Monday, April 30, 2012

To Walk the Brick Streets, Part 1

Revelations 21 talks about golden streets, and someday my feet will feel them, but until then, God has put me on brick paths and concrete sidewalks to prepare me for those golden walkways and to love, oh to love, those who are so lost on the broken roads.

This weekend was a crazy journey. I would like to say it was filled with courage, but it may be a little better categorized by a few measures of stupidity. ha! But, I don't want to forget what I learned this weekend about brick streets and hopelessness and what love does and what hope really is, and I need to share it to get it outside of myself. These next few posts may not be refined or fun to read. They might be way too long, way too detailed, but this is the story, and I want to remember it well.

The story starts Friday night. Friday was Junior Senior Banquet at my college, and because one of my roommates (Bethany) and I are only sophomores and weren't invited by any juniors or seniors, we weren't able to go. Honestly, I was perfectly fine with that. I was feeling pretty tired, but I am very much into spontaneous adventures, so doing something crazy was more in my line of fun than going to a banquet with dancing and possibly awkward moments (most likely awkward moments . . . after all, I'm danae. ha!). Now every fourth Friday, the Portland Art Museum has free admission, and I was wanting to go again, so I kinda randomly asked Bethany if she wanted to go ride the max and go to the Museum with me. Well, she was up for it, so we figured out what max we'd have to take, and we ate a quick bite and headed over to the max station. I had suggested we could dress up, kinda as a substitute for not being able to dress up for JSB, but Bethany made this really good point that she didn't feel good about dressing up when going downtown. With so many homeless people, it just didn't feel right to dress up while they had nothing. That was such a good point, and I am so glad we didn't. But that will make more sense later. We also decided that we wanted to do at least one thing for somebody, one act of love. We wanted to have a fun time, but we really wanted a meaningful time. So with that in mind, we headed off!

We speed walked to the 82nd max station after eating in our school's cafeteria. We were pretty afraid we missed our first train as we fumbled to get the right tickets, but thankfully, we were right on time to get on the right train. We sat up front and talked and talked about this school year, and I felt perfectly safe being with her and my yellow tube of pepper spray. (:

It was fun to see the city from the max. That was only the third time I've ridden on one I think? Finally, we made it to our stop, and thankfully, Bethany has good navigating skills, so we made it to the art museum in good time. Bethany has wonderful eyes for art, and she was able to appreciate each brush stroke on the paintings and helped me appreciate it even more. It is amazing how people can capture such color and beauty, a hint of God's glory?

Well, after the museum closed, we headed out. As we walked, an older homeless man asked us if we had any spare change. We said no and kept on walking. On the right, we spotted a young woman with a cardboard sign. I didn't catch the sign's words as we walked, but she caught our eyes as we walked past. Bethany and I had been discussing what we should do to love someone, and we were trying to keep our eyes open. After we passed her, we talked for a little bit. It just seemed right to go back and meet her. I've heard how powerful it is when you look into a homeless person's eyes and get to know their names because they're so used to being treated like trash. So, we backtracked and headed for the woman. Later, I saw her sign read something like: "I wouldn't be holding this stupid sign if I didn't need to. Anything helps."

To Be Continued.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

He Pulls Me Back Up

Cut-throat honesty.

I don't like how many inches it takes for the measuring tape to wrap around my belly. I don't like how I easily let myself lose control, and I stuff things in my mouth because I'm bored or because I think I can control pleasure. Sometimes, the "littler" sins bear the biggest shame and the shame keeps me quiet and that keeps me chained.

But sometimes, I really do struggle with eating, with self-control. I'm a twenty year old, and I struggle with body image, and while I'm a lot more confident than many I know, I still struggle with the shadow in the mirror. I struggle with health and self-control.

But healthiness means this. I wipe the dust off my shoulders, and I stick that measuring tape back in the drawer. I tie on my tennis shoes and make a deal with my hands, my mouth, my eyes. It is not about restriction. It's about freedom. I am free to be healthy by the grace of God. I am free to exercise self-control. Freedom. I am free to be fully reliant on the real true God, Jesus, the One who cares about the simplest things, like what I put in my mouth and how often I get on the treadmill. Well, to be honest, those things probably aren't as important to Him as to why I'm putting the second cupcake in my mouth and why I force myself to spend hours in the gym per week. He sees the extremes. He loves me. He saves me.

The focus of the rest of tonight is healthiness. I have made several wrongs within today already, but the day is not over. Your day isn't either. :) I'm grabbing Your hands, Jesus. Thank You for pulling me back up. Let's win this! (:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Carrying My Candle

Considering I really don't have time to blog, it's time for another blog post. I have no idea why I'm so good at only blogging when I really have no time for it, but I guess ya just have to do what ya can. (: 

As I write this, I ask Jesus for words of healing. It's funny. When we need healing the most, sometimes, there really are no words. All we have is the Word. Come, Lord Jesus.

Tonight was the memorial service for a Multnomah graduate student. Jennica Kruse. I didn't know her, but I knew who she was, and I knew the familiar face of her husband, often smiling. Both of them smiled a lot. And then . . . she was gone. Had no idea about a brain tumor, just about the pain that sent them to the hospital the night before the morning that she walked through Heaven.

And it doesn't make sense. The honesty of that statement shatters me and helps me feel safe in the same moment. There are answers too big and complicated to understand. There are good answers. We just might not be strong enough to carry them right now as Corrie Ten Boom might say.

And I am quick to sympathize with those struggling. I am quick to enter into their struggles, into their not understanding, but in so doing, sometimes, I lose sight of what I know. That God is still in control. Oh poor world, those words seem cheap to you when you're aching sometimes, don't they? And to those who have sipped suffering and have felt the way it scalds are not the ones who need to hear those words. They need to feel them but not to hear them. But for me, the one who is only stepping onto the precipice of their pain and feeling, not it's full force but the retraction, I have no excuse to shy away from His sovereignty.

Faith may not be natural, but especially in these moments when the suffering hasn't directly affected me, am I practicing the art of protecting faith? Am I keeping it safe from the winds that would quench the tiny flickers of fire or am I letting it stand vulnerable, only for the purpose of trying to sympathize with others? I have to remember that silence might be the best way for me to love those who are directly suffering, to listen to their doubts and questions, the anger, and I believe God has called me to this and to His grace, because He sure knows I need it whenever I go through the waters. He's seen me angry in pain.

But what I'm learning is that, in helping carry my friends' burdens, I still need to carry my own faith. 

This might not make any sense at all. It could probably be very easily misunderstood, and if so, I'm very sorry. I'm trying to communicate something He's trying to show me.

Our God Reigns.

Still. And if you can't see that right now, dear one? That's okay. I will trust it for you . . . you can lean on me; I'll help carry you. I'll try my best to be silent, to simply listen to your bleeding, broken heart. It's okay if it's messy. It's okay if you don't understand or if you're angry. It's okay. I'll still be here. Only as God gives me the grace, I will try hard to be strong . . . lean on my strength. It's okay if you don't have enough of your own right now. I love you very much. One moment at a time. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Near the Place of Stillness: Only in This Moment

The rain falls and Your grace mixes with it until I am soaked.

And it is when I rest in this moment, in this second, that I am given what I need to continue on. The strength meets me, the peace; it comes in this moment of stillness.

A still future is not what You promise me, is it?
But peace right now . . . this You give.

So, while the waves tower and crest and fall against the walls of my soul, please keep me near You, near the place of stillness.

The stillness and the knowing.

You are Healer, Provider, Joy-Giver.
Prince of Peace.

And You give in the moments just what I need.

Thank You.

*As I type, I listen to this song. May it bless you, friend, and help heal you like it does me as I sit inside, rain pouring gently on this quiet Wednesday.*