Friday, February 29, 2008

Has the release come?

Lately I've been feeling a little bottled up. I've been missing Africa and, at the same time, have been uncovering exciting new things here: friendships and passions that are refreshing, encouraging, and exciting. So here I am, in sort of a strange place of in-between. Today I have been aching for Africa. I re-read some old journal entries and was transported. It's funny how a smell can take you back somewhere. I smelled the rain on the wind and was standing on the red hillsides of Motjane, looking out over the stunningly beautiful green countryside. Hills beautiful beyond the singing of it... and my heart feels broken.

I'm feeling much like I was on november 3rd, just a little while before I flew home. Here's what I wrote:

When and where will the release come? I'm beginning to wonder, as I feel I am living in a weird tunnel...sort of numb and unaware, looking behind or in front but struggling to understand myself in this present state. Lord, I need you.
The rain outside falling softly on the roof has had a peaceful and calming effect on me today. I welcomed the storm--with thunder and lightening--and even took a nap by our open window this afternoon. Slept a lot today...sort of feel like I don't really know what to do with myself.
Amanda had a dream about me--that she found me sort of off by myself in an "alone place" with tears streaming down my face. She had the sense that she had stepped into or interrupted a time of much needed (yet painful) release.
It was sort of a timely dream, as I wonder about a time of release myself...sort of feel bottled up and in need of a good, hard cry. Lord, be near me. Hold me please, I feel a little afraid and unsure."

Lately I've been quieted to accept the reality that I serve a God of mystery. I don't know all of Him. Quite honestly, if I DID, I don't think really He would be worth worshipping. The "bigness," the splendor, the unknown...the beautiful. It's what makes us live in awe; in praise; in the fear of the Lord.

I want to live with open hands. "Here, Lord. Here I am! Here's all of me." There's nothing to me outside of Christ. All that I am comes from Him and is real and beautiful and true only IN Him. I've been listening to this song that Hannah gave me (don't know who it's by) and there's a line in it that says "All of life's secrets are in your branches." I like that. I think I'm quietly admiring the secrets of the Lord right now.

My heart is aching for a world "far away" from here...but it is almost equally aching for a world that is "here." Sigh. I CANNOT explain this. I guess I feel a mix of sadness and joy--like I want to cry but also want to shout praises. I think I'm just overwhelmed by God...and it makes me sad because it awakens my longing to be with Him where He is; and it makes me joyful because it is HIM. I have set my heart on pilgrimage (Psalm 84).

The Puritans used to pray for the gift of tears. Lacy told me earlier that sometimes she just prays and asks God to let her cry because that's the best way to release emotion. Hmm.

Love to you all.
Are you enjoying God? I hope so. He's delightfully worth all your pleasure. I pray He overwhelms you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The trouble with shoes is they come untied

The trouble with poets is they talk too much
They tell us it hurts them a little more
And we cannot tell if they make this up
We've never stood in their shoes, in skins, in their heads, on their shores

The trouble with you is you drive me nuts
I cannot tell what's behind your smile
What can we find just to lift us up
Just for tonight, for a time, for the sake us of all for awhile

I know it's only trouble
I know it makes us real
I wish that peace of mind was something I could steal

The trouble with shoes is they come untied
You might take a fall down the stairs
And a poet might come along and say, "Ain't that just like life"
I think the trouble with poets is they see poetry everywhere

I know it's only trouble
I know it makes us real
But I could use just a month or two or ten to heal

The trouble with time is it don't go back
Or maybe that trouble is with you and me
We are so scared of that fade to black
That we'll push and we'll pull and we'll do anything to be free

I know, I push, I struggle
I know it's just the deal
I know it's only trouble
Oh, I know it's what makes us real
But I know sometimes, nobody knows
Nobody knows
Not even poets know
How I feel

The trouble with poets is they talk too much
(Peter Mulvey)


4th cup of coffee today (granted, not BIG ones). and reading Jane Eyre. AND hannah just landed in chicago. WOOT!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Agh. Too Sleepy

I've been so tired lately and i have NO idea why. I slept through my alarm yesterday AND today. arg. No good! I missed my 8 o'clock yesterday morning. What's up?? I have been starting to think it might have something to do with Lacy being ridiculously sick and so my body is trying to fight it off. Sounds reasonable. But it's frustrating! I have lots to do, including a unit exam to study for tomorrow. And 200 plus pages to read in Jane Eyre. bah. I had coffee already today but I think I might go up and make myself another cup. sigh. any theories, hannah? what's wrong with me!! I haven't even been staying up late. at all!
I'm trying to stay on top of things and even get ahead because hannah wll be here this weekend. WOOHOO! finally hannah meets Chicago :)
Alright. I have got to get some caffeine in me. oh man...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken have a baby!

A BOY! cute.

aw, man.

they also have a new album coming out that they did TOGETHER. See the website and listen:

it sounds amazing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

V-day in pictures

I'm off to bed...
we have another engagement on the floor. Beth and Jason.
Jordan put on a fabulous v-day party for the floor--complete with Frank lulling us in the background. She baked so many good things.
The v-day card exchange was fun. I got Brittney's brilliant man-card. The front: "Duty" with a man in uniform. haha. The back: "My country is my duty. You are my pleasure." I love it. It's amazing.

I think that's all i have to say. I decided its now time to start taking some pictures and introducing you all to some of the new but amazing faces on the floor. I am excited more and more each day as I get to know the girls better. God's gift of community is always a mystery and a blessing.

I am so tired. It feels like today was friday. bleh. that means I need to wake up tomorrow and live it all over again...real friday. Lord, give me strength!!

Singleness Awareness Day

Dr. De Rosset informed class that today is the national day for the birds to mate in...i think it was, ireland? something like that. the point was, she had everyone who is married in class (just 3) raise their hands. Haha. She then announced that they can follow in the way of the birds, the others cannot. I laughed. She's amazing.

Also, there are signs posted around campus "Singleness Awareness Day" with a question, i forget what it was, i think something like "Do you feel single?" I laughed again.

Valentines Day seriously does make me laugh. I am, however, wearing socks with hearts on them (though the rest of my ensemble is definitely earthy, not pinky).

Happy Valentines Day to all...or singleness awareness day...or bird-mating day.

P.S. The joy of living in a girls dorm means lingerie (reds, pinks, blacks) strung up down the hall. We all contributed. Female bonding, if you will. I enjoy these girls :) They're amazing.

Alright. Off to class...i have a quiz to study for while I walk. oops.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

my parents: the beverly hillbillies

On their way to oklahoma to finish the cabin! Check out the load!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pray for Chad

Civil war? War with Sudan?...

pray for the Spirit's presence in Chad, guiding leaders in truth and good decisions. pray against the eveil and oppression that have bound that part of the world for so long. Lift up the thousands of refugees fleeing the country, into Cameroon or other neighboring countries. He's the father to the fatherless, hope to the hopeless, comfort to the discouraged, strength to the weak. Pray for a tangible presence felt among the refugees--as if His own Spirit were travelling the roads with them. Pray that the Spirit would whisper truth to the president--conviction. Pray that rebel leaders would encounter God--dreams, visions, interaction with people (divine appointments). Pray that the Spirit would move in China--making leaders uncomfortable and unwilling to further aid any rebel factions. God is so much bigger than we are. His ways are not our ways. I forgot this yesterday and it made for A LOT of discouragement, fear, and frustration. He reminded me... He is far above us. He's bigger than this world and it's brokenness. He sees it all. He is actively involved to bring this world back to Shalom: peace. The world as it was intended. One day we will experience the kingdom come fully down. We eagerly await the day! In the meantime, we fight the forces of evil and darkness. We get on our knees. God is bigger than wars... We have to trust that He is so much bigger. Hope.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Night is Long

I'm doing a paper for my Lit. class on the works of Elie Wiesel. I'm reading his Night trilogy (yeah, i didn't know it was a trilogy, either). We have to read/write on something that reflects the theme of the class: violence and grace. Dr. De Rosset told me that it is really hard to find the grace in Night. So I did some research and found out he wrote two others: Dawn and Day. Interesting titles, eh? I thought so. Anyway, the project keeps getting a little longer but I am very interested in the subject matter. I finished Night. It was my second read. It affected me a lot more this time through. A lot.

The main reason behind reading Night was stuff that i experienced in Africa. Obviously I didn't experience the suffering but I saw kids that had. There was such a deadness in their eyes. I distinctly remember two little brothers (not older than 6 and 8) that hung around. I didn't see them smile once. Holding them, playing, talking...never any emotion. Just stone. Sometimes I feel haunted by their faces: hollow eyes that didn't want to hope anymore. Spirits that were tired of believing in a better future. I remember two sisters: 12 and 14, i think. They lived alone. The older raising the younger. The big sister had seen too much of life. She hated it. She had resigned...tattered faith. The little one still had spunk, still believed in something...was at least trying to. They had each other, that was it.

When I read night I cry because I can see their faces. Wiesel writes of corpses...shadows...dried-up children. I see their faces and I want to scream. Then I read of 70,000 child soldiers in Burma and my skin crawls. A boy in Kenya who found his mother chopped up by a machette. Little corpses. Hollow eyes. The death of faith. Lost hope.

Sometimes its all I can do to keep myself from screaming...and then getting on a plane to go. "What the hell am I doing here?"

There is something that happens when a child experiences such tremendous suffering. There is a loss of innocence. Can it ever be regained? Can it be restored?

I continue to hold onto Lamentations 3:19-25. I don't have any easy answers. Actually, I have a lot more questions. I'm learning not to as "IF God is good, why is this happening?" but rather "BECAUSE God is good, why is this happening." God is teaching me things deep down in my soul. In my impatience I want to know the full of it NOW. He doesn't work that way. And, for whatever reason, He wants me over here right now.

Something happened today. I had to put my South African rand bill in the offering plate at Church. This is where God wants me right now. Investing in school (preparing, training, learning, challenging myself and others, loving...) and in Church (we're moving to Logan Square, one of the roughest parts of Chicago. This is where God is putting is. What's my part in it?). I've been carrying that rand bill around with me since I got back. Always in my wallet. It was somehow a security or a comfort. As long as I had it I knew I could go back...or that I would go back. I had to let it go.

God needs me to be here for this time. I still don't really know what all it entails. I know a little bit. He reveals it as we go along. Faith shows itself best when we are walking in it, not sitting in it. Faith is active. I am learning this...its kinda hard sometimes.

The accountant will be weirded out when he finds African money with all the rest. Somehow I know that God will take me back there. He isn't saying give up your dream or desire to return--but give it to ME. I have to trust that He'll get me overseas. He will. He told me that before I left Africa. But He reminded me of it today...strong. I needed to be reminded. It puts my heart at rest.

I'm in Chicago. I love my Church. I want to get more involved. I don't know how yet. I want to pray more. I want to pray for the world--so that I don't forget about it.

I start tutoring next week. Mariah and I are tutoring a 31 yr. old Burmese woman. We had orientation the other day with World Relief to learn about the process of becoming a refugee, etc. BEFORE 9/11 the U.S. was taking in approx. 70,00-120,000 refugees annualy. This was ONLY 1% of all the refugees that apply for entrance into an asylum country. 1%. Think about that.
I am so super excited to do this tutoring. I don't think I can even BEGIN to express it. This tutoring with World Relief is going to change my life, I can tell. I am blessed for the opportunity. AND, i'll be here this summer so I will get to keep it going all year long!

You know, there is a huge importance in staying here and preparing myself for a life overseas. It isn't even about the "classroom learning," its about everything else: building a good relationship with a Church and getting INVOLVED in a local Church; this tutoring program; living with a global perspective right here in Chicago (so many opportunities!); learning to let go of the American dream/desire for a "perfect home." God's got a lot of work to do to get me ready--more than I even know, I think. So...even though it is HARD, I can say that it is good. I really can. Not through gritted teath! YOU GUYS! God is SO good. Aren't you simply astounded? Ah. I can't even believe it. His very Son, in all His power, takes over our lives...His Spirit dwells within us. What power. What glory. We die to ourselves....gladly! :)

Man oh man. This is long. Just had a lot to get out, I guess. I've sort of been a hermit for the past few days. It's been a bit of a rough week. Still trying to work through thoughts, feelings, emotions.

I'm reading Henri Nouwen's book "The Wounded Healer." It's incredible. It's one of those books that, read at JUST the right time, speaks right to your soul. I decided I wanted to go to church early today--to read at Starbucks before-hand and then go early to meet people and move out of my comfort zone. I read at a corner startbucks somewhere in Chicago (i'm still bad with directions)...i found it! It's right near church. When I left, a toothless homeless man smiled and said "have a nice day. Thank you for coming." I said "Thank you, you to and you're welcome" and then kicked myself for saying "you're welcome" because it made absolutely no sense.

It's only 8:15 but I think I might go to bed. Hm. sounds nice. This is going to be a nice week. No classes after tomorrow, only lectures everyday. No homework really...

I don't really know what to end with. I feel like I have written on so many different things in this post. Wow. I guess I do have something to say. I have been so burdened by the need to be affected. It's something we need to fight for because we grow so desensitized. My challenge is this: adopt a country. Do it for at least a month, longer if you want. Study a little of its current events...pray...I've found that BBC is a great site for this. Then, once you've prayed for a month--you can choose a new one.

"Break our hearts for the things that break Yours."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

For those of you thinking about doing a DTS...hint, hint...

This DTS, a "Compassion DTS," will be run by a couple that we met and worked with in South Africa. It's a neat project they have, but exploding! We worked a little with them during out first few weeks of outreach. So much need. Here's the link :)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Engaging in Conversation

Had to read a chapter called Conversing about Faith and Media in America for Mass Comm. It was really interesting. Went along with lots of thoughts I've been having of late. Had to write a response...

This is a fascinating chapter. Much of what Schultze discusses has
also been on my mind as of late. He brings concerns, ideas,
propositions, and observations in a fresh, well-crafted way. I greatly
appreciate his concerns for the interaction between faith and media in
America, and his ideas for improvement and growth. I will mention just
a few of his points that especially pulled at my heart and challenged
my thinking.
The first was his identification of the early American idea of being
the "city on a hill." He writes that the city on a hill is now under
construction. This is an interesting way of describing "current
conditions." I agree that there was indeed an early desire to be that
city on a hill. The early founders, reformers, leaders,
revolutionaries wanted to see America, built on strong faith and
morals, shine as an example to the world. But I have found myself
asking "Is America still that nation—still Christian?" The only answer
I get—from observing, thinking, studying, and listening—is "no."
Perhaps, at one time, America was the city on a hill under
construction. I believe it was. But I think that now it has become one
of those abandoned construction sites that is overgrown and forgotten.
I believe America is fast going the way of Europe—"beyond" the Gospel.
It is as if America whispers "been there, done that" and moves slowly
on. It is tragic. Faith seems to be divorced from daily life and made
shallow amidst a needy world.
I believe American's still long for the kind of faith that
characterizes a "city on a hill" sort of community. There is something
within the human heart that hungers for intimacy. I believe current
"Church-trends" show that my generation is not interested in the
mega-church. There is a hunger for the house Church—for genuine,
honest, real fellowship. If the Church, the local "tribe," jumped on
this yearning, I believe we could see great conversion. We just need
to jump into the conversation. We need to be creative thinkers and
ready engagers. America is hungry for something new but we as the
Church seem to be slow in seeing it, and even slower in responding to
it. All the many "new" forms of mass communication are not really new.
The excitement lasts for a little while but then everyone asks "what
With all the new technology we are implementing we are not "solving"
the issue of the longing soul and the empty heart (not that new forms
of information and technology are "bad" in and of themselves). I
believe American's are, in large part, "losing" a strong, bold faith
because we have too much going into our minds and too little coming
out. We are over-stimulated—to the point of paralysis.
The Church in America needs to wake up, take a deep breath, and start
doing something. The problem is (though it really shouldn't be a
problem), the Church is bombarded with information about a sinful,
hurting world (genocide, murder, soaring drug use, human-trafficking,
AIDS, abortion) and so it is paralyzed. I am starting to think there
is such a thing as being "over-aware." I think America will have to
face this problem in the coming years. The Church has a responsibility
to the world—to be the city on a hill. Therefore, the Church must know
her world, and know it well. I think we "know" our world (we think we
do) but really, we do not. We know a little about a lot of things but
we do not know a lot about a few things. If we did, we would be moved
to action. Only when we are affected deeply will we be most effective.
I think the Church needs to wield information well…we have a lot to