Tuesday, July 9, 2013

peace must be dared.

My candle over there on the desk flickers. The lamp above my head makes my room all cozy especially at this time of night. After a day of splashing in laughter, tears, & talks, I am absolutely exhausted. I'm whispering muttered prayers asking the Lord for more of it... this peace. The peace that trespasses all understanding. Either people don't take hold of it very much or it's so indescribable that no one even tries. I need some more of it. With every crossing off of the list, every day completed that's what we long for. Comfort? No, not if to live is Christ. Peace? It's what our hearts need to go on. In the midst of the existent trouble, peace, through Jesus, conquers. Everything about Jesus conquers.

What is it about sleepless nights & tear stains on my cheeks that draws me close to God? Some of my days are after nights when I just cry at His throne. There is a difference between an unhealthy pity-party {which I can be known for more than I would like to admit} & Jesus breaking Your heart. Bringing Jesus to Your ache instead of whining about why it's there. That's the difference.

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 I read these words when peace was the last thing on my mind. I was hurt.

In the next days, through His Word, through journaling, & other avenues of processing the thoughts on my heart that haven't left, He gave me peace. All I know is someone was praying for me something fierce. I shook my head & wondered why I was so relaxed with whatever the outcome may be. Thankfully, in His time, He is continuing to give me peace that I can't begin to describe to you...because it reaches every part of me & changes me by the minute. My girlfriend, Chloe, knows what is going on in my life as much as anybody. On Sunday morning following the service, she asked me, "How are you?" I answered quickly steering away from honest answers, even to my best friend, my sister. She looked at me & asked again, "Are you really?" The fact that I have a friend that cares enough to ask twice made my heart so heavily thankful. Surprisingly, though, I gave her the same answer. Everything may not be alright according to my standards, but according to His: I'm right where I'm supposed to be. Humbly walking with Him, taking Him into every secret corner of my heart, to every circumstance, every conversation. If this is true, the rest He will simply let me watch unfold with awe-filled eyes. I'm daring to take hold of His promises & take a deep breath. After all, His name is the sound of our breathing.

With this peace, compassion comes. Gone are the selfish ways of processing. He broke my heart tonight out of the middle of nowhere. My initial reaction is to just fix it all. I just want to label all these needs, be the one to fix it, & let the world see themselves as Jesus sees them. While those desires are of best intentions, none of us are near enough powerful, worthy, or capable of doing so. Instead, I don't worry... & I silently pray. The tears slide across my face. My heart is heavy, but my eyes are focused on Him. I can't fix it all. Instead of selfishly taking over, I'm laying it in His hands asking Him where I need to serve in the process.

So, tonight... I'm praying for peace. Peace for an irreplaceable friend, peace for my unsettled heart, peace in wherever He whispers to turn.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. --Isaiah 30:21
 I'm paying attention.
 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
    Then your peace would have been like a river,
    and your righteousness like the waves of the sea... --Isaiah 48:18

Peace. No guaranteed safety, no comfort in the world's standards, but a battle will be won with something, someOne, much greater than any weapon. No guarantee that tears won't fall again tomorrow; that my heart won't be broken again & again in a million different ways. No guarantee that we will slip & let stress chip some joy when it never, ever, should come close, but we do know that He is right. here. The Holy Spirit ministers with His Presence in all of these weaknesses, heartbreaks, & joys in a way that no one else could. Security in this: our Jesus leading us in the great venture; peace like a river.


Friday, July 5, 2013

a bunk with a view: torn.

My eight-year-old self would change into pajamas--anything comfy that I could find that smelled reasonable enough to put on--& embrace the challenge of climbing into the middle of our three level bunks.

My bunk with a view.

The counselor made sure all us young girls were safely in out beds among the chaos of suitcases & cosmetics laying around before turning out the light. I would chatter with my best friend and others would, with much enthusiasm, add into our playful, exhausted, everything-is-10-times-more-hilarious conversation. Our sweet counselor, Kara, would give us one last warning & one of us would volunteer to pray before we all tossed & turned & began to snore.

While I assume the rest of my cabin was beginning to snooze, my gaze was outside. From my window, you could see the barn; the cafeteria & home base of my favorite place back then: camp. While the staff did an overall acceptable job of making us feel included, I felt torn walking away each night. As I would catch up with one of my girls to walk the comforting path to our cabins, I would gaze back at the staff still chattering away. They would often times yell after us to leave & go get our beauty sleep. Those comments may have been all in good fun--they really did have sincere hearts, but... to my EXTREMELY sensitive eight-year-old self, I was hurt. I wanted to be included on their late night conversations. I strived to know what a relationship with the Lord looked like for them and what relationships with boys looked like with all of that in perspective.

I gaze out the window and eventually the lights would turn off and they all began to disappear to their designated rooms. I thought about the late night conversations they would be having as I lay in bed wondering & wishing. I may have been in a room full of girls, but I felt alone.

Here I am six years later. My first year to be on staff at that same camp that has seen the end of me & so many beautiful beginnings. Here I am fulfilling a dream... & I'm torn. I want to go to camp. I KNOW that it will be amazing, but... all at the same time, I have never wanted to be in two places at once. For one main reason & a million on top of that, I want to have gone, but I don't want to go.

One of my counselors in these past years in devotions said that one of her biggest struggles at the time was knowing she needed to be at camp, but feeling like she needed to also be at home. At the time it made no sense to me & for years I never really understood why she didn't want to only be at camp... hanging out with us. Now, in His time, I understand.

Join me in adventuring into these next five weeks--because in reality it's not that long--with sincere, willing hearts. I know that I can't pack you into my suitcase & head to Iowa {no matter how much I want to}, but I hold you in my heart. Pray for me as I make preparations & say my 'so longs' with a lump in my throat.

Praying that God would use me in a huge way this summer, work in my heart in the midst of my anxiety & homesickness, & bring many of these kiddos closer to Him through simple convictions that I know, for me, has lasted through the years only by His strength.

Part of me wants to make a list of everything I'm going to miss from my beautiful corner of this world while I'm away, but below I'm including a small list of little things that I'm looking forward to:

being able to go into the kitchen. {I've been in it once for a total of two minutes in five camp seasons.}

being able to sign as an 'adult' on kiddos' camp books

getting this year's camp t-shirt

getting to know whomever else the Lord has led to staff

chatting with the little girls especially & being the person on staff I always wished I would have had

hayrack rides

the quiet of unplugging

hearing from home on weekends


carpet ball

late night conversations

serving the campers meals ... the chatter

chapel every night

writing letters

dressing up after a day of games, sweat, & work

the walk back to our cabins; this time not being torn for the reasons I was before, but for such a time as this.

As You wish, Abba. We belong to You.
Forever Yours,

P.S. Prayerfully I'll be back soon & very soon. Until then, snazzy blog makeover, eh? :)