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.

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


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

Happy birthday, Monte.

Monday, December 13, 2010


"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.

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.

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].

 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
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.