Tuesday, May 15, 2012

an opportunity

There are some moments in life that are far too sweet to keep contained in the lockbox of my mind. Especially when it provides an opportunity to boast in the Lord. 
Today was filled with such moments. 
During the end of my work week, I spent time with a child that gives me particular trial. Granted, I love the children I work with. Yet, I have a hard time connecting and understanding this young child. I think it was not a coincidence that we spent the latter half of Friday singing and dancing to Big Time Rush. We delighted in each others presence. 
After spending precious hours with my family in celebration for a remainder of the weekend, I made my way back to San Diego to hear a much anticipated message on calling and occupation. This is an area in which the Lord keeps attempting to teach me contentment. I lack the patience and want to dive into passion and calling and assume that my occupation also must reside in them.
I was comfortably settled in my chair to receive teaching when I noticed one of the mothers from my work cross the pastor to signal me. She instantly pulled me out of the service and walked me to the back of the room. "Abby's here. And they have no idea what to do with her." (I changed the name) This is a child I see day in and day out. This is a child that I find is a trial to love on a daily basis. So hearing that she would be joining my home church was one trial, but being asked to work with her was another. You are hearing the ugly in my heart.
We discussed in Bible study that sometimes the “ugly” in our hearts makes appearances when we least expect it. We often pray big prayers or speak big words without ever having the intention of following through. For example, I had felt God tugging at my heart to possibly get involved in children's ministry at my church. I thought I wanted to be a part of their programs for children with special needs. Yet when God is clearly asking me to step up and walk it, I am hesitant, almost complaining. 
But here is the crucial part. I CHOSE to be obedient. Despite the fact that I may have wanted to go the easy route and just sit in church as opposed to USING the skills the Lord has equipped me with. This in no way makes me “holier than thou”, but it does allow me to take part in His story. And this story speaks of His strength and beauty amidst human failure and discomfort.
As this child and I spent the morning reading God's Word, I was struck by the timidity in my voice. I am unable to speak about my personal beliefs at work, unless asked, so having the opportunity to speak boldly was unfathomable. It was as though I was afraid to be judged by this child. He did not give me a spirit of fear. 
Reality check. This child deserves to house the fullness of the Lord. It is my responsibility to show up, to be present, and to overflow with love. I get to take part in being His hands and feet. 
So there I sat.
On the floor.
Learning the story of forgiveness for the first time from a child’s eyes. 
And here is the beautiful part: This child, His beautiful daughter, has all the while been protected from my human brokenness. Although I fail at constantly overflowing with love, He provides the space in protecting her from my lack of excitement at working with her (although I did recognize His plan). 
So each day, when I greet her, she runs into my arms and gives me a suffocating hug. Because regardless of what I feel toward her that day, regardless of how tired I am, she is protected from my inner thoughts and knows that she is loved. 
Because she is. 

The Lord provides opportunities to use your gifts for His benefit. My challenge is that we would constantly choose to use our gifts. It is important that my words match my actions. If I am going to pray boldly, asking to be used by Him, I need to avoid my hesitancy to take action. I cannot allow my insecurities and discomfort to come between the Lord and an opportunity He has set aside for me. Because regardless of the fact that I feel unworthy, He has picked me. I must have the courage to live out my prayer. 

So despite the fact that I would prefer to sleep in on Sunday mornings, that I would prefer to check out and be fed, and that I would like to keep at least one day away from children, I am committing to sitting with Miss Abby. Because I have been given an opportunity. Because for right now, and for Sunday mornings, His intricate plan involves me.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

evening prayer.

this was kindly sent to me from tracy le.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Abba's character.

i started making a list of characteristics in of Abba in the back of my Bible in late November of last year. these characteristics of the Lord are traits that i have visibly seen in the course of almost a year. it has brought great comfort and confidence in times when i have needed them. i will continue to add the many traits as time progresses...

but for today, here they are:

He is Good.
He is my Teacher.
He is the love that is around me, the love that supports me, and the embodiment of love.
He is Gracious.
He is Real.
He is my Redeemer.
He is my Restorer.
He is my Advocate.
He is Just.
He is Wise.
He is my Provider.
He is Merciful.
He is my Abba Father.
He is my Promise-Keeper.
He is my Healer.
He is Trustworthy.
He is my Savior.
He is my Freedom-giver/freedom-bringer.
He is Patient.
He is Jealous for me.
He is my Friend.
He is my Counselor.
He Transforms me.
He is my Peace.

"declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." -1 Peter 2:9


"I believe in the sun, even when its not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent."

-found on the wall of a concentration camp.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

strength in vulnerability

being vulnerable has negative connotations. 
i have heard it described as admitted weakness. 
and considering its definition, it does not sound appealing.
adj.: susceptible to attack.
however, i have come to believe the ability to be raw and vulnerable has brought strength into my character. 
“what made her vulnerable made her beautiful.”
“Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, and the struggle for worthiness; but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.” -Brene Brown
My personal story is ridden with shame and my struggle with worthiness. And oh do I struggle. There are days when it takes every ounce of pretended courage to walk through my day. History has proved to be both my enemy and my hope. There is fear. Fear that once I am truly seen, I will be abandoned, I will be rejected. 
but the glory of Abba is shown within that.
innate in me is my desire for connection; to understand and be understood. Abba is a God of relationship. He not only wants relationship with us, but wants us in relationship with each other. 
in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be really seen. 
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1 
in order for me to receive grace from Abba and from those around me, I must take the courage to share my fear, shame and struggles. 
i shared in previous writing that the latin root of courage is whole-hearted. there is courage in whole-heartedly confronting the insecurities and pain in my life. there is also courage in sharing those with the Lord and sharing those with my trusted community. there is courage in my ability to accept my imperfections-as there are many-and allowing myself to be loved in light of those. 
brief story. those of you that knew me in high school would have seen me as having my life together. I was playing volleyball, taking various AP classes, in student government, involved in my church, and mentoring young women. Yet I was filled with a desire to prove that despite my broken heart, I could keep it all together. In addition, if i convinced those around me that I had it together, I would eventually convince myself. Thus, very few people knew my heart. I was fake with others. I lacked the courage to share my struggles with other. Pride became my best friend. 
Over the course of the last 5 years, the Lord has transformed my life. He is in the process of setting a new table out of my overturned one. 
While in Africa, we had the opportunity as a team to write encouragements to each other. The responses of my teammates has brought humble tears to my eyes even months after the trips completion. Words describing me were: genuine, real, sincere. (man-hating was also on there...but thankfully that was a joke.) this is in direct opposition to my “old self.” the ONLY explanation for that praise was because the Lord TRANSFORMED my heart. there is literally no other explanation. 
this is not to bring about self praise, it is merely to shout out the praise of Abba. He does what seems impossible. In my brokenness, He is given praise and credit. Despite my imperfections, His beauty shines in allowing Him and others into my heart. And even though I feel my imperfections may push others away, there is a closeness that is shared when my heart is made known. I no longer carry burdens alone. 
“connection is a result of authenticity.” 
yes. being vulnerable does make me susceptible for attack. but I am never alone. my community, my God, carries me. 
in my vulnerability, there is strength. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

worth less.

worthless. insignificant. 
these are words i have struggled to fight for years. 
despite the constant affirmation from my loving dad, and family around me, my teen years onward have been marked by my desire to "prove myself."
I remember being told, during formative years in high school, "you're worthless." Those words constantly burned in my mind. That remark stung. That sting became and ache. And that ache became my Achilles heal. My tender spot. I cried for hours, and frequently cried myself to sleep. I spent years devoted to an "I'll show you" mentality. I resonated with songs like KT Tunstall's "If Only." 
if only you could see me now
if only you could hear me out
I hid behind a facade of projected perfection-keeping people an arm's length away and only showing my pretended strength. It brought on emotional isolation, and with it came attack. 
I look back and note that it was years of bondage to my perception of not measuring up to what people thought. It is a painful and vicious cycle. and leaves you empty and alone. 
Whether words of insignificance were spoken bluntly, "you're worthless," or hidden in an unintentional blow, "you're not the best fit," I took on the burden. 
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 
Matthew 11:28-30
This is truth.
So regardless of feeling I do not measure up, I am not "enough", Abba promises rest. And fights for my honor. 
Then I am reminded:
What determines my worth? Granted, this "should" be a relatively easy question to answer. But I am dropping my "should's" and living in reality. Where am I placing all my effort to please? 
I have spent years....years...trying to prove to men, and people in general, that I am "worth it." It is a false shelter. 
Because that is where I let my deep ache be comforted. I have literally been putting a band aid on a gaping wound. And as I gave more of my heart in order to scrounge for more comfort and security, my wound kept tearing open, ultimately leaving me
face down 
on the ground
by myself
in desperate need of a comforter. 
So I let Abba into that space. Into that wound. 
i am worthless
i am not the best fit
i will not amount to anything
How dare i let others hinder the Lord's power in me?
I want to channel Rosie the Riveter, living boldly and counter culturally. 
I want to exude peace. (less like Rosie, and more like my sister)
I want to instill worth ...because I can do it. I will. 
Each child (we are all His children) has worth. No one can take that away from you, although some will try. 

When my worth is safely placed in Abba, I protect myself from giving others the ability to immobilize me. 

Finding my worth in the Lord has been this ongoing process of surrendering and submitting to the One that made me, that knows what makes me laugh, that knows what makes me cry. It is a process of painful transformation, but transformation nonetheless. It is the process of allowing myself to trust in His enduring hope and allowing that to guide my feet, and not allowing others to determine where I should go. I see this slow transformation when i find contentment in seeking His will. 

"It is more than enough to know I am loved. You are good." -Nichole Nordman

The God that created creation, chooses to sit with me in the dark moments of my life. I am worth it. 
The God of power chooses to offer reminders of His hope just for me. I am worth it. 
The God that knows all chooses to reveal His promises and His word to me with impeccable timing. I am worth it. 

I was so unique 
Now I feel skin deep 
I count on the make-up to cover it all 
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention 
I thought I could be strong 
But it's killing me 
Does someone hear my cry? 
I'm dying for new life 

I want to be beautiful 
Make you stand in awe 
Look inside my heart, 
and be amazed 
I want to hear you say 
Who I am is quite enough 
Just want to be worthy of love 
And beautiful 
Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me 
Fighting to make the mirror happy 
Trying to find whatever is missing 
Won't you help me back to glory 
You make me beautiful 
You make me stand in awe 
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed 
I love to hear You say 
Who I am is quite enough 
You make me worthy of love and beautiful