Saturday, March 9, 2013

Colorado Springs

A New Place: That is what I dwell in now. I haven't posted in this blog for quite some time. In the interim, I have graduated and up and moved to this foreign place known as Colorado Springs. I am finally doing what I have dreamed of since the eighth grade. I'm teaching at a local school here known as James Irwin Charter High. I don't claim to be perfect, but I will say that waking up every morning with a purpose and feeling of utter elation is worth it--worth all that I put into succeeding in education. Worth all of the money and time.

Knowing that you're being used a vessel, that you're being used in some way to bring down the Kingdom, is a phenomenal feeling. To be used by the King of the Universe is a huge honor and compliment. It's hard here sometimes, feeling connected to ministry and even evangelism but disconnected from the people and things I've known for so long.

It's a wonderful time of connection to God though. I have never felt more filled up and a true part of my father's work. No man could ever replace the relationship I have with Him now. I have the best father, mother, and lover ever. I cannot comprehend how a mere man could ever even catch my attention when I have someone as phenomenal as God. Guess that's better anyway: Because my God will have to show him to me. Furthermore, I will know that this man, whoever he may be, can never be the God I am so in love with. Helps a lot with expectation levels. He'll simply be a fellow vessel and follower I can serve our real MAN with. Seriously, though I have been lonely here at times, I am so happy that God has used that to draw me to Him. To help me abide in Him even make me understand that I honestly need nothing else. If my job, my roommate, the potential of a husband and children, if all of it was gone tomorrow....for the first time, I actually feel that I'd be content. Imperfect but content.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Living in an Ivory Tower

I am home now. The bagpipes of Covenant have been calling me back for the past half-week; however, I remain in the town called Lexington, North Carolina. My time here, in some ways, has been beautiful. Yet each time I return home it seems that the pain and struggles within this old farmhouse have increased.

Sometimes I feel like the plankboard ceilings and old, cracked walls are pressing in on me, trying their damndest to squash my spirits. At Covenant, everything tends to feel majestic. Though I have problems at college, they seem small and insignificant in light of the struggles within the home I come from. What are confusion about theology and boy crushes compared to a family struggling to keep its head above water? I give advice and often feel tired at Covie (nickname for Covenant originally coined by Heather Manning); however, at home, I don't only feel tired. I feel exhausted. I, at times, wake to find that I feel 45 rather than 21.

I had a dream the other night that I was sitting in a bathtub full of murky water. The nasty fluid was heavy on my skin, and I itched to remove myself from the tub, to somehow get to a place that felt lighter, less oppresive. I tried to drain the tub, but when I felt for the drain at the bottom of the porcelin structure, I felt no holes. I couldn't even lift my body out of the mire because even the air around me seemed to be holding me down, trapping me in a place that made me feel too much.

The environment of my home is indeed heavy. Unlike Covenant, it often seems like there are no drains. There are no hallmates to dump on at a second's notice. There are no prayer groups waiting right outside my door. Even the air at Covenant sometimes clears one's head--it's almost like the joy and hope around campus can be tangibly felt. If I remove myself from my room here, there is only an entire house filled with the same hopelessness, the same all-consuming despair and stagnancy waiting for me. Lexington itself, I have learned, tends to feel this way. I walked around Wal-mart today looking for a smiling face or a quick expression of elation and was only meet with faces from old black-and-white photographs. No-nonsense, serious faces that, even when attractive, clearly express a heaviness--clearly show one that life is not beautiful. It is hard. It is a fight. It is a game of survival rather than chance.

Now, you may say, "But everyone in Wal-mart looks that way. Those faces belong to mindless consumers attempting to fill their lives with something." Well, perhaps this is true; however, the faces of today stick in my Lexington memory bank all the same. I started questioning myself, after having dreamed of drowning in nasty bath water and walking around the McDonaldized institution some like to stamp a smiley face logo on. How was I okay in this house, in this town, before and now I struggle with depression when I am present here? Why is it that I feel such a heaviness here now when, though I felt it in high school, it seemed so much easier to deal with?

The answer I came to, my friends, I must say is not one I liked very much. I wanted to say that home has simply gotten more difficult or that I have grown more healthy and thus see the non-redemptive elements more readily. Though these things hold truth, they are simply welcomed cover-ups for the real reason that life at home is so much harder. I am no longer used to hardship. I am no longer used to environments filled to the brim with brokenness and pain. I have been living in a lovely ivory tower some like to call Covenant College.

Quite literally, my hall, Fifth North, is situated in a beautiful tower that grazes the heavens. And quite literally, I have now learned to expect beauty and hope rather than struggle when I step onto a scene. Though this can be a good thing, it is not enbracing the simple fact that there was a fall from grace and that now life, whether my positivly-inclined self would like to believe it or not, is hard.

I have been reared in an ivory tower for the past two-and-a-half years. Coming home is venturing out of this tower. When I am home I get a look at the way life really is. I myself would rather run back to the shelter of a private, Christian college in the mountains I like to call my second home than watch the brokenness around me. For if I watch, I must understand. If I understand, I must try to engage and honestly...I'd rather not.

One of favorite books, the one that once inspired me to teach says this, "It was as if God was saying, 'I can't use ivory-tower followers. They're plaster of paris, they crumble and fall apart in life's press. So you've got to see a little of the way it really is before you can do anything about evil.'" When I'm home, I see "a little of the way it [life] really is." And it's honestly not usually something I want to see.

God needs to further break the ivory towers that I have built in my life. He needs to take a chain saw to Rapunzel's tower and shake her out of her comforting room, a room far away from the realistic, down-to-earth struggles she'd like to think she towers over. I pray that God would break these bubbles of comfort in my life. That he would show me the world's brokenness so I may in turn attempt to (in relationship with Him) address that brokenness. Whether the ivory tower needs to be broken by more volunteerism in Chatanooga when I'm at college or simply by making more phone calls to the home that made me who I am today, I am praying the God yanks me out of the ivory tower I have somehow, between twelfth grade and adulthood, placed myself in. What ivory towers have you built, dearest void? Feel like handing God a bulldozer?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ephesians 3:13

"I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory." God, help me to remember this verse and others like it in this time. You are God and I am not, and I will not try to bend life in the direction I want it to go. Like the lame shampoo bottles that sport the directions: rinse, lather, repeat, I will strive to bathe myself in your word, dwell on it and believe it, and continue to read it and dwell on it until my wandering heart is clean, until I accept your will instead of my own. I cry to you...give me aid.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watching a spider craft its web on our porch as I pet the kittens. Wondering how in the world people can say life is about survival when spiders form webs much more intricate than necessary to capture prey. When the grass is so many shades of green even though chlorophyll only need be one. When rather than simply breathing, eating, sleeping...we dance, taste, love, experience.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Men of Rock Don't Make Good Warriors

I've been thinking about the church lately. What it's capable of. What it actually does. And I discovered that one can draw a lot of parallels between the modern-day church and the Terracotta Army which lies east of Mt. Li. Qin Shi Huang had the Terracotta Army built around 200 BC. The stone soldiers' purpose was to help him rule another empire in the afterlife; the army was a form of funeral art. Now, I suppose none of use could give an answer derivative of direct sight (for none of us are dead; therefore, we have not actually witnessed Qin's army in the afterlife); however, most of us would agree that Qin's army didn't help him out that much once he kicked the dirt.

Here's the thing. We, as the church, are the Terracotta Army. We were built for great things. We were crafted to fight the good fight, to conquer evil with love, to slay our Lord's foes in order to bring The Kingdom closer to earth. Life is a beautiful, messy story of redemption, hardship, and loss; the life we live is a battlefield. The battlefield has places of level ground. Places where we can catch our breath, have fellowship with other soldiers, and prepare for future invasion. The battlefield has hills and valleys. It is filled with joys and loves; it is also filled with losses and pain. The battlefield is messy. Our God promised that life would be hard, that sacrifices were necessary, and He never said that "His will" was always in line with what we believed could bring about victory. God's story is not the Disney version of a fairytale. It often resembles the Brother's Grimm, and for this reason, is hard to accept.

Though we, the army, were crafted for great battles and though our very lives are battlefields, we to day...don't do all that much. We are at times active, but most of the time, on the whole, we are as engaged as the stone army that sat for centuries in the ground. Even after our hearts are excavated, after they have breathed fresh air after lying under layers of dirt and darkness, we still stand...looking ready to march and yet never taking the initiative to step forward. We tell others to "keep in step with the Spirit," "feed the hungry," and "take up the cross." But that's just it. Our mouths may move, but how often do we actually follow our own advice? We are stone. We are immobile. We are apathetic. We are lazy as hell.

The modern-day church often thrives on hierarchy. Much like the Terracotta Army, the church is set up in ranks. We place pastors and music directors and nursery workers on the front lines, and we stay in the back, hoping that our "best men" will be enough and that we can stay in comfortable boxes of conformity and safety forever. We give glory to officers and generals for battles won, for communities reached when what we should be doing is bowing down in reverence to the actual victor, the one who conquered death and hell and devil.

It is also interesting that Qin specifically commanded that no two soldiers be made alike. He wanted diversity. We are all a part of the church; however, we are each different. My talents and skills and personality and spiritual gifts are not yours and vice versa. We are a body, and each part fills a different role. We are all different, yet when we are aligned with Christ, we march as one. Our faces hold diverse emotions and past experiences mark our bodies, but with the support of fellow soldiers, we march to one drum...the beat of Abba's heart.

I believe it is high time the Terracotta Army rise up and take it's place. We need to get involved. Get serious. Get to praying. Get to working. Get to ministering and teaching and preaching and serving. We need to stand, shake off the binding stone that gives us such comfort, re-embrace the flesh that can be wounded, put on the full armour of God, and march together into battle. This soldier may not be ready, but she knows a consuming fire that is!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Snipits of my Time Here

Time with friends that I know is genuine. Finally!
Fulfillment in the Lord. Not even desiring a relationship because my thoughts are so wrapped up in the Creator.
Beginning to feel a part of the community I left behind two years ago.
Starting to engage Lexington through service.
Seeing redemption in things broken, things I previously found to be hopeless.
This is where I am at present.
This is where the layers of false understanding fall off and are replaced with faith.
This is the time of my Eustace baptism from Asalan.
Right now life is a lot like dying.
Dying to self.
Dying to preconceptions.
Dying to what I thought I desired.
Right now life is a lot like real living.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Want to Explore...

(1) The Underwater Sculpture Park off the coast of the West Indies. "The aim of the Sculpture Park is to create a unique space which highlights environmental processes and celebrates local culture. By creating an artificial reef of sculptures which depict Grenadian peoples and their history, the project fulfils its dual purpose of protecting the marine environment and illustrating the richness of Grenada."

(2) The Helix Hotel yet to be built which will be in Dubai.

(3) Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center in NYC. Everyone is familiar with this one. Though it may be cliche', I am totally for strapping on those skates and sailing through the bitter cold.

(4) The Cadillac Ranch Sculpture West Of Amarillo, Texas. My friend Jocelin has seen this, and after seeing it on ArtBus, I want to as well. The picture doesn't do it justice by the way. Please look this baby up!

(5) The Growing Tree Building of Sanfte Strukturen "There is something s imply amazing about growing any building – but particularly marvelous when it might take over twenty years to develop and can be the center of gatherings of over 80,000 people at a single time. The structures of Sanfte Strukturen are often the center of communities – common spaces meant to bring people together under a single living and growing roof." In other words, it's the ultimate project green!