Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A snapshot of a peaceful summer afternoon

Life is stressful. In class we often talk about topics that hurt my heart and leave questions clamoring around in my head, begging for an answer although a concrete one can't be found at the moment. It's summer time though and NoVA is so beautiful! As I was driving home from school today, the clouds were creating giant castles in the sky, taunting me with their beauty, so I decided to walk down to the little pond near my house for a picnic. I'd rather show you how it was then tell you, so read along and try to imagine you are here! I promise you'll leave feeling refreshed and peaceful. :)

The warmth of the sun on our shoulders as we walk towards the pond is pleasant and light. Passing the neighborhood pool on our right, we hear the squeals of delight from the little kids splashing around, enjoying their afternoon swim. The whole neighborhood has that lazy afternoon feeling about it, but you can sense that it'll start to bustle too soon with everyone coming home from a long day at work. After leisurely crossing the currently deserted street, we have arrived!

There's a little black squirrel bounding across the grass as we sit down on the bench in front of the water. A curious little Robin alights nearby, bobbing up and down as it walks around us. The pond itself is surrounded by towering trees that are various shades of deep green which contrast nicely with the light blue sky and giant, white, puffy clouds.

You can see the leaves of the trees across the way starting to ripple in a breeze that hasn't reached us yet. Before you know it, the canopy of leaves above us, shielding us from the sun, starts to whisper and rustle. Have you noticed that each tree sounds different in the wind? The greenish blue water of the pond is changing too, as mini waves gently land on the rocky dirt at our feet.

Gazing at the water, we notice the shadow of a bird above. We look up to see a brown and white falcon! Two ravens appear at that same moment and silently shepherd the falcon away from their nest which must be hidden somewhere nearby. As the birds disappear, our eyes are caught again by the clouds as they pass across the sky. Each one is different. Some of them are massive and impressive, with towers and pockets and too many shades of white and grey to count. The other ones are small, just a puff of white, but their beauty is still too marked to let them pass by unobserved.

Another bird silently wings its way above us, and look! It's a heron! There's so much to see here. I decide to close my eyes for a minute so I can soak up all the sounds around us and concentrate on the feeling of the wind as it dances on my skin. There is the faintest hum of cars in the distance. One or two drives by behind us. Some sort of bug buzzes next to my ear for a second and is gone. Little birds chirp and twitter back and forth to each other. The wind gently shakes the leaves. A fish or two tries to grab a bug off the top of the water and makes that plopping sound.

It's easy to breathe here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I’ve got a lot on my mind. Wonderfully, it’s all connected. I think it’s an important set of ideas to consider, so that’s why I’m sharing this with you. 

(As a disclaimer, I’m merely presenting thoughts for consideration, not justifying my reasons behind them. If you’re curious or offended, I’d like to know so we can have a face to face talk!) 

In class today, we were talking about the conformist nature of American society. Basically, there are a bunch of ideas and social patterns which people are “expected” to comply with otherwise they’re labeled as bad or weird or bigots or whatever (insert your word here). I remember a poster in elementary school that had a dalmatian puppy with rainbow spots. It said “Dare to be different.” I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear that phrase, there always seems to be a caveat or a ‘but’ coming. In my head, it really reads, “Dare to be different...but only in the ways that we say you can.” I’ve observed this both implicitly and explicitly in my own life. I bring it up here for you to mull it over and see if you’ve learned or observed something similar or if your experience has been different. There’s also another reason...

As Christians, we talk about the all-encompassing love of God for each of us; we go on and on about how He accepts us where we are and loves us no matter what; how nothing can separate us from the love of God. All of these things are good and true. I see a problem here though. It’s almost exactly like that poster if we’re not careful. I see, for example, something like “God loves you no matter what...unless you’re gay.” This is the problem. We are limiting God. We are putting limits on what He can and cannot do or say, who He can or cannot love. 

I don’t want to get into debates about the issue (at least not here). I do want to make you think. 
Do *you* limit God? 
Do *you* act in a way that makes people think there’s a caveat? 
When you say, “God loves you,” do you mean it the way that God means it? 
Do you understand how your view of God’s love reveals how you perceive it in your own life and circumstances? 

Life is not easy, not black and white, not straightforward. Lives are messy and complicated and intricate. Despite any variable, experience, circumstance, etc, no sin is too great for God’s love to conquer if we’re willing to bring it to Him. 

God is Love and love is one of the most unstoppable forces in the universe. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Out of hiding

Where to start? I've got a lot to say today that's been on my mind for a while, stuff that seems obvious but was operating as a giant block in my life. It's not easy to share this, but I think it's necessary, and I think you'll see why in a minute. OK. Here we go.

As I said, I've felt like there's been a barrier in my heart for a while. I can't exactly say how long, because I really don't know. For the past few months especially, I've been trying to figure it out, spending lots and lots of time and energy asking a million questions, testing every theory I could. It's caused a lot of frustration, doubt, and pain. Well, I think I've finally figured out what it is. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it's true.

I promise I'll get to what "it" is in a minute. First, I want to say that my anthem for the year is Out of Hiding by Steffany Gritzinger. Give it a listen here https://youtu.be/iSvxaGA2pFo . It's a powerful song. It covers everything. I love it! It's not easy to hear, but it's real. Anyway, I was thinking about that song and thinking about what exactly I've been hiding from. It finally came to me, so obvious but poignant.

God is calling me to be real, and I've been hiding from that. 

There a lots of factors that convinces me that this is the truth. In understanding holiness as embracing yourself in all your strengths and weaknesses, embracing your personal struggles, and always striving to put other people first, (plus like a million other things) this makes sense for me. I also understand it as becoming more and more who I am, who I was created to be. As I've written on this blog before, I'm often afraid. I hide it pretty well, but it's the truth. I like being in control of everything, and I'm terrified when I don't know all of the variables. I hate being different or standing out. I hate being weak and vulnerable.

I've been living most of my life, especially lately, being satisfied with and often seeking out substitutes for real life, like getting wrapped up in tv shows instead of experiencing things for myself. Ironically, I pride myself on being authentic. (Btw, this is only a very superficial example. I've been experiencing this on an extremely deep level.) Let me say, there is no substitute for the real thing. It's left me feeling so empty and unsatisfied.

Suffering has been one of the ways that I've been painfully confronted by reality. In suffering, there's nowhere to hide or pretend that everything's OK. I've been suffering a lot lately, for various reasons. I can say now that I'm thankful for it, since it's helped lead me here. It's not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been necessary. I can say, humbly and truthfully, that it has made me more into me. This, again, is part of my journey to personal freedom, to holiness.

I can't hide anymore. I can't pretend I'm someone other than myself. I have to embrace me, all of me.

Lent is coming at the perfect time. It's supposed to help us sacrifice the comfortable patterns that we've fallen into, to choose to be courageous and stop hiding behind the false realities that we've created. Only when we've chosen this path can we really experience Holy Week and Easter as life changing as they are meant to be. As part of my Lenten journey, I'm planning on taking back my life, stepping out against fear, choosing to open my heart to any and all chances to follow Love (meaning God). I'd encourage you to do the same, however that looks in your own life.

I'd appreciate your prayers. This is part of my path to holiness but it's probably the hardest mission I'll undertake. I wouldn't have it any other way. In allowing myself to be open to what I'm really hiding from, I've discovered a freedom that's authentic. It's not fluffy or glamorous, but it's beautiful.

Thanks for reading this. It's one way that I'm choosing to come out of hiding.
God bless you. I hope that this Lent leads you to see how God's redemption is real in your life, so you can truly experience Easter joy!