Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shake It Out



I've been listening to one of my favorite artists Florence + The Machine lately and have fallen in love with the song "Shake it Out" off of the Ceremonials album.

Here's some of the lyrics:

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments I can see no way
I can see no way And all of the ghouls come out to play 
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself 
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind 
I can see no way,I can see no way 
I'm always dragging that horse around
And our love is passed, it's such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground 
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it's always darkest before the dawn 

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out 
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out 

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back 
So shake him off 

I am done with my graceless heart 
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart 
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn 

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out 
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out 
 And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back 
So shake him off 

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
 And given half the chance would I take any of it back
 It's a final mess but it's left me so undone
 It's always darkest before the dawn



I feel like this song is my anthem for the year of 2011. This year has been both Beautiful and Ugly. It has been a year of many adventures and many life lessons. During January of 2011 I was in South East Asia eating noodles everyday, speaking in a different foreign language, sharing the gospel, serving alongside some of the strongest men and women of God I've ever met, playing drums with street kids, falling in love with street kids, flying on a lot of planes, riding a lot of buses, and drinking a lot of hot tea. I also led worship and small groups for youth disciple nows and girls retreats almost every weekend during spring semester. I was playing drums in the ULM BCM Haven band which I loved oh so much. Ministry in my church Hope Alive thrived, grew, and increased my passion for both God and people. In April I decided to pursue one of my dreams and drove 24 hours to New York where I would wait in line several hours along with 600 others, be signed for a time slot, and audition for STOMP on Broadway. This was a dream come true itself. Though I didn't make it I still choose to Dream Big and live up to the saying "Go Hard or Go Home." This summer I was a leader for Cross Camp again and saw how God allowed me to go through such trials when growing up in order to minister to youth of all ages here and now. I got to spend time in Nashville, TN with my best friend Alyssa and began to fall in love with Music City and this pretty amazing music school named Belmont University. I was fortunate to be a bridesmaid in my friend MaeLee's wedding in Alabama on December 17,2011 exactly a year after spending some memorable days in serving in Asia together. I have learned to push myself even harder as a musician and student this year. I don't think I've ever practiced so long and hard until this past semester and it's finally starting to show which is incredibly
awesome. I began to become burnt out on ministry. I found myself doing so many different things constantly to which I never felt I was all there. I was so half way committed to everything that I think I was missing the real reason of why I was doing certain events in the first place. When I think of the year of 2011 I think of it being a Burn Out. A burn out on ministry. A burn out on school. A burn out on working. A burn out on socialization. A burn out on music. A burn out on everything pretty much. All my life I've seemed to always be on the go. I love it yet at the same time grow weary. For a while I've found myself neglecting God over all else. I'm still involved with the things of God and love God. But, somewhere along the way I lost sight of writing the word upon my heart and seeking God daily. I long for consistency and focus. I desire to grown more in my faith. I allowed myself to get caught in some sort of spiritual inertia and apathy which isn't cool. It's funny how sin can have such an effect on you. It doesn't matter if it was several years, months, weeks, days, or even minutes ago...Satan still uses your mistakes to taunt you and make you feel trashy and worthless.

"Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments.
All of the ghouls come out to play,every demon wants his pound of flesh.It's always darkest before the dawn."

This year I let the things I was once ashamed of consume me and beat me down. I let the devil convince me that I could not overcome. At the same time Jesus reminded me that I can do all things not on my own but with Him as my strength.

"And I've been a fool and I've been blind. I can never leave the past behind. I'm always dragging that horse around. Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground."

I love God. I love people. I love music. I love life. I love this New Year. A new year of more adventure and more excitement. A year of less constant activity and less burn out. A year of new beginnings and growth in faith. A year of ministering more to others and showing the love of Christ everywhere I Go. A new year to embrace and enjoy...to take what life gives me whether good or bad. A new year to cherish dreams that come true and to learn from the beautiful letdowns. 


Goodbye 2011 and hello 2012.









Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Time is Here.

I've never been the sharpest tool in the shed much less one to understand a lot of the things life wants to throw at me. My mind is blown when trying to comprehend how Jesus came to this earth as an infant and was white as snow, He was perfect in every way. Not only that but He was placed in a manger, not some fancy decked out crib from Baby Depot. This is the same Jesus that had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). This is the same Jesus that was beaten and bruised and mistreated throughout His entire life. The same Jesus that would hang out with the lowest of the low and showed compassion to everyone He encountered. The same Jesus that died for me. It's difficult for me to understand such a crazy concept still to this day. That's because God will never fit in our little box of logic. He is Holy and so much Bigger. One thing I do know is that Jesus is the greatest thing that has ever entered into my life.

It's easy to say you won't get carried away this year during the Christmas season. That you won't buy as many gifts, wake up dreadfully early to get a big sale the day after Thanksgiving, worry if the tree isn't set up the way you like it, or let the idea of gifts consume you. But, do we truly choose not to cling to such things? I can tell you first hand that Christmas is certainly not all about getting gifts and spending lots of money and you fill in the blank_. Though all of that is good, fun, and lovely...if you didn't receive a single gift or have the finances to buy everyone and their mommas a present; would that ruin your day all together? Don't get me wrong that'd suck a whole lot and it's not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of having a "Holly Jolly Christmas," but never the less life will still go on. What if there were no presents under the tree? What if there was no tree at all? No "Holiday greetings and happy meetings"...? It might seem as if the world will come to an end at this point but it won't. I used to think so but time and time again I'm reminded that's not the case.

As I've sat here at my house alone for the majority of this Christmas day, I can't help but think a lot about a lot of things. I randomly decided to google the definition of "family."
Of course, most of the definitions define family as "a group of people who are related by blood."
However, there were a few definitions that said something different such as "a group of people who support each other and love one another." and so on.

"In today’s society most people consider family to be just blood relations but in reality it is the bonds you share with those you care for the most.  Family is a completely necessary part of anyone’s life.  Your family helps you through the tough times and provides the needed support to get through life.  Family cares about what happens to you, are always there for you, and above all, loves you. "

Mmmm....Can I get an Amen?!? This brought so much comfort to my heart. If it were strictly that of blood relations, I don't have much of a family at all the way I look at it. But if it's true that family is far more than that...well I have the largest family there is. 
Then I begin to think of what the phrase "blood related" means to me. 
Through the blood of Christ I belong to a family of believers all across the world. 
Many I've already had the blessing of meeting and many I will meet one day. 
I often say that "Music is within my blood." If so, I know of many who can relate that are considered to be family as well.

I would be foolish to ever say I don't have a family, because I most certainly do. 
What I consider to be family may not be your common definition found in wikipedia, but I care the most about a lot of folks and I come to find that a lot of folks care about me. 
I may not join family during the holidays but I know they are there for me. When I need support I can find it. When I need encouragement and affirmation, it can be a text away. Though certain situations can make me feel unloved, I know deep down I am loved and God is to be glorified rather than circumstances.  Above all it is Christ Who strengthens me. To have a loving Family on top of that, what better gift could you possibly ask for during Christmas time? 

Though things never seem to go as planned and though being alone while everyone else is celebrating can be a bummer...I am thankful for this special day the Lord has made. 
I'm thankful for time to sit still, relax, and REST. True Rest in the Lord is like no other. I'm thankful for time to reflect and take Joy in the God of my salvation. I'm thankful for those who sacrifice their traditional family settings to include a kid who has no place to go. I'm thankful for turkey and some burnt pecan pie. I'm thankful for coffee and a delectable Christmas tree cake. I'm thankful for those serving all across the country right now as I type. I'm thankful for the amazing time spent in Asia this time last year. Oh how I miss it so and wish I were there again at this very moment. I'm thankful for my Mammaw and another year I could spend with her cute lil ole self. I'm thankful for Everything God has chosen to bestow and bless me with. I am thankful for what the word "family" looks like in my life.












It all goes back to Christ in the end. The birth, crucifixion  and resurrection of Jesus will forever be the greatest gift there ever was, is, and will be. Because He came to die for the sins of man, Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Jesus is the reason I'm still alive today and can live life abundantly. It's my responsibility to be reminded of that. Though it may not seem to be "traditional" or provide that "home sweet home" kind of feeling, this day is to be cherished and that is something I am certain of. While I was in Asia, my teammates and I were told that we would never look at Christmas the same way again once we return to the states. I don't think I've ever found a statement to be so true before. I've discovered that I am my happiest when I am able to serve others. After serving in other countries to the fullest, especially during Christmas, it's easy to return home and feel as if I'm never truly serving others unless I'm on a trip far away. But after staying in town this December I see more and more how God calls me to go and serve everywhere. Even in Monroe, LA of all places. So though it's not a hard task to loose site of the true meaning of Christmas, I think I'm finally beginning to see what it's all about. 










MERRY CHRISTMAS, Here's to Many More.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One Thing Remains


 
There are so many things I struggle with finding clarity over. Then I discover how my constant worries are but dust when compared to what the word tells me. The things of this world will NOT last forever. Neither will circumstances whether good or bad. One thing remains and that's the Lord.

He offers a beautiful word called GRACE. Grace in which I do not have to perform work after work just to have the hope of receiving eternal life in heaven. God has forgiven my sins. He constantly forgives me for the ways I fall short. Through Jesus Christ, there is a way to be one with God again. I, a human, can never change fully on my own strength. I am a sinner to the core, rotten since birth. I was born a sinner, I once was enslaved to sin, and because of that sin I was destined for a place called Hell. "For the punishment for sin is Death." So after crying out for forgiveness and admitting I do not have it all together...  I decided then and there to Follow Christ, to take up my cross and deny myself. I decided to live my life fully devoted to Him. This is how I know that I know that I know I will one day see my God face to face and rejoice with other brothers and sisters in a heavenly dwelling. Oh what a Glorious day that shall be! For I have the "Lamb over Me."

Without Christ, I am nothing. Christ + nothing= EVERYTHING. If it wasn't for Christ I would not be alive today, for that I am certain. I am also certain that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one else. No statue, great emperor, earthly king, ritual, practice, president, famous football player, celebrity, warrior, magician, god, or idol is above Christ. Only through Christ can you receive salvation. I am certain that Jesus came to die for me. Though it still blows my mind as to why, I know He did. He didn't just die so I could have life, but He died for me to Live life. A life that is dedicated to the One who created it. A life that glorifies and edifies the Kingdom. A life that reflects Christ.
I know for certain that there is great power in the gospel. I know that the same God that healed the sick, made the lame walk, and the blind see is the same God we pray to today. He is more than capable of doing the same acts if not above and beyond. It's just a matter of Faith and Trust in Him.

I know that a life in Christ gives me hope, strength, energy, zeal, love, passion, and so sooo much Joy.
I know that God wants to use me despite how I feel. He plans to use the life of someone who didn't care for life. God makes Beauty from the ashes. He is a Father to the Fatherless. He is LOVE.

Suddenly the uncertainties of this world grow strangely dim...
There is no longer a huge concern on how much my future income will be, what my career will entitle, or even where I will live one day. It is so easy to cling to the past. It is even easier to cling to the future. What I struggle with is the here and now. Serving Him in the small things is a challenge. Being content with where I am at such a time as this will be a process. To be confident in what God has for me to do in my community will take some molding of the clay. Being able to see what serving looks like in local organizations, on campus, and through the church will call for vision. I find it sad that sometimes there is so much focus on what is to come that the present is ignored away and missed. What is current is being written on a dry erase board only to be erased, leaving the heart dry and lifeless. I don't want to miss it. I want to be all there. I want to be all here. I want to see Jesus use me. I want to see Jesus use others. I want to see others see who Jesus is and follow Him. Who says that is only for the future? Who says that can't happen now?


                                                      Hungering and Thirsting for more.

"All Consuming Fire, You're Our Hearts Desire. Living flame of Love, Come baptize us! Come baptize us!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kleptos

There are a lot of things that easily capture my heart and make it melt. Kids are definitely one of those things. I never pictured myself to fall in love with kids as much as I have. I never expected to become burdened beyond words for the orphaned, abandoned, abused, and oppressed. I just want to go back in time and prevent so much pain, suffering, and heartache from happening to such precious children. I can't help but become restless...

So many kids without homes. So many kids begging. So many kids with only one outfit. So many kids with no shoes. So many kids without parents. So many kids without anyone who has cared for them. So many kids alone. So many kids afraid. So many kids left for dead. So many kids aborted.
So many kids who've survived abortion but are now disabled for life. So many kids...so many faces...so many who need Love. So many who don't even know what Love really is. Though in the flesh I just wish I could simply punch all those who've hurt them in the face...with the attitude of Christ I know I must love the abusers as well. That's where things get hard. It comes to a point that I no longer even think nor care about what has happened to me. How I've been hurt, mistreated, and abused...but what others must endure. The funny thing is,  I've specifically prayed for God to break my heart for the afflicted and oppressed. I can never say God does not answer prayers. I can't find it in me to just sit back and watch such injustice to go on. Though I have no clue how to make a difference I'm trusting God knows. I just want to be found obedient to what He is calling me to do and how He is calling me to play a role within the work of the Kingdom.

Meet my sweet little friend. I met her exactly two weeks ago at a street kids home. She is 12...in a five year old's body basically. Her smile is contagious. Her laugh is to die for. Her eyes draw you near and her hands can paint a beautiful masterpiece.


She was most likely born disabled and considered worthless. She was told she could not be cared for. and was thrown out on the streets. Found by some amazing people who took her to the street home,  she can come and go as she pleases. Words can't describe the kind of joy I found in seeing her smile, making her laugh, and playing games with her. My heart exploded when she started hitting my drum and we began playing back and forth. We just enjoyed life together. It was as simple and blissful as ever. We immediately became besties =)





She was handicapped and had trouble walking so she'd stand watching all of us playing with the other kids and running around. The littlest things would cause her to become so happy and joyful. She was the oldest in the group and practically took care of all the others. One minute she'd be playing then as soon as one of the boys ran up and messed with her she'd set them straight, haha! It was very entertaining even though it was all in Chinese and I could barely understand a word. =)




 

 One of the most precious little girls I've ever met. It may seem crazy for me to have fallen in love with a kid I only spent a day with...but that little klepto stole about my heart that day. If I could have adopted her that day and was not still in college I would have in a heartbeat. A day hasn't gone by that I haven't thought about this sweet girl and prayed that God would take care of her, bless her, and show her more of what it's like to be Loved unconditionally. I see so much potential in her. Her heart is unique. Her actions are rare to find for her age. She will always hold a special place in my heart.

Then there's MenYaun. (Pretty sure that's spelled totally wrong but it's whatever.)

He was certainly a little adventurer. He decided to run away soon after meeting him. My heart broke for him. I pray God will have His hand on MenYaun's life. What joy it'd bring me to picture these kids growing up and knowing the Lord personally.


Then there's the girl who I can't seem to forget. God has placed this kid on my heart like crazy. I don't know her name. I don't know what she's been through. I don't know the ways she's been hurt. But it was so clear she has had pain from being mistreated.





There are no words...the few I have can't do how I feel any justice. I don't think I've ever felt such a burden for people/children...until I saw this girl. There is where loving the orphaned became difficult. She screamed and ran away anytime you'd come near her. It was said that she possessed. May the Most High God, Shang Di, reveal Himself to these children. My heart's desire is that they will know God and experience the Father's love. I'm currently praying for clarity in what I'm to do. My heart has been stolen by a lot of little kleptos for the past few weeks.
I am forever changed and humbled by this adventure.

Being half way around the pushing through cold weather, eating with chopsticks, playing games and songs, loving on kids who've been ignored, and sharing life/Jesus with others is what made this year the Best Christmas and New Years EVER. God is so Good.




"Stoop down and reached those who are oppressed.Share their burdens and complete Christ's law."
                                                                                                                                     -Galatians 6:2

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brain Explosion


Since I've returned I've had all the feels.
Comfort is a dangerous thing to mess with when other's lives are suffering. Comfort is why many have never heard of Jesus Christ. Comfort is why many kids are ignored and mistreated and left alone. Comfort is sometimes why others go without food and water just a few plane flights away. Comfort is what encourages an apathetic heart and lethargic body in a recliner over no showers, wearing the same clothes over, and sleeping in a hut.







"God does not care about your own personal comfort and will sometimes allow persecution in order that His will may be done."

I cannot get this statement out of my mind. We have no idea what persecution is. But I pray someday I may be blessed enough to see what it truly is. I pray one day I can share in the suffering of Christ. I pray one day America may have persecution...So the church may finally begin to disperse and go out instead of stay in a building forever.



After seeing people worshiping idols larger than my room I began to become so broken.
Broken over the fact that they've never heard of someone who is Greater and far more worthy of praise, offerings, and sacrifice.

Many would probably see worshiping statues in other places as crazy and foolish and weird. But America has idols as well. They just don't have fancy temples, paintings, and incense burnt.


Instead, it's face paint, big screen t.v.'s, and huge stadiums.

American idols are sometimes on paper such as lottery tickets. The more money spent and possessions sacrificed, the more potential blessings and success..right? America's idols are on the billboards and news feeds. They're in the magazines and morning paper. The same God that told people in the old testament to stop bowing down to idols is the same God you pray to in the churches today. His commandment still holds true. He deserves far more than simply what makes us happy, succeed, and look good.....what makes us comfortable...


That is something I find heartbreaking. The fact that comfort has crippled the place I live in.
Despite the fact that the gospel is at the tips of our fingers, we can freely worship God as we please, there are enough bibles for everyone to own at least 2, and we have far more than anything we could ever possibly need.


I want to make Jesus known among the Nations. Though I long to be in other parts of the world at this time I know it's for me to shine a light here and now. As a 19 year old single college student who for some reason God has chosen to use in Monroe, LA. So though my heart craves for what's to come,  it is also comforted in knowing there's work to still be done in my own community. May God be glorified and recieve what He deserves. To the ends of the earth may His name be shouted on the mountain tops.
I am SECOND.