throats! And while we love them dearly (I hope!) they know better than anyone how to get under our skin. And if we are being honest, we know the best ways to retaliate. And by they, I mean my family, and by we, I mean me. I think its because we know they love us no matter what, and we're told to that the one place we can always be open and honest is home. But we, and again, I mean me, abuse that right.

I guess all I'm doing is reminding myself to make the conscious effort to be kind and considerate to my family. That beyond the ease of a friendly "Merry Christmas!" to the strangers I meet this month, I need to bring that same spirit of kindness, consideration, and patience to my family as well, not only this month, but always.

Not gonna lie, I'm asking a lot of myself here! Hahahahaha, just kidding, They are easy to love ALWAYS!


Oh lordy

Thanks for reading, guys! It means a lot! And I'd totally appreciate some accountability on this Christmas Mission! Feel free to check up on me through Le Twitter! Also, consider taking part in More Love Letters' Mission! It's a really amazing thing to do!

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Other Name Be Lifted High

You know, there are several things that annoy me. I can't stand people who do things they don't even like just to be cool, techno music, vegan dishes, and the list goes on and on. But there is one thing that I can say without a doubt that actually drives me crazy. Not in a "Oh, that annoys me so much!" but in a "this situation makes me turn into a legitimately crazy person." And that would be when people begin talking about missions trips who have never been on one.

You see, those of you who haven't gone on a trip, you tend to think you get them. You think that they're a "nice thing" to do, very sweet. At best, they want to go on one to have a similar story and experience, and at worst, they think that we're some super human or some self indulgent person who went to make ourselves look good. Sure, often times these people are really genuine, but until they've actually been, they just don't get it.

 I will talk to anyone about missions if they're wanting to go, or are asking what God did. But most of the time, those aren't the questions I get. They wonder how things are with the communication. They wonder how the food was. They think its amazing the kids come up and want to know the missionaries. They wonder about the funding. They find some way to question everything that happens, acting as if the people of Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe were from a different planet, not simply a different country. They seem to forget that they're still people, no matter where or what they call home. All they seem to see is the natural.

I realize that this is very critical, and I've actually had several of these conversations with people considering going on a trip, that I have enjoyed. The reason these questions drive me to the place of insanity is because they put the focus on me, the very last place it should ever be.

I am by no means remarkable. I'm not trying to be humble, its just the plain truth. I have no useful talents, no gifts for languages. Spanish was a struggle for me to pickup, and I lived in Mexico for a year. I didn't know or have a clue what I was doing. My time in Mexico over the last seven years almost entirely consisted of me making goofy faces, doing laundry, making up karate moves with the little boys, and driving like a crazy (By the way, I totally fit in on Mexican roads. Oh yeah!). Nothing I did was remarkable. Looking at it in the natural, I pretty much have wasted loads of time and money, because none of that would make a real difference. But when you're relying entirely on God, trusting in Him, He takes our small, insignificant works, and turn them into something life changing, for them and for me.

So maybe that's why questions like, "Why were the kids so open to you?" drive me to a place of insanity. It's nearly impossible to explain that making faces can lead to life long friendships, emotional healings, and renewed faith. It's hard to explain in words or pictures how God works. And when people point to me as having anything to do with it, they trivialize what actually took place. Miracles took place. God took laundry, and transformed it into something life changing. All I did was go.

Thank you for reading. I know this one may have seemed harsh, but it's something I feel strongly about. Missions are a very important thing, and if you haven't gone on one, I strongly suggest you do (I'd even answer any questions you have about them!). If you don't feel the urge to go, I implore you to support missions. In financial struggles, their support is usually the first to go, and they really are the ones who need it the most. And if that's not an option, keep them in your prayers. Most of all, keep them in your prayers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Haven't a Clue

You all are quite intimidating. I started this blog with the idea that I would write about some of my travels, which I've done very little of, and it's become some sort of journal for me. Which, if you've ever had the fantastic experience of reading my journals from 5th grade, you would know that this is hilarious. (For those of you who haven't, here's a clue. They weren't any good. Even my mom mocks them. Often.) I try to write about what I'm going through, explain the crazy that happens in my head, and just in general, be me.

It's funny, because at times I feel more myself here than I do anywhere else. It's not that I'm not social, because I am, and its not that I'm not myself everywhere, it's more that I'm not this open with everyone. Which is ridiculous, I know, since I'm putting this online and literally everyone can see it. But I think its got something to do with all of you being faceless numbers that makes this so much easier. And while its wonderful that I have all of you to listen to my ramblings, I need more.

I need to be inspired. I need to be directed. I need to be held accountable and called out when I'm not holding myself to the standards I and God have placed on my life. And I, and you as well, can't get all of that from the faceless masses.

We need real people in our lives. We need to have relationships that go beyond 140 characters, no matter how much we can get to know a person on Twitter (Follow me!). We need to reach out to those that are actually around us. Social media is wonderful. It's a great way to meet new people, stay connected with friends, promote blogs you like, hint hint, but it's just a tool.

We need to connect. I wrote in a different post that "we aren’t meant to be soulless, emotionless, disconnected beings. We’re meant to connect! We’re meant to share our stories and thoughts with people." Because when we stop doing that, when we shut people out, we become far too self reliant. We're stuck with our own ideas, our own thoughts, and we begin to loose imagination, inspiration. We become the self absorbed folks who actually think we know what's best. 

We have to have others in our life for God to reach us. To stretch us and grow us. To keep us from growing stale. To keep us from being fake. 

I say all of that to say this: I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm never going to write something for you all just to write something. I'm going to write things because they're things I'm dealing with, things I'm learning, things others have pointed out to me and made me think. But I'm not going to write to please or impress you. That will ultimately fail, just like my 5th Grade journals. And no one wants to read those.

Thank you all for reading. It really does mean the world to me. If you have things that you're dealing with, something that's been revealed to you, or whatever, let me know! Like I said, I haven't a clue what I'm doing, so any inspiration is welcome!