We landed in Phoenix AZ on Friday, December 18th. As we were walking through customs to gather our luggage, waiting for our next flight out to take us to Albuquerque, I woke up in a daze. Well, it felt like this the moment that I realized that it was true, that we were actually in America. My country. It was bizarre at first and even surreal. The excitement built up, and it felt like a heavy burden of weight fell off my shoulders. I was home! Leaving Costa Rica for the first time in four months was a crazy feeling! Not being exposed to anything but Costa Rica has put me in somewhat of a bubble. The things that impacted me were, the language barriers we faced on a daily bases, working and supporting a school that is driven and run by very corrupt and low characters. Going to the beach on the weekends and hanging out with people at work, being super hot and sweaty every single time I stepped outside, going to the grocery store knowing to find a limited supply of options for food . Now, these are not all negative impacts, but just things that overtook my life in many ways. Experiencing a different country from what I have always known, there were bound to be some of these impacts, but, I guess I didn’t realize how direct and ‘in your face’ these would become. Spending time at the beach is something I enjoy! I love to walk on the beach and watch the sunset! These are the good memories that will be cherished and remembered for years to come!
It just so happens that this trip to Costa Rica was not a dream, but rather, and story of my reality. In my head I tried imagine what it was like to finally be home in the states and getting the hell out of Costa Rica because the bubble was getting to be way more cramped and claustrophobic than what I could take!
Since being home and sharing stories with friends and family about our trip and experience, I have been able to better visualize what we experienced and trying hard to put it into perspective and find reasoning behind it all! I probably couldn’t have written a positive blog prior to coming home because being in the midst of it and not getting the relief that was necessary, it would have been laced through negativity! This is a big reason why I haven’t written a blog in a long time! I had no motivation, but just extreme exhaustion with our situation… Until the bubble popped!
Today, I spent some time with a great friend from Durango! She and I had a great visit, and just being able to talk to people about our experience and getting to hear others reactions, has been super helpful and it has really made me think! I am not quite done processing things yet, and still am in search of finding the reasoning and purpose behind it all! These things take time so, bare with me, and I am sure as I am showed, I will share!
Passion, inspiration and insight are usually the factors that lead me to write, or in other words, the reasons to pour my heart out. And so I write!
Christian Religious Aggression; Yeah, I added aggression because people are fighting for something that is built around religion and not relationship. We no longer fight for love or for each other, we fight for control and coercion to which we believe is the will of God. It is to keep this religion alive, that is the goal. Is that where we get our will to fight? We will do what we can to gather more religious nuts to the pile, in order to fight. Because we are afraid, afraid of what will happen if we don’t fight for it or add to the pile! And yet, doesn’t this way of living contradict the reason for calling oneself a Christian in the first place? A people who call themselves Christ-like, but act the opposite of Christ. Our determination is birthed out of fear. Our weapon has become violent aggression to which we fight for something that is dead in the first place, man-made religion.
My friend Kent said this recently in a post on facebook;
“The added baggage to the only foundation leaves us with a distortion that is difficult to break free from and the civil religion exploits fear to the point that many never ever question it because they are constantly warned not to.”
So we are trapped, and instead of questioning our own aggressiveness, we fall fervently in-line to fight! Yet, the theme that I sense is most noticeable through it all is violence and evil just to win the battle under the name of God. This to me seems very dangerous and I even question if God is behind this aggressive Christian religion at all! So many, including myself were born into this religion and were fed it from the day we were born. We didn’t know any better, but do we? Have we ever come to a place where we have questioned, even if it was a very small question, we wondered if Christianity was really God? I tend to think that Christianity itself has become a god. A religion that craves for popularity and success and that is driven by aggression to become the best. Even if it means we have to go to war and spread blood and violence. We will do what it takes to win, to be the best, and to make sure the world knows who we are. I no longer see God in this picture. It has become about the human man, a popularity contest, than Christ himself. It’s dangerous, and it’s evil!
The simple message of Jesus has been lost in the religious spin…
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
In The Christian religion, it seems that this hardly applies.
I have had some pretty bad jobs where the work environment becomes almost like a battle ground. It’s not the place, but the people in which I have worked with day in and day out. So it seems like the school we work for is very much like this. There are people who will go the extra mile to stab us in the back even when we never have done anything to them personally. I try to go the extra mile to smile and be nice and loving even though I know they are being pretty defiant or evil in many ways.
I remember when I worked at this coffee shop in college; there were more than just people battles, but also spiritual battles going on as well. I would have dreams about it! The coffee shop was located in this very ancient building called the Val Verde. It was an old Hotel and Restaurant. There were many corrupt things taking place while I worked there. The owners and managers had some huge financial problems, and my managers tried to fire me a few times for absolutely nothing. Yet Father was there and protected me from those who saw my light and wanted me gone. I felt Father telling me at the time that I was the light in that place. I had many costumers come back to the coffee shop just because I was working there. I did what I could to not let the darkness and crap be noticeable to my valued customers. Since the building was so ancient, it was known to be even haunted. My dreams correlated with the spirits that lived there. One dream is still very vivid and real in my memory. I went to the coffee shop to work one day, and saw these spirits dressed in long black robes. I looked at them not in fear but in boldness and told them to look me in the eyes, and they couldn’t. The minute I tried to look at them, they ran away in fear. So, I chased them, and once I caught up to one, I grabbed its cloak and it turned around and I yelled, ‘look at me’. Then, poof, it immediately disappeared. There was such a darkness there that at times I was hesitant to go back and I just wanted to give up because the evil there had become very heavy and hard to deal with. But, once I had this dream, Father gave me confidence that nothing would harm me and that darkness could not withstand the light.
It’s been very apparent that some at the school have bad intentions towards Jonathan and me. But my goal is to love where love is absent, and through it all, love will prevail. We have asked and wondered why we are put in these kinds of situations, but I think it’s because through stuff like this, we learn and grow and spread love and light to where it is absent. Even if that is all we accomplish down here, I believe that this experience has served its purpose!
Last night I had a dream; A dream that woke me up in a daze. As I once shared here before that my biological father died when I was 10, in my dream, he came back to life. It was so real and vivid, that I could explain to you exactly what he looked like when he was alive to what he would look like now if he was still alive! Pretty creepy I know, but please bear with me! In my dream I was 20 years old, which means he would have been dead for 10 years. I remember trying to calculate this in my dream too. In my dream he looked about the same as he did when he died, but of course a little older! His smile was the same, as his sharp cheek bones raised up as he smiled! He had a gummy smile just like me! He was tall just like my brothers, with a bald spot on the top to back of his head, and probably today would have more grey hair, for he didn’t have any at the age of 45 when he died. When I first saw him, I was shocked and amazed that it was him. It was my dad, the one who I haven’t seen in 10 years. It was in a way surreal, and unbelievable. My first reactions were shock and a complete urgency to run up to him and squeeze him before he would disappear like a ghost! I could feel a flood of emotions rush over me, and the flood gates opened as my tears blurred my vision. I felt like a little girl again, while I stood there holding on to my dad who I thought was gone forever! He didn’t say much, but I remember him holding me tightly. We were in Payson Arizona for Christmas staying with my Aunt and Uncle, which are my dad’s sister and brother-in-law when I first saw him. My mom was already married to Jimmy my step dad, so they were staying with some friends in the same town. My brothers and I would always stay at my Aunt and Uncles for the Holidays, so this would not be uncommon that this would be happening in my dream. For some reason my dad had to leave somewhere, but I remember vividly that I really wanted some time to talk to him alone, and to ask him what happened. Why did he leave, or die, or where did he go exactly. It was quite confusing as to what exactly happened to him in my dream, all I knew for sure was that he was back, and I wanted to get to know him again. Have a conversation with him as an adult, instead of a child. I remember that it seemed to be real hard to get him alone because everyone wanted his attention once he was alive and well! My dream ended suddenly after that vivid thought of detail. I can’t even start to understand why dreams end so suddenly like this! I wish I could have finished it. I want to know what happens! I think dreams are like movies sometimes, and cut off right in the middle of a scene or intense part. I just wish there were sequels to dreams as there are most movies! I woke up just flabbergasted. Wondering why and what this dream meant? I prayed about it today during work! There had to have been a reason behind such a dream. Then, it occurred to me. The urgency I had in my dream to talk to my real dad in person is the same exact urgency I have for my heavenly Father! My spirit craves and longs for His voice, His visions, His love, and His Spirit! Though, I am not always awake or conscious enough to notice. Was this a wakeup call from the Spirit?! That He would use my biological father as an image to draw me closer to Him? I fully believe this to be true! Does this sound crazy?! Probably! I think the Spirit works in mysterious ways, and I think this way is very mysterious, but at the same time, very amazing! Did I see this coming? Absolutely not! Father knows where the most tenderness parts of our hearts are, and he most certainly touched mine. Not to bring me pain or grief, but to awaken my spirit to His. It’s a longing that I have for Him, and this was the way Father knew would bring my longing for Him farther out!
It has been several weeks, months even, where I have had the time to think or process anything but what my life is caught up in lately.
The other day I was inspired to write a blog after listening to a conversation that my husband was having with a friend about purpose. I frequently question my purpose. I think it’s necessary to explore the meanings behind things in order to understand what God is doing. It makes sense to me when I have such a dialogue with Father about the “big picture”, and rarely will the details make sense once I get a glimpse of the purpose, but I think that is just part of the process.
I believe that this life isn’t just about our final destination, but how we live this journey out, and through that finding purpose, and satisfaction in and through this thing we call life! Sometimes I wonder why so many people settle for so little! The predictability of this life and the way many justify their life by measuring it to success, or stability/wealth, safety, or certainty. Nothing is out of control because we think we have it under control. Situations happen, but it doesn’t take long for people to get control again. These are things I think I am beginning to understand and even learn to live without. It’s not like I or anyone has to live without these things, but it’s just a personal choice in hopes to grow and learn more outside of a predictable and stable life.
This is related to why I also think that many live by written principles and biblical restrictions only. Principles and written rules and to do lists are predictable, and easy to correlate ones life around. Think about it, relying on the Holy Spirit is tough, because I don’t see God as being predictable, or easy to read necessarily. Being in tune with His Spirit takes us out of our comfort zones because following Him in this way is not as cut and dry or easy. Rather, it teaches us to relinquish control of how we live or think we ‘should’ live based on certain principles or biblical guidelines, and even challenges us to stop relying strictly on man and principles.
Just some thoughts I have gathered. Please feel free to add any thought you may have about this! I would love to have more dialogue about this!
So, last Wednesday was a tough day! We had the day off and I had a lot of time to sit around and think of nothing else but coming home to America because things here are tough, and I stated the hardships in my previous blog post! By Thursday though, things already started to turn around for us!
I got a chance to talk to the director of the school and tell him that I needed more help in my classroom! He is going to try and higher me an assistant, which is highly needed! Its hard to entertain and control 14 children by myself. Luckily I haven’t had to deal with that many children due to some children being absent, but the numbers of children I have on a daily basis are still a lot 10-12 tops! So, that is awesome that I may be getting full-time help here soon!
Another plus, Jonathan and I got internet at our house! We bought this antenna that reaches miles away for signal and we attached it to this 6 ft. tall PVC pipe on our roof! It worked… We now can reach free Wi-Fi from this shopping center that sits about a ½ mile away from our apartment complex! We are so very excited about this, because this was a huge burden not being able to connect to people on a regular basis! We are just so glad that things are working out!
I knew Father had a plan; I just had to be patient! It’s apparent that it takes time to adjust to a new culture/language, and a different way of life. I feel like I have had some really down days, and though I think that is normal and just comes with the process to get settled to a new place, I need to have patience with myself and how slow things run around here! Life is a process, and living it is a privilege even if I can’t see that during the process! At least time has taken its tow to open my eyes to how grateful I am to be where I am, even if it does seem unpleasant during the transition! Thank you Papa for walking with me even on my worst days!
I am finally writing because I have a few hours that belong to me. It has been very rare to find anytime to just sit down and write anything really! I haven’t had any time to even think about things that I have normally thought of in regards to God and freedom. I miss that! I miss the flow of thought I once had. I miss the presence of God! Lately, I have been home sick, and I am not joking! Things here are hard to live with! It’s hard to deny this any longer! It was nice at first because it felt like a vacation, but now reality is setting in, and I am not sure if I can live with this for the long haul, which is for a year!
The school we are working for has a lot of problems, and I get the brunt of all the issues that pile up! Everything is so un-organized, and no one communicates about what is expected! It’s seriously like a guessing game about what we need to do most of the time! The people who we work with at the school are bullies and fight for control and take pleasure in tearing into others. Rumors start like forest fires and due to that, there is a lot of drama with the staff. I try and make peace and kiss ass, but right now I am fed up with people that I am with 95% of my time here! It sucks! The only pleasures I get from the school are the kid’s that are in my preschool class, and even they can be way overwhelming. I have 14 2/3 year olds enrolled in my class, and that is already up to capacity for one classroom! The classroom alone is not that big, and we literally don’t have enough chairs to seat all the children for class work, and yet, they still are enrolling children… In the states, the capacity to one teacher is only 9 to 10 children per teacher in preschool that is, so this is way over capacity in my opinion! I want to have a meeting with the director about this, but even that is a process, and doesn’t happen when it needs to! It wouldn’t be an issue, if I had an assistant, at least I could share half of the burden to keep the children in order, but I don’ even have any help when I need it. I do have someone help me with transition periods, like lunch time and snack time, but that is it! If they want me to succeed with this many children, I would think they would consider giving me more help or stop enrolling children into my class. Who knows how it will end up!
Or accommodations are okay, but we have been trying really hard to get internet at our house so we don’t have to be at the school more than what is required just to use internet. We are there enough, let alone on our off times for the use of internet so we can keep in touch with family and friends! This has been a huge issue! Jonathan and I have looked into getting internet at our apartment, but, apparently it’s a huge process as well! You have to be a resident here in Costa Rica in able to get a phone line to your apartment. Since we are not long term residents here, we have to hire a lawyer to form a corporation, and that costs a lot of money up front and takes several months to get that done! So, not being able to call anytime or get online for me has been super tough! That is a big reason why I have not had the time to write a blog!
My attitude has been horrible! I sleep a lot on my days off, and feel like there is nothing else to do but read or watch TV. We don’t have money to go exploring and everything here, just like in the states, cost money. We are trying to conserve because we only get paid once a month, so we can’t go anywhere or do really, anything. I am getting claustrophobic, because we haven’t gone anywhere else since we arrived. I am homesick! I would do anything to get out of here! I know that sounds bad, but, there has to be a reason why we are down here! I just don’t know what it is. Make a difference I guess in these people’s lives, and maybe add character to our lives. Who knows!
I know this is a depressing blog, but, please pray for us that things start to turn around for us! It is still a journey worth taking, though I have to remind myself everyday!
We just got to Costa Rica yesterday morning early! It has been a long couple of days since our arrival! First getting used to the climate and how humid it is here has been something else! The minute I get outside my body is damp with sweat, and it’s hot! It will take some time to adjust to this kind of weather they have here! It has rained every afternoon! It reminds me of the monsoon seasons we have back at home, because it starts to rain around 3pm.
The culture is very friendly and people seem eager to help us wherever we go which is nice, but the language barrier gets in the way! We bought this translation book English to Spanish phrases, and that has helped a lot! Jonathan does most of the talking! I just smile and watch! I will eventually get used to it though and hope to start communicating myself!
Yesterday was a long day! We spent most of our day shopping for necessities for our new place, toilet paper, towels, sheets, food etc… We are living in a one bedroom apartment, which is real nice, but I was hoping we were getting two bedrooms! Although the couch folds out into a bed so there is STILL room for company! We are about five to ten minutes from the beach! We have found that Jaco, a town just few minutes away, has a really nice beach and that is where a lot of the surfing takes place apparently! There is a lot of shopping in this town too, which is cool! This area overall reminds me of Hawaii! Very tropical and the people are very laid back!
Today, we found this internet café. The only one that we could find that has free internet! We were excited, so we ordered some coffee and set up the laptop and right when I went to get on, the electricity went out! We have been having difficulties trying to get online from where we are living! Our phones are too expensive to call anyone and we have yet to figure out how to get internet at our apartment! I am praying that this will happen soon! I have grown weary over the past couple of days of not being able to communicate to anyone! It will take time and I just have to be okay with it!
Well, I am hoping that once the electricity gets back on, I will post this up on my blog in order to keep everyone in the loop! I apologize for the delayed update!
I couldn’t sleep a wink last night! My mind has been racing all night long at the thought of moving to Costa Rica! Well, it is happening! Jonathan got a job over there and it is pretty certain that we are headed in that direction in one week! It seemed to be a spontaneous decision, but, really it’s been on Jonathan’s mind for years now! So it seems that Father has opened the door for this opportunity to arise, and we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it! Actually, to be honest, I am nervous, scared, but optimistic, and persistently excited all at the same time! It’s pretty much a rush to think about, but I know that if Father is behind us, we can’t go wrong! There are so many things running through my mind. I can’t seem to stop thinking about it! Costa Rica! I don’t even know what to expect! The Job that Jonathan is taking is a teaching position at a private school there! It is called Falcon International School! He will be teaching mathematics to I believe, High school ages! It’s happening quickly, we are going to be there for one year! We are leaving in one week. In the meantime, there are bazillion things to get done! We are moving and taking all of our belongings to my parent’s storage place in New Mexico, and then we leave Thursday August 27th, in the afternoon sometime! I have to slap myself to realize that this is actually in the process of happening! I am quite amazed how sudden this is happening! My life as I know it is changing right in front of me! Its only for one year, I have to remind myself! I love my family and friends enough NOT to stay away too much longer than that! I will miss Durango very much, and my cleaning clients, and all that this place has to offer, but especially will I miss the friends that I have made here! They have been so much a part of my life that I can’t bear the thought of not seeing them on a regular basis! It will definitely be something to get used to! Well, we have a lot to accomplish before we leave so I must get to it! Please pray for us and our new adventure ahead of us, and that things will get done and it will be a smooth transition! It will be a trip for sure, but I know Father will take care of us! I will try to write more when I have time to breathe! In the meantime, stay tuned!
Well, I have missed blogging and now that I have a few spare minutes, I want to share with you about the craziness of life recently!
Well, a couple of weeks ago Jonathan, my husband got laid off. Before this he was really getting tired of his job and wanted to look into going to medical school or something that would mentally stimulate his brain! Well, once we found out that he got laid off, we knew for sure that it was time to look for something else! Thankfully, they gave him two more weeks of work until he was completely done at his job, so that gave us a little boost of time to start looking for jobs! He has been looking diligently for work in the past couple of weeks and at this point has some prospects. First, we would love to stay in the Durango area, but are willing to move if it came to it! We have found that Durango is where we both are very happy, and we have started making amazing friends to share life with and would hate to leave them! So, as of right now Jonathan has a job interview with some boarding school just outside of Durango! He wanted something different so, he has been applying for teaching jobs. High school or college education! He is really interested in teaching and I think he would be outstanding in that position! He tutored me throughout college in algebra and science! If it wasn’t for him, I doubt I would have made if far in those two subjects!
If this doesn’t work out, he has applied in many places, so it seems that the possibilities are endless! In years past, he has always mentioned that he wanted to go to Costa Rica to go learn Spanish for a couple of months! I knew it was just a thought but I never thought it could be a real possibility until recently! He applied for a teaching position over there, and by our surprise, we got a call back right away from the director of a school over there! He wanted to higher Jonathan on the spot, but what is keeping us from making the decision right away is because the pay is really low, and even though they would pay for our room and board, we would still have to keep up with our current bills and we aren’t sure that what they are offering would suffice! Anyway, it may be a possibility in the future, and quite an exciting one, but right now it doesn’t seem feasible!
He has also applied in different parts of the U.S so we are just waiting to see what unfolds in the upcoming future! I usually lose my cool when things are looking unstable and not having job security, but, this time, I have really held it together and to my surprise, I have total peace! There are moments when I start feeling nervous, or uneasy, and I am learning how to learn to go with the flow even if everything around me seems so uncertain! I know Father has a plan for us, and I have literally felt the pressure of needing a plan disappear the moment I decided to let Father lead! Whoohoo! I will keep my blog updated for more events that are to take place!
I haven’t listened to Christian music in years, simply because I have lost interest in how redundant it sounds and it just doesn’t bring out passion or excitement in my life for God. To me, most of the Christian artists sing about performance to do better and to always try harder, and that kind of music does not move me! I can’t speak for every Christian song, because I am sure there are a few out there that are good, I just don’t care for that kind of music anymore! This past Christmas I was blessed to get XM Radio, and have it tuned to usually only two stations when there are over 100 stations to choose from. I listen mostly to dance and trance music (BPM and Area). It may sound funny, but, ever since I got hooked to these stations, there is some kind of energy that transpires from this music and just brings out the best in me. I could be in the crappiest mood, and once I turn on this kind of music, my attitude turns to into an automatically good mood. It’s the strangest thing, but I know Father has been using it in my life for sure! I know it’s not just the tunes, but also the lyrics in a lot of these songs that make me think and grasp things that are like transforming!
It has been fun to find, as I call it, ‘profound discoveries’. I run into these all the time, when I hear a new song or something that I like, I go home and you tube certain songs, and probably listen to them over and over again! I have always been like this when it came to songs that I like! Most of what I listen to or find interest in is music that has meaning, and inspiration behind the lyrics. I no longer care if it is labeled Christian or not! Actually I would rather discover musician’s passions by their lyrics and not what they are labeled under because it is so fun to explore and hear what so many different bands have to offer! It indeed does a change in me that only God can explain that one! ;)
I was going through some blogs and I ran into several things that really mean something to me and make me think, so I thought I would share them here, because to me, they are worth quoting again!
“The more you get somebody away from their heart, the more they can be controlled.” - Quoted from Aida's blog, written by Darin Hufford "All your faces I can see; you all think it’s about me -- I'm about to break. This is my fate. I am still damned to a life of misery and hate. You will never know what I've done for you; what you all put me through...I do it for you." - Quoted from Matthew Campbell
"Love God and don't be an asshole" - Quoted from Erin's blog, written by Dianne Sylvan
“When it becomes impossible to manipulate an individual through the exploitation of fear due to the reality that this individual is no longer afraid.....life changes for such an individual...radically changes.” - Kent Burgess
“How often do we miss a blessing, because we only see it as a curse?” - Amy
“What we call 'mistakes' He calls growth, growing up, continuing to grow up in the grace and true knowledge of Christ and His love.” - Quoted from my blog, written by Rich
Thank you to those who had inspiring words to share! I am devouring them~
I have decided not to become a hermit and stop posting or sharing what is on my heart, regardless of the reactions I get! I am not out to attain peoples approval anymore! That is what I have come face to face with! Before I wanted people to agree with me, to find good in me so that I may feel justified by what I write about! That is no longer my goal! I am wanting to get to a place where I know in my heart that I am loved by Father, and am approved by Him even on my worst days, even when I don’t have good intentions, or lack the ability to give grace! I am capable of many evil things, but I am willing to give that to Father and find that through all of my mistakes I will be able to accept that He still loves me! Learning to live loved is something that I continually strive for, but I just can’t get there! It is something I have dealt with for years, but have denied and have not attained because I have based the approval of man in accordance to God’s own approval of me!
Today I have been thinking about a place where I want to be; it is a place that allows me to have the freedom to make mistakes, or think wrongly about things. Where I can be myself and become vulnerable! I don’t know if that is possible to find that here on this planet! I struggle a lot, and fail more, and still am left alone. I want to be where Father is, I want him to wrap me up in his arms and hold me, even if I am filled with the worst things in my heart that is imaginable! This is when I say, I need you Papa, I really need you, and I can’t continue living in denial of how much you truly love me. I can’t live with sin and be alone! I want to find a way out of this mess I have created for myself and to rest in the presence of my God! Only Father knows my heart, and I hope and pray that even if it looks dark or gloomy, that he still finds a place in there somewhere that I love him and though I am just human, I want to believe that I am cherished by Him! Through my brokenness, there is healing!
Today has been the most disappointing days I have experienced in a long time. I should stop being real and open, because it always sets me up for failure and saying things that I don’t want to! I have a tendency to state things on my facebook status that just come to mind, and not think about what may happen once I post it! Low and behold, things do happen, and I can’t say it brings the best out of me, rather, I find myself today just broken, lost, confused, tired, and uncertain about pretty much everything but Father’s love for me. I hate to get into doctrinal fights because they never go anywhere productive. I have a problem of not keeping my mouth shut when it is necessary, and I tend to make matters worse. Then when things get really bad or out of hand, I lose sight of what is actually being talked about in the first place, and it feels like all I do is go in circles. I am confused, and sad that I cannot communicate in a productive manner sometimes. I start a conversation, and when it is in full swing, I just don’t know what to do because I feel like defending myself is the only option at the time, even when maybe I don’t even need to defend myself. Gosh, I feel horrible. I think I need a nap!
I have this beautiful picture displayed on my desktop up on my laptop. It is so gorgeous and even breath taking with all the elaborate colors in the sky that are also reflecting off of the amazing pond, surrounded with wild flowers. Although, I tried to picture myself there within the fabrics of that reality and to imagine what it would really be like capturing that in real life. Then, it occurred to me that although this picture displays incredible beauty, I would be hesitant in wanting to be a part of that reality, due to imagined fear. It would be the unknown of what could be creeping and crawling around in the water; and in and amongst the beautiful pasture of wild flowers; snakes, spiders, and insects of many kinds, and who knows what else could be present. How would I be able to grasp the beauty with the distraction that fear displaces right in front of me? It would be very difficult to take pleasure in depth with those fears. I have a horrible fear of snakes, but maybe the imagined fear is even worse, as I play over and over in my head of what could happen if I did come across a water snake or anything that is dangerous to be near. However, with all of that I lose sight of what I am missing, the wonder and beauty that is being displayed, as the fear is overshadowing the desire to find myself in such beauty and find pleasure that abounds by the thousand.
I think this is a good depiction of how I used to view Father! His amazing love and beauty is astounding, but it was the fear that overshadowed how close in reality I could be to Him. His wrath and judgment could stomp me like a bug, and though I was attracted to the image of a ‘nice’ loving Father, there was still that image a God who was ready to reign down his power upon me if I didn’t conform. I could sense his love, but didn’t believe it to be real! It wasn’t a reality in my life, but a façade that I only dreamed about. And of course there were always the ‘what if’s and ‘buts’ that stood in the way of the true reality that He desires me to live in! Fearless, shameless, and loved by Him who desired me to join Him in His beauty, and not to fear him or be ashamed of being a sinner! I get the feeling that I am not alone out there in feeling this way. Although people say they believe and grasp the Father’s love, do they really believe they can fully live freely in that reality? Can they sense that though they are sinners, they are still cherished and loved in every way possible by God? That they aren’t conditionally loved according to their illusions of ‘what if’s and ‘buts’.
Although I didn’t experience that picture that is above in my own reality, I am finding that believing in the freedom that Father’s love is astounding and His desire for me is incredible is becoming more real to me than ever before. That I am neither ashamed, nor condemned because His power is found in His grace as He gives to me so freely! Acceptance of the uncertainties of life will take you places you have only dreamed about and they will become the reality where you will find Him in and there you will only find love!
I know a lot of great wonderful Christians who aren’t arrogant, but I know some who think they are all knowing and proclaim to know God best, and if you ever question their dogma of beliefs, be forewarned, the fight is on! It’s the biggest turn off and annoyance when you are throwing a question out there in the void, and people come back at you all defensive and arrogant, like they really and fully understand everything that has to do with you or the question! But perhaps, behind the mask of arrogance, there is someone who is fearful of what could happen to them if they didn’t have the answers, or ‘stood’ for ‘their’ truth that they believe came from God! It’s true, we are all a little in sane, but fear is only in our minds and its taking over all the time, and we are afraid to question anything especially what we have always known!
I remember seeing something in the Shack where Sarayu I believe was talking to Mack and she told him that humans make God out to be way too difficult than he really is! He is the one who is simple, but it’s us humans that complicate the crap out of him! It is so true! We project to know everything about him, according to how we were taught and what we were taught, but has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have to know everything about God? It’s so stupid and arrogant to fight over scripture I think! Just like what I have said before, that we all have many different perceptions of the bible and what Father truly means for the individual! You could put a lot of well-known church pastors and ministers in a room and give them a scripture and I bet, all of them or most of them would not see eye to eye on much of anything, but, who is right? Well, does it really matter in the long run? Does knowing everything going to add any more days to our lives, or put us in a better position in heaven? I don’t know, that is for you to decide for yourself and yourself only!
I can only speak for myself here, because, well, it’s my blog and it’s not my job to tell others what to believe and how to believe, because once I cross that line, I have become arrogant myself! I personally think that being right or wrong is not important, and will not position me higher than anyone else in heaven and frankly, I would rather just trust God and in that, and not really care if I know, even if that makes me a janitor in heaven. Some people actually believe that, but, that is what they believe, and who am I to tell them otherwise?! That is their call to think the way they will for themselves!
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could all take down our arrogant masks and love each other and not have to think that we need to be all knowing and come across superior over others because we believe the ultimate ‘truth’? Maybe that is what heaven will be like, and I guess that would make sense, because we would no longer be dealing with flesh and blood! Woohoo!
I have always thought that Christian religious revivals were quite weird, and in fact, I remember growing up and attending such revivals that were pretty redundant, and always left me feeling the same, not revived, the preaching and teaching parts of it anyway. Sitting for several days at a time listening to people preach can get old, and I think I was too young to even understand half of the stuff that was talked about. Although, the fun was when the preaching was over and I was finally able to hang out with my friends! Those were the times that stick out in my head, when we were able to play afterwords! I remember we would have several people over at our house to spend the nights during the week long revivals, and all the kid’s slept outside in tents, because there wasn’t enough room in the house for all of us. It was in the summer time of course and my parents lived in the mountains so it really felt like we were camping, but it was in our yard. We had plenty of space to camp, hike and play Capture the Flag in the dark or Hide and Seek. Those were the good memories I have of the revivals growing up, and the rest of the organized preaching stuff is just a blur, but maybe there is a reason why it does not stick out in my mind! Did it really revive anyone? What is a revival anyway? What was their purpose? Is it like supposed to feed Christians spiritually until they puked? I mean, there was seriously preaching on and off all week long. But, did that work? And, did it only bring fearful infant Christians into the Kingdom of God?
These questions come to mind after a talk I had with a client today. He and his wife are going out of town to attend a family reunion, but he told me that he doesn’t want to go because he said it is more like a religious revival with many ministers and preaching to go along with the family reunion. In-laws and religious agenda’s is something he is hesitant to be a participant in, and frankly I don’t blame him. For those who are in your family, it seems like that would be the market of interest in converting them to Christianity, so to the religious minds, this is a brilliant idea, right? Well, what would that look like? How does one convert/convince one of something, especially being a Christian? Fear seems to work well, and in fact this tool is used more frequently than not, in order to convert those who are not ‘saved’, just throw them into panic by telling them they are going to hell if they don’t comply to Christianity. Does this really produce a real desire for a God who will just throw you into hell if you don’t follow him? Once the person is feared into believing in God and giving their life to Christ, they then feel like slaves, (though I doubt they would admit that) who religiously practices the traditional Christian life. They would feel like they are missing out on so much because they had to give it up for a God who just wants to take their life over so they won’t go to hell. Does this really fabricate a lasting relationship? No! I completely doubt it and in fact I know in my heart that this kind of ‘reaching out’ is not how God does it. He is completely the opposite of this. He uses love to touch those who are in need of Him, and will never use fear to conform people. He does revive us, but these fear tactics that are used frequently, do not get us revived, but rather leaves one utterly empty! So, in a nutshell, and in my own opinion, a revival for the lost and found is a loss cause, until after the preaching is done with, then the real life begins!
Okay here goes! I am not going to be walking on egg shells here, because I just have to get some questions out of my head so that I can hopefully focus on what is more important, to love! I have been constantly mindfully preoccupied by all these questions, and I am going to just get them down, and if you want, take a stab and them. Any comments are welcome and are wanted to help me sort some things out…. Ohh, and please bare with me, I am going through a process of re-developing… I really want to be found with grace on my lips and love in my heart for all people, including those I question! I am in no way trying to defile or point the figure at any one person or people, I too have been there and find myself revisiting places in which I used to find myself; but by help from God, I am no longer captive from that which used to hold me down… Amen!
Who was Paul? Was he the leader of the apostles? Or was he just a man. Was he better than all the rest of the men in his day? Was it because of his great transformation and ‘testimony’ that he lived through that makes him so special? I don’t want to be disrespectful, but, it seems out of the entire bible and people in this day and age always have held him in HIGH esteem almost seems to be up there with Jesus.
Doesn’t it seem odd that people who have ‘testimonies’ seem to be put up on pedestals? Like they have a story to tell like Paul did, and the rest who are just normal Christian folk who don’t have a ‘testimony’ that has rocked their faith, don’t seem to get noticed. At least this is seen frequently in the IC, but this kind of stuff I have always questioned and have had problems with. When a friend was telling me about her ‘testimony’ it was like she was proud of her wrong doing just because she now had a story to tell. It is quite weird.
Why does it seem like people who think they understand grace, the meaning and the good news of the gospel, but yet live as though they live by law? Here is something I found from Rich, on his blog! (Hope you don’t mind), it fits in here perfectly! “Performance (law) based living does what it does best, filling our inner being with something we were never designed for, angst, fear, anxiety, self-analysis, comparing and competing with the constant shifting and changing of the rules by the rule making gurus.” I just can’t understand why we preach with graced filled words, but it seems that we turn our backs on it, by living in accordance to human made laws and rules. I sense that I do this on occasion, and I am in no way pointing the figure and anyone in particular, but it never ceases to amaze me how much this happens!
Why is it that there are so many people who interpret scripture differently? This I believe is the #1 problem that arises in Christian relating. People who interpret things a certain way will always think that they are right, regardless of what the other person thinks. This reminds me of a conversation I was having with Kent, and he said a long time ago he and Julie went to a Marriage class or something , and the person who was leading their session, put a mug in the center of the table as him and his wife were sitting face to face away from each other, and they were asked to give their perception of what they viewed on the mug, one said that they saw a picture of a rose or flower, and the other said that they didn’t see anything, but from their point of view, the mug was blank. I thought what Kent shared with me was fascinating because we all have different perceptions of things and may never see eye to eye on everything. It was a great analogy of how different we are all, even if we believe in the same God. At least we have that in common, but it seems that the problem lies in and among the fine print of what we believe. I never really understood why it was important to be right, or to debate our doctrine’s, dogma, agenda’s, things that have to do with Father! Where is the love in that?
Is it our ‘Christian’ right to point out evil in people’s lives, even those who proclaim to be righteous? I know there are scriptures that talks about the process in which we go to our brother to confront his sin, and that seems to be the rhetoric of how things are done in the IC these days, but, hasn’t that seem to be overplayed by many who think it is their job to convict people of their wrong doing? I thought that was the Holy Spirit’s job? I think there are ways to go about doing this that are not as harsh or as negative, but correcting anyone to me seems like it wouldn’t be my place to do, to anyone, believers or not. Maybe I just hate correction so that is why I asked… God help me with this one!
Why do our motives and biases more often than not reflect on ourselves more than on God? Is this the fruit of our selfish tendencies? To proclaim who we support and what we like based on who we are? Is this really selfishness? Man, I bet that one was confusing! Sorry!
I know this title is a bit over my head as far has having ultimate reconciliation with God, but what I have been wondering in the last couple of days is if this is possible to have this with people. When two people get damaged by each other almost to the point of no return, I almost think that when we deal with flesh and blood, there is not much forgiveness or room for complete reconciliation as there would be with God. I think there are grudges and wounds that are held onto for far too long that prevent ultimate reconciliation to take place. It seems like it is easy to base relationships on the outcome of circumstances that take place, and not the foundation on which the relationship was founded on. Maybe that happens because the changes that happen in and among the relationship. I am just throwing out some thoughts to try and get my mind wrapped around this. It is so easy to put my boundaries up when I feel like I have been taken advantage of or in some ways completely abandoned by someone who I thought would never leave me or desert me. However, even through the worst of what I have experienced with relationships, I wish I felt strong enough to let all the angst go and learn to fully trust those who have hurt me the worst. I was talking to someone about this the other day, and my friend made a good point and said, ‘you can get to a place where you feel comfortable sharing life with someone who has damaged you, but there will always be a hesitation to protect yourself from that person. Things will never be like they were, and maybe that is just reality.’ This is a place where I struggle when it comes to be just like Father. I always fall short, but maybe that is the point; I will never be just like Father, and even through all my striving and efforts, I will always fall short. I am beginning to be okay with that! Maybe coming to ultimate reconciliation with someone is beyond our abilities. Maybe because we are mere humans, our effort and abilities will always fall short to ultimate reconciliation with others.
Jonathan and I get our dogs back today! My mom who has been keeping them for us for over a year now and is coming to our new place today to drop them off. It will be interesting to see how they react to their new home environment! They have lived chainless and without any boundaries for over a year because my parents live out in the forest close to nothing so they can roam as they please there! It makes me a little nervous because they are going from freedom, to a small fenced yard! I wonder if they will try to escape or get out somehow. It is going to be a huge adjustment for me especially because I haven’t been around my dogs for a long time, and they seem to like Jonathan a lot more because they mind him. What is even more nerve racking is that there are horses all around our house and I wouldn’t be surprised if they would just try to get out to chase them. What was I thinking when I first picked up Mocha off the streets when I was in college? I was working at a local coffee shop at the time, and these people came in and told me that there was a stray puppy outside who looked hungry and asked if there was any bacon or anything lying around so I found something and went outside and gave her some bacon. And thought to myself at the time that, I could have a dog because where I was living there was a huge back yard and thought that I could take on the responsibility before I knew I was ready for it. Since that moment, I think I have realized a 100 times over that I was not ready, and still believe that to this day that dogs are not easy animals to care for because they ‘need’ you to feed them, and to walk them and to give them attention and to blah, blah, blah… Mocha, who is the trouble maker, has learned from Jonathan to jump fences! When we were in college, Jonathan would run over to the place I was living and the front door was locked so he would jump over the fence to feed the dogs and take care of them. Well, Mocha is a fast learner and now knows how to jump fences. We invested in a fenced perimeter a couple of years ago that will shock her if she gets close to the fence, but even with that she will jump the fence on occasion. So it will be interesting how she will react… Brewster, who is our black Scotty dog just follows her lead and for the most part is a good dog, but man does he stink if he is not bathed on a regular basis! ;) It will be interesting to see how things turn out with the dogs. I just pray to God that they don’t create chaos or ruin our house, or chase the horses or whatever! The only thing I would be okay with is if they ran away and never came back! Nah, just kidding! So, pray that peace will surpass everything that has to with this transition in our lives!
Haven't gotten around to blogging or anything much lately, but, doesn't mean that my heart has stopped hearing... A lot has been on my mind especially in what relates to connecting with people in any situation or place they may be! I think my narrow-mindedness in years past has prevented me from connecting with people who didn't see things the way I did, but Father has helped me look past all that of which was keeping me from fulfilling something within myself in order to love people outside of my comfort zones. I see this to be true especially when there is no pressure to bring God into the mix. What is funny, is Father always seems to show up unexpectedly in conversations I could be having with anyone, and to be honest, it isn't I who usually brings God into the conversation, but others! I have gone so far from feeling obligated or pressured for feeling that it was MY job to talk about God! To me, that kind of pressure just comes out to be so unnatural and almost always turns out pretty bad or the conversation easily turns sour. I just fall in love with freely expressing myself or relating to people without that pressure! I don't believe that I have to use God's name for people to realize where my heart is... They will know us by our love, not how many times we bring up God in conversations. I have just been soaking up so many good conversations with my friends here in Durango, and just tonight with Jonathan's mom, who would bring some great questions to the table! The conversations that Jonathan and I had with his mother, reminded me of some conversations that we shared with Kent during our visit to St. Louis a couple of weeks back! There was no pressure to say anything, but just the freedom to express where our hearts were and what we believed to be truth! I simply love the simplicity in that and how just loving people where they are has truly been a transformation in my life!
Today, we are headed back home! Believe it or not, I am ready to be home, but this trip has truly been a mind and heart changing experience for me personally and I have learned so much. Yesterday was our friends wedding that we attended. This trip was primarily for this wedding. We have known this friend since college, and since then he moved to Springfield to get his masters in counseling at Evangel Christian College or something that is associated with Evangel Christian. It was different to experience going from visiting and spending time with Kent, who is vastly free from any type of religious bondage to hanging out with strict and tense individuals. Though many things have changed between us and our dear friend, I could still sense the love and connection that we all shared when we were in college. Though we may not be in the same place as they are, or may not fit into their way of living or thinking, love still has a way to bring our hearts together. One thing that I have been thinking about today during the drive was the differences between compromising our desires for others compared to sacrificial love. During a conversation on facebook with Kent, a light came on when our conversation progressed.
Kent: We were made for relationship and yet it's the thing that seems to be the most messed up and pain producing, and the all too familiar operating paradigm of "win/lose" is of no assistance to us in helping us unravel the mess...that paradigm is actually at the center of the mess.
Nicole: It’s hard to come to this common ground, but if love is our first priority than compromising is not so hard... Love this Kent! ;)
Kent: I wonder if compromise is even the proper term or thing to seek? Once I read that, the first thought to come to my mind was that compromise is another activity of the realm of law. Jesus seems to be about something completely different. What he is doing in us, teaching us to love, isn't about compromise. It's about giving people the freedom to make their choices and us loving them. There is a big difference between the two.
Nicole: Maybe the word I was looking for is sacrificial? Maybe that is an even worse word... Well, whatever this is, I hope it does just what you stated... That it will give us the freedom to allow others to make their own choices and learn how to love in those circumstances regardless of the outcome... That sounds like sacrificial love, but maybe I am not understanding something right!
Kent: Nicole, I think that is much closer to how I see it. I used to be so tied up by what other people's lives/sometimes messes cost me. When we are no longer so bound up by that anymore it seems to be an indication that we don't feel as if we have the "turf" to defend like we used to in our more selfish days. We are more free to just love people. Defensive people really aren't free to love.
Through this conversation, I have truly grasped what sacrificial love really looks like. I believe that we can still fully love people sacrificially without compromising who we are or what we believe. I don’t think Father really meant love to be played out in a compromising way. In other words we aren’t to change who we are or what we believe for other people, but rather, allow people to be where they are regardless of where that is, and love them like Father loves them, who gave Himself up for them. I never once remember Jesus compromising His Father for those who are on the earth, but He gave himself for them so that they may see His Father through Him sacrificially! Letting people be who they are and meet them where they are with sacrificial love as the core reason, than I can’t find anything better! This is the kind of love that I desire my life to express in my actions on a daily bases towards everyone I come into contact with in a real and authentic way. I not only want to talk about it, but live it out daily! Learning how to live loved and loving gracefully is a constant working progress for me, but through Father, His love will work in and through my life and shine out of my actions and choices!
This song really captures how I have felt in the religious systems I grew up in, but looking back to where I was compared to where I am now, I can honestly say that being out of that perfect box of religion, I have learned not only about myself, but most importantly, who Father is within me. I don't regret my past, because I know Father works out everything to His perfect will! I am no longer faded, but am resting in Father's grace and complete love! Praise Him!
Faded.. Faded.. Faded..
You never take Take the time to really look Look at the one The one I really am
You try to fit To fit me in a perfect box You let me slip between the cracks
[CHORUS:] Now I've faded into someone else Made me someone I don't wanna be Yeah I'm faded My true color's gone Like a picture nobody sees
I'll bet you don't Don't even know my favorite song You tell me how How I should wear my hair
You wanna change Everything I ever was Try to erase me Till I'm not there
[CHORUS:] Now I've faded Into someone else Made me someone I don't wanna be Yeah I'm faded My true colour's gone Like a picture nobody sees
Now I've faded Like I never was Till I don't even know myself Yeah I'm faded Into what you want But I'm not takin' it too well
I don't wanna be your little picture perfect pretty girl Who's got nothing to say I'm not gonna wait around Let you run my whole life down So you can watch me fade away
(Faded, Faded) You try to fit Fit me in your perfect box
(Faded, Faded) You try to fit Fit me in your perfect box
You try to fit Fit me in a perfect box You let me slip between the cracks
[CHORUS:] Now I've faded Into someone else Made me someone I don't wanna be Yeah I'm faded My true color's gone Like a picture nobody sees
Yeah I've faded Like I never was Till I don't even know myself Now I'm faded Into what you want But I'm not takin' it too well
We just got to Springfield today for the wedding we are attending on Saturday. Looking back at the last couple of days we spend in St. Louis has been life transforming. Father has opened the door for us to meet with Kent and his family during our travels. It has truly been a mind and heart awakening for me. Mainly because talking with fellow travelers who are captivated by the power of Father's deep and compassionate love and the freedom that is found in Him has truly helped the transformational process in my life due to how contagious this way of living is, and I mean that in the BEST way ever possible. When it comes to freedom, I have seen it, but only at certain times in my own life, and never have I truly experienced or have seen it talked out or literally lived out until now! The way we talked about it when we were visiting has really helped me see things differently in the light of freedom. Have you ever felt so connected spiritually with someone that you almost feel like the connection has been purposely placed in your life that has brought out the transformation? This transformation I am talking about is strictly about giving up power and control in relationships and diving into the process in which we decide to relinquish control and allow uncertainty to take place in which to find ultimate freedom and get prosperous outcomes with whoever is involved! I actually got to experience this first hand while visiting Kent and the family. The thing that got my core attention was how real and honest they were even with us there. Nothing changed when we were there, and we were able to see these dynamics firsthand. The realness that Kent and Julie shared has taught me to even be more real and transparent with others than ever before. I don’t think I have ever had a problem with being real with people especially in the last couple of years, but, there is something completely different when it comes to experiencing it in reality, like right in front of others. If I could only truly experience that without the fear of what others may think would be the 1st step in freedom I believe. The real and necessary family life stuff I have been able to experience has truly changed my way of thinking on so many levels in regards to relationships in general. During our visit, I remember Kent said something that I will never forget and that I believe wholeheartedly. He said something like, relationships are the hardest dynamic ever created, but it is usually the humans that make them difficult than anything else. This is so true because it is self that makes them so messy; the one who mostly strives to live for himself and does not sacrifice himself in the light of freedom or love for another. Today, this has been on my mind and I truly believe that another process of transformation is on the verge of happening. Uncertainty is scary when it is looked at without the lens of freedom from needing to be in control of situations and outcomes of circumstances. Usually in the midst of trying to be in control of situations, we more than likely will try to defile those who stand in the way of what we want. This is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to relationships and I feel I am but touching the surface of what my heart is yet to understand, but with Father’s wisdom and grace, He will make a way for it to lead me and guide me closer to where He is. That is the whole point of living anyway… More to come later!!! I will be in Springfield until Sunday, and I hope to have more time to write in the near future.
Meeting new people and getting the opportunity to share life with others even if they are brief moments at a time brings out the best in me because it feels my heart and being with great joy and excitement. Today, we are driving from Springfield Missouri to Chicago, where we will be staying with Jonathan’s brother for a couple of days. The journey thus far has exceeded my expectations, which I left at home BTW. The drive yesterday was long but ran smooth. We drove about 13 and a half hours and at the end of the day, and my butt was numb to say the least when we finally arrived in Springfield late last night. It has been worth it though! We stayed up pretty late talking to an old friend from college who we stayed with and that was so incredible to catch up! One thing I noticed is we get a little stressed when we drive through the large cities because we have been making the habit of stopping for food and gas and we have taken some wrong turns and have gotten lost a few times, but, eventually we make our way back on track thanks to the GPS and internet access on the trip! There is something so spectacular about traveling with my husband. He is a good driver and being able to share this experience with him has been awesome. I wouldn’t want it any other way. When we by-passed St. Louis, we literally drove past a friends neighborhood, and I thought that was very cool. I am looking forward to our stay in St. Louis and to share life with this friend and get to experience more of what I love most about life – sharing life with others in Father. More to come later… Next stop – Chicago!
This year, Jonathan and I are planning a road trip to the mid-west primarily for a wedding we are going to in Springfield MO. I am very excited about the adventures that await us. We are leaving tomorrow, Friday May 15th for our long excursion. It’s going to be a long drive, but we will have internet access and music that will hopefully keep us preoccupied as we drive, plus I am wanting to look into car exercises, but not while I am driving of course, because I have been exercising for over two weeks straight and I am afraid that if I stop I won’t continue my dedication. We have several stops we are going to make! Springfield MO, we are stopping for the first night! 12 hours of driving the first day. It’s going to be the longest day of driving, but once we get that day out of the way, the rest will be a breeze. From Springfield we are going to be making our way up to Chicago, where we are going to be hanging out with Jonathan’s brother who lives there. I love cities so I am sure I will love Chicago. I have heard so many good things about that place… It should be fun! Then we are going to St. Louis where we will be able to meet a friend that I got acquainted with on The God Journey forum years back! I have wanting to meet this person for years now and am SO blessed that Father has opened the doors for us to finally meet face to face. I think the best part of road tripping, is the people who you will come into contact with and share life with if only for brief moments. So, that is probably the best perk of the entire trip that I am looking forward too! Then from there we are going back to Springfield for a wedding we are attending. The guy who is getting married was someone we both knew in college, and we haven’t seen him is a long time so it will be awesome to reunite with him and all of his new friends and wife-to-be. Then after the wedding we are going to stop in Tulsa and spend the night with Jonathan’s Aunt who I adore. She is one incredible lady who I admire and love dearly. She is a lot like Jonathan’s dad (her brother), both tender and sweet. I love that about them both! Then from that point we hope to make it to Santa Fe where we will stay with Jonathan’s sister before we head home… It will be exciting and I am greatly looking forward to the experience that Father has for us!
In recent days, I have grasped Father’s presence more and more. I think because I am learning how to rest in His love and affection, and trust that He has my best interest at heart. I don’t have to trust Him or love Him back, but it’s the freedom that I have to choose to love Him that is so attractive. I find it when someone is told what to do, or commanded, that person is less likely to want and desire to do what they are told to do, but only out of guilt or fear of what will happen to them if they don’t conform. In the same sense, I am so grateful and privileged that I am not forced to love Father, or be His, but it’s a choice that I freely made with no obligation, fear or guilt associated with it! With a sense of gratefulness and honor, I have accepted His invitation to be His. I sometimes wonder why Father’s love and the invitation of Life that he gives freely are constantly being confused for something other than what it really is… His love is not a commandment; His life he offers is not something we have to put forth effort to gain. The more I think about this, I think man has made God way more complicated to understand than he truly is! He desires to love us and to pour His affection on us, and for us to accept Him, but never in a forceful manner or in a conforming way. I would give anything to see what Jesus was really like when he was on earth. His character and presence was probably so astounding that it would be hard not to want to be like Him. But somewhere in the mix of religion, that image I think has been lost or ruined, and the realness of Father and who He truly is has been over shadowed by man’s ideologies and agenda’s that take way too much effort and time that never brings forth any lasting fulfillment.
From Matthew chapter 6 in the Message
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God’s-reality, God’s-initiative, God’s-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
I found this on a friend’s facebook page. I love this because he found the Message version of this scripture and it truly captures the real meaning of rest and giving up effort! It’s so profound to think that in doing nothing for God or for myself does probably more for my relationship with Him then scrambling around like a busy work bee in efforts to look good to God or in hopes to accomplish something! It’s so easy to rest if we just allow ourselves to dive deep in the simplicity of Father’s affection.
Yesterday I was talking to my mom about the hierarchical system in churches; Pastors, elders, deacons, and so on. People who think they have authority over the body of Christ. There are many scriptures that talk about the structure of the Church, but, there seems to be something so out of place in the church structures of today then in comparison to when Jesus was on earth…
Here is a great article that fully explains in depth on the biblical bases about what the Church looks like in comparison to what Father intended.
This topic is a huge reason why I hate religious organizations. Someone who thinks they have the authority ‘by God’, has fully forgotten the importunate of servant hood and therefore, in my own opinion, does not have the right to conform people to bow down to man’s image. We were not meant to praise the one who preaches, but, the one who is being preached about. It seems to me that the way any typical church is structured to have men rule over other men, and have authority over those who attend are putting men before God. This hierarchical system that has taken over God’s church and has become something that I don’t believe was ever meant to become. In this article I love how he states, that we were all chosen by God:
“Notice that Jesus states in the above scripture concerning the structure like a vine that He wants us ALL to bear much fruit, so we ALL can grow, not just the minister. We also find in Matt 20:25-28 that Jesus instructed His disciples not to lord over their brethren. Let's read it…"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."”
There is another scripture that says (and I can’t remember the exact verse), we were all called, but only few are chosen… I think that scripture is talking about ‘Christians’ in general and not about pastors or ministers or people who go by a certain label to think that they are something. It is referring to all of us… I personally can’t stand labels but I know that I fit into the category of chosen because I have made the decision to be chosen even if I am known as a no body. Those who decide and make the decision to follow Christ are the ones who are chosen. Not the ones who have the labels to think they have to prove that they are something. I remember hearing someone say that when you think you are somebody, you will soon find out that you are a no body. Talk about humbling and it is so true.
What has been more humbling is hearing about former pastors and elders from certain Christian churches stepping down and even apologizing that they were wrong in trying to be God to people in their organizations. This is a revelation that God can only get across to men, but, it has even humbled me to hear about their journey’s and how Father has led them to step down and give up the throne to its rightful owner. Not to say that all leaders are supposed to do this unless they are personally called by God to step down, but if I was in that kind of situation that would be so hard because it would seem that I would have to give up so much power. It seems to me like these hierarchical structures in churches are but power struggles between man and God, especially when the initial thought of man is that they have to defend their position in the church.
Wishing there was more hours in the day… I started a new book called, Ethics of Freedom by Jacques Ellul, though I just started it, it is beginning to open my eyes to so many things. I asked Father today that he would open my mind up to understand this in a deep and filled way. It seems to be very complex, and I have a tendency to give up way too early on things that take more brain power than I want to bring forth. Lately though since getting this book, I have wanted to understand things that are difficult or complex that will challenge my knowledge, but at the same time grow me and teach me things that will be with me for the rest of my days.
Today my great Grandmother past away; she was 95 years old. It was time for her to go though because she suffered for a while with being weak and dealt with a lot of pain. She got really sick like three months ago and they took her to the hospital and from that point on, she has been going downhill. In many ways, it has relieved my mom and grandma from taking care of her full-time. It has been difficult to say the least. I was able to see her last Sunday and asked her how she was doing, and all I could hear her say was, “I am happy”. That gives me peace that she is no longer in pain or striving to live when she knows her time is up. It is so hard to watch someone go through the dying process especially when she seemed to be holding on for dear life. It’s so weird to think that she is no longer going to be there when I go down next time to visit my family. It kind of reminds me of when my dad died. After he passed, going home was the strangest things in the world, to think that we would be going home without him. His presence would no longer accompany us. My grandmother was a Jehovah’s Witness. She knew what the bible said blindfolded, and only in the ways that this religion understands it. It sickens me to no end, that what if my Grandma only knew was this religion, and she really never got to have a relationship with Father? Sometimes I have to wonder if religion is a sin. If it has the power to keep us away from truly having a conscious relationship with Father and to know who He truly is in our lives. All the rest of the stuff, regardless of the ‘belief’ can keep us away from Father. I pondered on that thought today after I heard of my Grandmother’s passing. It is with great disdain to see religion be put on a pedestal and to see mere humans bow down to its demands. What emptiness will be found when this life is all said and done. I have a hard time getting that people are easily persuaded to sell their souls to a religious entity, or system. It saddens me to no end seeing my Grandma in this way and deep down inside I knew she was not a really happy person, and treated her daughter, which is my grandma very bad sometimes. Her religious agenda’s and things she strive for in this life only left her empty and dry at the end of her life. I have great hope that Father will still give her a chance to get to know him, but we only live once, and to see it pass by so quickly opens my eyes to how precious our time here on earth is. I want to gain and understand who Father is the more I realize how short of a time I will be here on earth. Well, this wraps up my thoughts for the evening.
Have you ever been in a conversation with people, and when you feel the freedom to speak, all you get is blank stares and only hear crickets in the background? I have, and sometimes I have to wonder why…
There are times when people will come up to me or send me an email that sounds like they are wanting to open up and have a dialogue with me about deep stuff usually regarding faith and things of Father, and when I pursue the conversation there are times when all I hear are crickets. I then become confused, and wonder if my openness and realness has scared them away, or maybe I wasn’t reading the ‘signs’ correctly and they really didn’t want to hear what I had to say… I wonder why this is. I am not a pushy or scary person to talk to I don’t think. I will for the most part wait until someone will come to me and start a conversation, or people will comment on my blogs or things I put up on facebook and then will engaged in conversation… I love to converse with people, it is one of my favorite things, but sometimes, it seems like when I do get chances to talk; when I share openly and honestly about where I am, this will produce false accusations against the openness and realness that I share; and in the end causes the conversations to be no more… I have always been a people pleasure, never did I want to offend anyone by the way I thought or felt about things, so I would never ever speak my mind, and where I am just in case some would not like what I had to say… I have obviously overcome this weakness, and a fear of rejection, or I don’t think I would be writing any blogs or things on facebook, let alone this post. Here is a great passage of scripture that a friend of mine reminded me of.
The Message, Galatians 2
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
I am done trying to say all the right things or do the right things in order to gain people’s approval of me. I honestly could care less of what people think of me, but it has been a long time coming, and something within me Father had to take out for me to get me to this place where I am now. Therefore, it is for Freedom that Christ has set me free!
I just heard someone recently compare church buildings to hospitals. This person said it is a place where people get help when their sick, but to me, I think that is a horrible analogy because in the same sense, that is where a lot of death happens. My dad died in a hospital and that place isn't a place that I have experienced life in that much. When one is sick and the doctors in the hospitals can no longer cure or fix the problems, then what is the point of staying in the hospital?! In the same sense, why stay in an organized religious system if you only find spiritual deadness there? Of course people would say that it is the ‘individuals' fault that he/she is not growing or experiencing spiritual life with God, but to be honest, it usually isn't the individual who has the problem but the system itself is so screwed up that instead of it adding life to you, it takes life from you and causes one to become spiritually dead. It is so easy to rely on systems to do everything for us. We rely on the health care ‘system’ to cure us, we rely on organized religious systems to spiritually cure us, and there are many other systems that we rely on in order to survive in this world… The world is built up with systems that are supposed to take responsibility for us, and that is something I personally want to stay far away from because the more dependent we are on the world, the more power the world has to take away my freedom, and freedom is something that is irreplaceable if I lose it.
There is a quote I read recently from Jacques Ellul; "If there is one value which I regard as most important, it is freedom." "Nothing I have done experienced, or thought makes sense if it is not considered in the light of freedom." This quote is so profound because it speaks of so much truth in regards to what I have not experienced when relying on systematic boxes!
“Religion inevitably enslaves people, demanding static conformism, and developing into a bureaucratic machine. The Church has professed to liberate people, but it has most often fettered and crushed them, serving historically as the enemy of freedom, and the agent of necessity, oppression and intolerance. The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is a dynamic investiture of the Divine "Wholly Other" into man's situation ¬ the very opposite of religion.”
This is something I just read recently when I was learning more about Jacques Ellul and his writings. This quote is so profound that it touches me to the core. Systems weren’t designed to free us, but to enslave us, especially when we become fully dependent on them than God himself. Any system is a horrible substitute to knowing Jesus personally and not becoming co-dependent of Father himself. I am not willing to give up my freedom, no way, no how!
Not all who wander are aimless, especially those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond image. -- Mona Lisa Smile
Hi! Thanks for coming by and checking out my blog. If I had to tell you anything about myself and why I write, it would be this...
I love to write about things that inspire me or captures my attention, or merely what is happening in my life. I don't proclaim to have it all figured out, but I do know this, that I am simply human that has problems and I am not afraid to expose them here. Vulnerability and being authentic is something I strive for, even if it looks ugly at times.
So please feel free to come and have a conversation with me. I can't wait to dig in deep with you!
I am learning how to live loved by God and embrace His grace that will help me fly in freedom. Let the wings of grace take me, all of me, for who I am and not for who I should be.