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