Black Clothes and Beach Hangs.

It’s officially summer in California.  It’s hot.  By hot I mean yesterday when I was around town my car was telling me it was 114 degrees outside.  That my friends is hot.  A cup of coffee is only good in that kind of heat when it’s iced.  And water is really your only friend.

In the last year and a half I’ve learned quite a bit living out here.  When you are in Orange County the only acceptable color to wear is black.  Black on black on black.  And coffee – coffee is a thing.  More than just running to your local Starbucks.  In fact, drinking Starbucks might even be a little unacceptable.  If you do, you need to be desperate or not tell anyone.  The 90’s are also coming back with gusto.  Walk into any Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, or Forever 21 and you are re-living Clueless.  Can’t say I hate it, any excuse to wear ripped jeans and an oversized flannel I am totally in.  It’s almost cool to be a little weird.  In n Out is kind of a cult (very delicious I might add).  No one eats at Wendy’s.  Acai Bowls will ruin your life in the best way possible, and I am going to need North Carolina to get on the ball with those.  It’s fruity goodness with granola, I prefer banana on top, and then the added coconut flakes are like the cherry on top.  It’s Vans not Converse.  And skateboarding is a thing even when you are 45 years old.  Surfing is a lifestyle and if you don’t love the beach?  Well…you should probably re-live living in California.

I am going home next month for a few days and quite frankly, I am looking forward to the slow paced life and fried food.  But something tells me when my visit comes to an end I will be more than ready to come back to the land of SoCal.

I like living here, I like meeting new people, and I like eating at In N Out.  I don’t have everything worked out and I am currently job searching.  But, there is great peace in knowing that you are right where you are suppose to be.  Also, great comfort in knowing that you have met people that have become family.  I don’t mean replace your family – my mom, dad, and brother are one of a kind and I am beyond grateful that the Lord chose to give them to me – but just more people that uphold the same values that your parents instilled in you and take you in as their own.  Plus, they let you eat their food.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not painting a picture of a perfect life because I am far from perfect and so is my life.  There are still things that I long for and I find myself constantly telling Jesus about them.  And this is what he so graciously reminded me the other day:

Romans 8:24-25, ‘Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see; we wait for it with patience.’  Bam!  Didn’t hit you at first?  Let me explain: the conversations I have had over the last couple months seem to center around the same thing.  We are all waiting on the Lord to deliver that one thing that we so desperately want.  This could range from a new job to a husband or wife.  I fall in this category of waiting for something only the Lord can provide.  It’s usually something our hearts desire so badly that we can’t put it into words.  Something we are constantly bringing to the Lord in prayer.  By all means, yes, this is what we should be doing – bringing our burden to the Lord.  The key in waiting is not how we accomplish these things that we so desperately want but the key is pressing into Jesus and drawing on his patience to strengthen our patience. Then in his perfect timing, and only his perfect timing, will he blow our minds with his incredible answer to our prayer.

This speaks to my heart in more way than one.  So in Matthew when it tells me to seek, pray, and knock.  I must keep doing those things.  Those are all action words that require me to do something not just sit and do nothing.  Constantly seeking Jesus in what I do is how he knows how serious I am about the burden he has put on my heart.  But the best part?!  He hears me and will answers when it’s best for me.

Take heart my friends…he know and he hears.  And while your at it check out Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Lift.  It’s their Monday night bible study and it’s pretty great.  This summer we are going through the book of Song of Solomon.  Yes, we are talking about sex.  Who better to get instructions about passion from than the God who made passion.   Happy Monday.

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Kombucha.

Kombucha, I would like to talk about it.  It’s fermented tea and people drink it.  For fun.  I think somewhere along the way someone decided that it was good for you and your body.  People make it with a fungus and then other people buy it and put it in their body.  I am currently drinking a strawberry mint flavor.  Don’t judge, just google it.

Hannah.  I’ve written about Hannah before.  She’s Samuel’s mother, and she loves the Lord a whole freakin’ lot.  For the record, Hannah would probably drink kombucha.  Anyway, I mentioned Hannah in my post about being naked.  You can read it here.  She is so transparent before the Lord that a priest thinks she is drunk.  Her soul is literally yearning for the Lord to hear her prayer.  It’s insane.  The Lord does hear, and he answers her prayer.  But then she does something that I don’t think we do in this day and age.  She prayed for the Lord to give her a son and then when she got the son, she gave him back to the Lord.  I don’t mean like she prayed for him everday and longed for him to love the Lord.  I mean she dropped him off at a church and said, ‘Lord, here he is’.

What’s the one thing you find yourself constantly praying for?  The thing that the Lord has not granted you yet.  That’s the thing that Hannah recieved and then gave back to the Lord.  I find that I even have a hard time writing this concept down.  There are one or two things that my soul literally yearns for, that I have cried before the Lord more than twice.  These things that have not been granted to me because it’s not time, do I have the ability in my human frailness to give it back to the Lord?  Or would I hold on to it so tightly that I wouldn’t want to share with anyone including the Lord?  These are questions that make you think hard, and give some conviction.

I am learning what giving it back to the Lord looks like.  It’s hard.  It’s scary, and I don’t even know all the details.  I’m not even sure it’s details that I need to know, I just know I can’t do it on my own and I beyond need Jesus for this particular thing.  And you know what my biggest fear is?  That He’s going to take it away.  And yet, if he does doesn’t that mean he has greater plans?

Matthew 7:11, ‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’  I shouldn’t be afraid that the Lord will take away, I should be thankful that he hears me and gives me what I need.  Trust me when I say I do not have this at all under control.  I’m learning and it’s actually kind of a hard process.  Not kind of, it really is a hard process.  I am starting to understand why Hannah gave it back to the Lord.  She trusted the Lord more than she trusted her own heart.

If you could see inside my mind right now, you would know that it is literally blown at this concept.  Anyway, grab yourself a glass of kombucha (trust me, I think you are gonna like it) and read 1 Samuel 1-2.  We could all learn something from Hannah.

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Lavender Black Tea.

Today is a writing day.  I have found that I write when I can’t seem to express the words that are inside me outloud.  I don’t know how smart it is to put these things up for the whole internet to see but…

It’s a beautiful day in Southern California.  I am currently sitting in a coffee shop that’s very near the beach and happens to have excellent coffee.  (Tea too, I tried that today.)  People are busy on their cell phones, tablets, laptops.  Heads pointed down and, as I assume, deep in thought.  There are several groups of people talking but for the most part it’s loners like me with their electronic devices.  Oh and as for background noise, it’s the murmur of quite conversations, traffic, and the espresso machine keeping this place in business.

I came here today to escape.  The Lord is still very much on the throne and taking care of me, but I am human.  And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I have feelings.  (For those of you who know me well that read this I can only imagine the giggle that is happening out loud as you read this last sentence.) I am in a season of not only trusting the Lord more, but trusting that the people He has placed around me are from Him.  And that its ok to share things, outloud, when I am upset and not hold it in.  That’s not easy and I appreciate the friends who have been showing patience in my learning season.  I’m a hard person to get to know and I know this.  That fact is a nice reminder that I need Jesus more than I need oxygen to breathe.

California has been my home now for almost a year.  I mean in 3 days it will have been a year since my dad and I drove across the United States and dropped me off at Calvary Chapel Bible College.  It’s probably been the hardest year of my short life.  Nothing tragic happen, I wasn’t homeless at any point, but I’ve been away from my family and learning what it means to really rely on the Lord.  To finally understand that my plans are NOT the Lord’s plans.  And if I am being honest, I have no idea what He is doing.  I imagine that it’s something mind blowing and way better than I expected.  I have trust that God knows what He is doing.  Let’s be honest, His track record is pretty good.  Actually, it’s perfect.  I know I am in good hands.

Do you want to know what one of my favorite things about Christ is?  Of course you do, that’s why you are reading this blog.  He doesn’t grow weary.  He endures when I want to 100% give up.  He is the God of Endurance.  It tells me this in the book of Romans. These days I feel pretty beat up and ready to just throw in the towel.  I wonder where the fruit is in what I am doing. Is this really what God had for me when I moved out here? In fact some days, like today, I question everything, so I escape.  It doesn’t always answer everything but it does help me clear my head.  There is comfort in knowing that I don’t run this race in my own strength.  Without Christ I can’t do this, so I will cling to Him and His endurance to run my race called life.

So here’s my advice for today: find a few good people, drink good coffee, soak up as much Jesus as you can, and never get tired of watching the sunset over the ocean.

‘Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance. In your name they rejoice all day long, and in your righteousness they are exalted.’ -Psalm 89:15-16

  Encinitas, California.

Oh, but this is life.

I am a fan of Friends.  The real ones, yes, but the t.v. show is what I am referring to here.  I was re-watching the episode where Rachel cuts up her credit cards for the 126,489,165,189 time and at the end of the dramatic ordeal Monica says something to the effect of, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You are gonna love it.”

If Monica was real she would seriously be on to something.  The real world sucks.  But it does have a really strange appeal.  It always amazes me when young-in’s (yes I can say that) talk about wanting to be out on their own.  They have some made up fantasy in their heads about what it would be like to live in their own apartments with their own rules, but they forget that that apartment comes with rent, power, gas, cable, cell phone payments, etc.  I could go on but if you are like me you are more than aware of what comes with the word adult.

I am currently at a crossroad in my life.   I have some options, none of which seem to be what I was expecting or even appealing.  I’m not going to be homeless, which is always a positive, and I have food on the table.  I have a working car.  Money the Lord has provided.  And I even did a little black Friday shopping.  Life is not bad.  It’s just not what I pictured for myself.  But I don’t think it ever is.

Sometimes my prayer is for the Lord to just show me what His plan is for my life.  Show it all to me so I don’t have to question how A, B, and C are going to happen.  He doesn’t work that way, in fact I was listening to a sermon a couple days ago that made some valid points about God’s timing.  I don’t have any clue what all three of them were but I do remember this one: God always shows up at midnight.

He never leaves us hanging.  This applies to mine and my family’s life in more way than one in this season.  For those of you who don’t know, my brother is currently waiting to have surgery for an enlarged spleen.  He and I both have a hereditary disease called hereditary spherocytosis.  What it means is a condition that affects red blood cells.  People with this condition typically experience a shortage of red blood cells (anemia), yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), and an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly).  It’s not life threatening but it can be harmful to your body.  He has gotten quite the run-around from the Army medical personnel and there have been case workers and congressmen involved.  He was suppose to have surgery this week but the Army decided to push it back another week.  He’s been in and out of the emergency room and pumped full of potassium and magnesium to keep his blood levels at a normal level.  He’s tired.  My parents have been back and forth to Colorado.  I could continue but I tell you this to ask for prayer for my family, my brother, the doctors, the surgeons, and whoever else is involved.  It’s a waiting game that’s starting to take a toll.

But I think it’s important to note: God always shows up even if it’s at midnight.  Not 11:59pm.  But midnight, the dawn of a new day.

You can get more information and show support for my brother here.

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The Craftsman.

ISTP. The Craftsman.

That’s what I am now.  According to Carl Jung this is my personality type.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.  Research shows me that this personality type in women is 2% of the population.  And I quote, “ISTP personalities are notoriously difficult to get to know. They are true introverts, keeping their personal matters to themselves, and often just prefer silence to small talk.”  I want to yell from the rooftops about how correct this is but then I realize that those of you who really know me, already are aware of this.  Oh and then there is this, “ISTPs are often reserved communicators, preferring action to conversation. They like to do what needs to be done and may grow impatient with discussion that does not turn quickly to action. They are often observant, picking up on details of the current situation, and evaluate information in a detached and logical way. Typically flexible and tolerant, the ISTP is ready to adapt to the situation at hand, but can be bluntly critical if they see inefficiency or incompetence.”  Yes, I know this is so me.

I do believe there is a great bit of truth to the Meyers-Briggs or the Jung Typology test.  I think it gives a basis to what makes us tick and how we think and maybe for some, it explains them better than they can.  It does give reason on how to deal with others that are opposite you and for people who are still trying to figure out life it gives a direction for a career.  When I use to teach college skills, I would have all my students take this personality test and then arrange them so that they were sitting across from their exact opposite personality type.  It led to great discussion and learning.

It doesn’t, however, take into consideration Jesus.  These personality tests are based on science, someone’s formula, and years of observation.  Jesus does with us whatever he sees fit, when He sees fit; if we allow Him.

He made us who we are.  I speak about this alot I feel, but it’s so imprtant to know that there was no mistake when you were born.  God made you the way you are.  Knowing who you are in Christ also gives you an ease and confidence to walk comfortably in the skin your in.  Romans 8 says that God foreknew us.  I don’t think this has anything do to with pre-destination.  It just simply means He knows us.  He knew when we would come to Him and if we never do.  He just knows.  Or you can think of it like this: The foreknowledge that Christ has of us is an intimate awareness of you.  An intimate awareness of me.  Since He knows me and my worth is found in Him, my identity lies in Him as well.

Ephesian’s says that we are His workmanship.  If you are an artist of any type – from finger painting to sculpting something like the David statue – you know that there’s a little piece of you that goes into your work.  If you have children, they came from you.  Those children are a little piece of you and your spouse running around on this Earth.  As some one I know says, “They are little humans, it’s incredible!”  Some of your identity is wrapped up in what you made.  Christ made no mistake when He said that man was made in His image.  We identity with Him and in Him.  He gives the identity – we must take the step of faith and walk in what He has made us.

Confidence comes knowing that you are your Heavenly Father’s image.  He sees us with no flaws, and with no baggae, that alone should give you confidence to wake up every morning and face whatever the day may hold.  Even more encouraging is that He gave His only son in our place.  He gave His most precious gift, so what makes you and me think that God withholds stuff from us?  He’s our good father.  Maybe some of you have a great dad, I do, He gives my brother and I gifts.  They are gifts that we don’t deserve but he doesn’t withhold them becuase we have to earn them. My dad gives the gifts when he sees fit and because he loves us.  In the same way, God’s not withholding whatever it is your asking for.  Here’s a little tid bit that will blow your mind:  it’s just simply not time for you to have it.  Trust me that one hits more close to home than you know.

Even though science tells me things that are pretty right on about my personality.  Jesus tells me more.  He says:

  • I am His Beloved – Romans 9:25
  • I am His treasured possession – Deuteronomy 7:6
  • I am His Child – John 1:12
  • I am redeemed – Ephesians 1:7
  • I am restored – Colossians 1:13-14
  • I am forgiven – Hebrews 10:17

Those things that Jesus tells me I am are more concrete than whatever a personality test will tell me.  It’s more concrete than what society tells me that I am.  I am the I AM’s most treasured creation.  And so are you.  Walk in the confidence knowing that your identity lies in the Heaveny Father who created the stars yet takes the time to know the number of hairs on your head.

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Passion.

“After salvation, even as we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ, we are also becoming more and more our true selves.  As the fruit of the spirit increases in us, God restores order within us. Our minds are renewed, we learn to do the natural thing spiritually and the spiritual thing naturally.”

I didn’t say this, I read it in a study on the book of Romans.  It speaks to our passions.  When we come to know Christ and understand it’s a personal relationship, He begins to mold us.  He doesn’t strip us of everything, the bad stuff, yes.  The stuff that hinders us from building His kingdom, yes.  But the good stuff, that stuff he can use He begins to re-direct.  He molds those things that excite us and are deep within us to His plan.

Sometimes we get off track from our passions.  I think this is where he gives us a gentle reminder.  Sometimes not so gentle.  He’s a good God.  I’m reminded of this verse, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  It’s in Psalm 37, we start to grow in our relationship to the Lord he makes those passions burn hotter.  It’s what we do with those passions that’s the next step.

I don’t want to get ahead of God.  His plan and his timing is perfect, it’s up to me to continually lay the passion at His feet so that he can mold them in the way that He sees fit.  This is where those naked prayers come into play.  I’m not sure why we hide things from the Lord.  He sees everything, just like in the Garden when Adam and Eve try to hide their nakedness.  God knows, and asks them why they try and hide from Him.  He wants them to be honest.  To lay everything out before Him.

Here’s another quote that I read, “Never doubt that you are seen, fully known and deeply loved. He knows your name. He knows every detail and secret petition of you heart and He is mindful of you. You are His and He is yours. Trust in His timing, His promises, and His love. He will never fail you.”  The passion you have is real and from Him.

Fear is what holds us back.  It grips me at times and I know that the Lord doesn’t work like that.  The passion He gives does not come with room for fear.  We give it place that it does not deserve.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18.”

My dear friend, though I know these words are for me I pray that they speak to you today as well.  To calm your anxious heart and allow the Lord to speak to you.  He will.  Just be ready when He does because I have no doubt He will probably rock your world.

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Naked. (But Not Afraid).

Have you ever had the dream where you are standing in front of a huge crowd and you realize your standing in front of them in your underwear?  I haven’t either but the idea of that dream instills a little bit of fear in everyone.  That ‘oh no’ feeling.  That I hope I have my good underwear on thought runs through your head.  And then a wave of other emotions and questions start to happen when you think about having that dream.  Do I know these people?  How many people?  Why am I there?  Why are they still looking at me in my underwear?  You see what I mean.

It’s not so much being in front of the crowd that bothers you, it’s the vulnerable spot you are put in when you are that exposed in front of someone.  This happens in real life.  You feel vulnerable when talking about certain subjects in your life.  Maybe you feel vulnerable when you are being corrected.  It could be the feeling of vulnerability happens when your internally introverted and you have to be extroverted.  If you are human you know what I mean its like people can see down to the darkest scariest places of our soul by just looking at us.

Well, just so you know, Jesus can see those places.  The hidden locked things in your heart, He sees all those.  If we know that up front it will make reading this post alot easier.  In Psalm it tells me, ‘The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none’, meaning if God wrote every detail of my life wouldn’t he know how I would feel about certain things?  How I would react in certain situations, and ultimatley, what my heart yearns for?  Let me just go ahead and answer that, He does and He did when He wrote the days for me to live in.

In the Old Testatment we meet a woman named Hannah.  Some of you might be familiar with her, she is the mother of Samuel.  Hannah knew what it meant to have one of those places in your heart and soul that causes vulnerability.  She wanted a son.  In 1 Samuel, chapter 1 she is praying so hard for God to meet her need that the priest at the temple acutally thinks she is drunk.  She is 100% vulnerable infront of the Lord, to the point where she has no more words to pray ( v13).  In a book written by Leonard Ravenhill, he says, ‘There is a time when language is bankrupt, for the highest form of prayer has no speech.’  Her vulnerability is what the Lord wants.  Do you see where I am going here?

Naked prayers.  If God made all of our days before we were made, if He knows all of our thoughts, he knows what lays heavy on our hearts, he knows what makes us vulnerable, why would we not share our vulnerability with the God of the universe.  He already knows what we are scared of, what we are burdened with, and what our hearts yearn for.  Why would we not want to share all of those things with him in prayer?  Prayer is talking to the Lord, but being naked before the Lord is a whole other level.  That’s the level I want, that’s the level that Hannah was at in 1 Samuel.  She was even fasting because she wanted the Lord to hear her (v7).

The beautiful thing about being vulnerable before the Lord is that once we get over the initial shock of being that open, it gets easier.  We are safe with the Lord.  In Psalm 37, it says we can rest in the Lord, and that we should not fret because it causes harm.  That tells me that it’s safe to be with the Lord.  Sharing the things that scare us with the Lord, allow for us to grow closer to Him and for His spirit to fall on us in a refreshing way.  Being that honest with the Lord gives clarity, not all the answers, just clarity in the fact that your spirit knows the Lord is working.  And that his timing is perfect.  I encourage you to pray those naked prayers, the prayers that scare you, that make you feel vulnerable.  The Lord’s hand is safe place, in Isaiah it tells us that our names are written on his hand.  Read 1 Samuel Chapter 1, hear Hannah’s prayer and lamenting before the Lord.

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