God

Venti Iced Coffee and braided shoes

Wordy Wednesday: Bombs Away

Some days all that keeps me going is lots of talks with God and a Venti iced coffee with a shot on top.

Today is one of those days.

It’s not necessarily a bad day, but I am fully exhausted.

Let me preface the rest of this post by telling you that Daniel is going on a leader/pastor-in-training retreat Friday night, and I leave for Panama City next week to lead worship for a camp. So keep that in mind as I share. I’ll bring it back around, I promise.

Yesterday morning, Abe woke up with a fever of 101.6. That’s not terrible. Just a little fever, and no other symptoms. He spent most of the morning on my lap or playing close beside me. Now, yesterday I had planned on setting aside the majority of my time to hashing out the music for this camp. By the afternoon, however, Abe’s temp had rose to 102.5 and he was a blob. He didn’t want to leave my side or the couch. We laid down most of the day, until I took his temp again at four, and it was at 103.1. Medicine, cold baths and fans were not working, and the rising temperature was alarming. I took him to the doctor, and by the time we got there, it has rose even more to 103.6. I was starting to freak out a little bit inside,  but doing my best to be a big girl and keep it cool for my kid. They did all of the general checks, and there was nothing they could find. They then decided to do a urine check, but we couldn’t get Abe to pee, so they had to use a catheter. I probably don’t need to say how horrible that was for everyone. Nothing turned out to be wrong with his pee, so they sent us home. Praise the Lord, his temperature dropped steadily for the rest of the night. Needless to say, the day was not productive at all.

Weird, huh?

I was pretty anxious and upset last night, and Daniel and I decided to talk it out before we went to bed. A lot of stuff came up about life in general, and we talked a bit about this weird funk I’ve been in for about a month and a half now. I discovered, through a really painful conversation and many tears, that I’ve been putting all of my faith, joy and worth in my hubs. I grew up working really hard to get the approval, or even just a smile, from my dad. I knew that had carried on into my marriage, but I didn’t feel or see the reality of it until last night. For two years now, I’ve been working myself silly to get this other person to like me (even though he already does) and prove to him that I can be a perfect wife.

I have massively failed at my mission. Thank God for that.

I’m a “flight” person. When something gets too big or overwhelming, like failure, I check out. Well, after two years of feeling like a failure (completely brought on by myself) I decided to shut off weeks ago. I didn’t do this intentionally, it just happened. This has caused much tension between Daniel and I (particularly in the intimacy department….get over it, we’re all adults here!), and a great deal of distraction from living life.

I didn’t sleep very well last night. It took me forever to finally drift off, and by the time I really got into sleeping, Abe woke up with a fever again. We had to bring him into our bed and help him get back to sleep, which took quite a long time. We got maybe another hour. I spent many moments in the middle of the night praying for relief and rest. It didn’t come. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Remember what I said early about that retreat and camp?

This morning, while I was taking a shower, two things hit me.

1) The devil absolutely hates me, and is going to go to great lengths to ruin my life (and the lives within my family), especially in the thick of trying to love others and lead. New things are happening. What better time than now for that bastard to drop some bombs, ay? I mean seriously? The day I plan to work hard on something important and time sensitive is the day my son gets a freak-fever with no explanation.

2) The theme at the youth camp I’m going to next week is “Fighting for Joy.” Hmmmm…. thought I had that down a few years ago when I was under Jesse Carbo (who is heading up this camp). Sounds like I need a refresher course. Now it becomes more than just helping out at a camp. Now it becomes living life honestly with a bunch of teenagers I don’t know for a week.

The gospel is ALWAYS fresh, and we will ALWAYS need it. If you’re the kind that thinks the gospel is something you achieve when you say a prayer and then try to get other people to accept, then you are sadly mistaken. It is a never ending love story about of justification, redemption, renewal and untamed glory. It is a work inside of you that will not be complete until the day your spirit leaves this place.

Today I will press on. Today, you will press on.

In the meantime, pursue God, and pursue Him hard. Be aware of the attacks and distractions, and be thankful for the awareness of them. They usually mean that you are on the right track.

The Brush and Canvas In Hand

Let me preface what I have to say today with this: I know I wrote recently of giving up some commitments so that I can focus on what matters. Well, I did that.

I have to say that this is the first time in my life that ALL of my toiling involve things I am passionate about. There are two reasons why this has never been the case in the past:

1. It was not the right season of life

2. I was too scared

Each day I wake up, and I want to hustle so hard. I want to do more and more, and no matter how much I get done by the end of the day, there is still SO MUCH MORE. But it’s not the kind of “more” that has obligation attached to it. It’s the kind of “more” that heats up my blood and moves one foot in front of the other, and so on. I don’t know how I believed the lie that said “I suck at everything” for so long. I am doing things, dangit, and I am doing them well.

Sidenote: None of this is to my own credit. It’s all God kids. All God.

Any who, I find myself wishing there were more hours in the day. My plate is piling up, but I fear my eyes are bigger than my stomach. With the way I am going, I will HAVE to give something up in order to put my all in to the other things.

The reality is, I am only one physical human body that has 24 hours in a day just like everyone else. I’m seeing myself start to tip toe around the opposite extreme of my formal self, which is the person who takes on the amount of work that would suffice for 10 people. Before, fear was so at large in my heart that it kept me from doing pretty much everything. Now the Creator fuels the fire, and I just can’t get enough. I just can’t get enough (boy I think about it every night and day…)

Oh yes. I did just quote a Black Eyed Peas lyric. And I actually kinda hate that song. Forgive me.

Alas, I digress. I need to do some real soul searching, and decide what passion[s] needs to be priority. Obviously, God should be my ultimate priority (that’s for all of you Jesus Jukers who were about to slam the “God comes first” card down). But within the realm of the Father lies the brush and canvas in hand.

What masterpiece will come of it?

Jessica Ferreira painting

Severing Strings

I am bubbling with joy right now because today will be the first time I feature a guest writer/past-blogger/artist. My best friend, Jessica Ferreira, is an incredible human being with a heart that outweighs gold. We met in 6th grade, when she was heavily into her Spice Girl phase and I was only about some Hanson. She moved back to Venezuela for 7th grade, and I thought I’d never see her again. One day after school in 8th grade, I saw her standing by a wall and had to go and talk to her! The rest is history. Our friendship has cultivated and grown since then, with hilarious highs and barren lows. We get through. She is a fighter, in every sense of the word, and is a walking bottle of creativity. Today she will be sharing with us a work of art that comes from the deepest depths of her soul. Vulnerability has not always been her strong suit, but her journey to transparency is in full swing and one can only be bettered by everything she has to give.

Megan and I have been good friends for a very long time. And by a very long time I mean long enough for us to know that when a Saturday has clear blue skies and is slightly breezy, we both text each other saying, “It’s a BK Kinda Day.”

Yes, Burger King. Don’t judge.

When she asked me to guest blog for her, I was very honored, but skeptical at what I would talk about since “writer” is not the first thing I describe myself as. But alas, it is something I like to do.

When she asked me to write something for her, I got the notion from God to talk about a painting I did a little less than a year ago. The notion was more like a nudge to finally present this piece to others, even though it brings up a lot of roughness in my life.

I don’t have a name for this painting. Yet.

I don’t even know where to begin explaining it really.

However, I can tell you I painted it because I had to release what was going on inside of me. And for me, painting is the only way I know how to do that.

The months before this painting was made had brought about a relationship I had no idea would change my life. I had invested all of me into a person whom I had, at first, genuinely befriended and loved in Christ. As the time passed, however, my needs, along with theirs, became tangled in long strings of attachment; emotionally, physically, mentally, even spiritually. Those strings became thicker and harder to sever, becoming chords that bungeed as we so desperately tried to run the opposite direction. Because of those needs, we saw in each other a glimpse of mutual and unconditional love; a love that stemmed from Godly pursuit, but became twisted enough to make us believe it was all we had.

Satan is very good at doing that.

When things began to unravel (thank God) because of conviction, my life felt like the perpetual walls were caving in. In retrospect, they were actually scales falling off of my eyes.

I saw the strings that we all naturally possess. Strings that, at their proper use, are to be united for healthy relationships, with guidance from the Holy Spirit. But my strings (my needs) became connected through my selfish gain, causing not only hurt and doubt for me, but also rapture and pain in a once beautiful, unfortunately short-lived, friendship.

I wanted love and to be loved, and so I gave my needs away, letting the strings wrap around someone who was never intended to hold on so tightly.

When I started the painting, I had a very difficult time. I had to revive the pain so that it could reach the surface enough to be purged out. After a while, and after staring at it for longer than I care to admit, the lines began to flow, the colors began to emerge, and the feeling of release was finally peeking it’s way through.

The white lines around the figures are our natural, God given needs to reach out and be loved and love fervently. The colorful chords are the ones that had been attached, intense in color and strength but damaging in all ways. However, by the immeasurable Grace of God and the Cross, he severed them.

You may be dealing with issues similar to mine. Problems that are aroused by the need we all have to feel wanted and needed, but going about them the wrong way. We may have the idea that if we love someone enough, and they love us in return, they are capable of fixing us, whatever we may need fixing in our lives.

Listen friends, we are but humans, incapable of rescuing each other from the depths of turmoil. We fail at that because we are fallen. We must continually seek Jesus in order to even border the line of servant-hood and love He walked along so passionately. And Jesus did it because he knew what the Father wanted: dependance on Him. Not dependance on his disciples who loved him, not the crowds who sought him out; not even the idea of just, for one moment, taking in what this world had to offer.

He attached himself to the only source that had the power to revive him in the darkest of times, even if those times were lonely.

It doesn’t matter who or what you love, but a matter of the heart. It is not whether you are in need of something or feel you are attracted to someone, in the right binds of marriage or if are a loving father, mother, sister, son or  daughter. It is where you put them in your heart that you must be aware of.

So my encouragement is this: Be honest with yourselves. It leads to truth. Be honest with where you put people in your life. When you do that, and you realize that there may be a person that has become a chasm between you and God, just hand that to Him, for He alone can handle it. Not you. Not the other person.

I also encourage you to find ways to release these sometimes unspoken emotions. From the talents we have, the times we use to exercise, to even being vulnerable with someone; it can all lead you to a path of awareness.

God knows the ins and outs of your deepest longing. Depend on it. You are worth it.