Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Candid Vulnerability....

I get the Lent Journal delivered to my inbox everyday from Michael T. McRay.  It has become something that I look forward to.  It is someone's story each day.  Most telling of a time when they were impacted, or a profound moment in life. 

Today's struck a cord with me.  You see I think that we have to ask ourselves if we are in line with Jesus (if that is who we follow) everyday. 

For instance this morning, I had a situation with someone where they deliberately went out of their way to impact my morning negatively.  In that moment I could have chosen to do a couple of different things that would have derailed this person's attempt to sabotage my morning.  I could have made it to where this person was impacted very negatively.  Instead I just let it be.  I ignored the situation, and I made it through my morning without harboring too much anger.  I am not always in line with Jesus like this.   A lot of times I fail to do things the way He does them. 

In today's devotion, the author talked about how Jesus had an open hand to every clenched fist that He encountered.  Do I do that?  Do I have this vulnerability to the clenched fists around me?  Those that are so closed up they push people away, or want to put others down. 

What does it mean to have vulnerability like Jesus, yet still have boundaries?  Can I have both? 

I believe I can, but the balance has to be there, right?  The balance of love and vulnerability?  If I am open to people, and understanding where they are coming from instead of judging their anger.... might I just impact them in a positive way? 

What if every interaction I had, I found a way to see the good. 

Maybe it seems unattainable... but for today.  I choose to see the good, I choose to have candid vulnerability in every interaction. 

Maybe it will do nothing to better this world, but maybe it will too. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Blogging A to Z REVEAL>>>>>>>>

It's here!  The BIG reveal!  I am SO excited about this year's Blogging A to Z challenge!  It is going to be pretty awesome.  Last year I kind of didn't do so great!  I can't wait to get my butt in gear and get going on this year's fun challenge! 

There is a lot going on in my life right now.  I have had some moments of clarity in the past month.  Those moments have led me to understand more about my life, where I am going, and what I still need to work through.  What better way to work through some of those tough moments, then the A to Z blog challenge, right?!? 

So.... I am going to take you on a journey.  I journey to understand singleness.  To understand how our culture has turned it into something that it shouldn't be, and what we can do to get rid of the negative connotation that it holds. 

I hope you join me on this amazing  journey!  I am SO excited! 

Singleness.... culture, and how we need to change how we feel about it! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fear is a Liar

It occurred to me yesterday as I was hiking that sometimes we journey a long ways till we find we have been looking for all along.  My life's journey has taken me all over the world, and back again.  I have been in places where I didn't know how I was going to survive.  I have been in places where I feared for my life, where I feared for the lives of those around me, and where I feared for the community I worshiped with.  My journey began a long time ago. I sought adventure, and belonging.  I wanted friends that I could count on, that I knew would be there for me, and that I didn't have to prove my worth in order to gain love from them.  I searched so hard. 

When I began my journey I was young, unsure, and dealing with some damage that it would take some time to work through.  You know the damage, the kind that digs in deep and keeps on trying to break you.  The thing is that we are all damaged.  Some of us just have a different level of damage than others.  Some of us allow other people to continue to drill those holes even when they have long ago been filled up.  We allow culture, society, and our own insecurities to keep us living in fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of never being enough. 

That's where I started my journey.  In the fear zone.  I was afraid to be seen.  I was afraid that if people saw who I was, they would run the other direction.  I was afraid that if I was myself then I would lose out on the people that I needed and wanted in my life.  So, I lived in fear.  I walked around unsure of my own opinion.  I walked around not saying everything that I thought or felt because I didn't want to lose people.  People were my thing.  They made me happy, they made me feel loved, and they gave me a purpose.  I loved helping people, I loved meeting them where they were.  I loved serving them.  But I was afraid.  Oh I was so afraid.  I was afraid of my own feelings, I was afraid of telling the truth.  I was afraid of pointing out things that I wasn't okay with.  What if they left me, what if they spread lies about me, what if they turned and walked away and never talked to me again? 

You see those fears, I thought they were just mine.  But in the 20 + years since I started my journey, I have come to realize that they aren't just mine.  We all have them.  We all live in fear. 

I realized on my hike yesterday that my fear journey, although not over is way different than it used to be.  Although I still hold tight to the people that surround me, and don't ever want to lose people from my life, well I have been able to understand that sometimes it must happen.  Sometimes we have to love hard, and let someone walk away.  Sometimes we have to point out what a friend is doing or not even if it means never talking to them again.  Sometimes we have to break down those walls, let someone in, and get close to them at the sacrifice of knowing we might lose them.  Fear has caused me to build up walls, push people away, and sometimes even run the other direction. 

As I hiked yesterday I realized that fear has also brought good into my life.  For it has allowed me to see what I am holding back.  It has allowed me to understand what I have yet to give up.  The strongholds that I keep close to me, the things that I don't allow myself to give over.  The fears I have that keep me from letting someone in completely, from trusting.  I don't think that it is wrong to have boundaries, but when fear is the cause of those boundaries, it stops you from getting everything you can from those that surround you.  But fear has also allowed me to be more open in this past year than I ever thought possible.  I have been able to own up to a lot of who I am, and what I feel... and had a little heartbreak along the way... but I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

So I hiked, I worshipped, and I sang.  I came to a place of surrender.  Surrender of my fear of not being enough.  Surrender of the mistakes that these past few weeks have brought me.  Surrender of my life and the expectations I had for it.  Surrender of having to stay in one place.  Surrender of what I thought and what culture tells me life is supposed to look like.  Surrender of knowing where the path should go.  Surrender of having to do everything myself, and on my own.  Surrender of fear. 

Lately this song has been my mantra.... it touches me every time I hear it.  I know that the path I am about to take is one that I haven't traveled yet.  It is going to mean some major changes for me, and I could let fear take a hold of me, but I am not going to.  I am going to know my worth, understand that there are big plans for who God wants me to be, and live those out.  I may not be perfect, but I sure do love hard, and always try to be the best I can be. 

Fear is a liar.....  I choose to live outside of fear, in a place where I know the truths of life, love, and a God that is in complete control. 

When he told you you're not good enough
When he told you you're not right
When he told you you're not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you're not worthy
When he told you you're not loved
When he told you you're not beautiful
That you'll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
'Cause fear he is a liar
When he told you were troubled
You'll forever be alone
When he told you you should run away
You'll never find a home
When he told you you were dirty
And you should be ashamed
When he told you you could be the one
That grace could never change
Fear he is a liar
'Cause fear he is a liar
Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Zach Williams / Jonathan Lindley Smith
Fear Is a Liar lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Essential Music Publishing

Monday, March 12, 2018

Broken Friendships, and a Compassionate Heart

It wasn't until this past Thursday that I truly was able to see a little glimpse of the way God sees me.  It was through my BSF leader, and she said the words that I am the most compassionate person she has ever met.  Up until that moment I couldn't have put into words why I was the way I was.  I really have just been going through life thinking that I am this emotional ball of a mess.  I feel SO hard.  I take it SO personally when I lose people, or someone is hurting.  But up until that point, I thought that it was a flaw.  I hated it, and I hated feeling SO strongly about other people's pain.  It has cost me pain.  It has put me in situations where I have loved so hard that I lost.  But when she said those words, I realized that it is my gift.  I have been given the gift of compassion.  That doesn't always mean that I use it wisely, or that I even use it at all sometimes.  But I am able to feel strongly for those in tough situations.  I am able to put myself in their shoes and understand the pain and sorrow they are feeling.  This makes me a better person, maybe not always someone that you want to be around... but I will never trade in my loyalty of friendship for something better. 

I feel hard, so when I feel like a person has rejected me or lied to me, it breaks my heart.  It hits me in the deepest part of who I am, and it makes me want to build up a wall.  I am working on not building up walls anymore.  It is one of those things that I am most proud of that I have worked through.  But I also refuse to let someone hurt me beyond repair.  It has already happened a few times, and I won't let it happen again.  No person is going to have that kind of control over me. 

I hold all of my friends in high regard, especially those that I have confided in, and trusted.  I don't do well with people pretending to be my friend, or those that make me believe they are more of a friend than they actually are.  So, today I am having to let go of someone that I thought was one of those forever kind of friends.  I didn't know that anything could ever threaten and potentially ruin our friendship, but I guess it can.  I will continue to love this friend and be there for this person if they ever choose to reappear back into my life.  But for now I say good-bye, and hope the best for this person.  My heart cries out to know what I did to deserve this treatment.  I do realize that it isn't necessarily always about me, even when I feel like it is.  Sometimes it is about the other person and whatever they are going through. 

I know that this person won't read this, because they are avoiding me like the plague right now, but I hope that one day there is a time when our friendship can be what it once was.  I don't have any hope in that, but my heart hurts thinking of parting ways.  I think that is part of me though.  I don't think losing me as a friend affects people as much as me losing them does.  That is a hard thing to understand and take in, but I get it.  I'm not always an easy person to love, or maybe the one that you want to be seen with in public.  But let me tell you, I am an honest, caring friend.  I would sacrifice anything to help someone out friend or foe.. no matter what. 

I will never apologize for loving hard, and wanting people in my life.  The people that surround me are some of my greatest examples of what love is and what it does.  I am thankful for each person that has crossed my path whether it was for a moment, a decade, or a lifetime.  I will never regret moments that I spent talking, laughing, and hanging out.  I will never regret being your friend, for in those moments you helped me to understand more about grace, forgiveness and love. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why Singleness Might Be for Me...

This post is going to be encouraging to some, and not so encouraging to others.  Actually it might not even reach a lot of people because I'm not posting on FB right now, and I am not sure who will actually even read it.  But I know that I need to write it. 

Here's the thing, I thought I wanted to get married and have kids.  I just don't know if I do anymore.  I was talking to a friend last night, who is having some of the same feelings I am.  The difference is that she has been married before.  But I feel like we are still in a similar place.  When I came back from Thailand, I was pretty much willing to accept anyone that crossed my path.  In fact I did do just that.  I let someone in because we connected, and I was happy for a little while.  The happiness soon wore off and I was discontent with how I felt about this person.  As I have continued to get older and grow in my faith... I have let my expectations and my list of what I want slowly dwindle away.  Is it my lack of faith?  Is it because I think I am not good enough?  I am not sure. 

I do know that I can't continue on this path.  It occurred to me the other day that I am allowing myself to reach a point of just accepting whoever again.  I'm doubting that there are any good God-fearing, men out there that have a steady job, and are willing to lead a home in the way that I need.  I am doubting it, because I honestly have yet to meet one.  Oh sure there are men with potential, and if I'm honest some that I find pretty stinking attractive.  But if I'm also honest those same ones, have other qualities that just don't mesh with who I want to be trekking next to as I journey through the rest of my life. 

Is marriage really the end all, be all?  I mean the way that our culture portrays it, is that you aren't anything until you get married.  You can say that you don't look down on your single friends in their 30's and 40's, but I guarantee you do.  I guarantee that in some way you think that they are not enough of a person because they don't have a significant other.  I challenge you to think that through.  Don't just push what I am writing aside, because you don't want to believe it.  Honestly examine yourself, and ask yourself if you hold your single friends in the same regards that you do your married ones.

So, these last couple of weeks, I have examined if I have just wanted those things, because they are the expectation.  In some ways I think the answer is yes, and in others I don't agree.  Even in the church I feel like everything revolves around couples, kids, and that being what makes this life worth it.  If I never get married, and never have kids... is my life a waste?  That's the question I have to ask myself.  Not by other people's standards, but by my own.  If that doesn't happen, then have I wasted my life? 

My gut reaction is to say of course not, but when I really think about it.... I do think that if that never happens to me, at this moment in my life I will feel like I didn't live up to what I was supposed to live up to.  That is something I am working through.  That is something that EVERY SINGLE person you know is working through.  There is always that chance that love will never happen. 

You know what else I am working through?  Being picky, and not giving in to just anyone that comes across my path.  My journey has been unique, and with that unique journey I have learned to look at life, and love very differently from some people around me.  Does that mean that I will never find love, or someone that I can journey along with?  No it doesn't, but it does mean that my field has been narrowed by a lot.  I don't have to feel bad for being picky.  I don't have to feel bad when a date doesn't work out, or when I feel like that guy has rejected me.  Because the thing is that there might be someone out there even better.  Or there might not.  But I don't want the might not to make me feel like my life wasn't lived the way it should be. 

Sometimes dating is fun, and other times it makes me cry, shout, and want to move to another country.  That's where I am these days, just wanting to pack up and move.  I am not sure what the future holds, and it might hold a move to another country again, or I might be permanently settling down.  But I do know that I am not going to feel bad for having high standards, or saying no to second third, and fourth dates because I don't feel like it is the right one for me.  People are my passion.  I love people of all kinds, backgrounds, cultures, shapes, ages.  I am here to hear their stories, and help them achieve all that they are seeking.  I won't allow my love for people to be disrupted or tainted because of this expectation of finding the perfect person. 

My calling is people, and if I can show love to one person a day, that doesn't feel love... then THAT is what makes my life meaningful.  So, I might be single forever, I might never find someone who loves me for me, and wants to work through things for the rest of our lives.  It's going to take me awhile to let that concept be my truth, because I have fought it for so long, and my heart isn't there yet.  But I will get there.  In the meantime, I grieve what could have been, hope for what still could be, but realize that the best I can do is love others, and serve well for today. 

True/False 2018.... My reviews....

It was a great fest, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to see 12 films!  What an awesome place to reside!  Here are my reviews of the films in order from Best to Not the best....

#1  Three Identical Strangers
The best film!  This film was amazing.  There were so many factors at play.  The three brothers, how very different they were.  The fact that they weren't told about each other, and the mysterious twist.  It made me wonder what people will look at in the future that we are doing today in our society that they will frown upon.  I think about this film and wonder how people thought that it was okay?  But then I think there are things going on today, that I wonder how people think they are okay.  We all live by our own standards sometimes I feel like.  But I still feel like not everything should be done, even in the name of science.

#2  Voices of the Sea
One of the best films I have seen.  The people of Cuba and the way they spent their life wanting to be out of this place.  The corruption of the rations, and the violence.  Not being able to get enough food to feed their families.  The man's sacrifice everyday to feed his family by fishing even though he was in so much pain.  I think about my life and how sometimes I complain and the smallest things, when I have it SO easy!  I long to meet those people, to sit down with them for a cup of tea, and understand them more.  I have never even had to think about risking my life to escape my home.  I loved getting to know the voices of the sea.

#3  Crime and Punishment
Our country right now has a problem.  This film did a really good job of showing the corruption that can go on, and is currently happening.  It was amazing to me how awful it was, even among the minority officers.  It opened my eyes for sure.  We have to change things!  Are we really aware of how much corruption is happening?  Are we just turning a blind eye to it?  It is time that we wake up and open our eyes to what is going on, instead of just ignoring it!

#4  Of Fathers & Sons
This was one of the best-hardest films to watch.  Seeing inside the training of these boys.  It was amazing to me to see how they were trained, how they were brought up, and their view of god.  This view of god was so eye opening.  I think sometimes we don't realize the similarities between the different types of religion.  We just want ours to be right, and everyone else's to be wrong.  But really there are similarities in each of us.  There are ways that this film has changed my view for the better, and also ways that it made me angry.  I did notice the absence of women in the film, and the way that women/girls were treated.  It was so heartbreaking to me, and it does make me realize how far we still have to go in this world.

#5 Kinshasa Makambo
This film made me understand more about protesting, sacrifice and freedom.  We take for granted everyday the freedom we have to stand up for what we believe in without punishment.  It was really well done.  The scenes from the protests were so real, in the midst of the people.  I really understood the story, and at times it was like being right there because of the angles of the camera.

#6 Primas
What a tough story, but I think SO perfect for this time of our history.  Those two girls and what they went through was so tough to understand.  But I think also seeing their strength, and outlook on life.  To be able to come out of the experiences they had, with such light.  Sometimes I think that we look at our own lives, and try to compare it to those around us.  Thinking we have it so much worse, when we don't at all.  I hope that this story, helps to look at little further into abuse, and the emotional toll it takes on the person it happens to.

#7 Our New President
I thought this film was great.  I can see why the editing won at Sundance.  It made me look at news in a very different way.  I definitely think it had a unique perspective that I'm so glad I got to view.  The news is awful these days- sometimes it helps to laugh at it!  I could see where some people would get offended by this film, but really I think it is a unique perspective that you have to view with an open mind.

#8 Shirkers
This film surprised me.  I wasn't sure that I was going to like it, but I ended up really enjoying the journey.  I thought this story was told well although it did leave me wanting more.  I think that part of the intriguing essence of this film was that there was still so much that was a mystery.

#9 Gabriel & the Mountain
I was expecting more from this film.  I liked the story, but it didn't have the drive that I thought it would.  I thought it would be more about how Gabriel changed lives as he went on this journey.  I feel like it was more about what not to do in certain situations.  I still appreciated the story.

#10 Hale County, This Morning
The effects in this film were beautiful.  I was expecting the story to be more meaningful.  I was expecting the story to be more.  I really enjoyed the small glimpses of life, but it was hard for me to connect it, to the big stories.

#11 Shorts:  Kombucha
There were interesting shorts, especially the one about the water slide in Kansas.  Such a heartbreaking story!

#12 Playing Men
I wasn't a huge fan of this film.  I think I went in with different expectations of us.  But it was interesting to see all the different sports!

Ofcourse my favorite part of the fest was volunteering!  I love all the people I get to work with!  So many great people!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Life from Death...

This past weekend I spent my time at the True/False Film Fest.  As usual it will probably be the highlight of my year.  I thought that my next blog post would be about that experience, but instead I find myself thinking about a different topic.  The topic of life from death.  The topic of the resurrection.  The topic of this season that we are in right now. 

A couple weeks ago, I made a decision that continues to affect me on a daily basis.  It was through that decision that I realized that my life has a lot of crutches, and a lot of things that need to die in order to bring new life.  In order to be the best that I can be in the midst of grace and mercy. 

You know those things for yourself, right?  The things that you turn to instead of turning to God.  The things that you let slide by, because you are afraid if you don't have them that you won't be able to cope.  It was through a message that I sent to a friend the other day that I realized I was leaning way too much on one of these coping mechanisms to get me through life.  I had turned to this "crutch" to help me make it through the feelings that I was dealing with instead of looking up, and believing that no matter what happens, He has my best in mind. 

I think that the greatest journey in life is about learning to cope, and understanding how to live with joy through that coping.  I don't always get it right.  In fact most times I fail, and feel like an awful person that will never be able to choose the right things.  Even now I am about to make a decision that I know isn't the best one, and it is one that could have consequences later on, but I am choosing it because I need it to get through some emotional pain that I am dealing with. 

I think the worst that I could be is a person who pretends like she has it all together.  A person that comes across as perfect is not a true person.  Because we don't have it all together.  I am thankful for those people that see my weaknesses, and love me anyways.  I am thankful for this time when I can ponder over this season of death, and understand that there will always be things about myself that need to die.  There will always be ways that I could be more loving and kind.  There will always be ways that I could serve better, and with more authenticity. 

So, I take time to recognize those weaknesses, that make me ME.  I also take time to recognize how God's grace and mercy shines through me.  I am someone that loves hard.  I am a loyal friend, I always try to see the best in people until they hurt me beyond repair, and even then I usually let them stomp on me a little more.  I try to serve others with all of my heart, and sometimes that means that I lose a little of myself in the midst of serving.  But I am SO much stronger than I used to me.  I understand that I'm not always going to get it right.  I am going to make decisions that probably aren't ones I should be making, but those decisions will lead to beautiful things.  I just have to believe that. 

We have to let the dead stuff go sometimes.  It hurts in the moment.  Our crutches the things that are comfortable, they are easier.  We have made them easier, because we don't want to face our choices.  We want life to be perfect, but we don't want to have to do any of the hard work to get us there.  We choose to just see the pain instead of embracing the process.  I know that I am not the only one.  I see friends that are struggling, making choices that are only going to help them in the moment, not something that is going to stick for a lifetime. 

Today, I choose to let go of the dead.  I choose to see life, to breathe it in, and try my very hardest to not keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  To try my very hardest to not allow the crutch to keep me from walking along the twinkling shore.  To step outside of my box, let myself be vulnerable, and embrace the pain that comes with the growth.