Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus.

 This was penned last night as the quiet of Christmas Day surrounded me.

I got to share with my Mama yesterday how a study on the gospel of Mark (a biography of Jesus) changed my life. And, in a way, saved it.
I shared how wonderful it was to finally look at the Word like a school text. Changing the way I saw it, being able to ask my questions and answering a lot of them. Having a spiritual mentor say that my questions mattered. That it was important for me to see Jesus in a new way.
I learned that an open heart is important in knowing Jesus, but so is the mind; an understanding of who He is to the best of my ability.
I learned, along with 25 of great friends, how intentional Jesus was. How there was intention to every single thing he did. Every word he spoke, every bodily placement, his life is one of service, purpose. Intentionality.
And as Christmas Day ends, I am overwhelmed at how even the circumstances of Jesus' birth were intentional. Let no situation be wasted to declare God's glory, it seems.

Jesus was born to a virgin, immaculate conception. It is highly likely that her entire town eventually got wind of this and judged her as a harlot; deeming Joseph as a fool for not charging her with adultery.
Jesus' birth was foretold hundreds of years before his actual birth. An incredible feat in itself. Details like where he was born, under what conditions and the supernatural things that would be seen described and confirmed with Jesus' birth.
Jesus was born in a manger, and was dressed in swaddling cloths. He was brought into the world surrounded by barn animals, hay probably sticking to his small frame, the smells less than pleasant.

Why?
That's been my question today. Why, Jesus?
His quiet response has been, My love is as deep as my intentionality.

A friend shared with me that Jesus spoke to her that he loves her so much, that he created a new friend to be exactly what she needs. She's been blown away by the intentionality for Jesus to create someone for her.
Similarly, I revel in how intentional God was to have Jesus come down as a man. Yes, I'm amazed that Jesus came down from perfect glory... but the intention of such an act astounds me. It brings me joy to think that I have such an intimate, deep and real relationship with God because Jesus came down. Because the gap between humanity and God was bridged forever through Jesus who was born that night in Bethlehem.

In a way, my Father was born that day. Yes, God is outside of time and space and cannot have a birth-date, but if it weren't for Jesus, I wouldn't know God the way I do.
So I don't just say "Happy Birthday, Jesus" but as I celebrate, I say,
Happy Birthday, Papa.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Christmas List

No, I'm not telling you what I want for Christmas or my birthday (it's fast approaching!). Well, I will if you ask me, but not in this post. :)

I'm still working on my 100 Joys project, alongside Sarah Markley, but I am way behind. I haven't kept up with writing down all my joys into this blog and posting. This'll be the long list.


  •  Birthday Celebrations: anytime someone is being celebrated, my heart does a little leap. Everyone should be celebrated, and if it's with your very best friends you consider part of your family, even better [15]. I got to celebrate my very good friend, Melissa's birthday with her and it was indeed a celebration of who she is. :)
  • Hearing Melissa's voice after not hearing it for three months. All it took was a "hello" [16]. But I guess that happens when you really miss someone you love and get to see them again.
  • Melissa and I refer to each other as our twin. It turns out we're incredibly similar. It was confirmed when I showed up to see her wearing a sweater with purple and gray stripes, and I was wearing a sweater with green and lighter green stripes. It still makes me laugh that we're that similar [17].
  • New variations of old favorites [18]. Melissa's friend Natalie asked if I'd ever had tacos (our dinner during Melissa's birthday bash) with ranch..."umm, no." It turns out it's delicious! I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Seeing old friends and making new ones in the same night [19]. Meeting Melissa's friends and making plans to hang out again...happy.
  • Conversations about nothing, yet about everything, that last until 1 am [20]. Hanging out with friends you've just met alongside old ones and just talking...until you realize you have to get up somewhat early, should be responsible and sleep.
  • Raindrops that fall on the awning of my apartment window and sound like tiny tap dancers figuring out choreography [21].
  • Watching the rain fall into the pool at our apartment complex, making the water dance as it lands [22]. It's been raining a lot in California this week.
  • Advent reading [23]. I've never done advent, or really celebrated Christmas. Being able to actually reflect and sing and share in the joy of Jesus' birth has been a wonderful addition to the holiday season this year.
  • Singing Christmas carols [24]. Something happens in my heart when a group of followers of Jesus get together and sing Christmas carols. Something happens in my heart; the knowledge of knowing all around the world people are singing this song, that I am blessed enough to know Jesus, that I don't have to wait for him to be born...he's already here. I get overwhelmed.
  • Learning to play guitar [25]. Finally. I mentioned it two years ago to one of my best friends, "I want to learn to play guitar." A church friend finally came over and taught me a few chords and I've been practicing. Gotta start somewhere. :)
  • Friends who are generous enough to host [26]. My friend, Amy, invited my best friend to dinner and thought of me. It turns out she was making steak, and a couple of amazing sides. Best dinner ever. And seriously, the best steak I've ever had.
  • Time and space [27]. I spent a couple days being a hermit. I just didn't really want to interact with folks, I needed alone time. That time was really valuable for me to just sit, process, strum my guitar and be with Jesus. 
  • Adventures leading to other adventures [28]. On a whim, a group of us decided we wanted to see Tron and so decided to drive over and buy our tickets. We were notified, that only the first two rows on the far right were left... Instead, we decided to head over to 7-11, pick up some goodies, along with Date Night from Redbox and watch that. Great night.
  • Adventures leading to epic videos [29]. A friend's plans were cancelled, we called a mutual friend and eventually, it led up to this:  
  
  • Reading Alece's reflections on a season that has been rough [30]. I am so proud of her, I could just hug her!
  • Knowing that Lindsey, Sarah, and Alece have real and deep friendships with each other [31]. These three ladies are my favorite bloggers. Check them out.
  • Realizing that Jesus has been more than faithful in what he's promised [32]. He's provided growth in terms of identity, employment (I start tomorrow!), and freedom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

[14].

I decided to start over. I was originally going to write a poem, something that would sound hokey and possibly make you chuckle, but I realized that's not really me.
Well, not always, so I'll stick to what I know.



We've seen a lot of life together.
We have cried, laughed until our sides have hurt and have held each other's hands as we've learned to see God in situations that simply do not make sense.
You've extended grace and mercy to me time and time again; often, by you choosing to come into my world and remind me that this too shall pass.
You're one of the greatest friends I never asked for, and one of my most treasured gifts.
I love you more than I could say, and honestly, I don't really know why I'm trying.
Thank you for loving me the way I need to be loved, for being so intentional that I don't even have to ask
 ...
you're already doing something to fix whatever jam I find myself in.

Thanks for being the person I was always too afraid to ask for,
one who understands me, knowing that exclaiming that I need a cookie actually meant emotional turmoil, reading my facial expressions (you know, that day when I wanted to "punch the world"), 
loaning me your Dad 'cause mine's out of commission,
for making me smile, challenging the things I think I can't do...
that's why you're my twin, my sister
forever.

Happy birthday, Monte.
  


Monday, December 13, 2010

[13].

"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 
'I will try again tomorrow.'"
Mary Anne Radmacher

Friday, December 10, 2010

On a Friday.

I'm trying to keep up with the 100 Joys project, but it proves difficult with finals this week.
However, here are the ways I'm seeing joy.


My prayer since the beginning of October has been that I would find family here, in Shoreline (the church I attend), that our small group would feel, act and lean on each other as a family. It's happening.
We're learning to share things that we need to lean on each other, things that we need to share because they're joyful. Learning to trust each other though it's awkward and uncomfortable. Sharing about the search for jobs, why we're so excited for the holidays, telling and listening to each other as we share where God is calling us, feeling known [6].
I'm finding joy in the small things, like worshiping alongside these men from my small group, mingling my voice with their deeper ones [7].

 UCLA has been quiet, for me, anyway. Paper writing is easy, even though it is time consuming, so I've spent a lot of time in my apartment. It has been my joy to have our apartment as a way to bless people [8]. Hosting friends who work late or just want space to hang out.
  In the quiet, it's been great to have space to just sit. To be with a God who wants to know me in every way that is possible, that strives to satisfy who I am. Knowing that I have him as a father is wonder enough [9].
And in the spaces when the apartment isn't still, there are many adventures to be had with my roommate, Winnie. Spending time putting puzzles together, making hot chocolate, watching countless movies... every night is completely different [10].

Dancing in my living room [11]. Dancing because today I got a call from my soon-to-be boss. I have applied, interviewed and waited for timing and skills to workout so that I might land a job. Or should I say, for God to provide the right job. I have a job I will probably start in a week. Infinite possibilities. And a lot of learning. :)

Having a (large) community of people to share good news with [12]. I was able to instantly call friends (that's you, J), share over GChat and update folks on Facebook. It has been so joyful to have folks celebrate with me after a season of waiting and perseverance.

Glory be to God.
Amen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Joyful December.

I'll jump right in.
My friend, Sarah Markley had an amazing idea. She has decided to spend the month of December finding 100 ways that she finds joy. The small, the sorrowful, what can look ordinary yet bring loads of joy.
100 Joys.
I have decided to join her.
I'll be spending the month of December intentionally looking and writing about things that bring me joy. :)

So here it goes, 100 ways I find joy.
Sarah started December 1st, but I start today.

Thursday.
I spent my morning on the train. I boarded an Amtrak bus at 0625, and was able to board my train to Fresno, CA around 1030. I don't have morning classes, and so usually miss the emerging of the sun into the sky. However, I was awestruck as to how beautiful mornings are. Amazed at how new the day is, and how amazing it is to witness light enter the sky. It reminded me of hope, how there is hope to be seen every morning [1].
I arrived in Fresno, and was met by two amazing individuals who spent a part of their day showing me Fresno City College and Fresno State so that I might make an informed decision if I believe I am being led to InterVarsity staff. I spent the day hearing about InterVarsity's long legacy in Fresno, and how it has changed over the years. I found myself laughing easily while spending time with Rob and Layla, feeling comfortable to share my story with them.
Later, was the most anticipated moment. Seeing the Minturns. This family is a strong reason why I feel so grounded in Fresno. This family has seen me since my first day in Fresno back in 2008, when I was highly insecure yet excited to see what God was doing in the city and in me. Todd was actually the first person who had more than a two sentence conversation with me that day.
And as I expected, as I saw them, they hugged me and welcomed me as I knew they would. Seeing Todd, Carrie and the boys is always wonderful, but this felt like coming home.
It felt normal.
Dinner, playing with the kiddos, catching up on life and talking about what the future could look like... family.
Two minutes after entering the door, my hand was taken by a hand much smaller than mine, to see the Christmas tree, and the candy cane lights that had just been put up. :)
However, my favorite part was watching Todd read to the boys. He was reading Pete the Cat ...the book has a song integrated to it, to which the boys giggle hysterically. Hearing them giggle and seeing their joy... priceless [2].
I loved that Todd decided to sit me down on the couch and ask me open-ended questions so that I could process what had happened since I arrived on the train (the day had been FULL). I love that Carrie sat down and listened as prepared for Advent. Again, it felt normal [3].

Friday.
 Breakfast. I've never been too much of a breakfast person, but I wanted to make use of my time with the Minturns. Oatmeal, frozen Gogurt, orange juice. A grumpy 4 year old. Family. :)
I drove around with Todd, to get myself re-acclimated with Fresno. He showed me the most amazing thing. Christmas Tree Lane! It's an 88 year tradition, where an entire street, for blocks on end, decorate their houses for folks to drive (or walk) by to celebrate Christmas. They even have a radio station that you can tune into as you drive through it! The decorations were amazing, I couldn't believe half of them, they were epic.
(Seriously, Google it.)
Later, I got to talk to the Executive Director from FIFUL to just share more of what I'm thinking, feeling, answer my questions. I continue to be amazed at how much people care. They're praying, emailing me, texting me to make sure I know they've got my back [4].
As I had lunch with Carrie, I realized how wonderful it is to be able to share life with Carrie. To learn from her life, share her story and be spoken Truth by her...wonderful.
It has also been incredible to watch her family. To watch the way Todd and Carrie love their boys, how completely they love them, it's hopeful. Hopeful to know that although a family story like mine is common, it's not the only one out there. And although I've only been here for slightly longer than 24 hours, parts of my heart are healing just by watching them be a family [5].

Where do you find joy?




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I need.

Words have been far and few this past month. This is what I could get out tonight.
Yes, you're welcome to catch me and ask details.


Alright, I get it.
At least I think so.

I've been stripped of everything I found (and find) identity in.
I am no longer in a position of authority in the fellowship that taught me to lead.
To lead well.
Friendships from said fellowship remain; although it's difficult to be that intentional.
Some folks don't know what to say or ask when they see me.
Conferences, large groups, community aren't the conversational link anymore.
Transitioning and becoming known in a new church community is difficult.
Folks don't go out of their way to meet you, making introductions awkward.
I (still) don't have a job.
Nothing to take pride in that I "got" or get to do everyday.

It seems like I've got nothing.
My tank's on empty.
My bank account is empty.
My heart (often) feels empty.

Yet the lesson, word, and reminder from Jesus is
Papa.
Remember I made a promise to keep you safe.

I've been listening to a lot of JJ Heller lately. A woman who puts spiritual Truth into a musical artform.
I can't help but sit and listen, letting words and Truth wash over me day after day.
I found myself resistant to a line today,
when my world is shaking Heaven stands/ when my heart is breaking I never leave Your hands

my heart is struggling, fighting to know that Jesus is good.
that Jesus is the Papa I need.
That promises he gives are never broken.
I know broken promises.
I know disappointment, failure, despair.

I want to believe in joy, in hope.
I want to believe it not only when I'm sharing how hard these three months have been,
but I want to believe it when I'm sitting alone,
when my heart needs to be reminded that
You keep promises.


I need.


I just reread this and realize this is really vague. Apologies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hazards of Having a Big Heart

  1. You fall in love with people quickly and deeply.
  2. You fall in love with places quickly and deeply.
  3. You grieve deeply with people you've just met.
  4. Your heart breaks when moving away people and places.
  5. You want everyone to know how beautifully amazing they are.
Okay, so these aren't all hazards... bear with me. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Come Home

Last week was full of mourning.
A few things were legitimate, the loss of one of my very best friends in high school, Caleb "Bubba" Manning, as well as the loss of my stepfather in the same year.
Two years now.

And although the third is just as legitimate, I spend a lot of time dwelling on it.
The loss of a relationship I've never known.
A relationship with my biological father.

It came on suddenly. I felt somewhat mopey and I thought it'd pass.
We'd spent the night in my church study talking about our names, the phrase "children of God" and what we, as Christians, stand to inherit.
I felt fine.
And then I read this post by Donald Miller.
The mopey-ness turned into a wave of grief, of loss, of want.
I spent that night crying, and the rest of the week reading more of Don Miller (I had committed to finishing Father Fiction) and taking time to actually engage with the deepest wound I feel I possess.

And it was ultimately through the grief, the knowledge of the Truth of being loved with an unending love, a love I cannot fathom...all while wrestling with all of my insecurities and questions,
came this.

It was like a breath of fresh air. To not just feel loss and want of something I never had, but to actually work through it. It was a small victory despite the pain. The first time I actually saw something beautiful come out of the pain, the hurt, the messiness.

I'm not saying a neat little (or big) bow was tied. The week got harder, there was more God wanted to work through; more I didn't want to show him. I wanted to avoid the pain of touching my bruise.

I personally thought we were done. I thought the band aid had been secured and I was free until the next time symptoms of this severed relationship popped up again.
I was wrong.

I like music; I like listening to music before I go to bed.
I decided to listen to a song I had listened to, and really liked.
"Come Home" by OneRepublic and Sara Bareilles.

And although I doubt the song is meant to illustrate a little girl's plea for Daddy to come home, that is just what it meant for me.
come home, come home
'cause i've been waiting for so long
so long

and the fight for you is all i've ever known

That phrase stopped me, "and the fight for you is all I've ever known". It made me think that is the way I've lived my life. My fight for my father is all I've ever known. I don't know what it looks like to live without fighting for my father. I've lived my life waiting, yearning, wondering about my father. Wanting my father.

And then I saw myself. I saw myself standing in front of my earthly father, Jesus standing between us. The song still played in my ears, and I saw myself reaching around Jesus, reaching for my father. My reach was close, but far enough that I couldn't actually touch him.
My reaches became frantic, slamming my body against Jesus' undoubtedly bruising myself. Hurting Jesus in my zeal to reach my dad.

Wanting so much for my father to come home. Come home to me.

And suddenly I lunged one last time.
One final reach for my father.
And almost as if I knew it wouldn't be enough, my final reach melted into Jesus' body.
Weeping, I finally allowed Him to embrace me.
My brokenness, my dreams, my pursuit of redemption.

I spent the next day sitting in that.
How much time have I dwelled on what I don't have instead of what I do?
I've spent years letting the lack of this relationship define who I am, instead of letting the reality of my Heavenly relationship tell me who I am.

I had to realize that my non-existent relationship with my biological father
is a part of my story,
it's not the story.

I can look forward to the journey my Papa is taking me on,
the adventure He has for me,
the people and places I love meshing into one.
The untold story of the woman I am becoming.

And for what's to come,
I give Him all the glory.

Amen.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

MOMENTUM: The Promise

This is the sixth entry in my Momentum series, a conference where I was serving and hearing a lot from Jesus as I learned how to transition out of community. Please follow the link to read the first entry, MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter.

The last night I spent cooking at Momentum, I was able to see BCF.
I won't lie, it was interesting.
The cooking team was eating what was left of the steak Sherry had prepared, and just enjoying the fact that we had fed 60+ students and staff a very legit dinner.
BCF began getting ready for worship, and I wondered what would come around this time.

Previously, I felt left out, wanting to be with BCF and shortly after that resenting serving instead of worshipping the way I knew how.
And this time...

This time, I saw them. I wrote this in my journal that night.
I felt it during tonight's worship. The affirmation of the ministry at UCLA. I saw students- students who know You seeking to see more of Your face while they gain their college education. Students who will put their reputation on the line so that their friends can know You. The countless stories of young men and women who will be the leaders of UCLA, and will lead their own individual movements for you. I finally saw all of the potential in them, the catalyst to what is seen as normal at UCLA. A new definition of witness, of a follower of Jesus.
I saw the way they worship you, it's real. It's true. They've been redeemed, they have seen [and felt] how you love them. And that, my Jesus, is a beautiful thing. [...]

At that moment, watching BCF worship, I was able to see outside of the bias of my leadership. Of the fact that I knew these students, but I was able to see InterVarsity Bruin Christian Fellowship as a movement that was yearning to have UCLA know Jesus.
It blew me away.

I heard a promise from Jesus the beginning of my third year at UCLA, a promise declaring that Jesus would do "crazy things". After a year full of grief, disappointment and confusion; I figured Jesus' promise had been delayed.
My fourth year at UCLA, my final year in BCF, saw a lot of joyful serving. The expansion of an area, the support of a community when I felt at my lowest. All that while I witnessed Jesus bring restoration, redemption and love to those who had not known Him.

And so seeing the beautiful act of worship by BCF, I realized the promise was one I was meant to expect always. I am meant to expect the crazy, amazing, miraculous from Jesus always. Because he has chosen BCF to be his hands and his feet.

So the promise has been fulfilled, and will continue to be.
I mean, how else would 180+ be at Fall Conference this weekend?  :)

MOMENTUM: New Community

This is the fifth entry in my Momentum series, a conference where I was serving and hearing a lot from Jesus as I learned how to transition out of community. Please follow the link to read the first entry, MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter.

She left her phone number and email, just like she said she would. 
It still didn't explain why I was so excited.
Michelle from West LA Baptist Church had spoken with me and three other women previously involved with InterVarsity about their Women's ministry.
She said they were looking for "younger" women in whom to invest.

God had been speaking to me that it was time to find a solid group of women to get connected to.
Hence, getting excited over Michelle.
I felt like this was the nudge I needed to admit that I needed a new community of folks to live life with.
Yes, it'd be hard, but necessary.

And it has been.
Although I have not committed to West LA Baptist, I have begun my journey in a new community.
It's been difficult and awkward, but it's been worth it.
I mentioned at the beginning of this series, that I had to leave BCF so that I might grow.
So that my spiritual life wouldn't deteriorate.
And I have found that I have been welcomed, challenged and supported as I've entered this new area of my journey with Jesus.
As I've committed to investing in the new family I've found at Shoreline.
I have found my love of the Word to be one that has grown stronger as my community group and I tackle questions and epiphanies that we've had since hearing Sunday's talk, and it's been amazing to see how we're able to support each other as we face joys and heartache.

To God be all the glory.
Amen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some days I actually get a glimpse of
whole.
Feeling perfect goodness, grace, and mercy in every fiber of my
being.
Ready to follow His whisper and what he has for me,
wherever He leads.

Everyday is the question,
what do you see in me?

The question of a little girl whose hand still reaches out
to see if Daddy will grasp it.
The need to know that you see me,
that you find my laugh gracious, that you see me as delightful.

Some days tears fall from my eyes because
I'd like to think that I'm a catch.
A woman who has grown into a mature, beautiful, courageous
woman of God.
Yet doubt lingers in my head, my heart, and demands more and more
of those I love, those who love me.

Everyday is the yearning to follow, to know,
to believe.
To suddenly feel Your hand already in mine, your eyes swelling with pride
as you see me.
And to hear you say,
"Doubt no more, you are mine,
beloved."

MOMENTUM: Common Purpose

This is the fourth entry in my Momentum series, a conference where I was serving and hearing a lot from Jesus as I learned how to transition out of community. Please follow the link to read the first entry, MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter.

Have you ever met someone who had a similar vision as you? Or someone who was working toward the same goal as you? I remember meeting Raul, Keith and Lacy's housemate. I have to admit, the first few minutes were a little awkward, but after realizing that we both wanted to do inner city ministry for the next season of our lives, and probably in Fresno, CA, we got into a stream of questions and dreams of the things we want to see happen in the city. My heart was pretty happy too, to know that someone was working toward the same thing I am.
That same feeling resurged in my heart as I listened to the journey of students who had gone on a summer projects all over the world. I missed Fresno. I missed the community I began to notice and slightly daydream about. A group of people with whom I share God's heart; a heart of restoration for the city, for Downtown Fresno, a dream that extends to the lives of the neighborhood called Lowell. Or common purpose to see restoration in a physical and spiritual sense, where we are able to see God's will done in the city piece by piece, a little each day.
And it was during these testimonies of students who I have spent late night hours talking about what God is doing in them, in their families, the ways it's hard and yet rewarding... I realized my purpose is different than theirs now.
So it's time to find that new group of people, and devote the next few years of my life finding that place and people who understand and share what I was created to do. You know, as I discover it myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

MOMENTUM: Worship

This is the third entry in my Momentum series, a conference where I was serving and hearing a lot from Jesus as I learned how to transition out of community. Please follow the link to read the first entry, MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter.


Worship has always been special to me. I get to be loud, I get to dance, I get to sing. All without being judged, and usually with a group of folks I love.
So that first weekend with InterVarsity students, seeing them, eating with them (kind of), and seeing them worship instead of worshiping with them... I got a little frustrated.
I wondered why I chose to exit community, to only remind myself a second later that this was for my own good.

It was after lunch, that I started wiping tables, trying to give myself a heart check. It was then when the worship set began, and my heart wanted to start a dance line, sing really loudly and just be worshiping.
At least, the way I knew how.
And then, I had a thought, service is worship. Service because of all I have received, both from Jesus and from friends who guided me into a real relationship with Jesus. What I have done and continue to do as I step into life outside of college, as I realize that worship is not just singing at church or during times when I am surrounded by believers.

Worship because it's all I can do. A heart filled with love, gratitude, service, and a yearning to know Jesus more and more. Service is the way to get there; service is the way to love Jesus and my friends in a way that is completely different than I am used to. But worship just the same.


My series on MOMENTUM continues. Come back and read. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

MOMENTUM: "You did good."

This is the second entry in my Momentum series, a conference where I was serving and hearing a lot from Jesus as I learned how to transition out of community. Please follow the entry to read the first entry, MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter.

I mentioned in my previous post that I decided to go to Momentum, in a serving role, for myself.
I didn't realize that taking on that role and not being able to be with the rest of BCF that first weekend would be so difficult. As they arrived, as they hugged, some squealed, as they caught up with each other...my head began to drift further and further from the kitchen to where they were, right on the other side of the kitchen counter.
And as I listened, I began to really mourn the transition out of my fellowship.

As we all had dinner, I saw how they enjoyed it, both the food and the company; how grateful they were for the cooking team's service.
I began to relax; but still, I wanted to be with them.

In the time I had spent resting instead of leading; after leading a missions team in  my insecurities began to bubble to the surface. What did I actually do? How did I grow to have spiritual authority among BCF? I don't see it, not anymore. 

After dinner, I finally had a chance to sit and listen.
Listen, without having to pretend that I was being attentive to hot links, spilled drinks, or refilling napkins.
My friend Helen and I sat down at the back of the room as missions testimonies were being shared.
And, slowly, as another rose from his or her chair, shared what God had done in them and in Fresno, Honduras, South L.A., and Turkey, my heart grew more and more full.

And as a young man, Jonathan, shared of his experience in Honduras, what he learned, what he saw and how his outlook on life and on his faith had changed... the fullness of my heart overflowed as tears from my eyes.
I began to weep.
Weep, because I have witnessed the transition of this man. One that I truly call a man of God.
And I see the strength, wisdom and beauty that is growing in him.
The truly amazing  part is, he's not the only one. There are countless moments, stories, journeys just like Jonathan's.
As I sat there amazed and utterly grateful,
I felt a strong hand on my shoulder,
and a whisper from the voice my soul recognizes as His own, saying, "You did good."
And that was enough for my heart to receive that night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MOMENTUM: Behind the Counter

InterVarsity at UCLA has a yearly pre-Fall conference.
MOMENTUM.
(I write it in all caps, because it's a pretty epic name.)
It's a time for InterVarsity staff, leaders and returners (sometimes freshmen) to reunite and vision and bond for the new academic year.
It's an exciting time, I personally think of it as a family reunion: friends who haven't seen each other in months, reunite and share about what God was up to during the summer, both the breathtakingly amazing and the difficult.
 This year it was different for me. I was an "old person", standing and cooking in the kitchen, serving behind the counter instead of planning, listening, mentoring, leading on the other side.
It was hard, but it was necessary.
Many wondered why I decided to exit community, to not stick around in BCF when I would still be around.
The answer is simple: I tend to hold on for too long.

I knew if I stayed, without leading, without intentionally stretching myself spiritually and emotionally,
I wouldn't.
I would enjoy friends, the praise from younger students, the questions of my future... but I wouldn't grow.

So I decided to serve at MOMENTUM for myself just as much as I did for BCF.
(Let's face it, the kids gotta eat.)
But for me, it was more of the beginning of my new role in BCF. One of a servant; still present, but not in the limelight, not the one people call on when things are rough. I needed to tangibly place myself in what would become my life for the next year.
So I served.
And I serve.
I say this as a reminder to myself, as I do for you who reads this.
I love BCF with all of my heart, the ways it has allowed me to see more of Jesus, encouraged me to lead, trained me to become a leader, equipped me to lead well, and challenged me to go (and lead) wherever God is leading me.
So the least I can do is offer what I have: my hands, my feet, my service.

This is the beginning of a six-part series on MOMENTUM, a conference where I was able to listen to God as I served. Please stay tuned.

Blue Like Jazz, The Movie

If you've read Blue Like Jazz, or if you've talked to me about it, you probably know what I'm going to say:
I absolutely love this book.
I love it because it's a real attempt at questions of faith; delving into topics like worship, romance, money, love.
I fell in love with the author, Donald Miller (don't let it go to your head, Don) because of the authenticity of the book and his struggles as he's learned to trust God, learn more about His character, and more about people.
I loved it because as a soon-to-be 23 year old college kid, I could relate.
I've often thought about love, been rejected by it and wondered what it's purpose was, why God wanted us to live in community and why doing it the 'right' way was so important.

Blue Like Jazz allowed me to wonder, and analyze why I held certain assumptions about God, Christianity and where they came from.
And Don did it in a way that made me feel like we were sitting in a coffee shop, talking. And laughing, a lot.
And it's because of all of this that I have faith in Blue Like Jazz, The Movie. I believe that if a book can rock my life in such a way, a movie can do the same.
And the audience would be wider.
I often have dreamed of a way to share my journey with friends and complete strangers, and this just might be it.

So if you haven't already, even if you're just curious as to why you should still consider donating,
visit, the website. The deadline for donations is Monday, October 25th, donate today!

And if you're looking for another reason, if you do donate, I'll cook you dinner. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let Yourself Be Carried

Earlier this week, I felt pressed down, frustrated. Broken. I couldn't see Jesus, I didn't understand what he was doing or why. I ultimately decided to reach out to close friends of mine, friends who had (for the past 2 years) seen the best and the worst of me.
These friends encouraged me, affirmed me and reminded me of God's goodness. The Truth that countless times before, Jesus has provided. Jesus has provided when folks have seemed the most desperate, when things look and feel hard. This reminded me of the story in Mark 2, where Jesus heals a man who is paralyzed.

 1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
 
I remember studying this passage 3 years, ago; being struck by the commitment of the paralytic's friends to get him to Jesus. I mean, seriously, the friends of the paralytic ripped open the roof above where Jesus was because they were so desperate for him to know Jesus. They carried their friend to Jesus when he couldn't get there on his own.
Similar to what my friends did for me this past Tuesday. They understood my need and did whatever it took to make sure that I saw Jesus and was met by him. I was slowly able to leave the anxiety, and fear behind me, knowing full well that Jesus had not only forgiven my lack of trust in him, but still waits to give me a perfect gift. And as I slowly realized that God is still good despite my circumstances, I grew more and more grateful that my friends were that committed to me in order to carry me back to Jesus.

What are areas in your life in which you need to let yourself be carried to Jesus?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To Be Honest...

I'm dead tired.
Physically, emotionally. Just tired.
Today was one of those days where I just wanted to up and quit. To throw in the towel and just say, "Forget it, I'm going home."
This month of looking for work has been exhausting, humbling, and today I wondered if it was worth it.

Finally, after a bit of tears and an angry and frustrated heart, I listened to Jesus as he told me to leave the apartment. Walks do usually make me feel better, why not?
It helped. I ran into a couple people that were happy to see me, and that part of me that strives to be known was relieved.
I thank the Lord for his hand in knowing me so well that I was able to be in a room visiting a friend, only to surprise another who was about to call to pray for me over the phone.
His words of grace and Truth were a balm to my heart when it was hard to say them or believe them.

Yes, I'm still tired, and I still want to quit this job search.
But I pray that tomorrow will be better and that my heart will retain the Truth that
He is the Provider.

If you're reading this, if you could join me in prayer, I would greatly appreciate it.
Prayer requests:
-Joy and peace as I lean on Jesus to provide financially.
-Being honest in sharing with friends that this season is hard.
-Rest. I had a couple bad dreams last night, so a restful night of sleep would be helpful as I continue on the job hunt.
-That Jesus would provide a job.

Friday, October 8, 2010

something very good.

as i walked to the bus stop on wilshire and westwood today (holla metro 720 to commerce center!),
i noticed my demeanor.
not rushing- if i have to wait another 3 minutes to cross the street that's okay.
peaceful- God, i may not know what you're doing. i'm okay with that.
joy- i'm perfectly joyful to be going home today. i now am at home. it's great!

i'm amazed at how God's schooling me as I re-entered back to school.
as i entered a new community (yeah, Shoreline!)
and as I strive to listen more and more to God's voice.
jesus, you are SO GOOD.

so yes, something good is brewing in me.
like a cup o' coffee.
something amazing, comforting, i can't wait to uncover more of this.
whatever it may be. :)

Overwhelmed.

Last night I was overwhelmed and overjoyed at how good (and how crazy Jesus is).
A friend of mine, spent almost two years experiencing more of God and of Jesus than I thought was possible.
Our group of friends, my family, UCLA's InterVarsity chapter watched as my brother, Brian, saw and knew more and more of Jesus.
The climax being Sunday, when he finally accepted Jesus into his heart. Declaring to anyone that would listen his journey, his love and his Truth.
I began to cry a bit as he began to share, starting at the beginning.
Overwhelmed because the same joy that this man of God has, I have too. I know the freedom of which he speaks, the joy and the wonder that is to share it with community.
Overwhelmed because I'm a part of his story, however small that part is, I'm a part of it.
A part of the people that have loved him into a relationship with Jesus.
Overwhelmed because that's what following Jesus is all about, joy in seeing each other's journey and sharing in each other's joy as they recognize Jesus with their heart.
(Happy re-birthday, Baller.)
__

And today I was just overwhelmed.
After getting off the bus from Westside Pavilion, and walking back from Big Blue Bus' Line 8 Westwood stop, I was just tired. Unexpected tears flooded my eyes and I had to swallow against the lump growing in my throat. Jesus, I'm tired. I'm tired of being unemployed, of worrying about money. Of not getting called back, of searching aimlessly when I know you have something for me. That was my prayer.
Every single part of me was tired. My body, my soul, my heart. I can't explain why, just the fact that I still don't know where rent money will come from is quite exhausting.

The reminder, You don't make mistakes, feels weaker today than it did Tuesday.
Yet I long to hold onto it.
It's all I have.
All I have left tonight.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes I cry...

There's a certain spell that's cast sometimes when dancers step onto a stage.
When the music starts.
When the audience is quiet, completely still when seeing dancers onstage, something powerful is happening.
The reality of the vulnerability, the emotion, the depth of the soul that is so apparent in what is sometimes overlooked by the sequence of steps.
When I forget about lines, time, music and am enraptured by the fluidity of the piece before me, my soul reacts.

I am finally able to see the message, the story, the beauty of both the dancer and choreographer.
And often, that makes me cry.

This has happened twice today.
The knowledge of sending a loved one out to war, yet wanting to show them how deeply loved they are. The military being such a soft spot in my heart, I reacted to this.

And the search for salvation, the search for something, someone to save you, to hold onto... I couldn't hold back tears watching this piece.

So go, enjoy these two pieces. :)

More on my own dance journey later.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New on my Wishlist.

The art from Red Letter Words is making me think of adding art into my personal space. :)
These three pieces significant because:
Zephaniah 3:17 "...he will rejoice over you with singing." Knowing that Jesus loves me so much in order to rejoice over me with singing and delight in me; makes my heart insatiably happy.
Love never fails. It never does, ever.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 9:17 The word freedom is important to me, really important. And this particular verse was in a poster in the school I was in while in St. Louis. So it also reminds me of a week in March where I was again, insatiably happy.

Red Letter Words also does customized stuff! So feel free to check it out!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's nice to meet someone with a similar heart as you. Jesus, inner city... longterm ministry in the inner city. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I have nothing left

but to trust in You.
always in You.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rest.

What does that even mean?
I finally learned how to rest in the summer context.
To learn what to cut out as I worked with an agency, cooked dinner, did laundry, went to church and occassionally walking to get paletas with a friend.
I learned during FUI that you have to do whatever it takes to spend time with Jesus.
There's beauty in being in a place for 6 weeks where I knew I was meant to hear from Jesus, learn more about his character, his people, and rest as I did so.

I did a lot of writing. I understand how my mind works, how my soul longs to be at ease as I go about a lot of changes.

I learned to lean on Jesus during this time. To have eyes, ears and a heart that sought what Jesus was trying to teach me. What Jesus was trying to show us, those that were His hands and feet for six weeks in downtown Fresno.

Now, I wonder what rest even means.
I know I am meant to spend time with Jesus, to learn from the situations and circumstances surrounding me. I guess the hiccup is, I don't know how to do that.
The past four years I have failed at seeing, hearing and having a heart that sought out what Jesus was teaching me; at least I've failed at doing so while studying, cooking, and taking care of extra curricular activities.

It's funny that sometimes in the midst of serving students who are seeking to see more of Jesus and striving to be more like him, I wouldn't rest. To be honest, sometimes I wouldn't just 'cause I could get away with it. I'd push to see how far I could push until I felt completely dry.

And other times, I would just get to wrapped up in doing, doing, doing. So I would claim I just couldn't rest. And then, I would be moody, cranky and less than gracious as I complained that no one cared about me. No one seemed to care that I wasn't okay. But really,

who's responsibility is it?

I compare it to a vacation. It's the best, sweetest and cheapest vacation I could take. It's a trip to the beach, an art museum (oh, LACMA and CAFAM), sitting on a grassy hill...
my time with Jesus is truly a vacation. I get to sit with my Best Friend, unload any emotional stress I'm under, go to a new place just because, and not feel guilty for it.
It is weird that I'm just now putting this all together? I guess I don't care that it took this long, 'cause it very well could have taken another 4 years.

So now I re-learn how to rest. Rest while on the run.
Bring it on.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Throughout my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship

Monday, September 6, 2010

I made a mistake.

By not believing enough in my friends.
I have kept their things theirs, my own to myself. Their interests, their problems, their families.
I haven't wanted to fuse our lives as I now see that I should.
Meshing our stuff, our cultures, our food.
Our problems, our sin, all of our mess.

What is the point of true friendship if you don't commit to it?
The friendships I want are ones that are deep. Real.
So I'm going to start pursuing real friendships.
Talking about, and showing the things that I am passionate about. The things that I want to invest in, opening the door for them to join in with me.
Opening the door to making my friendships deep. Real.

So off the top of my head, these are the things I love. The things I invest in, the things I pray, lose sleep over, and cry over.

Military personnel: I try to write two letters every week to Soldiers and other military personnel. I have a soft spot for the military. I hope to one day make a great military friend to be able to support them while they're on deployment.

Latino issues: I love Latino people! The Lord has blessed me with a deep, deep love for the people I come from. I seek to have my life reflect the redemption that can come from having someone love their own culture while loving everyone else's. Racial rec, here I come.

The inner city: I have had the pleasure of visiting two cities, both Fresno, CA and St. Louis, MO. It was there that God affirmed and then reaffirmed my love of the inner city. I have a deep love of Fresno and St. Louis, coupled with a deep desire to go back to the places where I see God's people quite clearly.

Letter writing: I am an old soul when it comes to letters. They're my preferred mode of communication. The best day is when I go to the mailbox and and find a letter from someone I love instead of junk mail or bills.

Books: My favorite pass time. I usually read before sleeping, often staying up later than I intend because I get wrapped up in the book. Favorite authors currently are: Donald Miller, Dee Henderson, and Victor Villasenor.
So if you'd like to get to know me better, (even if we've known each other for a couple years), feel free to ask me about any of these things, or tell me about the things that interest you and we'll talk about it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Way to My Heart

I have words, phrases even paragraphs of my favorite books that drift through my head at any particular time.

"until Henry was no longer afraid of flying."
"...as selfish as it was, I loved his love for me."
"...senseless violence. And so sad."
"I'm scared of me."
"Console. It's a healing word."
There are novels, articles, letters, and blog posts that make me tick. There are the friends that I have never met but seem to articulate what I have seen, felt, and continue to heal from. I call them friends having never met them. Call me crazy, I call it the reality of a wide reading list.

So if you want to know the way to my heart, it's through my reading list. There's a lot of sap in it, but also a lot of truth. Especially in the more recent stuff I've picked up. Feel free to ask me about books, and if I trust you enough, I'll unabashedly answer with the same excitement I feel when I find a new book waiting for me in my mailbox. Yep, that constitutes a good day becoming a great one.

In case you're curious, this is what I read most regularly:

Sarah Markley- you can find her at sarahmarkley(dot)com. I love her honesty, vulnerability, and the way she challenges the way I live in every blog post.

Donald Miller- Don has a blog and has written small masterpieces, Blue Like Jazz and Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation. He's a true hero in my book.

Dee Henderson- I'm waiting for her next book. The wait feels eternal. Dee writes Romantic Suspense, usually about men and women in the various branches of the United States military and Secret Service.

These three friends are followers of Jesus, and they write out of that. Out of the Truth they have secured in their relationship with Jesus. And that is probably why I am drawn to their writing.

Everything else is basically recommendations and repetitions of old favorites.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Love is Misunderstood

I had spent just about 14 days in our home. You know, post Fresno. I had spent days living, laughing, and eating at home with my mom and my sister. I had even been able to talk to my eldest sister on the phone. It had been a pretty good time, although I was starting to grow bored at the reality of not doing much of anything at home. No job, no volunteer site, nothing to do while my mom and sister were at work. Nothing to do until about 5pm.
I finally decided to be useful. I decided to clean up the kitchen, the place that we all use, but refuse to clean. I decided to wash up dishes, clean up the counters, sweep the floor. I thought, "What a great way to show my family what I learned in Fresno, about servanthood. They're sure to notice a change and ask about it." I finally felt useful.

My mom walked in and asked, "Haber, Sol, dime lo que quieres hacer." In the tone that implied that I was in trouble. She had asked, "Alright, Sol, tell me what you want to do." I explained that I just wanted to help out, by cleaning. By making a more suitable space for her and my sister since they were at work all day.

I felt like I had overstepped boundaries. The tone my mom used was one that told me that she was not happy. I didn't know what to do, did I choose this as the time to explain that I just wanted to serve her? Did I tell her that I didn't want us to live in the mess we'd created for ourselves over the summer? I wanted to explain that I had learned this past summer more about Jesus' love and what it means to serve people even when I'm tired, and because she's my mom, because this is my family...I wanted to do the same for them.

I didn't do either. I decided to let her assume that I was just doing it 'cause I was bored. Because I didn't want to watch tv anymore. It was an opportunity lost for my family to know a little more about why I do what I do. And now I regret it, I regret not taking the risk and telling her.

And so I wait for another chance to explain. And for her to see my love for her through Jesus.

This is embarassing.

Well, kind of.
The truth is, I'm now in the phase of life where I want to settle down. That's right, I said it.
(This is bound to be one sappy post, so if you're deterred, stop reading. Now.)
I've forever held the want of being in a relationship, of having kids and having the happy family.
Now, I might just notice it more, but man is it there.
See I'm 22, soon to be 23. In 3 months and 28 days.

Seeing two weddings of friends declare, "I do". Makes me cry.
Cry because it's forever-love.

Little kids holding my hand and tugging me to help them find beads or to dance with them, makes my heart melt.

Hearing family and friends slyly introduce me to men who are around my age, "just in case" makes me laugh, yet still wondering when it will be my turn.

And oddly enough, I'm finally learning what it means to be content in singleness.
I know this post is a paradox.
The truth is, I wonder about when I'll finally be able to have the guy, the wedding, the house, the kids...the life I dream of that will come to pass because of the promises God has made to me.

Yet I'm finding this new patience to wait until God brings it to pass.
A contentedness in knowing that it will.
And dancing the night away until I can dance with the man I'm supposed to dance all my dances with.
Yes, I stole that last phrase from Chandler Bing from Friends. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Once we watched a lazy world go by,
now the days seem to fly
life is brief, but when it's gone
love goes on and on.
Ooh, ooh, ooh.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"The best leaders aren't the guys who walk around telling people what to do. The best leaders are the guys who cast vision and invite others into their story."
Donald Miller

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lay in the Grass

One night of the last week in Fresno, I decided it was time to sit outside.
I had spent the majority of my summer indoors, in the apartment of a thousand guests. :)
I found myself that night laying on the grass outside the Pink House, laying just looking up at the black night sky, searching for stars that were elusive and just thinking of Fresno.
I emulated the physical posture of Matt Rogers, who also laid on the grass thinking.
Laying there, I sighed a deep sigh.
I looked up into the heavens searching for something, anything.
I wanted to hear what God wanted to say to me.
I heard, "Sol, the things you want, I want. I long for them too."
I just about cried.
I thought about Fresno and how I had started to dream for the city, how I long to see and know the city as reconciled. As a place that is renewed.

I dream and have cried over the infinite possibilities of what unconditional love can really do.
I layed there and sighed a deep sigh.
A sigh of being heard, known.
A sigh of having God know my desires and me being completely at a loss of making them happen.
A sigh because it's all up to God, and he knows my heart.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Love, it seems like only yesterday
you were just a child at play
now you're all grown up inside of me
oh how fast those moments flee

Sometimes they have to kill us

During the week of Orientation at FUI, we watched a film entitled, "Thunderheart." It is a movie starring Val Kilmer playing a character who is part Sioux. He is sent under assignment by the CIA to crack a recent homicide. The movie revolves around the stuggles between Native American people and what it means to discover your own identity and embrace it. The movie holds much more than that, so watch it.
During the movie, one of the characters who is fleeing the police since he is the prime suspect, has a line that to me spoke volumes, "Sometimes they have to kill us." Jimmy was referring to how the Native American people have chosen to "be who [they] are," and sometimes they have to be killed since their spirit can't be broken.

Later, right around two weeks later made that same connection to Latino folks who are coming from both Mexico and South America. There is still a large wave of folks who are coming from various places to better their lives; the need as well as the motivation to come to the United States has not waned and will not be diluted.

I think of the wall that has been constructed between the U.S. and Mexican border. The wall has to be fortified, stronger, thicker. New technology has to be brought in, these people don't seem to stop coming. And so, my response is the same as Jimmy's, "Sometimes they have to kill us," 'cause our desire, want and need for the same opportunities that other Americans have are enough to get us through Satan's Highway in order to try to achieve the American Dream.

Our people have chosen to remain true to who they are. We have decided to stay immersed in our traditions, culture, our food. We choose to be who we are. Our choice fortifies our spirit.
7.16.10

Friday, August 20, 2010

Visitor's Day

I was exhausted at the end of this Saturday.
I was wiped.
I crawled to bed.
It was the best kind of tired.
The tired of hanging out with 25 of your favorite people in the place that you love.
That day was the best I had spent, the most giving day.
The day I understood what it meant to be loved quite tangibly.
I questioned whether you who said you were coming would.
I doubted because I hadn't been reassured.
And lo and behold, there were the people I so eagerly wanted to see.
They had not reassured me because they were coming.
I just didn't know that.
And yes, learning to trust them and the other 23 folks that came was like breathing deeply after holding my breath for a long time.
You see, I question my friendships a lot. Especially now.
Now when I am not fully immersed in our UCLA InterVarsity fellowship.
And so having promises kept is a really big deal for me.
Promises spoken matter of factly at the end of conversation.
Promises where friends understand what FUI has meant to me, and why it was so important to have visitors come and support me in the place where God continues to work so powerfully.
(There'll probably be more on this later.)

Thank you friends, for loving me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smoke Signals

That Friday night after watching "Smoke Signals" I cried. I cried a lot.
I cried more than I had all Spring quarter, I think.
The themes of the movie are: poverty, adventure and the loss of a father (death and emotional detachment). As soon as Todd spoke the themes, I was already groaning.
I knew God was going to do something in me that night.

As I watched the movie, I felt wounds being uncovered to be aired out and dressed again. Wounds that I had avoided for far too long.
The question by Victor in the movie, "Did my Dad ever talk about me?"
It floored me.

I've asked that question to myself so many times. I have wondered if Dad ever thought about me, wondered what I was up to. If he ever asked about me.
I wonder that still.
I wonder if he thinks of me, if he cares what's happened to me.

And then I started to cry.

I cried 'cause I am frustrated with myself that I still wonder.
That I still hope that he's thought of me now and again.
I still cry on occassion 'cause I wish he did.
I cry 'cause I wish I was further on the journey towards healing.
The part where I didn't need my Dad.
And if you're wondering if there's any resolution, the answer is not really.

I have a lot of feelings that feel as if they'll never go away, but I also hold onto the hope of two pieces of Scripture that have been given to me.

"You, my Daughter, are called to be free" (Galatians 5:13). I know that freedom is near, that the journey is meant to be one that I walk and sometimes run, but I always have my Papa right there with me.

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields her all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders" (Deuteronomy 33:12). And I know that in the midst of the chaos and madness and frustration, I have a steady place to rest my head, to sleep in the arms of my Papa.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

haiku, haiku!

So I had different spurts of writing while I was at FUI. Usually on Sundays and after I came back from my site on a weekday. Basically when the apartment was the most quiet and I could hear my thoughts. On this day I decided to write haiku poetry. It's not amazing, but still fun.

These first two are about what God was telling me, and me trying to figure it out.

is the word i love,
from you? show your love to me
'cause my heart is weak.

get out of the boat
take a risk, walk on water
it is worthwhile

about the people in my apt, (both that lived there as well as just at the time):
lissah is cool, yeah!
really fashionable, mmm!
sleeping on the couch.
(hehe :))

monte is funny.
she is honorary mex
and my long-lost twin.

joyce wang, yeahhh boy!
she gets nervous when i stare
and screams when she's scared.

i call krista "cute"
'cause she really is, you know?
she makes awesome greenbeans, too!

julie makes the bread
usually with cheese on top
it is really good.

julie likes hot sauce
and is hardly ever bored
she makes me smile.

shannon is trendy
i am "sol sista" to her
she slides in her socks.

i like zoe's laugh
she and bryson are twinsies
i like bryson too.

i like zoe's laugh
she has grown much in FUI
i am glad she's here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to UCLA

I'll be back at UCLA since June 12th.
I feel excited yet completely nervous.
What will this year look like?
What will it hold?
And what will God continue to teach me?

Day 1, tomorrow.
If you're around, let me know.
I'd love to hang out with you. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On the 99

Sunday, August 1st.
We were driving away.
Away from students, the Pink House, La Reina de Michoacan (the paleteria), away from the Fresno I know and love.
We stopped at In-N-Out and bought lunch like a family, and continued our drive up to Hilmar.
It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
I wasn't as emotional as I thought, and driving away at that moment felt right.
We drove up the 99, and I watched as the landscape changed from urban city to fields that ran as far as the eye could see.
We passed by a'mond trees-just seeing a lot of green with the contrast of yellow dying grass across the interstate to my right.
I was amazed at how vibrant the green was, and how much of it there was before my eyes.

And just as soon as I began to delight in how green the plants and grass were when I heard,
"This is what's going to happen to Fresno, Sol. It's going to grow and flourish."

"But will I get to see it in my lifetime?"
"You'll see it."


And I stopped to bask in the feeling that God was pulling me into.
I smiled and said, "Well whatever you're doing, you sound pretty excited."

And so I sat in that car, smiling and finally felt a little bit of the excitement that friends keep saying that God is feeling for my future plans.
So I wait, I wait for discernment.
I wait for the next year to breeze by like it has these past four years at UCLA.
I wait for God to speak His future plans for me.
I wait in the arms of my Papa who will hold me until I receive all these and more.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Floundering.

This is the first post i've written on an actual keyboard in a long time.

I'm floundering.
Floundering to stay present here when my heart is clearly somewhere else.
In the land where 90 degrees Fahrenheit is cool, where often mischievous 3.5 year old boys run around without pants on, where I can find the most delicious paletas I've ever tasted.
Fresno, CA.

I miss you.
I miss that the neighborhood has changed significantly yet not at all since 2008.
My heart is definitely there.

The trip to Target unnecessary, just like the 36 televisions lining one wall of the store. Too much, everywhere.
Family is trying to understand, but my patience and grace has to be stronger and more faithful than than the learning curve I think is too slow.


I miss the apartment of a thousand guests, a place that was always flowing with people; always filled with grace as we learned to live life together.

I miss that place and am floundering to retain memories, promises and gifts that I was given in the span of 6 weeks.

So today, I'll let the tears fall. Today I'll mourn that I'm here and not there.

I'll mourn that I continue to live here until Jesus calls me wherever he'd like me to go.

Which I deeply, deeply hope is Fresno, California.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thoughts tonight:
it's definitely cooler in la than fresno.
I miss the minturn's.
Music will soothe some of the pain as i gather my thoughts.
Jesus, i love you.
Trip to Target = overwhelming.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Last night in fresno
Don't want to cry tomorrow,
I'll be coming back.
Mourning the loss of living life so closely with Todd and Carrie and the boys, but replaying 3 days worth of laughter and delicious food! Yay for staff retreat.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I will bless the Lord
Oh, my soul
And all that is within me
Bless His holy name

He has done great things (3x)
Bless His holy name.

"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
- 2 Corinthians 9:17

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Retreat of silence in the morning. Rest. Time face to face with jesus. Time to think and pray, worship and thank Him for all he's done. Bound to be a great day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eric Vinson's "Hold on to Love":
"and if today, you need a helping hand; i'll stand as tall as all my inches say that i can stand."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

So sweet.

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
And to take him at his word;
Just to rest upon his promise,
And to know, "Thus saith the LORD."

Jesus, Jesus how I trust him!
How I've proved him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
And for grace to trust him more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You sing me to sleep,
i drift in your arms,
you restore my heart
'cause you hold the key.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

As I tell my story, I remember:

Jesus, you are good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fresno, CA.

I am sitting on the floor of the Pink House.
A place I love deeply and utterly because of what happened both when and since I was here two summers ago.
I feel the excitement of a summer filled with endless possibilities for God.

The responsibility is deeper.
I am called to lead, serve and encourage the group of about 30 students that will arrive on Wednesday.
And I know God will rock me.

He'll rock me in a way I'm sure; because I have asked, tried and pleaded that He would.
And now, I'm here.
In an opportunity that I didn't know would be offered to me. And I am so grateful.

Grateful to feel alive as I passed Motel Drive, to know that God wants to fulfill His will here in this city.
His city.

Jesus, may you be glorified in the ways in which this humble group of students and staff seek to love your people for your glory. May we speak, serve and love in your name.

And to you be all the glory.
Amen.

If you'd like to support me on this journey, please send letters (and checks, if you desire) to:
Sol Eufracio
c/o FUI
310 N. Roosevelt Ave
Fresno, CA 93701

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My heart

is quite insecure.

As the year is winding down and I am entering this new phase of life, of growing up and finding a genuine community outside of BCF-

I need to be reassured that friendships are staying friendships.

And that You (and you) aren't going anywhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh, beautiful day.

Today is one of the most amazing, blessed days I've had in a really long time.

I woke up  at 5:30 am to get ready and come back to UCLA.
I was driven back to UCLA by Mom and Sister while listening to the World Cup.
Mexico and South Africa tied that game.
I caught up with a long time friend while making breakfast.
Ate said breakfast with two new friends.
Sat around as people came in and out of her apartment.
Helped edit a personal statement.
Saw my friend HELEN SONG after a year!
And am now sitting having a (continuous) relaxing day.

Things later today:
watching the best friends I've made while in college walk to complete their college degree, and even though I won't be walking, it's going to be GREAT.
Having dinner with friends who have completed their degrees to celebrate.
Sleeping over and having late night conversations, I'm sure.

So far, a good day. And it'll probably get better. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Change, it's in your pocket.

As I walked to my last final of this year, I tapped my back pocket to make sure I had the necessary BruinCard and room key. I also found a silver Half Dollar.
My initial reaction was of surprise, "When did I get a half dollar and put it in my pocket?"
(insert the BCF Visioning Team quoting the phrase, "Change- it's in your pocket.")
The second was a smile, how random but very nice to have it there. I dropped it back in.

I could go on about the significance of my childhood said half dollar represents, but instead I've been thinking (and thinking) about the change that has already come. I've had a good run, you know.
I've laughed, cried harder than I ever thought I'd cry in front of people, and shared secrets as well as song with friends that will probably be friends for the rest of my life.

Now I listen to the sounds of boxes being thrown around in a feeble attempt to pack efficiently, laundry carts on their way up to rooms and back to the turnaround to load things into cars and ultimately have it driven away to its home.

Yes, change is here. And there isn't really anything I can do to stop it.
So here I go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Canta.

Singing is my vulnerable spot. Probably because I enjoy it (a lot) yet don't feel like my voice holds a candle to the rest of the voices surrounding me.
So when my friend, E said it was finally time to perform this song ("Let That Be Enough" by Switchfoot) outside of his room, for more than five of our closest friends, I said yes. However, I didn't think that Senior Catalyst (InterVarsity's large group gathering put on by the Senior class every year) would be the biggest risk I ever did take in BCF.

That Thursday night was me putting myself out there (I felt the most vulnerable I've ever felt); knowing I wasn't the best singer in our class, that my voice would not be flawless, but deciding to sing anyway.

Singing because I have a story to tell.

A story of redemption- singing with the man that has challenged my mind and caused me to check the motives of my heart. Not to mention that he aggressively encouraged me (for about a year) to do this song. I could not have done it without him. I have learned to much of God's love through him, and learning what it means to live in the constant want of letting God's love be enough for me.
A story of grief- the first time I heard this song was five days after my stepfather passed away, liking this song, and having the melody and the line, "I'm a plane in the sunset with nowhere to land," stuck in my head for a long time after initially hearing it.
A story of healing-a year after, seeing the ways God has been doing a healing work in me. Shattering guilt, shame and reminding me that I am His. That his love is constant, no matter what I fail to do and no matter how I mess up.
My story- it has become a story of dependence on Jesus. Learning more and more what it means to follow him in the moments when I don't know what comes next, the moments when I'm tired, the moments when I think he doesn't know what he's doing.

My life and my story has become this song, and may that be enough.


Amen.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

let's be real.

this sucks.
the reality of leaving my fellowship, BCF, is hitting hard now.
BCF has been what i've known, what i've lived for and where i have received life the past 3 years.

this is scary.
actually, this is pretty terrifying.
(you know my panic face? i'm wearing it right now.)

additionally, i don't like goodbyes. and although i'll be here for the next while i won't be directly investing in the lives of friends that are near.
there aren't words now.
just this feeling of dread.

the image in my head is running across the plateau of a cliff,
running toward the impending edge to ultimately jump off it.
i've been running for 3 years, and now i know the edge is getting closer and closer.

running is easy.
jumping off the cliff is hard,
and
I DON'T WANT TO DO IT.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

lovable.

i still have a difficult time receiving love. not being open when friends and family want to serve me, learning the hard way that they're doing it because they love me.


this is an interesting reality to live in.
living in the constant, want, need to be loved, yet not knowing how to receive that when it is shown to me.
the words, "i'm not going anywhere" are powerful.
too often not spoken, my heart often questioning how long friendships will last and why.
what do i have to offer you?

when L and P called me and said, we want to get you food, my first thought was, "why?"
my heart doubted the goodness of a free delivered meal.
(it was delicious too.)
i love these two dearly, i know their hearts, yet i doubted.

how many times have i doubted You?
i know Your heart, i know that you love me, yet when perfect and good things are presented to me,
i doubt.
i believe you will still give me a stone instead of bread, that my heart will continue to be broken time and time again.

"you are lovable. i guess you've questioned that before."
as i resisted hug after hug from a new friend made in St. Louis, these words were spoken to me.
i stopped.
yes, i question that just about every day.
the scars of the men in my life who didn't see me as lovable haven't faded.
i don't see lovable when i look in the mirror, don't feel particularly lovable when i walk down to campus.
yet, there it was.
said to me point blank so i had to hear it.

i often wonder how long it will take for my heart to see, hear, and taste the goodness of the love You shower upon me every single day through my friends, my family.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

as i sat by the ocean, you said, "let go."

and Dad, although it's taken me a while to get here,
i think i'm there.

ready to walk away and not be bitter, not be resentful.
i understand why you blessed me with him,
why we're such good friends and the amazing
redemption
that i've received as i've seen more of his soul.
more of mine.

the more i look into his face
into his character,
i see You.

i see the ways he strives to please you,
love you,
honor You.

he's pledged his life to you,
and Daddy,
that's a beautiful thing.

his heart is beautiful,
the way he cares for me
the way he loves his family
although it's difficult,
there's been disappointment

i see the way he's following You,
following You to the cross day after day
praising You along the way
praying that you'll make his heart
more and more like yours.

it is.
every day.

a man of my own.

i visited A and all i wanted to do was take care of him.
you know, the way a girlfriend would.
to hold his hand to reassure him i was there,
to kiss the top of his head when i said goodbye.
no, friends, i am not falling for A.
my heart is still in that place where it's been for a little over a year (wow).

i'm paying attention to my heart,
the ways it wants to open itself up to the possibilities of being vulnerable and honest to the end of being known.
valued.
loved.

i am learning the kind of man i want.
a man who will ask me a bunch of questions,
'cause most of the time i don't know how much to say.
he'll laugh at all my stupid and sometimes witty jokes,
'cause i like being reassured that i'm somewhat funny.
he'll know how to read me. know how far to push when i get quiet.
'cause sometimes i pretend everything's fine when i really want you to ask "what's wrong?"
be able to read from my smile that's it's the polite one instead of the one that reaches my eyes.
know that when i say, "i like that shirt" it means "i like you in that shirt."
learning the areas of my life i don't like to touch 'cause i get emotional,
but will still ask in case i need to talk about it.
a man that will call me out of whatever funk i'm in 'cause days are better when i smile.
even weakly.

i want to be in that place where i can trust that man.
fully knowing that he's there to challenge and protect me.
'cause he loves me.

my heart feels ready.
ready to dare, ready to risk.
ready to love.
completely and fully.

the way i've already been loved.
by You.

Monday, May 17, 2010

most days.

most days i don't consider myself beautiful.
 most days i don't even find myself worthy of being invested in, listened to.
the thoughts in my head swirl, saying that friends are paying attention at any given time due to manners, the fact that we're friends...
i found myself this week, feeling really uncomfortable.
feeling like i was off to the side as everyone else (it seemed) was engaging in conversation with each other, either working on stuff or catching up.
i felt awkward.
like i didn't belong.

yes, i know this isn't the reality.
the reality is that i am loved, valued and sought after because of who i am.
i am loved because of my quirks, dorkiness, and heart that i offer my friends and family.
my community.

it's difficult to see my worth and why i am loved.
the world keeps whispering that i am not good enough and that takes a toll on a soul that is wondering why on earth this community that i love so much would pursue a relationship with me after i leave.

so tonight i struggle with that.
(and pray for a better tomorrow.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

thoughts on loving you.

i wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed together.
i wonder who you're with now
and if they love you as much as i do.

i worry about you,
whether you're being taken care of,
whether you're being loved the way you deserve.

i worry 'cause i believe
that no one can love you the way i do
the way i want to

and then i remember that it's not up to me,
you made that choice
and frankly,
i trust whatever God is trying to do in you
in me.

while i wait until you're reappearing
or whether i'll have to wonder
(deep breath)
always.

the flip side is that i feel i shouldn't.
you know?
(okay, maybe you really don't)
but after all this pain and genuine
absence from you

i feel like i shouldn't have these thoughts
at all.

may the Lord redeem you the way he's already
redeemed me
so that you know you deserve that kind of love

and not just from me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

i realized

that i'm generally pretty hasty
when it comes to writing.

i should slow down.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I dream
to hold you in my arms


I dream
to hold you in my arms


Wide awake,
in my arms

<3

Sunday, May 9, 2010

i lied.

i said the reason i was leaving was because i had work in the morning and i wanted to sleep.
not entirely true.

i do have work in the morning, and sundays are the most difficult mornings to wake up,
but there's also... this.

my heart feels like weeping.

there are so many things that are overwhelming yet still unexplicable today.
like me going back to the familiar and unhealthy regarding me. regarding you.
feeling the sense of loss, having it penetrate dreams that wake me unrested and without peace.
wondering and sincerely hoping that they won't come to pass.
i really want peace.

'cause the when i am embraced by You through friends and loved ones...i wish they wouldn't end.
i wish that tonight you would all stay in that room as i fall asleep... to scare the dreams away and that i would be with you in that room, in this time and place forever.
'cause i'm more scared about what comes next than i care to admit, and i'm hoping that the promises from You and my family both here and back home aren't just empty promises.

i need these to be more real than what we've already shared.
than what i've already given you.

and that's why i'm typing all of this, letting brooke fraser's "love is waiting" wash over me yet again,
so that i can remember that tonight, and tomorrow when i wake up...
love is waiting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

called.

sometimes i stop and wonder why so much crap happens.
why i screw up, why others do...why we can't avoid it.

You say i'm called to be free, that i am called to those difficult places where my soul hurts and i am forced to see you in it.

i complain 'cause i'm a complainer (some of the time),
but i also can't help but express joy when promises like this
prove to be true. real.

thank you jesus for calling me into those difficult places,
for molding me to be more like you,
and for piecing me together in the places that are broken
when my life feels obliterated.

you, my daughter, are called to be free. 

and Papa, today, i choose freedom. :)

Your Beloved.

Lord it was You who
Created the Heavens
Lord it was Your hand 
That put the stars in their place

Lord it is Your voice 
That commands the morning
Even oceans and their waves
Bow at Your feet


Lord who am I
Compared to Your glory, Oh Lord
Lord who am I
Compared to Your majesty


I am Your beloved
Your creation
And You love me as I am


You have called me chosen
For your kingdom
Unashamed to call me Your own
I am Your beloved.

You know, for the longest time, I didn't like this song. Particularly the questioning bit.
It made me feel less. I felt like the song was glorifying creation and making me less.
The thought process was, "Lord, who am I? I can't compare to stars or the ocean..."
But I am Your beloved, you love me even though I can't compare to those things. It was finally
at our large group meeting with InterVarsity that I realized that the beloved part is the response that God
has for us, as we question our place, our beauty, everything... he comes back and says, you're my beloved.
He loves me the same (more, I'd wager) than the rest of creation. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

unity.

i always think of unity as the final product.
the end of the journey of embracing our differences, similarities, becoming one.
 the final product, unity being unshakeable.

the reality was that black wednesday was a picture of unity. there were new faces (mainly, ours), and the topic was unity. seeing the faces of my brothers and sisters in a setting created for our african american brothers and sisters made me uncomfortable.
i didn't know what to say, to approach and introduce myself, to offer cheesecake... i just didn't know.

i got a couple looks from folks, either suspicious or wondering what i was doing there.
i'm not black. nope.

i was really proud of us though, i was proud that the community that i love and am a part of, was sharing out of our abundance. sharing cheesecake, our time... and doing so freely.
as time went on, it got a little difficult to stand and feel like an outsider. watching potential new friends grab name tags and cheesecake and head back to their comfort zone, back with friends they already know.

however, it was joy to see new friends engage with new faces, different skin tones... new everything.
it was joy to learn their names, offer cheesecake and love them the way we could at that particular moment.
joy.

joy because it reminded me of the promise of love and reconciliation. a promise i received on the other side of the country, where time seems to slow down and where i was able to see friends both new and old with new eyes.
recognizing that there is beauty in everyone i see.
everyone.

wednesday was good. :)
i learned that unity isn't the final product, that unity is worked for. it may seem unattainable, but we keep working toward it to foster and maintain a united community.
sure, it'll be uncomfortable, but having a community where you can be yourself amidst those that are different than you is well worth it, don't you think?

the weekend.

did it exceed expectations?
oh yeah.

the weekend began with celebrating the way Jesus met my friends on Thursday.
risk led to an experience, which led to me crying tears of joy.

friday night, Hedrick Con.
it was an awesome way of bonding with community, serving and loving friends who have become vital to my peace of mind, spiritual growth and knowledge of who Jesus is.
favorite moments:
*playing husband and wife (ask, if you don't know what i'm talking about) and hitting the ground so hard, I got rug burn...and a gnarly scrape that i'm more than slightly proud of.

saturday, continuation of Hedrick Con and CACN.
*sharing our memorials and essentially sharing our stories with each other. you always hear bits and pieces of what is happening for folks, but actually hearing and seeing what God has done, is simply amazing.
*the ride to and from UCLA to the OC. it was an awesome way to spend time with rachelle, andy, a.ro and joey! we bonded over music, the game of connection, and trying to not fall asleep on each other's shoulders after the weekend was over (we didn't accomplish that last one).
*the mad dash back to UCLA for CACN. eating yoshinoya at lightning fast speed, driving back, dropping stuff off and then making it to royce only a couple minutes after 7pm when the show started.

sunday, UCLA Powwow with the family and Leaders Meeting
*waking up late and showering, ultimately seeing my mom and sisterS! exclamation on the plural, i didn't know my eldest sister would be here so that was awesome! we ate frybread (so yummy!) and laughed a LOT! it was one of the best days i've had in a long time.
*leaders: singing, thanking God, sharing what our souls need... i'm always blessed at these meetings. i think of the choir of legions that is singing alongside with us as we praise the Lord...so amazing.
*extended grace upon me by the hedrick leaders. love and grace felt powerful, i'll carry that night with me for a long time to come.

jesus i praise you for a weekend full of reflection, community, vulnerability and joy beyond all measure.

sean a Ti, toda la gloria y la honra.
amen.