Tag Archives: Jesus

Connecting to Holy Week

It hit me like a ton of bricks this year. Some times, some ways, some things just connect differently at different times. It’s what I love about faith. It’s alive and exciting. It touches my soul, connects to who I am and meets me right where I’m at.

Lately I’ve been thinking about making a pretty big life decision. A career move if you will and it’s met with all sorts of advice and thoughtful comments from people who I know love and care about me and have been close to me in certain seasons of my life. I value every word they say, and also know that I have to make my own decision.  And no matter which way I go, I will be met with good and sometimes challenging circumstances.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, as predicted by prophets of old. And in that moment he was celebrated. He was held in high-esteem, he was praised and made known. He was celebrated for who he was, the son of God.

I wonder if this could have been on of those moments for Jesus when he could see heaven on earth. Those moments of peace when every thing collides to connect with your true self. That moment when you feel known, understood and have purpose. But at the same time, Jesus knew that some of the people with him, closest to him, would betray him. And the same people celebrating him would put him to death. The downturn of this comes quickly, forcefully and with out any compassion. 4-days later Jesus in betrayed, and then beaten and killed.

And still he lived in that moment. He experienced Palm Sunday (or travel tuesday, whatever they called it 2000 years ago). He let them celebrate God. He received it.

I think about my life. The changes that are to come. I think about my life transitions. The beginning often filled with celebration and excitement, but then the downturn comes. Life gets hard, the honeymoon period of relationships end, expectations are left unmet and dreams fade into reality.

But Jesus shows me how. How to live regardless of what’s to come.  Regardless of the unknown that lies ahead. How to celebrate again and again. How to love regardless of what the future holds. And no matter which path I take, it will have a beginning filled with celebration, and a middle filled with ups and downs and a Jesus to show me how to love and be loved through it all.

Over the next several days we will remember, reflect on and celebrate Jesus’ final journey here on earth as a man. It starts with a meal with friends, and then quickly turns to betrayal, torture and death. But it doesn’t end there – there is the resurrection. Because no matter how bad it gets, the end is just the beginning with Jesus. He offers more. He offers redemption. And a future that one day won’t be tarnished by pain and suffering.

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A Quick Reflection on Fixing, as Yet Another Year Passes

Every year I tend to blog on this day. To share what I’m feeling and to make a pitch to love on my parents, sister-in-law and nephew a little bit extra on this day.

It’s been 8-years since my little brother, Devin, passed away suddenly in his sleep.  And this year is no different, and I don’t feel like I have anything to add.

I still miss Devin. I miss his face and his smile and his voice. I miss knowing he was always there for me. I miss his young wisdom and his big love.

And I still want my parents, sister-in-law, and nephew to feel an overwhelming amount of love and grace and peace today. I still want to take away their pain, to help somehow to carry their burden, to lessen the hurt.

But I can’t fix it. Really in life I can’t fix much. I know this. We all do I think. We all know we can’t fix the other person or their pain but so often we want to and in that want sometimes we hurt them more. So this year, I want to say sorry for the hurt I’ve caused wanting to fix it.

Pain is uncomfortable and hard to watch others experience. My head has known this for a long time, but my heart actions can’t always stay in that head space. You could say I’m a bit of a feeler. And by a bit I mean I pretty much feel everything. And I can deal with my own feelings, but I don’t want my love ones to have to sort through theirs. I’m not sure why either, because I really like feeling and so maybe they are ok feeling theirs. But it’s taking me a while to get there.

And so this journey of figuring out how to love my family in their pain and not try to fix it has been challenging.

My friend the other day said that he felt like the pain he was facing in his life was a gift. And while that sounds so crazy, I totally get it. Because in that pain I have found Jesus in such a deep and tangible way. I have received His love and grace in ways I wouldn’t have known I needed with out pain. And I can see how pain, done well, is a gift.

So now I want to let go and pray that my loved ones receive their pain today as a gift. A gift that their Maker is so close and loves them so much that He won’t leave them alone for a moment in that pain. That in that pain He is drawing them in. Holding them tight. And creating something beautiful out of that pain. Because pain done well, can help others carry their burdens. I don’t want to take away from the hurt and sadness. It is real, it is unfair and I don’t think it is what God wants for us. But He does want good for us, and I think knowing that feeling and working through the pain leads to more good than we can even allow ourselves to comprehend.

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Bittersweet “See You Soons.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I’ve been trying to write this blog for a while, knowing I have so much to share but finding it hard to slow down and put it all into words.

My life is changing. A lot. And I’m just trying to keep up and savor every moment.

I can not put into words how loved I feel. I am thankful beyond words. My life here in Worcester is amazing. I have my family. I have my friends. And I have this amazing community I get to live with. Every day is a huge blessing and every moment is so full and vibrant.

And yet, I’m about to embark on a new adventure.

In just over a week, I will pack all my stuff (or as much as I can fit) into a Uhaul trailer and move to Madison, WI.

And I’m really excited.

It seems crazy that I’m so excited to pick up and leave this amazing life I have, to move to a colder (read: I hate being cold) climate to do an internship and apprenticeship at a church. The church out there is really connected to The Woo here so when I went out to Madison in May for a conference things just started happening.

I never thought I would move to Madison, WI. I had an idea that I might move away from Worcester someday, but the mid-west!!! Wow. This must be a God thing.

And I think it is. I really feel His leading and guidance in this. It’s never felt like an “I want to do this, how do I make it happen?”, it’s felt like an “ooh, God I want to follow you, wherever you take me.”

And right now it seems He is taking me to Madison. An adventure that’s already been so fruitful and so fun! So many things have fallen into place so well and I already feel connected to some folks in Madison.

I will miss you though. I will miss so much here.

I don’t know exactly what living in Madison will look like. But I can’t wait to find out! And in that, I’m relying totally on God to not get ahead of myself! It’s a precious time right now. This time of transition. A time of excitement and anticipation. A time of bittersweet goodbyes.

But the truth is I can’t say goodbye to you, it’d be too much. I can only say “see you soon.” And the best part is, that’s what I get to do. Because one huge blessing in this is that Worcester is where I’m from, and Worcester is where I can always come back to.

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My Heart is Safe Only With You*

My life is about to change drastically.

And I have so much to say yet I’m rendered speechless so often these days. (I know that’s hard to believe but it happens) I’m in awe of my life. This life I get to live. The experiences I get to have. The people I get to love and who love me back so well. And the God who loves me so much I can’t comprehend it.

I’m in the land of the unknown. Big changes are coming and while I’m engulfed in the rush of emotions in letting go and taking in the new things, I also have no idea what my life will look like in a month. And God is doing this new thing with my heart through this. It’s not so new that He hasn’t done it before, it’s just new in that He’s going deeper. And it’s something, from what I can tell from talking to people older and wiser than me, that He does over and over again. And it feels amazing. And hard.

You see in this transition into the unknown there are things I want to happen in a certain way. Things I want to control and put into place. And, that’s not going to happen. Actually the best way for things to happen is for me to let go and not control anything. And the thing is, I know (from experience) that it’s way better this way. But it’s not always easy.

This time I don’t have to work so hard to let go. God is doing the heavy lifting. So often I’ve been told to just let go and let God. But sometimes it seems so impossible. I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I don’t know what makes this different, but it is.

God is doing the hard work, I just have to look at Him. All I did was ask. I asked God to tell my heart the things my head knew but I was struggling to live out. And He did. He did something amazing. It feels safe. It feels free. It hurts. And it’s a continual process. Because I have my moments where I want to figure it out. I want to plan, I want to know. And again I have to let go.

The process is overwhelming and so sweet.

Today I say goodbye to my job. My first official goodbye in this process. It’s bittersweet. I have enjoyed so many moments at this place. Connecting with co-workers and the community. Serving up coffee, mostly with a smile, and getting to know all those around me. It’s been challenging and I’ve grown a lot through the process.

I will miss every person I worked with. Every customer who comes in. Every person who I pass on my way to and from work. I will miss the community.

Today I will soak in every sweet moment while wholeheartedly looking forward to what’s in store in this new adventure I’m on.

*thank you Lydia Lowe Ferreira for this beautiful line from your beautiful song – it’s brought my heart to new places — God has given you an amazing gift!!! 🙂

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Wiper Wisdom

As I was driving in the snow storm today I was struggling with the right speed for my windshield wipers. Silly, maybe, but it was all too fast and kept making the screeching noise.  And it seemed wasteful.  I hate waste.  And I felt like the wildsheild wipers were wasting energy (more on that another time).  So I changed to the intermittent one.  And it went and then stuff started piling up on the windshield and I was like, “ok, come on windshield wipers, do your thing!”  And then I got worried, “they’re not going to show up,” I said to myself, “it’s not going to happen, I’ll have to do it myself.” And then bam!  Right before I could, the windshield wipers swished across the windshield.

And then I thought.  How often do we do this with God?  How often do we say, “ok, God, I’m totally doing this with you, let’s go do this, whatever you say.”  And then when it gets uncomfortable, or things start to pile up, we bail.  We just jump right off the God train and start trying to figure it all out on our own.  Wow, I can look back in my life and see this.  

Now I want to know, what am I missing out on by taking it back at the last moment?  I don’t want to miss out!  I don’t want to miss you Jesus.

Thankfully I am surrounded by people with awesome faith who help push me to stay in it and help me from jumping off the God truing. And when I do stay aboard, God always shows up, just before I fall off the road.

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Running into the Lenten Season

I can’t lie. I’ve been a bit hesitant about this Lenten season. A little hesitant to give up some of my comfort spots, a little hesitant to be more vulnerable and a little hesitant to say, “Hey God, what do you have for me this year?” 

Last Lent was tough. I had just gone through a breakup and I was in pain. That gut-wrentching on the floor, can barely get out of bed pain. 

But then God reminds me of all He gave me in that time. And I am so thankful for what He offered last year.  I’m thankful for the pain, because He met me, I’m thankful for the fight, because He carried me and I’m thankful for the sunshine on the other side, because He is with me.

On the other side of the pain was freedom.  There was deep healing happening.

I’m not in the same emotional distress that I was in last Lent. And so as I continue to ponder this Lenten season, I find myself so thankful for it and so eager to dive in. I want to give up the things that I know will force me to rely on God more, the things that once they are out of the way, will lend me to connect with God more. Because as crazy as it sounds, I long for that closeness that I had with God in that pain.

And I think Lent is a time I can experience some of it. I can fast from things to rely on God and to deepen my longing and need for Him. 

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you wont become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

As I read this verses I can’t help but think – I want that. I want to shed the things that slow me down, that can distract me from Jesus. I want to let go of the things that keep me from connecting with God wholeheartedly. I think Lent is a space created where we can do just that.Just like Jesus did in the desert when He fasted and instead of giving in, He fought the temptations. He prayed.

So I will fast from some things, I will add some things* and I will run into this Lenten season to see what God has to offer. Because I know, no matter what it looks like, I know what He has for me will be GOOD. 

*some things I will add is a blogging regularly. As a community we are pushing into Jesus this Lenten season and using art to do it….more to come 🙂

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Walking Away and Looking Back

Today I am thankful.  Today I am full of unexplainable joy.  Today I smile. 

But the following blog entry is from where I have been.  It was a few months back.  It’s what I’ve left behind and learned from a series of events.  I’m forever grateful for failure and disappointment. 

April 4, 2012

I’ve made some risky life decisions lately.  I like making risky decisions, I like taking risks, I like adventure, I like living by faith.  This time some decisions I got to make, others were made for me and they were all heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking in the best sense of the word.  I’ve been hurting.  Deep, intense, cry out to Jesus just to breathe; pain.  It’s good for me.  It’s hard.  It feels like it’s almost over.

I don’t like it when I don’t write for a while.  Sometimes it’s because I’m busy, sometimes it’s because I’m just a bit down.  Sometimes it means I don’t have a lot to share and I’m in the midst of pain so the words won’t come out.  That’s where I’ve been lately.

Things end, things change.  It happens to everyone.  We all have seasons.  Life is a rollercoaster.  Sometimes we’re on the top; sometimes we take a big leap to the bottom.  It’s good.  It’s where we grow.  It’s where our character is tested, broken down and made new.  It’s where we get on our knees and cry out to God for relief.  It’s where we find ourselves.

A few things have ended for me recently.  The relationship I was in, ended.  And in step with that I ended my employment with Straight Ahead Ministries.  There is a strong team working to open the coffee shop/community center that I know God will work through to bless the Main South area and every kid who walks through the door.  And I hope to head over there and volunteer at some point, but not yet.

The ending of the relationship I was in was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been faced with.  My heart’s desire is to find that special someone to team up with and live this life with.  And I’ve given that search to God.  Asking Him to bring my best friend into my life so I wouldn’t keep giving my heart away.  The relationship I was in seemed to happen so organically.  It felt like God was leading us together.  I look back and I see God’s hand working in each one of us and in the relationship and I see opportunities I could have walked away.

I have learned a lot from the relationship and from the ending of it.  I look back and think, maybe I should have walked away sooner, maybe I was holding on too tight, maybe I wanted it too badly.  And then I think, maybe he wasn’t ready, maybe God has something better, maybe my job was just to love him while I had the chance and then to let him go when he walked away.

I’m thankful for the insight I have into the situation.  God has blessed me with clarity so often in my life.  I know He will reveal just what I need to know about a situation as I need to know it.  I need to have confidence in those revelations and not look to others to confirm them.  Don’t get me wrong, wise counsel is important and I will continue to seek it, but one of my biggest lessons in all of this is to have confidence in me, in what I hear from God and in my decisions, without needing everyone else’s approval.

I will admit I’m scared.  I want to love again, I want to connect with someone, share life with them and let them into who I am.  But my heart has been broken.  It’s healing but it’s fragile.  Maybe that’s right where it needs to be.  More guarded than before.

Part of me feels like I’m back to the beginning.  Back to where I was before those “big dreams” fell into place.  I am and I’m not.  I am in the sense that I don’t have a job, a partner in life or big project I’m working on.  But I’m not too.  Because I have renewed hope, I’ve healed and worked on things through this suffering and I’ve found new strength in Jesus.  And I’ve been humbled.  I’ve laid it all down before Him and He’s shown me some of my “weeds”.  We’ve ripped them out.

I have direction from God to keep pursuing church planting, I have hope that He will bring my partner to me in His time and I have faith that the right job is right around the corner.

Life’s goal should never be to avoid suffering; it should never be to avoid pain.  It should be to embrace suffering, to embrace pain, to cry out to God and say thank you for this.  Thank you that in this pain I can cry out to you Jesus and you will rescue me.  And it’s that rescue; it’s that love from Him that is more than enough.  And in this pain, in this suffering I say thank you and pray that His glory is revealed.  I ask God to use this pain for His good and to not waste a single tear.  I know He won’t.  It’s His promise.

7/2/12

Update –  I am back with Straight Ahead Ministries, working in the café.  You should come by sometime…it’s a great place to be and I’m so thankful God let me go back!

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