His Amazing Grace

I opened my eyes to the sun rise through my blinds and blinked. 8:00am. On my own. Without an alarm. I rolled over to feel my sweet puppy Watson breathing beside me, his breaths steady against me. I smiled and thought about what i’m doing the next few days. I looked around my room, my walls bare, boxes stacked up next to my bed, my pictures put away…

I’m moving to Fort Worth, Texas this week.

I sometimes lay awake at night and wonder if I really am doing this, then wake up in the morning and realize that I am and it’s okay. I’ve said goodbye to countless friends and watched them leave with tears in their eyes and have wondered… where are my tears? I feel emotionless sometimes.

I’ve sat across from friends who want my story of why i’m moving and why I chose this particular seminary… and I think many are waiting on an extraordinary story. One with signs and wonders and huge miracles…  with a clear conviction and direction. I’ve sat across from people who are shocked, because i’ve not mentioned it before, and others who know it’s right.

But instead I sit across from person after person and just explain that I feel peace. That this is something that’s has been on my heart for a couple of years or so and I’ve been too afraid to do it. Because what if…what if I don’t fit in? What if I stick out like a sore thumb? What if they realize that i’m really not seminary material and instead i’m messy and rude and loud and sometimes even obnoxious? What if I get there and accidentally curse in class? What if they see my wicked heart and realize… I don’t belong? 

But all those what if’s don’t matter anymore, because The Lord is my Shepherd and He has guided me to Knoxville and away from Knoxville. He has lead me through dark valleys. The what if’s don’t matter anymore because the applications for seminary asked me all the questions that I was afraid they would and I answered so brutally honestly that..when I got my acceptance letter, I was shocked.

I’ve been silent about it because He’s been stirring something deep within me that feels too personal and too holy to talk about. He’s been shaping and changing and molding me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. He’s transformed me and continues to do so.

Moving away isn’t a big spiritual struggle like I imagined it would be. I thought attending to seminary would be a gigantic emotionally spiritual experience, but it’s just the next step that He’s lead me to and I feel peace.

Whether this is right or wrong, i’m unsure. But I know He will lead me into green pastures and lead me by still waters and I know He’s restored my soul. His rod and His staff they comfort me even in the presence of evil, because I know His discipline will help me stick by Him.

He is my comfort. My peace. And I don’t have an amazing story, I have His Amazing Grace and for me, today, that’s more than enough.

Advertisements

The Year of the Vegetable Oil

I held the phone to my ear with my brother on the line, my hearing aid whistling as he asked, “So Sara, how ya doing with the reading?”

This is a common question from my brother. For the last year or so, he and I have been tag-teaming on reading the Bible through, though not necessarily reading together in the same place,we’ve held each other accountable through texts and conversations such as these.

“It’s been alright,” I paused, “I’m in Numbers. I guess i’m slowing down a little since last year.”

His concern was evident, “yeah I noticed. Why do you think that is?”

I sighed. “I don’t know. I was so alive and excited about the Word, but since Ciera’s death, I’ve just had a lot of doubts. I doubt His promises. I doubt His word. I doubt my understanding of it… I doubt so much.I know these are rookie doubts and they’re stupid since I intellectually know His promises all ring true no matter what.” I continued, “I don’t know if I subconsciously thought if I sought the Lord and prayed and pleaded and begged and obeyed, that she would be healed. I don’t know if that was subconscious or not, but…”

I sat there and expressed my deepest doubts. The things I’m struggling with most. I’ve had a million people tell me that she’s healed and in a better place. That just alienates me more. I’ve had people tell me that all things work for the good of those who love Him and in response i’ve wanted to punch them in the face and tell them “this is for your good”. I know the answers. I know the sermons. I know it backwards and forwards and still doubts plague me. I pick up His word and the temptation to just not be interested is there. I struggle through prayers but sometimes all I can get out is “Are You there? Do You hear me?” My prayers haven’t changed all that much since October 26, 2015.

You think the months would make it better and that time would heal wounds, but it’s like my brother said in our conversation, “Sara, it will take years. You and C had a Jonathan/David friendship. I bet David missed Jonathan until he went to the grave. You won’t ever get over it…” His words washed over me like water. Cleansing. Acknowledging. I won’t ever get over it. I breathed in relief.

He spoke truth over me and like songs they rang right through me to my soul, “You did seek Him in hoping she would be healed. I watched you and it’s been incredible. There’s nothing wrong with that, because we all do it. We are all human. We all seek God and hope that things will happen- we seek Him and want things from Him… It’s our nature.” Thankful to hear that the most private part of me- the fact that I begged God for her healing and He didn’t give it in the way I wanted. The temptation for me to quit was out in the open and acknowledged by another human who gave me grace encouraged me to give me grace too.

Tonight he reminded me to keep pressing on. I heard the urgency in his voice, “Sara, you have to keep reading the bible and praying because that’s what will get you through shit like this. Remember Hebrews 11? Remember Abraham? He went through all of that moving from place to place to receive God’s promise and died not having received it, but he still kept pressing on…”

I remembered… By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… (Hebrews 11:8-10;13). 

His voice brought me back to the present, “they didn’t receive it in their lifetime, but God’s promises still rang true then, and they still ring true now. If C was here, she’d be by your side rooting for your faith, for you to hold on. Just like you guys used to do when you ran races! I bet she’s up there right now telling you how great it is up there and for you to hold on to His promises. They’re still true!”

“You know, Sara, this is going to sound stupid, but stick with me.” He continued, “I was watching Marcela (his wife) bake something the other day. She got a cup of vegetable oil and poured that in a bowl. Now by itself we wouldn’t drink vegetable oil for breakfast and call that good, but we put it in stuff when we bake.”
I laughed as he gave an illustration of telling someone he drank veggie oil for breakfast.

“Then she put a little bit of flour in it- Flour by itself is nasty, right?! Tasteless!” I giggled, knowing where he was going with this. “Then she put eggs in it- which aren’t too bad cooked- and raw– well…. Anyways, then she added chocolate chips and those are pretty good I can have some chocolate chips. She put it all together and put it in the oven and when she took it out it was delicious.”

I rolled my eyes and said “yeah”… Then he took an unexpected turn.

“Well, Sara. Some years are vegetable oil years. Right now, you are in the year of vegetable oil and it’s pretty terrible. Other years are flour years- and then you got some days that are like chocolate chips and those are pretty good. But in the end, God mixes all those years together and throws you in a pan and lights your ass on fire and.. well.. You end up with a masterpiece. You just gotta trust Him. It’s going to be okay. Remember Abraham. Remember the Greats- the ones who Trusted Him even when they never received their promises- not while they were alive. Remember.”

I leaned back and thought about Deuteronomy. I thought about the day that the Lord set before His people a choice and I could feel Him setting before me the same choice- “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.” (Deut 30:15). I feel a strong pull to death and destruction. And I feel a small tug to life and prosperity. I know the small tug is Truth. I know the small whisper is His. I know His voice. I know Him.

And I choose it. I will. I have to. He’s mine and I am His and with all my heart I choose life. I choose Him. I choose His promises even if I don’t see them- ever.

You have a choice too- You have life and death- prosperity and destruction. You have years of chocolate chips and veggie oil. Whether you’re in the best or the worst year- or whether you’re on fire… choose Him. Hold onto Him. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. He’s there.

 

If you made it to the end of this really long post- congrats. I miss you guys and have been struggling to put my thoughts into words- I hope to get back into blogging soon. I miss doing the weekly blogs. They are fun, but my soul needed the break. Hope you enjoyed! 

52 Weeks of Adventure: week 5 He is Faithful.

The most difficult thing about writing these weekly adventures is not what you think it would be. The challenge isn’t in finding the adventure or putting words to the adventure. Instead, the challenge lies in choosing just ONE adventure to write about. You see, in a given week there are approximately 50,000,000 adventures in my life alone. Now, there are probably about 10 that I notice if i’m looking and if I’m not looking, there is probably only one that will be fully appreciated.

So I sit here reflecting on this past week, trying to decide what to write about. I could write about the day I lost my keys, the cookies I baked from scratch using a recipe I didn’t really follow, the lingerie party that we threw for my friend, or the day I went to the DMV and officially became tennessean… There are a million other adventures that I can’t write about to their personal or confidential nature… But this week was just especially lovely and full of adventure.

I’m going to go with the trauma adventure of my missing keys today and maybe later I will add more stories… more adventures… more fun! Tuesday of last week I woke up on time and early late and scattered. I usually do feel this way when I wake up, but that day was especially atrocious. I woke up and looked at Watson and could tell our hair resembled each other. Wild and frazzled. We both looked exhausted. It was a Tuesday that felt like Monday and I had a boatload of work to do to wrap up some things at work

Watson and I made our way downstairs and groggily went on our walk. He pounced and pulled between grass, pavement, and bushes. We spent some time with the neighborhood dogs and then finally, we went inside where we made coffee and tried to wake up from our slumber. As I got dressed and ready for work I started gathering my things from the edges of the earth that is my apartment and got ready to leave. After picking up everything that was at the top of the stairs, I put Watson in his room and headed down to my car only to realize… Where are my keys?

My brain didn’t think too much of it when they didn’t show up and thought maybe they were just around. However, an hour later I was still searching and still not at work. Hour turned to hours. My search continued. I searched inside. I searched in the couch and kitchen and refrigerator because I know sometimes I lose my mind and put things in places that don’t make sense. I searched through clothes and pockets and Watson’s toys. I searched through drawers and bags and backpacks and crevices. I searched and searched like one of those sporadic cartoon characters throwing everything every which way.

Next, Watson and I walked around the parameter of the apartments. We stopped by the poop buckets and looked through them (gross!). My  search turned to frantic texts. My panic wasn’t just that I was without my car and house keys but also without work keys and my USB that has personal information.

Worry turned to frantic searching that graduated into panic all the while, my phone rang my mom called. A girl is never too old to talk to her mom when she loses something. Even if her mom is 12 hours away. After explaining the Missing Key Saga and everywhere I had looked and the importance of finding keys that were not my own (i.e. work keys). “Sara, pray about it,” she suggested, “Last week I was missing a parking ticket and after praying He provided when we really needed it…” And I listened.

Making my way to my apartment, Watson and I walked up the stairs, he jumped on the couch and I got on my face with tears in the carpet and my nose breathing in particles of dust, I prayed. Lord, I don’t know if You hear us or answer prayers anymore but I’m praying… Not knowing where those words came from, not knowing where the doubt suddenly appeared from I paused, stunned. I shut my eyes as the carpet got more and more damp. I tried again. Lord, thank you that it isn’t raining today like it was yesterday. Please calm my nerves. Please provide the keys so I can give back what isn’t mine to who it belongs to and get to work. If You hear me, if You’re there, If you still answer prayers… doubts filled. tears flooded.

My keys going missing was something that really wasn’t a big deal and really shouldn’t have been so emotional, but for me it was a deep spiritual realization and an adventure of doubt I didn’t recognize within me until I offered up fervent prayers of desperation. I laid with my face on the carpet stupefied at my doubt. Both knowing and not knowing the root of where this had come from and why it was just surfacing. Both brokenhearted, confused, and elated because I could deal with it. Finally.

Until you get alone with Him in the quiet do you ever start to deal with what’s inside you and who He is… And that day, the adventure began. It began on my face with my nose on the tear-soaked carpet crying out for Him- instead praying to find my keys, I prayed for Him to take my doubt and give me reassurance that He is faithful. Just like I’ve always known Him to be. Regardless of whether my keys were found or not, I wanted to know His character more and be firm and steadfast in it. He is my identity.

To prepare for not having my keys ever again, I called a AAA who sent a locksmith to make a key for my car. As he took the lock off my door, my prayers turned silent in my heart as he stepped up in his truck to go back to his office and make a key… his car sputtered and died.

His car died. The battery died and I stood there laughing. The inappropriateness and rightness of the situation was too much to handle. His faithfulness was in it somewhere, His glory in my laughter. I felt like Sara who laughed at the Lord when He told Abraham he would be a father to many nations. I looked to the Locksmith, “We could call AAA. I have a membership”.

“Ma’am,” he said, “I am AAA. You called us already.”

My laughter turned to snorts.

Eventually he got his truck jumped, he got my key made and arrived back to my car to program it, all the while engaging me in conversations of star wars and star trek and music. Three things I know nothing about… but eventually he handed my new key over to me at 7:30pm and drove away as I stood there in the cold thanking Him, the Lord, for a glorious day and a key to get to work tomorrow.

My roommate arrived home that night and we told each other of our  trauma filled adventurous and eventful day and as she cleaned her purse out I saw her still. She looked up at me and out of her purse in her hand came my keys… and there was nothing to do but laugh and cry and be so thankful that my keys were okay after all, because He provides. Jehovah Jireh. He tests. He loves. He proves faithful. He always knows our hearts and reveals our hearts to us when we don’t know our hearts. He gives us room for doubt and repentance. He’s a good, good Father.

It wasn’t until later that week when I came home from work around 1am that I realized the depths of awesomness I had in a roommate… even after her profusely apologizing to me when I really didn’t care that she took my keys. I was so happy to have them back. I came home to things she left out for me and made for me… she made a HUGE card with scripture on it, an incredibly nice tea maker, a mug, and on the card were hilarious hashtags like #TeamSara #L’Chaim #yehsua #otherjewishthings #Imstillreallysorry #Nevertakeyourkeysagain…. And the week ended with a huge smile on my lips, tears on my cheeks and a new understanding of Him, grace, forgiveness, mercy… and His Faithfulness.

His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Ps 100:5). 

Sometimes adventures can be painful realizations of ourselves and of Him, but that doesn’t make them any less adventurous. I am so thankful for this week!

 

 

 

 

Let Something Happen To Me

Last night I spent time organizing all of my important papers. Since I moved into my most recent apartment in September, important papers have been piled instead of filed. So it was time to organize and reassess what to keep and what to throw.DSCN0379

I came across a letter a dear friend, Christi, wrote to me several years ago. It’s undated, but I would date it back to 2010- maybe even 2011. A lot of significant things happened during that time in my walk with Him. In the letter she shared with me a prayer that she read earlier that week. The author is unknown but I want to share it with you all today.

 

Oh God,
Let something happen to me,
Something more than interesting
Or entertaining
Or thoughtful. 

O God,DSCN0383
let something essential happen to me,
Something awesome,
Something real,
Speak to my condition, Lord,
and change me inside somewhere
Where it matters,
a change that will burn and tremble and heal
and explode me into tears.
Or laughter.
or love that throbs or screams
or keeps a terrible cleansing silence
and dares the dangerous deeds.
Let something happen in me
Which is my real self, O God.

52 Weeks of Adventures: Week 1

Hi Everyone!

I am starting a series that I hope to do every week for 52 weeks (one year). This is an adventure series inspired by Lily, as I’ve watched her for the past 52 weeks take adventures and record them in her blog! She was inspired by  a fellow blogger named Brenda who had taken her own 52 weeks of adventures too!

In turn, I hope to inspire you to look at life a little differently along with me! My goal in this is much the same as both of them- to make the mundane adventurous and see the fun in everyday life. My biggest goal in this is remaining Thankful for the everyday that He gives and remaining faithful toward one goal. I may not get all 52 weeks in, but since my word of the year is Faithful, I am going to try- even if I fail His grace covers me. Faithful and Grace go hand in hand, but that’s a discussion for another day!

So without further ado, i will start…. with Week 1!

Week 1: 

Week One’s Adventure goes back to November 2014. In November 2014 I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann, a farmer’s wife, who has lived a really hard life when her sister died at a very young age, crafted a book about thankfulness. Eucharist. Her words flow like poetry as she explains, page after page, line after line, that Eucharist – thankfulness- happens in the mundane and in the simplicities and especially in the hardships of life. And that’s what makes life fully lived: thankfulness to Him who gives gifts for us to unwrap. Journals

She beautifully demonstrates her point by describing the Lord’s Supper. The night Jesus was arrested and beaten, He sat around with His friends, including His betrayer. He took bread in His hands, He gave thanks, and broke it. He gave thanks. He Thanked God for His body being broken hours before His body was broken. He took the wine and gave thanks by blessing it and drank it. He gave thanks before His blood was poured, for His blood being poured. In the hard. With the sweat and the prayers and the tears that came later. Can we, too?  In our hard? Can we see His gifts? Can we give thanks even through sweat and tears and blood? Through loss?

IMG_4510Ann started to count her gifts one by one, and through the numbering and the counting, her perspective on life gradually shifted as she saw every moment as a gift… and her world went from stressed and hard and frustrating to… thankful in and through the stressed and the hard. Through the book she dares each one of us to “Live fully right where you are” by numbering gifts He gives, we unwrap, and express thanks for.

I started noticing, numbering, opening, unwrapping, and giving thanks for gifts He gives on November 3, 2014. This week on January 8, 2016, I reached 1,000 gifts. The adventure in this week is not that I made an achievement by counting 1,000 gifts, that I became more thankful, or opened 1,000 gifts to give thanks for. No.

The adventure in this life is that He’s given me 1,000 gifts and in that, there’s 1,000 more to open, no matter my circumstance. In each gift there’s grace. In each grace, there’s thankfulness. And each thankful moment is every moment. Grace after grace. Gift after gift. One thankful heart after each thankful moment. 

IMG_4513

What an adventure. I can’t get over it. I can’t fathom.

IMG_4518

Some gifts He’s given are simple and light and adventurous:

  • Golden hue of Fall leaves in the sunrise
  • Erratic fingers across the keyboard
  • Yarn sliding through my fingers
  • A roommate that makes me laugh
  • A kitchen clean
  • The dew on summer grass
  • Dancing in the kitchen…
  • Frisky puppy playing with new toys
  • Smiling eyes
  • The bursts of blueberries in my mouth
  • The laughter of students learning
  • Challah made with small smooth hands
  • Wet puppy kisses.

Sometimes His gifts are in and through painIMG_4516

  • For heartbreak
  • Friends who “Store treasures in Heaven”
  • Repentance for my wicked heart
  • Loneliness that lets me lean on Him
  • Peace in my restlessness
  • Admitting my lack of faith
  • Broken and pleading prayers
  • A faint smile through pain-soaked tears
  • Saying goodbye to a friend
  • The art of letting go and open hands
  • He sympathizes in our time of weakness

There are so many gifts… countless.

Will you use the adventure of life to see them? Will you be thankful with me? Even if it’s something silly like wet puppy kisses, wild hair in the mornings, or red berries on green bushes… Eucharisteo and thankfulness is an adventure because a thankful heart is what He wants and commands (1 Thess 5:18). IMG_4519

I Dream So Many Dreams…

Two weeks ago I stood speaking in front of a college Deaf Education class i’d been invited, welcoming questions from student after student. This isn’t the first time i’ve done this. I heard many of the same questions as I’d had before…

How did you pick up sign language so quickly?
Do you feel more comfortable in the Deaf or hearing world?
How much do you hear?
What hearing aid do you wear? And why?
Do you feel like your mainstream education helped or hurt your future?
What would you do if you could do it again? 

I smiled, with my answers ready. They were drawn from my experience, my opinions, and my life, they didn’t require much thought. But the next question caught me off guard.

So, What is your dream? 

“My dream? Like… For my future?” The class laughed at my question and quieted to hear my answer. I was so stunned by the question, I started to feel the silence rather than hear it. The crimson that rarely came started in my neck worked its way up to my ears and into my smile. I looked around.

“I don’t have one.” I said while humorously changing the topic evoking laughs from my audience.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This exchange has been on my mind since. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it. It plays in my mind and I think of all the things I could have said. But more than that, it brings me back to another quite equally haunting memory that I have of sitting in my former counselor’s office approximately 3 years ago and being asked to draw my future out on the dry erase board behind me.

I drew a stick person- me. And a school, graduation, then a job… and house.

Sara, he said, What about the people in your life? What about a spouse and children? 

“I don’t see that in my future, I don’t dream for that,” I replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But none of that is true. None of it. And Yet, both exchanges haunt me. I’ve come to realize that speaking my dreams out loud- allowing myself to dream- scares me. Scares me so much so that I go to tell people that I have no dreams and I want no family, but today with this blogpost I wish to take those answers back. I’m taking them back. No. I’m not letting fear steal my future. I’m not letting Satan steal my dreams. What if the dreams I have are God’s dream? Better yet… what if, by speaking my dreams out loud (or writing them), God enables the people in my life to help them take shape and give them life?

Deuteronomy 30: 19 states that He has set before the Israelites death and life, blessings and curses and it is up to them to decide to choose life. Through speaking my dreams- my hopes- I think that is, in essence, speaking life rather than death over my future. And do I want life. I choose it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So what is my dream? What are my dreams? I don’t just have one- and they’re scary to voice because… I feel like they conflict with each other. What if none of them come to be and what if all of them come to be?  Both prospects are equally terrifying… and today that’s okay.

My dreams…

I want to attend seminary and spend too much money learning how to share the gospel. I want to make friends and enemies and pray for all of them. I want to hurt and wonder how i’ll make it the next year and then get to next year and be amazed at His glory. I want to learn and counsel women to be more godly, and counsel women who want nothing to do with God. I want to make friends and live life with them and step into their spaces and see who they are. I want to be there when they have children and get married and get cancer. I want to be there and show up in the most crucial times.

I want to meet someone and love him. Really love him. I want to love him enough to suffer with him for the rest of my life and let myself be held and protected by him. I want the anger and frustration of him not doing what I want him to do and the tears when he expresses his frustration of what i’m not doing with me! I want the excitement when I know he’s coming home. I want to roll my eyes at stupid jokes and get annoyed when he wants to watch sports. I want to pull out the scriptures with him and blush when he reads what we know as Proverbs 31 to me… Eshet Chayil- The woman of Valor! I want to give him high fives… even though sometimes they will land on his face (I’m just kidding…) I want to be silly and play hooky from work and eat pancakes in bed and giggle. I want to spend hours laboring in the kitchen for Shabbat dinners with candles on the table. I want to see tears in his eyes when I give him gifts and love when I give forgiveness. I want us to be angry and passionate. I want to slam doors and open hearts and be a mess and then be put back together in Him- the ultimate Him (Yeshua). I want it all.

I want to bear his children and give them his name. I want to pray for each child as it grows in me and be angry that he didn’t bring chocolate home. I want to feel his frustration and work it out with words and love. My dream is to be kind to him, because love is kind. I want to sing psalms by his bedside… and jokingly curse him in labor with laugher that bubbles up. I want a quiver full of arrows. I want the dirty house and the messy windows. I want the small fingerprints and the sleepless nights, the kind of sleepless night when something so little poops so much you both wonder how it’s possible- and then laugh together. I want the angry tears when he tells me I need to do more and be more and the love when I realize he’s right. I want to see his children grow and learn and fall and be clumsy. I want to pull back a head full of tiny curls and wonder what I was thinking when I wanted children and then laugh. I want the smiles and the frustration. The tears and the laughter. I want family.

I want to move across the country and live on a farm. I want to own sheep. Because they’re cute and because i know nothing about them- and i’m silly. I want to milk cows in the morning and feed them in the afternoon  and wonder why my trees are dying in the backyard. I want sore hands and a warm heart and a tired body. I want Watson to be a farm dog. For at least a little while. I want to smile as I wake up before the sun and smile when I go to bed long after it’s sunk. I want to stay up too late writing poetry and get up too early to cook. I want to be tired and refreshed. Work hard and relax. I want to own a house. A house that I can invite guests to and serve as a haven for young mothers with no husbands. I want to be plan B when plan A doesn’t work and plan C is abortion. I want to cook breakfast for young mothers and give them advice on how to raise children- even though I don’t know what i’m doing with my own. I want to clasp their hands in mine and wipe their tears and then go in the other room and ask the Lord what He was thinking when He asked me to do this… because i’m so inadequate.

My dream is to spend time in the middle east and hand out clothes to those who don’t have clothes and wrap women in Hijab who are lacking and wanting. I want to see the hands of refugees and wipe their faces. I want to wash feet and clothes down by the river. I want to respect and love and serve. I want to hurt. I want to be comfortable and uncomfortable and so comfortable that it makes me uncomfortable. I want to share Jesus with everyone who will listen and love those who spit in my face- like Amy Carmichael. I want to do more than hand out bibles, I want to BE Him and live Him. I want to cook meals and clean houses. I want to teach children- deaf children. Learn new sign languages. Learn new things.

I want to cry for want of home and smile for want of home. I want to be dirty, but have no shower. And be clean and give my shower. And finally go Home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some of these things many never come true. Some of these things may turn into someone else’s dream. All of these things are unrealistic and romanticized and ridiculously realistic all at the same time. I cannot do all of these things, but I can dream them. I can dream them and when someone asks me what my dreams are I can choose one dream and divulge. All of these dreams are mine, but not all of these dreams are God’s. The most common phrase in my list of dreams is “I want”… My hope and prayer is that these “wants” become fewer and fewer and His Want becomes more and more…

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease” 

 

A Quote I enjoy…

I’ve not written in a while, so I decided to write a short blurb and share some quotes from a book that I have previously mentioned, called “Things As They Are” by Amy Carmichael. I have been reading and re-reading parts of it, even months later. So, I’d like to share some parts of it every so often when I want to post, but am unsure what to write about. At the beginning of each chapter, Amy pulls quotes from other missionaries to make or emphasize her point. Sometimes when beginning a chapter, I would read the quote and not be able to continue reading the material because the quote itself had hit me so hard. Below is one of those quotes at the beginning of a chapter in the book titled “If it is so very important…?”

Let us for a moment imagine what would have happened on the Galilean hillside, when our Lord fed the five thousand, if the Apostles had acted as some act now. The twelve would be going backwards, helping the first rank over and over again, and leaving the back rows unsupplied. Let us suppose one of them, say Andrew, venturing to say to his brother Simon Peter, “Ought we all to be feeding the front row? Ought we not to divide, and some of us go to the back rows?” Then suppose Peter replying, “Oh no; don’t you see these front people are so hungry? They have not had half enough yet; besides, they are nearest to us, so we are more responsible for them.” Then, if Andrew resumes his appeal, suppose Peter going on to say, “Very well; you are quite right. You go and feed all those back rows; but I can’t spare anyone else. I and the other ten of use have more than we can do here.”

Once more, suppose Andrew persuades Philip to go with him; then, perhaps, Matthew will cry out and say, “Why, they’re all going to those farther rows! Is no one to be left to these needy people in front?”

Let me ask the members of Congress, do you recognise these sentences at all?

-Eugene Stock, at Shrewsbury Church Congress

According to my research, Eugene Stock wrote that around 1896-1897.

Just wanted to leave that tidbit here for you today. If you would like to leave comments that fosters discussion at the bottom, please feel free!

Coming Home: A Personal, Spiritual Experience.

What I am going to share below was a very, very intimate and personal spiritual experience that I had 2 weeks ago. I haven’t been writing in the blog because I’ve wanted to blog about this, but it is so personal that i’ve struggled to even talk about it. I don’t think this post did my experience justice. And just because I had this experience does NOT mean you will too. I could have misheard things (I am severely hard of hearing) and could be misrepresenting the messianic experience. The blog below is not meant to offend or take away from the faith or be disrespectful to anyone of the jewish faith, jewish heritage, or messianic faith. This experience, to me, felt like “coming home”. It’s the only way i’ve been able to describe it to my closest friends… and I haven’t been able to write about it yet, but I don’t want to forget it… so please enjoy this very rough attempt…

About two weeks ago on Shabbat (Saturday), I decided to visit a Messianic Synagogue here in Knoxville. Since i’ve been reading Torah and then studying the old testament books, I have learned a lot about Judaism and Jewish culture on my own. The Old testament moves me. The law brings me to tears. The tender way that Hashem (G-d) leads His people to Himself through the law… and then explains that it’s not even about what you do so much as to what lies in your heart- why you do it… It’s overwhelming.

There are people throughout history that get this. One of my favorite is King Josiah. He became King when He was 8 years old and followed the Lord as David did. 2 Kings 22 explains that Hilkiah, the High Priest, found the Book of the Law of Moses in the temple and brought it to King Josiah. When the Book was read in front of the king, King Josiah tore his clothes.

Every time I read that verse, it shames me and shakes me. I look around at our evangelical nice, comfortable lives in our nice, comfortable pews and I want to weep. I want to weep because we hear, study, read, and talk about the law and the Word weekly and sometimes even at home too… and we’re not torn. We’re not grieving. Our hearts aren’t moved. We just… sit and do our duty for the week and go home.

I want to be moved like the people in the Bible. I want to be moved like the jews in the Old testament…. or even the jews now! I want to stand for hours and hear the Law and love it. I want to be like David said “Oh Lord, I meditate on your precepts! I think about your Law! Your law is better than life!…” I want to embrace it and love it and cherish it and worship Him with my obedience of it.

So when I entered the synagogue on Shabbat, it felt like coming home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I entered and sat in the very back pew behind some women. I assumed that men and women would sit separately and worship separately so when a man and his wife sat by me, I was taken back. As the music started and people filled the sanctuary, they took out their Tallits and draped them around their shoulders. Old men sat on a bench behind me against the wall with their canes and their Kippahs. Old jewish souls with smiles like fire.

We stood together. We blessed the music and worship. The sound of Hebrew and English mingled together and the captions on the screen read all- Hebrew- English.  Voices of languages lifted together. I wanted to sign the words.

This is what heaven will be like. 

Then the music started and the music switched from English to Hebrew and back to English. My eyes watered, my lip quivered. The lady beside me took my hands in hers and her eyes said  “Come, worship with me”. With tears flowing down my face as I followed her flowing, beautiful skirt in the sunshine, she led me to the alter before Him and as we arrived there I looked around to see other women getting out of their seats and joining us. Their faces shined. They linked their hands together and as a team of women, we danced.

We danced for Him. We sang His name, I looked around at smiles and teary eyes as I followed the moves He had put on the woman’s heart. We followed her as she followed Him. This wasn’t wild or chaotic. It was soft and gentle and calm. It was heart-dancing.

And His name rang out from our hearts, to our limbs as we reached to the sky, “YESHUA! ELOHIM! ADONAI! The music roared, and together we lifted our hands to the heavens to Him and turned in circles on our toes to please the King. We landed on our feet and bowed deeply from the waist up, from our hearts. Bowed knees. Bowed hearts, Bowed faces. Tears.

I looked around at the congregation and men blew their shofars. They blew their shofars and clapped for Him. Elohim. Men blowing Shofar, women dancing, tears flowing. Hearts bowing.

Yeshua! Yeshua! Yeshua!

We sang the Shema!

They sang it. In Hebrew. We faced Jerusalem, they pointed the edge of their tallits to Jerusalem and they sang, Hebrew words, Shema together.

We faced the screen for us English speakers and said it in English.

Hear, Oh Yisrael! The L-rd is Our G-d! The L-rd is ONE!… And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might. And these words I shall command you today shall be in your heart. 

My heart jumped. Because they’re on my heart! They’re written on my heart… a heart that deserves hell- and the law is written there- the mercy.

And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

my lip quivered. I looked at the couple in front of me, clasping their hands together, their tallits around each of their shoulders, the man with is Kippah, the woman with her tears…

… and you shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates… 

A tear slipped down my face as I remember the mezuzah that I had blessed with a kiss on my hand while on the way in– His law written on the door posts. My heart bowed low…. Oh Lord, even the dogs eat crumbs from the master’s table..(Matthew 15:27). 

It felt like coming home. 

The dancing to El Shaddai, the singing of His name… TO His name, the blessing of His word, the following HIs law… Then the singing of Yeshua (Jesus)… The realization that He is my new law because He has been written on my heart. He has been bound between the frontlets of my eyes inside of my brain. He has seared me. I am marked by a changed life and I have been crucified with Him. He has wrecked me. For me, He is my Tefillin. He is my everything!

Yeshua, Yeshua, Yeshua! 

I wanted to shout it. His name echoed from the mouths of old Jewish believers and into the heart of a gentile girl.

I will never get over this.

They read the law from the Torah. The men went and got these HUGE torah scrolls after we said the blessing of the Torah… And they got it, they blessed it again and the walked it around the room while each person kissed their hand and touched the Torah with a blessing.

Lord, thank you for communicating the Word to us, Was the only blessing I could think to say.

They unrolled this huge Torah and I went up close to look as we were invited. The Torah Reader had a Yad (Torah Pointer) in his hand because the Torah cannot be touched.  And the men gathered around and the women gathered around and they hugged toward the Torah to just look at is as the hand-written hebrew words were read out loud from large sheepskin scrolls.

I get chills every time I think about hearing His word in Hebrew from hand-written sheepskin scrolls.

i hurried to stand in my place in the back and not be up front with the crowd during Torah reading. It was too sacred to be near. So I stood from the back and observed- an observer watching the most sacred snow globe in the world.

We read the Torah, then we had a preacher come preach from both the New Testament and the Old Testament- Torah. Because Rabbi was in Israel. Can  you believe it? We were here in the states and Rabbi was in Israel. So we had a preacher. A humble preacher come to preach His word on Shabbat.

I don’t remember much of what he said but I do remember that he preached from Ezekiel 37 and he preached from the new testament and talked about how we have hope even in dark times… Because of Yeshua.

Then we did communion. We did communion with Matza passed around and grape juice poured. We shared the same Matza, We shared the same juice.This is My body. This is My blood. Do this to remember. 

Oh, Yeshua. I will forget and then I will fight to remember. Help me remember.

Yeshua. Jesus.

I can’t get over His name. I want to say it a million times. I want to love it even when I don’t love it. Even in my wickedness.

I yearn to look into the eyes of Yeshua and scream YESHUA! Messiah! I long to take the hem of his robe and hold it to my face.

Messiah.

I can’t ever forget.

Eliminating My Cannots

I stood in front of the bar looking down at it with my trainer by my side. 

Sara, 8 deadlifts. Consecutively. Then we’re finished. 

I didn’t think I could do them. I knew I could do 8 deadlifts. That wasn’t the problem. But consecutively? Without stopping? Without resting? I didn’t think I could.

You just did 4 without stopping, how is 4 more any different?

I don’t know. I don’t know how 4 more is any different but it feels different. Doing four seems like a reasonable chunk. I can do four. I know I can do four. But eight? Eight feels impossible. In my mind I wanted to break them into 4 then 4. That makes 8.

I’m good at math right? No. Not really.

no-excuses

Credit google for this photo… And yes, I did those deadlifts anyway

One of my largest adversaries in life is myself. When I look back at the things that in life that I started and never finished, I’m almost definitely ashamed. I have started so many things. I have not finished many though. One of my biggest limits in life isn’t my hearing loss, communication barriers, people’s lack of ASL, my balance, my food allergies… My biggest limit in life is my mind. Because If I believe I can do something, then I can, but If I think I can’t, then I won’t.

This transfers to the smallest things- Balancing in yoga, deadlifting at the gym, making new friends, creating a life outside of work, doing a triathlon, seeking the Lord’s will, following Him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was 15 years old and struggling to communicate and feel a part of the hearing world, I knew that I could learn sign language. I believed that I could. Learning another language, grammar, syntax, culture… that was never a question for me of “Can I”. I knew I could, I believed I could so I did.

But last year when I graduated with my masters degree after a traumatic experience with an internship and looked for jobs everywhere… I would read description of work qualifications again and again. I would think I can’t do that. I wasn’t trained to do that. I can’t talk on the phone… pick up clients… i’m terrible with people… I am irresponsible… what if I fail?.. I will fail… And I’d apply for the job anyway, with little confidence.

Only when I believe those things about myself is when they become true. Without believing those things, I am great with people, I am bubbly, I am beautiful, I can find avenues to advocate for myself so the phone can be adapted in a way for me to make calls. I become responsible. I honor the Lord by loving myself.

It’s what I believe about myself that becomes true.

I once heard in a sermon and read in an article much like this one about something called The Confidence Gap. This is a gap between men and women in confidence. For example, when job searching, looking at job qualifications, men will maybe meet one or two qualifications and apply for the job, and talk their way through an interview after some research, thinking they can learn the rest on the job. While women may see they do not meet one or two of the qualifications and not apply at all.

There’s a huge confidence gap between the sexes. I, for one, agree with this psychology. Mainly because I live it.

I live it. Every day. Everywhere I go. I feel like there’s something telling me i’m not qualified. I’m not good enough. I can’t possibly lift that much weight for that many reps… I’m a little person. I can’t possibly apply for that job, look at the bad experience I had such and such a time- it will surely be like that. I can’t possibly do missions.. i have no experience. I can’t possibly… I can’t… I cantCAN.

Cant

Today is the first day where I am going to eliminate “cannot”, “will not”, “Can’t” from my vocabulary. I’m tired of not being good enough. I’m tired of listening to the voice in me that slowly crushes my will to do the things and be the person I’m called to be. I’m not listening anymore. Listening to that kind of negativity from myself is exhausting.

I can. I CAN. I AM beautiful. I AM smart. I AM athletic, and strong, and energetic. I am good with people. I am compassionate and loving. I am silly. I am goofy.

I am HIS. He made me. Why would I believe I’m less? I am a daughter of a King, the same King who gave me a brain to use, and muscles to move, and a life to live.

I refuse to waste my life on my cannots.  

Things As They Are

Back in December (and still) I wanted to learn more about Missionaries and missionary work. So I ordered a book authored by the amazing Amy Carmichael. I’m going to be honest and say that I just really wanted to read a book from someone who had my family name. It had to be great. Especially when she was a missionary in India for 55 years without a furlough… She had to be a hardcore Carmichael (like most of us, of course). Plus, my aunt, uncle, and cousin are currently missionaries in India.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 10.35.17 PM

This book is titled Things As They Are. She wrote it along with some other women who spent 2 years with her in India on her missionary journey. They all decided after 2 years of sharing the gospel in India that Amy should author a book and write down Things as they are in India as a missionary- because many a time Missionary work is made to be full of romance and wanderlust. She wanted people to see what she sees and people to know what He has put on her heart. With all that said, I cannot read a chapter out of this book without weeping, so I haven’t gotten past chapter 8. This book has made me sleepless. I toss and turn. Her writing echoes through each night and in my heart each day it makes me ask questions. What am I doing? Am I calloused? What has He called me to? I question continuously. Amy’s points so far are all on target. Her writing moves me. Her visions stir my heart. Her heart for others breaks me. Her perseverance when she’s spit on and thrown out of town after town astounds me. Seven chapters in and I come more and more undone.

For this reason, I’m going to just type an excerpt from chapter 6, about a vision Amy describes. I’ve read it close to 4 or 5 times now and it guts me every time. It takes my breath away. Her writing is italicized.

…I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this: 

That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hallows, and untamable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth. 

Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was one woman with a baby in her arms and another child holding inter her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step… it rod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over! 

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly and fell without a sound. 

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come. 

Then I saw that along the edge were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell. 

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them, and they thought it rather a vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! you haven’t finished your daisy chains yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge. 

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back, but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls. 

Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively; and it called- but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn. 

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was- the Cry of the Blood….

Why does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it? 

God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 108 other followers