Monday, August 27, 2012

Desert Blossoms

New Guinea trip…

A few things I've learned as I left the jungle behind and entered the desert again.

A hunger was stirred in me. The jungle made me feel so alive. Adventure and excitement surrounded me on this trip and I feel drawn to go back. It's so easy to look at adventure as a place and usually one far from where I am right now. When I was in this grand adventure it wasn't nearly as grand as it appears looking back.

I know that there is a false allure here amongst what is probably a legitimate desire. It seems like I could go live in the jungle and life would be so much better. Reality is, I wasn’t so alive, and I didn’t feel so different when I was surrounded by green then I do right here and now. When I was there I wrestled with these same tinges of aimlessness and emptiness. I know that the jungle has no answer for my nagging question of purpose.

Yet I can’t help feel that I have been built for a jungle. This concrete and plastic world doesn’t suit me. I feel so boxed in. I was made for a place where there are oceans to explore and rivers to ford and mountains to traverse. There was a sense of freedom that was awakened in me. I kept saying to myself, “why don’t I live here?” The Jungles of New Guinea could very easily become my home.

I could go search for my answers there...or I can try and find peace here, in the desert...

Maybe I will be able to enjoy the jungle all that much more if I learn to embrace life in the desert. This is a great metaphor and it also happens to be quite literal. For now the desert is my home and I am learning to see it's unique and subtle beauty. The flowers are much fewer here, but they are just as beautiful, and they stand out all the more when you discover them against such a rough backdrop.

I have not yet fully embraced His reality in my life. His purpose is where there is peace and that is where I know I will find more adventure than in any jungle. I know this is true but the words can feel empty on the page.

I do have a spark of hope and I know it is only the beginning. I know that each flower I am able to enjoy in the desert brings me a step closer to having eyes that see more clearly. Eyes that are able to enjoy life more fully. Each time I choose to look at my surroundings through His eyes I learn a little more about His life. That is my hope and that is why I continue to search for flowers in the desert.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I love the rain. I love my church. I love my brothers. God has been so good to me and I am overwhelmed. There is so much overflowing from my heart and I want to share it all.

In The War of Art, Pressfield talks about honing our skills so that we are ready to communicate those precious moments of inspiration. I wish that I would have spent more time writing in the past so that I could communicate more clearly now. I don't feel very honed yet, but I don’t want to forget any of the things that I learned tonight and I certainly feel inspired. I will attempt to express some of this excitement (I suppose this is the honing process).

I think the first, and maybe the greatest, revelation that I experienced tonight was a reminder of the power of camaraderie. When you are surrounded by fellow believers who are working towards the same goals that you are, there is inevitable encouragement, conviction, hope and joy. My small group met tonight and I was so blessed by the interaction of my brothers. It stirred me and recharged me and provoked me to action in some areas where I have been resistant to obey.

The man who led tonight prepared a simple devotional that ended with some great questions that helped engage our hearts with the truths in scripture. I was so blessed by his willingness and commitment to engage God’s word and his effort to make it personal for all of us.

I was also blessed as each man was willing to share and be open and honest about real struggles in their lives. The honesty of my brothers really encouraged me and reminded me that we are all in this together. We may have different specific struggles, but we all have struggles, and we don’t have to deal with them alone. We all need to be encouraged and maybe poked a little at times to keep us moving in the right direction.

The last question our leader asked was concerning the ways that God has blessed us. It was a joy to hear each man share about the things that God has done in his life and how God has revealed His love to each one of us. I was reminded of the stark contrast between my life before God got a hold of me and now, and how much I am able to experience His love and grace today. I have so much to thank God for!

I praise God that I am loved. I am accepted and enjoyed. Not only are these things true for me, I have experienced them in real ways. I have an amazing family surrounding me. I have faithful leaders directing me and encouraging me. I have an awesome sister who is steadfast and so loving and encouraging. My friends are amazing. My church is more than I could have ever asked for. I have a great job. God continues to provide amazing opportunities for me. God is SO good! I can't wait to see what He does next.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Love Can Do

Sometimes I wonder if the things I do have any effect on anyone. Is my ministry actually ministering to anyone?

While I was in Honduras a couple weeks ago I struggled with these feelings quite a bit. Going into the trip I didn’t feel prepared or ready to serve. I often struggle with my own self judgment and feel like I don’t do enough. After being in Honduras for a couple days God used one of our group sharing times to remind me that He can use me right where I’m at. He showed me that He had been working and preparing me in ways that I hadn’t even considered and ultimately all He wants from me is trust and willingness.

I don’t think a single part of our week went as planned. Everything was very organized on paper, but when we got to Honduras all our plans were systematically dismantled. I think this was just another part of the battle and another opportunity for us to trust God. It was hard at times, not knowing what was coming next, but in the end I think God used it to grow us.

That week at the orphanage I spent most of my time with the younger kids. We had all these activities and lessons planned but nothing worked out like it was “suppose” to. In the end we mostly spent time playing with the kids. I had a lot of fun and gave a whole lot of piggy back rides (next year I’ll need to add cardio to my list of preparations), but I didn’t feel like we were doing much “ministering.” The little bit of love that we were able to share seemed so miniscule in comparison to the vast amount of oppression that they live under every day.

God reminded me on our last day there that it is His love and not ours and He has a plan that we can’t fully comprehend. One of the girls that we spent a lot of time with had eyes full of sadness and a fortress around her heart. She would participate in the crafts but she wouldn’t talk to us or even look us in the eye. She kept her walls up and we were on the outside. As the last day came to an end and we were preparing to leave, Gaby, one of our translators, asked her for a hug. She started to run away, but Gaby went after her and hugged her. Her walls were breached. After that she was transformed. She begged me for a piggy back ride and gave me a hug. Our love got through to her and changed her. I don’t know what life has in store for her; but that day God’s love broke through and she was profoundly affected.

I’m so grateful that God let me see His love at work. I hope that we had an impact on all those kids, but even if it was all for just that one little girl, it was so worth it. We can’t know all the ways that God might use even our simple steps of obedience. So if you ever wonder, like I do, if you are having an effect, be assured that if you are being obedient, God is using you. He can and will use anyone who is trusting Him and willing to love.

P.S. You should sign up for next year’s TBLM trip to Honduras

Thursday, August 16, 2012


“There’s a secret that real writers know that wanna be writers don’t, and that secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.” -Steven Pressfield

Why is it that sometimes we feel inspired and sometimes there’s just nothing there. Right now I feel kind of blah. I want to write but it feels like I can’t. This year in Honduras a simple truth that I started to grasp last year was solidified. Basically it can be summed up by saying that we are better off choosing to act despite our feelings (this is why I’m writing right now). Last year on our trip I wasn’t feeling very spiritually connected and so when we had group prayer times I often didn’t pray. Someone challenged me to pray whether I am feeling connected or not and explained that my choice has an effect on the rest of the people around me. I decided to go ahead and pray. I’m so glad I did, because it changed me.

This is perspective, outlook, attitude and it all comes back to a choice. I can choose to stay where I’m at and let emotions control me and keep me from growing, or I can engage and move despite how I feel. Sometimes just taking a step will help me break out of negative emotions that are keeping me in a holding pattern.

When the rubber meets the road you get resistance. It scares me to try and do something different. Status quo is where I live. I don’t rock the boat and I never step out too far on the limb. I don’t know why I let myself be stuck in these worn out ruts? They’ve gotten me nowhere in life. Mostly I’ve gone in really big circles round and round. I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m talking about way deeper stuff then whether I blog regularly or not. I'm talking about putting myself out there when I could get really hurt or choosing to love someone deeply who really doesn't seem to care at all. Or just being simply, honestly, me, without the walls, vulnerable.

All of this starts with little steps in the right direction. Not perfect steps, just steps. I'm going to start taking those steps one at a time. I'm going to forget how far I've come or how far I have to go and just take that next step. When I start wondering if I'll ever "make it" I'll remember that all that I have to do right now is put one foot in-front of the other.

I can't wait to see where these steps will take me. I know that one day I'll look back and see the bigger picture and so much more will make sense but until then I'll trust each step to my Savior and keep hoping in His goodness.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going Home

A little before my trip to Honduras I decided to sit and try and write about my recent trip home to New Guinea. It was meant to be a story about my adventures but this is what came out...

I feel compelled to write. I’m afraid that my trip to New Guinea will be for not. I will forget. I won’t have learned anything and it will all fade away. I’m afraid that it is already too late and what I write now will never be enough.

I must write. It must be enough. It is all I have.

I lived there most of my life. It was more home to me than anywhere else. Though I often have struggled to answer the question, “where are you from?” I have finally decided that since PNG is where I feel most at home, that will be where I will say I am from. I’ve wrestled these last 10 years with the differences between me and so many people around me who grew up so differently. I have tried to become one of them; I often did this growing up as we traveled so around the country. I got pretty good at it. I can blend and fade into the background and become whatever this or that group of people want me to be. I long to be normal and accepted and approved by my peers. If I may be dramatic, I think I stuck the jungle boy in a cage so he couldn’t cause any more problems.

The jungle boy roamed free for those weeks in my homeland. The jungles invited me to come and make my home in its embrace and the oceans begged me to come and play in its depths. I was awakened and I felt just a little more free.

I say a little more because I know that I will never truly be at peace or free simply because I returned home. I have found that the jungle boy is part of me and I cannot continue to stifle what is an integral part. It must come out. At times it may be “weird” or “strange” but if it doesn’t come out I will never longer be whole, but only a shell representing something else.

I think in some ways, this is what my trip was about. I don’t really know all the reasons that I was there or if there are even specific reasons why things happen the way they do, but this is what I see.

In some way long ago I was lost in the jungles of PNG. I was young. I was naive. I trusted and I believed that people cared. Afterward I became cynical and jaded. However you want to view these events, this is the way I see it-I trusted people who were meant to love me and they let me down. I wanted them to care. I felt like they didn’t care. So I stopped caring. This is when I was lost. This is not a condemnation of those people. I don’t know why they didn’t care. Or at the least why I didn’t feel their love, but that is how I experienced it.

Looking back I don’t think they knew how to show me their love. I’m not blaming anyone for my own choices. I am the one who chose to pull away in my hurt and banish a part of me because of it.

Since the day I was lost I have wandered this planet somewhat aimlessly. There was an ideal. I would love and be loved in return. We would care about each other. There was connection and relationship. This sense of family kept me innocent and hopeful for the future. Before this bubble burst I believed in unconditional love. Maybe this is too much to ask of any human. Maybe this ideal isn’t meant to last. I don’t know… all this happened when I was very young.

When I was lost I didn’t believe in love. I didn’t love. I didn’t know love of any meaningful form. I lost all sensitivity and feelings became grey and muted. I longed and then I deadened. I ached and then I distracted. I lived distracted. I learned to become a master of my imagination. I built another world to hide in where people gave me what I wanted and I was in control. I thought control was the answer. I built walls around the jungle boy and painted them with images of the smart one, the good one and above all the Christian one. The people around me looked up to the Christian ones so I tried to be one of them. I began to look like them but I was slowly rotting away on the inside.

My biggest deception has been the idea that I can live a lie. I have discovered that this is not life, but only an existence of slow decay and excruciating death.

Honesty has become my friend. I find freedom in its company and only chains and misery in the shadows of the lies that I have lived. Many of these lies still haunt me today. When the boy got lost in the jungle I started to live a lie. I thought that maybe I could be someone else. That maybe if I was someone else I would be loved. Anything that I ever did that was in question was slowly eradicated from my life. It took time. It was a process, a slow suffocating of large parts of my soul. My emotions were expunged one at a time. In the end even happiness was muted and laughter distorted into an uneasy nervous chuckle. I was playing a game to get what I wanted. Approval, acceptance and love were the carrots before the horse. I didn’t know that I had only to stop running to receive my prize. I never realized that the love I had my sights on could never quite satisfy but that there was indeed unconditional love to be found when I was ready to stop running and just be.

The next night...

I am uneasy and I can’t find rest. There is no peace in me. I feel compelled. I want to sleep but my mind won’t stop. This story has been waiting to come out for too long. Locked up inside pounding at the wall surrounding my soul-the boy wants to be heard. 

The truth must come out. There is freedom to be had. I have tasted it. It is real. Unconditional love does exist. I have felt it. It shook me and broke me and overwhelmed my tired soul. I wept the first time I felt that love. Now I know that I only allowed a crack in the wall and what I felt was but the beginning of life. 

I move slow and methodical in everything I do. My walls took years to build and they have taken years to penetrate. Sometimes, like tonight, I am moved and compelled to act and I don’t understand why but I do. I open up a little. I let some light in to reveal the truth. More often I live in the fog. I don’t live in the darkness anymore. I found my way to some light. This is hope. Yet I resist. I wait. I ponder if I might still find another way. I often stay where it is cold and dim and where things are still somewhat muted, in the partial truth. I believe. I still doubt. I still distrust. I don’t want to step out and be vulnerable. I stopped hoping in love because I was tired of being vulnerable. There is pain there. Why would I want pain? I’ve had enough of pain. Yet I know that there is never love without pain. So I cry out for pain and hope for love.