Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Unloved Woman

Travel Log: Ireland/Savannah

Food for Thought

Gently, as of late, God is redeeming my previous examples of relationship. This past year was heavily devoted to learning how to love others by entering into suffering with them. Now I am in a period of re-learning how to experience true joy together in community and to deepen trust. There have been many paths my life has taken that have led me away from the joy that God intended for my heart. Things deeply spoken over me, that even I hadn’t seen hiding in dark corners. Some of this particular part of my journey goes pretty deep and dark and is rather vulnerable. Yet, life springs out from it. All pain, after all, has redemption growing throughout, whether directly noticeable or not.

Part of this segment of my journey has been learned through leading with Frank and Bekah Burder this past July. They were (and are) an amazing example of redemptive, unconditional and gracious love that does not waver or detach in times of trial. Through them and others, God is restoring my heart’s view. Revealing to me compassionate and holy hearts that are filled and brought closer to God, in communion and in oneness. This correlated with a lot of what I was learning this past year about love involving going through trials and suffering together, in friendships, marriages, even within any community. I digress.

Stepping Further Into Freedom

Bekah and I got to talking one day in Ireland, about “the unloved woman” in the Bible. You will find the verse in Proverbs 30:21-23, “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up…” Verse 23 states that one of those things is an “unloved woman who becomes married.” I began to contemplate this verse and what God means by it. It may not be the fault of the woman that she was not loved properly to start, but what she does with God’s freedom matters beyond what she may realize. In fact, can any marriage or relationship withstand either one who cannot accept their worth? Then why should anyone live without knowing his or her worth? This could spiral into the topic of community and how we are to lift one another up, but that would be getting ahead of myself.

As women, we do not need to acquire perfection but to recognize God’s call on our lives as holy, royal, image bearers of Christ. We are free of all that binds us, if (and only if) we can let go of all that is closing in on our hearts. That is a BIG if, isn’t it? Because our life, joy, and freedom depends on whether or not we accept that we are worthy of it.

Only in freedom can we find rest. Only in ending the search can we receive what God has planned. In Isaiah 55:8, God tells us all, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Yet, we still perceive our ideas and idolatries to be flawless. Including our notions of relationship with others, in every form. A dear friend and spiritual leader of mine once put it this way; “Sometimes we hold the desires of our heart so close to us that we forget to surrender them to God.” Ouch. The first time he said that I could not get to my pen fast enough to write it down. There is so much power in that truth that it shakes the foundations of our notions of identity.

The Unloved Woman

So, who is this unloved woman? The unloved woman has her heart hardened. She is not free to love, but guarded in her wild pursuit of it. An unloved woman is always seeking and finds mud at her feet. She is bogged down by her faults and iniquities, and cannot be freed by man, though she seeks to be. She seeks to be free yet denies God’s freedom. She desires acceptance and strives to be loved rather than resting in the confident knowledge of who God has already redeemed her and called her to be.

An unloved woman always feels alone because she seeks to be fulfilled by things other than God and she idolizes love as a fanciful and frivolous and unknowingly shallow depth of being. Because love begins and ends with Christ and it “flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame” (Song 8:6) Fire that refines like gold, “though your faith is more precious than mere gold” (1 Pet. 1:7).

The unloved woman finds “gold” in the silt and rolls her heart around in it until it is battered and bruised and filthy to be handed to her lover. Any lover outside of God will not be equipped to cleanse it and be like a “seal over it” (Song 8:6), though they may strive to. In striving they find resentment and hurt. Instead of walking in freedom and joy, they too become bound by her striving as it is insatiable at best.

So, we run to Christ, and He gently takes and cleanses our hearts, again. He refines it and gives it back to us only when it is made new.

Finding Freedom

I think the biggest threat we face as women rests in where we find our worth. Are you serving God or man? Where are you finding your fulfillment? If you are serving God, then forget everyone else’s timetable for your life, because they and you cannot even imagine the beauty God has for you because your worth is far more astounding than you perceived. You are not only lovely with no flaw in you (Song 4:7), you ARE what redemption looks like, and you are renewal and grace. You are God’s promise. No matter what you’ve done or who you think you are. You are not the negative voices you may hear; you are free. So, this life is a journey toward THAT freedom. You are beautiful and chosen by the very God that created you, simply for you to experience joy through Him. You, as you are, are worthy of this redemptive love story! May it resound above the noise of your wounds.

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Shut Up Miracles

Shut Up Miracles

Travel Log: Savannah

This is a story about a closet of miracles, being loosed into the world. It began as a conversation about plane rides and ended up being about missions, miracles, trafficking, and God making ALL THINGS NEW!

I am at the beginning of a year of preparation. God is moving in such big ways I could never have imagined and I cannot keep quiet about it. Part of this preparation was everything leading up to now, and right now, at this particular moment, I am on my couch contemplating miracles again.

This year I am living in community with friends of mine I’ve known for almost ten whole years, if you can even believe that. We met in college and we live here now, and it’s been pretty filled with amazing things, so far. Katie and I had a really great talk the other night as we paused the Kardashian’s trip to Bora Bora. Seriously, God can speak through anything if you’re listening. He spoke through a donkey, and he speaks through reality tv. Actually, this is not the most profound thing He’s spoken to me through reality television, but more on that later.

First, I have to go back to earlier in the day.

Prior to this conversation with Katie, I was planning on Skyping with Ashley, my former teammate to Swaziland in 2007. She wasn’t immediately online at our allotted time so I ended up shutting myself in my closet to have a dark place to load my film into my Brownie camera. Crazy as this is, the door wouldn’t open from the inside. I was trapped in my tiny closet, in the dark. My roommates wouldn’t be home for hours. I was mute because I was locked behind three doors (front, bedroom, closet), and in an older brick home where no one would know my whereabouts. I tested the door every way I could and figured out that by pushing with my feet along the bottom; the door gave way just enough to weaken the hinges. After an hour of struggling, I burst out of the closet. Free again. While it is mildly humorous to envision, it was terrifying in all actuality. God’s entrusting me with heavy messages of not being bound or shut up and here I am, trapped, missing my opportunity to speak with Ashley, shut up literally and figuratively. Bound to the confines of my sickly green walled closet. Until I burst out of there.

While in the closet, my mind was racing. Is God trying to speak to me? Can you speak to me outside of the closet!? Is this an attack? I was running out of air, panicked. I really injured myself getting out, and maybe it wasn’t necessary even to be so frantic. Something came over me, though. I was finally freed as the hinge popped off the door. I immediately stumbled across my room and face-planted onto my bed. Sweating, bruised, muscles spasming. My mind exhausted at the inward struggle.

As I logged onto my computer, an hour and a half after our allotted time, Ashley had JUST gotten on and asked if I wanted to Skype. Um, YES! Let me tell you what, the things we spoke to life bore fruit immediately! Fire sunk into our bones and we were speaking out about past things and current. The miraculous things we saw in Swazi with the girls at the Tree Line, and the heavy spiritual oppression. God has us moving mountains and we weren’t even realizing it. This one conversation has since spread fire onto every conversation I’ve had.  Is that a miracle? To me it is; it is changing things already.

In light of that, I sat with Katie in the living room and our conversation about dreams of getting a free first class ticket one day, began to morph into deep discussions on miracles and warfare.

So, I asked, do miracles not happen anymore or do we simply not believe they happen because we don’t have belief? In going back to our team’s story of the Tree Line, that I’ve told countless times. I can walk around my whole life and say that while in Swazi, we prayed and girls stopped selling their bodies to men, so prayer works. Yes, that is true. Prayer indeed works, beyond our comprehension, directly and through intercession. But the reality is, because my team prayed in boldness, girls stopped prostituting themselves in a slum in Africa! We walked in boldness and generations of girls’ lives were transformed and they knew their worth! The girls said, “It did not make us feel good inside, so we stopped showing up and the men stopped coming.” The men, who had always come to these 8-13 year old girls, EVERY DAY, stopped coming. How have I not been telling the story THAT way!? Because God’s word is not chained! It cannot be shut up in a closet and no power of death can touch it! The freedom that branched off of Ashley’s and my one conversation has already rooted into four other conversations. It is insatiable and unquenchable. This is a small part of a mighty love story of our Redeemer searching His earth to bring us into deeper love and joy WITH HIM. The story of rescue and redemption! Of freedom and worth! How are we not rushing toward this?

So, are miracles not happening or are we not opening our eyes and hearts to the truth within the miracle? What makes something miraculous? The change it brings? The love and fire it instills? Praise God for this freedom, may you all break free of that in which you’re hiding or trapped. Rush onward toward your sustainer, because he makes ALL THINGS new. Not just daily, but moment by moment. New. New. New. Walk freely today.

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my heart to listen like one being taught.” – Isaiah 50:4

The Way of the Vagabond: 5 Tips For Being Where You Are

Travel Log: NYC

Day: 4

In April, I invited you all to follow me on my journey to Ireland through tinyworldtravels, not yet knowing where that journey would lead and how much God would share. This is the beginning of a new journey. I am currently coming off the end of 13 insanely busy months of grad school and leading a mission trip to Ireland where God was breaking some serious ground in freedom and capturing hearts. As the next steps of this radical journey unfold, I want to continue to extend these stories of God’s redemptive love by maintaining this online community. Whether we share the same faith or not, I invite you to share this journey with me. I will share deeper stories of learning and growth, and also basic fun tips or tales from the various places I go. Wherever I end up traveling this year.

It is an interesting time of life; I am doing most of my traveling independently and am growing stronger in that independence and interdependence as I find places to serve. While I am often physically alone I am being led spiritually. My life is indeed in the mercy of a mighty God who sustains me and provides at all times, even when all I need is to rest nestled into Him. The big story I follow is usually, what is God teaching me today and where should I go now? Lately He’s been leading me into joy and freedom, and that comes partly from living out what Christ calls us to. Love God, love others, right? It’s so simple, yet so all encompassing.

As I neared the end of a recent weeklong stay in NYC (visiting friends) I had been making daily treks to Washington Square Park to people watch. I had the afternoons to myself so I did a lot of exploring, which often involved food and coffee and smiling at strangers. There is a coffee bar near WSP is called Think Coffee, which I visited recently to read a book as a friend read through a healthy stack of plays for his acting classes. Somehow the city was a surprisingly restful amidst the chaos.

I was explaining to the aforementioned friend that, when I visit places I like to pretend that I live there. In essence, it is basically just that simple, I explore and get in the mindset of what it would be like to live there daily. This helps me connect with the community. It also makes the experience more real and much more fun. It seems to bring a feeling of home with me, since it’s my home for now, no matter how temporary. Ultimately, it brings joy and is another intricate thread in God’s redemption story. How so? I thought I would list below some ways that you can really be at home wherever you are. These are really small things to do to bring some joy and freedom to the communities in which you find yourself. Feel free to add comments and suggest other ideas as well!

1. Befriend Locals

You don’t have to move in with the neighbors or anything but being polite and having conversation will open up a world of possibility in your journey. First of all, who knows the best deals and events or where the best bagels are besides the people who’ve lived there longer. Not to mention that it gives you good insight into the culture of the area and how to avoid common wandering mistakes. As an added bonus, you get to make new friends and have people to spend time with or visit. Added bonus is visiting old friends!

2. Smile and Say Hello

Simple enough, and can have a big impact on the community you are residing in, whether in your original home town or the place you’re living in for a few days. If you are a more free-spirited traveler who goes where the wind takes them, I am with you 100%. In this case, you can simply offer smiles and a genuine “Hi, how are you today?” You seriously never know when someone needs that, and usually it is ALWAYS.

Ex. I said this to a worker at Starbucks and he stopped, looked at me, and said, “Thank you. No one has talked to me at all since I got to work today.” Seriously? There’s power in acknowledgement alone. You matter. You are significant. That’s what smiles and “hello”s say.

3. Wander/Explore

Get a good look at the general direction you are heading, streets and turns, and head out. If you need the comfort of a map, keep it on you, but try not to look at it! Just take your time and wander toward your destination. WRITE DOWN places you pass that you want to go back to or just STOP IN to places that look interesting. You DO NOT have to buy a banana sesame muffin just because you wandered into a bakery, …but if you were wondering, it was delicious. The best part about wandering is stumbling upon new places and people, in which case you can refer back to #s 1 and 2.

4. Don’t Ask

Disclaimer: If you are lost or in danger, definitely ask someone what is up. However, stumbling upon places or finally finding your way or realizing that you know what area of town you are walking through is really refreshing. That is, of course, unless you realize you are miles or blocks from your intended destination, in which case you can refer back to 1-3.

5. Research Your City

Especially in cities where there are a lot of things going on, you can do searches and find free events and/or purchase cheap tickets to just about anything. For this particular trip my friends and I used Event Brite to search for fun things happening in the city.

While it can be fun for planners to research ahead of time there is also something to be said about what you find while wandering. On a walk to Chelsea Piers to read my book, with planning for a fun Saturday in the city in the back of my mind, I stumbled upon $5 an hour bike rentals. I then proceeded to find that Chelsea Piers has miles of bike trails! Wandering SUCCESS!

Note:

It is important when wandering (AKA “living” in your new city), to do so in a fresh and excited way, with an air of childlike wonder, or else the fun gets killed pretty quickly. This is especially true in a city like Manhattan where the common daily persona can tend to be rather rushed and solitary. It may be easy to get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan, but breathe easy. Just be free to be where you are!

 

**I hereby solemnly swear to maintain this blog for this entire year; my distaste for repetition and routine aside. We’ll see where this road takes me and see what amazing things God has in store! I will share tips I come across in my travels, photos, and stories of miraculous things. Will you stay along for the journey?