Thursday, September 15, 2016

Science Experiment or Sacred Text?

It's 12:30am, and I'm sitting at my dinning room table listening to a Stephen King novel and drinking coffee.  I've been sick for about a week, and I have slept so much that I don't think I'm going to get any sleep tonight.  I'm just not tired.  I am, however, kind of upset.  

When I have nights like this, where sleep is all but possible, I usually grab my Bible, journal, and favorite pen and read and write until I feel my heart settle back into it's normal place and rhythm.  Tonight I did the same only to feel like I had been slapped in the face.  

When I grabbed my Bible out of my backpack where it lives, I saw that it was majorly water damaged.  Pages were stuck together and there even seemed to be mold growing on the edges.  Not jut dark spots, but actual, fuzzy, mold... What the hell did I do?!

A while back, while at work, I had gotten stuck in a torrential downpour at the Adventure Therapy camp we take our residents to.  It was a super cool day, though incredibly stressful.  We had hiked along a creek for over 2 miles, only to have the skies open up and dump rain on us.  We were drenched to the bone, and still had to hike back to our van to go back to the unit.  On our way back, one of our kids began to have an asthma attack.  She couldn't seem to catch her breath, and the rescue inhaler she used wasn't helping as much as we had hoped.  She was till having difficulty catching her breath, but was beginning to calm down when we all piled back into our van and started to head back to the unit.  About 10 minutes into our drive, one of the other girls told my coworker and I that the girl who had been having issues breathing wasn't waking up.  My coworker climbed into the back seat to check her, meanwhile I called 911.  To make a long story short, the girl was taken by squad to the hospital and given breathing treatments, but was, in the end, fine.  

After the chaos of that day, I never took my stuff out of my bag to dry.  This lead to my Bible now being more of a science project than a sacred text.

But, here is the thing; if this had happened a year ago, my Bible would never have stayed in my bag untouched this long.  It never would have had chance to grow anything.  A rolling stone gathers no moss, and a used Bible grows no mold.  So what does that say about my faith?

Is my faith moldy like my book it's based in?  Or is it just different than back in the days where my ministry was easier to see?  I'm leaning toward the later.  I mean, no, based on the cliche american christianity, my faith looks pretty shitty.  I don't go to church (I work Sundays), I rarely read my Bible (I just don't want to), I almost never listen to worship music, and I'm not really a part of your standard Christian fellowship.

I am, however, daily growing in the fruits of the spirit.  I couldn't have stayed at my job as long as I have if I wasn't experiencing God's Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  I spend my days being threatened and cursed at by the kids I bend over backwards to love well.  And yet, I find myself still honestly wanting the best for them.  On my own, I'm an asshole... the only explanation for me keeping my cool over the last year and a half is Jesus.  

Like I talked about in my last post, I find God to be an artist.  Maybe I'm not listening to Contemporary Christian station on the radio much, but I am still worshiping him.  I've been painting and drawing more recently.  I will often get an image in my head and feel like there is something deeper there for me to learn from.  I have loved drawing a lion head recently, and every time I think about how God has turned my from a lamb, into a lion; taking me from being a bit of a doormat who anyone can walk on, to someone who stands up for herself when it's appropriate.  

I also think about how lions are pride driven, they do everything for their family.  They hunt together, sleep together, raise cubs together.  Right now, I'm in a period in my life where I am searching for my pride.  I'm building into new relationships at work, and still loving my boyfriend with everything I've got.  I've been spending time with family and friends, both new and old.  As time goes on, my tribe/pride/fellowship/whatever you wanna call it grows.

While my Bible may be moldy my faith is not.  Just like a rolling stone gathers no moss, it also has the imperfections knocked off it by the other rocks rolling down the same hill.  The Bible explains it saying "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)  Bumping against the people in my life, the rough edges of my soul are honed and softened. 

If I had to chose between a moldy Bible or a moldy faith, I will always pick a moldy Bible.  I can always buy a new one.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What's Your Passion?

I feel like I have a fire burning deep in the core of my being.  I don’t know what it’s there for, but I can’t shake the feeling that there is something locked inside of me that I haven’t quite found the key to unleashing yet.  I just know that there is something there.  

I’ve found myself thinking about the creation story in Genesis recently.  There are two tellings, one where God speaks everything into existence, and one where he hand-crafts the world, and one particular creation; man. "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) I love the imagery presented in that telling of the creation.  There is this feeling of intimacy that helps the reader to understand the care and passion that went into creation.  Not only did God form man from dust, but he also breathed into man bringing him to life!  Incredible!  Our God is an artist!

It’s no wonder to me that the first time the Spirit of God was given to a person it was given to an artist.  While Moses was on Mt Sinai talking with God, the Lord told him that he had given his spirit to two artists who were commissioned by God to create many holy artifacts, including the arc of the covenant.  (Exodus 31)  While this communion of souls was temporary, it is the same Spirit who came upon the believers at Pentecost.  God lit a fire in his people when he gave them his Spirit.  Their passion for the message of Christ was overwhelming.  They just had to let it out and share it with the people around them.  And, while God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I often need to be reminded that He still breathes inspiration and passion into his people.  

My little brother is a very gifted artist.  While, he was born with a lot of talent in that area, the quality of hi work does not come from him just doodling.  Alex is constantly working to hone his craft.  I don’t think he ever leaves home without a sketchpad and pencil.  I get text messages from him with his latest creation all the time.  He is always drawing.  Art consumes my brother.  And because of that passion and dedication his skill is ever growing.  I have no idea how he will use that gift to impact the world, but I am confident that he will.

That’s the thing about passion and creativity; it refuses to stay locked away for long. When a person discovers their passion, the world around them gains a light that wasn’t there previously.  So, what is my passion?  I have no idea right now.  But I know I won’t have to wait much longer to find out.  I can feel it building in my soul.  It wants to burst forth and bring light to the world around me.  

What is your passion?  How did you discover it?  How are you letting it illuminate the world around you?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Goodbye 2015 (A Few Days Late)

Wow... 2015 was a really big year for me.  When I think about where I am now compared to jut a year ago, I am blown away.  It's super easy for me to get distracted by the day to day nonsense that happens, but when I step back and look I can see that God has been very faithful.

In September of 2014 I posted about how I felt like God was taking me into a season of pruning.  I didn't quite know what that meant, but I knew it was going to suck.  The first half of 2015 was super hard.  My depression was the worst it's been in a long time.  I constantly had thoughts of suicide, and it took everything in me not to act on it.  Eventually I made so really stupid choices that lead me to finally get some help with my mental illness.  I've been going to a psychologist and been on meds for almost 6 months and I am in a much better place now.  It was a very hard step, but it was worth it and I'm glad I was brave enough to do something instead of continuing to suffer.

I also am not really at church anymore.  While I was struggling so much, I felt God ask me to take a break from ministry.  Toward the end of my break I realized that I didn't really want to go back.  I needed a break from that environment, and I really needed to not work retail anymore.  So I looked for a new job, and found one at a residential facility for youths with mental health and behavioral problems due to a history of trauma.  I really like this job.  It's been almost a year and I'm still happy here.  I started on second shift, but switched to first shift recently.  I'm loving it!  I get to go to school with the kids and am working on being certified to lead therapy groups.  Even the worst days there are better than feeling unfulfilled at my retail job.

I've also been making deep and meaningful relationships, as well as mending and growing some old ones.  I've even started seeing a wonderful man who is so good to and for me.  I'm a very lucky girl.

So, when I think back to how much has changed in the last year I can't help but be overwhelmed by God's faithfulness.  I'm glad I hung on long enough to see this part of my life.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
-Isaiah 43:19

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Time for a New Adventure

I have a deep need to find a community where I can be damaged, cynical, and really wrestle with what God is speaking into my life.  I have interacted with so many people who just need a safe space to really figure out where they fall on the question of religion.  We need a safe place to ask dangerous questions.  Questions that can lead to drastic change in our lives.  We need a sancutary for religious exploration and biblical learning.  One where we stop taking things at face value and learn to really dive in and think for ourselves.  

Where there is no vision the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)  I don’t think that just means that we need good leadership.  If we are blind to truth for ourselves, no amount of preaching or predigested theology will help us.  We will wither and starve.  We need a place to learn to digest the Word on our own.  Where making mistakes and being broken are ok.  A place where authenticity is applauded, not swept under the rug.

We need a real community where we are all fighting to survive this together.  

That’s what I want to help create.  I don’t know who will come, but I trust God will bring the right people.  I can feel in my bones that I can’t just sit by anymore.  It’s time to try and build this community.  I’m not sure what it’s going to look like, but I just want people to feel loved.

I want people to feel safe to question and doubt.  I want people to not feel like they have to check part of themselves at the door.  I want to whole person, not just the cleaned up version.  I want them, warts and all.  I want this community to be an expression of the love and acceptance that God has for us.  No more feeling that they aren’t good enough.  No more thinking they aren’t worth love.  No more people forcing their beliefs on them, but rather them learning to live out their own faith.  

It’s time to get to work.  Let’s do this.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Heretic vs Hypocrites

I'm at a point in my life where I don't have time for hypocrites.  If one more person tries to explain the pain and suffering I've seen around me with a christian platitude (aka: "everything happens for a reason" or "God won't give you anything you can't handle") I'm going to punch them in the face!*

I'm tired of people who say they believe in Jesus, but they use him as an excuse to hate people because of their beliefs/race/sexual orientation.  I'm tired of people claiming that God want's them to be wealthy, and refusing to help the poor.  I have half a mind to leave the Church entirely.

God, I love you, but I can't stand your people!!!!

Seriously, what the fuck makes people think Jesus is cool with them completely ignoring his teachings on loving their neighbor (which includes the homeless guy who sits at the exit you take to get to work).  When did Jesus ever teach that hate/discrimination was an ok option?  Or, here is a better question, who did Jesus get the most pissed at?

He got seriously pissed at the hypocritial teachers of the law!  He said they were like white-washed tombs; pretty on the outside, but full of death on the inside.  (Matthew 23:27)  He had no patience for them.  One of the only times we see him get physically violent is when he drives money changers and venders out of the temple.  They had perverted his father's house. (Matthew 21:12-17) If only he was around to do that now.

I would rather spend time with people who are considered heretics, but are still growing in their faith.  My people are those who are asking questions, challenging the system they learned in sunday school.  The people who aren't sure what they believe, but they know that Love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)  Those who hope to one day have their shit together but know that it's probably never going to happen, and rather than stressing about that, they try to love everyone around them to the best of their ability.

I would rather spend my time with the people who may not know what they believe but try to love their neighbor.  I don't want to be around those who think they are 100% right all the time, and refuse to even critically think about their faith.

I think that's why Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to be his disciples; they were willing to learn, and the students of the temple thought they already knew it all.

I'm tired of hypocrites... where are my heretics?

*I won't actually punch them.  But I will probably scream until I have no more voice.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weeding and Pruning

Over the course of the year I have felt like God has been teaching me about rest.  I mean, when we started 2014 and I asked him what my word for the year was, that’s what I felt like he gave me.  Toward the beginning, he showed me that I am allowed to rest.  I took a month of from the ministries I am involved in.  Nothing fell apart.  I mean, there were a few things that needed to be adjusted and fixed when I came back, but nothing too drastic. 

During the summer, I feel like God was showing me that I can find moments of rest in the craziness.  And also that it’s ok to be protective of those moments.  He also showed me why rest is so important.  It’s like; I tried to love people out of my own strength.  I tried to make myself be there for them, and take care of them while I myself was falling apart at the seams.  I missed things then.  I was so busy trying to hold myself together so I could take care of them that I missed a lot of opportunities to be there for my friends.

For the last month I have felt like September 1st was going to mark the beginning of a new lesson in my life.  So far that has proven to be true.  About a week ago I felt like God gave me a heads up that this was going to be a season of weeding and pruning in my life.  God is going to pull up those things in my heart that don’t need to be there so he can plant good things.  And he is going to prune the areas of my life that are producing fruit so that they will produce a bigger harvest.  Since seeing that, I have had some mild anxiety about this new lesson.  I feel like it’s going to hurt.  I had no idea how badly.

I have felt like my soul has been in chaos recently.  Like, every few days I feel like my soul is just getting the shit kicked out of it.  You know that feeling that you get when you are somewhere you are unfamiliar with, and then you get separated from the people you are with?  That panic and fear that just consumes all of you?  That is what I feel deep in the core of who I am.  I lose sight of myself.  

Tonight, I was thinking about a lot of things and nothing in particular when I felt the tug on my heart that God wanted to tell me something.  So, I asked him to speak up.  “Kate, there are a lot of things from your past that we need to deal with.”  That’s what I heard.  I have always thought that I was over most of my history and had moved on.  Apparently I was wrong.  So, it looks like I’m in for a painful couple of months.  I know in the end it will be good.  I am just praying for strength and peace in the meantime.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's 4:45am, Don't Expect This To Be Super Coherent

Friday night I went to Chris' house for a worship night.  Three of the boys played guitar, one guy played the cajon, and the rest of us sang.  It was super laid back, but I know for me it was exactly what I needed.

At one point in the night I looked around and realized the amazing work God was doing in each of our lives.  I've been having a lot of conversations recently about what makes a team work well, and the best way to lead particularly in the context of church.  Our church is going through A LOT of changes, and let me just tell you that it is not comfortable.  But as I looked around the circle and saw my teammates from Impact and other brothers and sisters in Christ faces as they worshiped I suddenly had hope that we could get through this rough patch.  

I'm starting to learn that the only thing we need is for God to be our focus 100% of the time.  If we can continue to worship Him through all of the drama, politics and pain then He will come through.  I'm starting to really grasp that God really does love our kids more than we do.  When I looked at my friends in the circle I could remember a time when they each were one of my students (other than one of Chris' friends who has started to hangout with us, that is.)  I can remember when the times when I wasn't a good friend or leader to them.  None of it was ever on purpose, but there were times I hurt them, or they hurt me.  If their spiritual maturity relied entirely on me, they would have been screwed.  But that's not how God works, is it?

Over the last couple years I have watched God what has done in the lives of those high school students who were more interested in playing Ultimate Frisbee than they were learning something new about God.  He is turning them into college kids who voluntarily pray for each other and who earnestly seek God's face.

When I think of where I was in my faith when I was their age I know that they are light years ahead of me.  They are hearing God call them to do things, and they jump to it.  Right now one of the boys (19) is in Slovenia doing a 6 week mission with Cru.  Another guy  (19) is getting ready to go to Haiti, this is after he went to India earlier this year.  My sister (20) is studying the Bible with one of her friends, and is so comfortable inviting people to come to church with her.  One of the other girls (19) in our group has been on mission in Russia 4 or 5 times now.  Another girl (21) is getting ready to go to Burundi for a year.  We have people studying to be teachers, and others who want to go into the military, another who wants to run tech at our church.  All of these things are callings from God.  They already are hearing him so much better than your average 20 year old.  

I am so thankful that God has been doing such incredible work in their lives.  If this is where they are now in their early 20s, I can't wait to see where they are when they are in their 40s.  For now, though, I will enjoy watching them grow up, and continue to worship our God along with them.