Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beauty Assaulted

Last week I was hanging out with some new friends when one of the girls jumped on the couch behind me and said, "Hey I feel like giving you a shoulder massage. Are you okay with that?" I'm not generally a big fan of massages but I was feeling kind of tense so I figured it wouldn't hurt. As she massaged my shoulders she suddenly exclaimed, "Whoa, you have HUUUGE muscles! Do you work out?" Now her comment was innocent enough and I laughed and said I worked out a little, but inside, my mind began to play the low-self esteem game. Ever since I was a little girl I've been used to people commenting on my large muscles and unusual strength, always followed by the, "You know, for a girl."

I remember a time when I was 13 and my mom sent me to the store for milk. I walked to the back of the store grabbed two gallons of milk from the refrigerator and then went to the front of the store to make my purchase. I was minding my own business when a tall guy with a mustache and greasy hair looked at me and said, "Wow, you're sooooo strong, for a girl. You're as strong as a man" Then he started to point me out to other customers. What didn't even phase me until that moment was that I had nonchalantly grabbed both gallons of milk by their handles and was carrying them both in one hand. My other hand was free, so I didn't need to carry both gallons of milk with one hand, but I didn't think they were heavy, so I didn't even think about it. I remember walking home that day feeling so ugly on the inside. I hated being as strong as a man.

Another time I was preparing to go overseas so I went to my doctor to get a physical. He had me grip his hands and squeeze as hard as I could and afterward he said, "Your muscles are like man muscles. You are incredibly strong for your age, especially for a girl." Of course none of these people made these comments to hurt me. They were all trying to compliment me, but it wasn't until the latest comment, during the shoulder massage, that I was really able to understand the effects of those comments throughout my life.

I've always known that I've struggled with self-hatred. In a sense we all do to one degree or another. I don't think I've ever met someone who has always been perfectly happy with who they are or what they look like. It's not an excuse, we actually should be perfectly happy with who God created us to be, but in this cruel world, there are far too many things to compare ourselves too.

Ever since I was a little girl the enemy has assaulted me in the area of beauty. I never really stood a chance. In elementary school I was the girl who walked like a gangster. I remember spending hours and hours trying to perfect my gait so that my classmates would stop making fun of me. I never did figure it out and so I just put it in my humor pocket and began to laugh along with them. Years later, lying in a hospital bed with a broken leg, I had thankfulness in my heart that my "gangster walk" could now be attributed to a slight limp from ankle pain.

It's quite sad, but when I think about my life and my childhood I don't really have memories of ever feeling "pretty" or "beautiful". Instead my memories are filled with thoughts of "awkward and ugly" masked by laughter and sarcasm. But a lot of things are changing in my heart. I no longer feel that self-hatred coming at me so strongly. I look at others and I wonder what thoughts they are struggling with and what weaknesses they never want exposed, and when I see them I feel a deep sadness, because the enemy has tormented so many for so long, and we are giving in to it. Instead of gazing at our King and knowing the true beauty that we are as His creation, we are looking to each other and to ourselves for a gratification we will never find outside of Him.

I'll admit, I still look in the mirror and wonder how on earth a 28 year old woman still has so many pimples, but overall my heart is shifting and a message of beauty is stirring in my spirit. I'm tired. I'm tired of things being stolen from me. I'm tired of having to fight off feelings of ugly and awkward. I'm tired of watching others fall prey to the same twisted lie from the enemy. The beauty of our King has been assaulted and it's been tormenting His creation for too long.

He is Beautiful and He made me beautiful.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In the midst of the CRAZINESS there is always a bit of TENDERNESS

My sister has been in the hospital. For a couple of weeks we didn't really know what was going on and now the craziness of the unknown is just about over. She had a cyst, a very large cyst growing inside her abdomen. When you say, "large cyst" people tend to think of a closed fist or a grapefruit, but this was much, much bigger than that. This was larger than a basketball and made her look 30 weeks pregnant. This was not your average large cyst. After the doctor removed it he said, "Well, I just removed the monster from the blue lagoon." He drained 2 gallons of fluid from it before he removed it.

Intense, crazy, and slightly scary. But somehow through all of this I felt peace, and I felt the Lord's tenderness. I saw my family cringe at the chaos and tremble in fear at the unknown, but I had peace, tremendous peace. I know I was scared. This was my baby sister and we didn't know if this was cancerous or not (it was not) and I wasn't very comfortable with the thought of my baby sister having to go through such a major surgery. Yet, somehow I was okay. I knew no matter what the results, the Lord was faithful. He would be faithful if it was benign and He would be faithful if it was not.

Either way, I trusted and I prayed. I wanted my little sister to be okay, and even though by human standards, things were definitely not okay, I had that subtle and tender assurance that everything would be okay, no matter how this ended up. I don't know how to explain such peace and tenderness from the Lord. I believe it is something you must feel to understand, but if you have never felt it you can still trust that it is there. He is a loving and tender God who cares about each of His children in a way that we cannot even begin to comprehend. He is tender, He is loving, He is full of peace, and He is REAL.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Game

Today I played a game with God. I don't really know why. I had been feeling bits of joy lately so I thought, "Hey God, let's play a game. I'll tell You what I think of You and then You can tell me what You think of me. We'll take turns. It'll be fun. I'll start."

So I closed my eyes and thought for a moment. Then I said, "God, I say that You are my King."

I could feel God's smile as He caught on to what this game was all about. Then He said, "Oh yeah? Well, I say that you are My princess."

Ha! This game was fun. My turn. "God, I say that You are faithful." Then I waited for God to say something back to me but it seemed to take Him a long time. I got nervous, why did I want to play this silly game anyway? Princess was easy because it went along with King, but then I said faithful, and all that did was make me realize how unfaithful I am.

So I began to think of all the times I have been unfaithful to Him, but He stopped me and said, "I say that you are trying." Really God? You can see that I am trying? Because I am, but I'm not really good at it. Immediately He said, "It doesn't matter that you are not very good. What matters is that you are trying. Tag, you're it."

Ok, so maybe this game wasn't so bad after all. I closed my eyes and said, "I say that You are true." Uh oh! I did it again! Wrong one, why did I tell Him that? Now I was thinking about how I told a lie once that I never made right. What was He going to say this time? This game was a terrible idea.

But He looked at me and said, "I say that you are being perfected."

Wow, my turn again. This game was great. I was seeing a new side of God I hadn't really seen before. I decided to risk it and tell Him what I was feeling. So I said, "I see that you are full of love!"

And He turned to me and said, "And you, my princess who is trying so hard, and being completed and made perfect in Me, I say that you are lovable."

I like this game.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering a Vision

This is a vision the Lord gave me a few years ago but the Lord just reminded me of it so I thought I would share it today.

It's called... The Sewer

I closed my eyes and immediately saw a sewer drain. I looked around and noticed I was in a big city. It was dusk and water was flowing into the sewer. The next thing I knew I was down in the sewer floating amidst all of the trash and debris. The sewer was filthy and I knew immediately that the trash floating in it represented the sin and junk of my own life. I was curious because I wasn't drowning, but I wasn't swimming either. I was just floating along with my own junk. There was a lot of it too.

Eventually the sewer drained out into a wide river. I thought, "This is good because eventually all of my sin will float away in the river." I looked around and noticed that everything was still with me, instead of the junk getting filtered out; it just seemed to continue to follow me. I desperately looked for a way of escape. I wanted to get rid of the junk, but it was still with me. I kept looking for an escape route because I hated floating with my sin. Far in the distance I saw a beautiful tropical island and the water around it was blue and pure, not a blemish in it. I knew I had to find a way to get to that island. It was like my very own Paradise Island. But it looked impossible to reach. There was a land mass and it seemed to be blocking the route to the island.

I kept floating and soon I came to a fork in the river. It looked like both of these paths would eventually lead to the island, but I couldn't tell for sure. I floated for a few more minutes as I pondered what to do, and then I heard the Lord tell me to choose a path. One would lead away from my sin and one would not. I took a closer look at the fork in the river and noticed that one path was very calm and seemed to be clear of debris, while the other path was full of rocky rapids that looked very deadly. I quickly decided to take the seemingly still path down the river, but as I floated towards it, my sin seemed to follow. I was confused. If I was hearing the Lord tell me to choose a path, then certainly He wouldn't want me to take my sin with me. But no matter what I did, the junk followed me.

Finally I decided to backtrack and take another look at the rocky path. Could this really be the way I was supposed to go? It looked so dangerous and terrifying. Then I heard Him say, "Trust Me." I was scared and in my heart I was arguing, but I decided to try the rocky path. I wanted to do anything to get away from my sin. I couldn't stand it any longer. As I floated down the river I noticed that my sin did not follow, but the water was choppy and I was afraid.

Soon I began to get hurled up against the rocks. It was very dangerous and my body was slamming up against the jagged corners of the rocks. I was starting to bleed and my body was aching with every blow. Finally I slammed into a rock so hard that I just couldn't continue any longer. I was bloody and bruised and I held on to the rock and cried out in pain. Suddenly I felt someone lifting me. I looked up and it was Jesus. I couldn't see His face but I could see the scar on His left hand. I couldn't see the other scar because He was holding me up with His right arm. I looked up at Him and cried, "I can't do this anymore, I don't know how."

I still couldn't see His face but I could feel the tenderness with which He looked at me. He said, "You're right, you can't do this. Stop trying so hard, and trust me." Then I passed out in His embrace. When I woke up I was lying on a beach. I was so dirty. My clothes were ripped, and my body was scraped and bloody. I looked around and noticed that the water around me was blue and pure. I was lying on the beach of my Paradise Island. I wondered how I had managed to get there and I started to get up. My body was in such pain that I couldn't rise to my feet and I just fell to the ground.

As I fell I noticed that I was right next to someone's feet. I looked up and I saw Jesus. He was standing there and I knew that He had brought me to the island. I looked up at Him and screamed, "What do you want from me? I don't know what you want!"

Jesus looked at me and said one word, "Worship," and at that I fell in a heap at His feet. I couldn't look up anymore, and I wept as I realized that I had been trying so hard to walk through life on my own, that I had forgotten what I was created for.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breaking Out of the Mold

Lately my heart has felt very dead. Dead to just about everything. It's kind of a rough place to be in because I like to be alive, but I'm walking around feeling so lifeless. The thought came to me the other day that my brain needs a heartbeat. I can logically tell my brain to quit acting so down in the dumps and dead to the world, but no matter how many times I try to convince my brain to wake up, it just stays int this flat line state and no life emerges. So what do I do? How do I wake myself up and feel alive again.

It's quite simple actually, but yet just not something I have fully implemented in my life. My heart and my brain will wake up from this lifeless state as I gaze on the ONE who became life for all men. I get short breaths of that every once in a while, but I have that very human problem of forgetting the things the Lord reveals to me just about the minute He reveals them. I am weak, and I need His strength even to gaze on Him every day.

Last night, after an incredibly lifeless day, I went to bed and prayed, asking the Lord to wake me up. Kind of a random thing to pray when you are trying to fall asleep, but I am tired of my heart being weighed down and not engaging with a life-giving God and knowing His joy every day. I desire that life and I want that joy. After asking the Lord to wake me up, I had a peaceful night of sleep and I woke up this morning feeling like something was different. I didn't really know what it was, but for once I woke up on the right side of the bed and wasn't an automatic grouch in my heart toward all things living.

I ended up skipping the gym this morning because I tripped and injured my ankle yesterday and I am back in a brace for a few days. So I spent my morning relaxing, playing with the dog and cooking a delicious breakfast wondering why I felt happy, and how long it would last. Then I headed off to internship a little early so I could take my Bible to Starbucks and process some things with the Lord.

Well, everything that could go wrong at Starbucks did go wrong while I was there. It was fabulous. There was no place to sit, so I had to sort of squeeze in the middle of 3 business men in the couch area. Picture that one my friends! Then I had ordered a Pumpkin Spice Mocha, my all time favorite drink and something I don't get to enjoy very often on my limited budget, but I was given a Starbucks card so I thought I would indulge. Somehow when I said, "Grande Pumpkin Spice Mocha" the barista's brain interpreted it as "Grande 2 pump white mocha, 2 pump peppermint with extra sprinkles". I'm not one to complain about getting the wrong drink, but peppermint has got to be one of the worst things you can put inside coffee and so there I was sipping and gagging and trying not to spit my drink out on the suit of the business man next to me. I could do nothing else but go and talk to the Barista and stand up for my Starbucks rights. But I tried to do it with a smile and let her know that I understood she was busy. The good attitude worked well for me and I got a smile, a new drink, and a coupon for a free drink the next time I come in. How grand is that???

Anyway, all of that is to say that by the time I got to my internship I was feeling very much alive, a sensation I have not known for some weeks now. Somehow a switch got flipped in the night and God turned my happiness back on. He woke me up. Then I got to internship and I listened to a message by Allen Hood. He was talking about Jesus coming as a man and what that really means to us. And at some point he said, "You have permission to love Jesus" and he began talking about how Jesus came to earth so that He could relate to each of us and understand us. He said Jesus understands our quirks and He wants to relate to us on those levels. I sat there listening to the teaching and realizing that it's okay for me to love Jesus the way He created me to love Him. I don't have to be plopped in a love mold and enjoy Jesus a certain way. He created me and He delights in me, and He doesn't want me to change my personality and my likes and dislikes before I hang out with Him. He wants me as I am.

I think I've just grown up in a lot of molds, people putting me in boxes, and I listened to what people said. Sometimes I don't do the things I enjoy in life because someone else tells me that I'm not good at it or that I simply can't do it. I grew up being told I didn't have an imagination and that I couldn't sing, and that I wasn't a good writer. Those are all things I've believed and so I don't play, I don't sing and I don't write. Now by adult standards, maybe I don't have the greatest voice in the world, but who tells a 6 year old that they can't sing? Jesus never would have done that. He would have said, "SING LOUDER!"

And so now I need to gaze upon Him and listen to Him, hearing what He has to say about me, and no longer listen to the molds of my childhood. To some degree I've been boxed in, feeling so dead, but wanting to feel alive. I can't say I feel totally alive today, but I am beginning to breathe in the fresh air, and I know that He is waking me up and giving my brain a heartbeat.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The China Buffet vs. The Gym

"The foundational work of man is to nurture the place of encounter with his Maker."

This is a quote from Allen Hood that really struck me when I read it yesterday. I think the context that Allen wrote it in has more to do with "nurturing the place of encounter" by worshiping, praying and simply just spending time with the Lord. But when I read it I took it from another angle and it made me think about all of the things one needs to do in order to nurture the heart, soul, and mind so that you are ready for that place of encounter.

It's kind of like this...

On Sunday night I hung out with my dad and stepmom and some of their friends. We went to the Main China Buffet and we all ate a lot of food. I love Chinese so I fully enjoyed two platefuls of food. I enjoyed them so much that my stomach began to cramp and I realized that I totally overdid the eating thing. Generally over-stuffing yourself at a buffet is enough to give you an upset stomach for an evening but once morning comes you are good to go again. Well, I must have really overdone it because once morning came, my digestive system was clearly not functioning properly. The major problem with this was that I had to go to the gym for another session with my personal trainer.

As I got in the car for the drive to the gym, my body was crying out for me to go back in the house and sleep for another 3 hours while the digestive issues subsided. But I knew it was too late to reschedule and so I simply had to face the consequences of my poor eating choices the night before at the China Buffet. Well, about 30 minutes into a pretty intense workout I thought I was going to die, pass out, or at least puke all over my trainer. But I held it in and finished the rest of the hour, probably not performing as well as I could have had I not just gorged on spicy beef, frog legs, and that oh so delicious stuffed seafood roll.

Moral of the story... I did not nurture my body for the place of encounter at the gym that morning. Instead I thought little of my nutritious intake and partied hard at the Buffet. But of course, having this experience the very morning before I read this lovely quote by Hood really helped me to grasp this concept of nurturing the place of encounter with my Maker. For instance, if I spend 3 hours in front of the television (don't worry Carol, you have taught me well and this is just an example) the evening before I am to go spend 3 hours in the Prayer Room at IHOPNW, that place of encounter is going to be a little harder to engage in.

Whatever you let enter that is not of God, whether it be sexual immorality, gluttony (yes I already repented), jealousy, pride, you name it, if you enter that place of encounter with those things fresh on our plate, then that place of encounter is going to be compromised. You'll end up spending all of your encounter time repenting and seeking forgiveness and probably falling into a pattern of guilt and shame instead of focusing on the BEAUTY of the Lord. Of course the Lord is ready for those things, because He wants to release you from that guilt and shame and forgive you for eating too much at the buffet, but there are a lot of things that you and I can do to better prepare ourselves and nurture our heart and mind so that we can enter that place of encounter fully ready to engage with the heart of the Lord. And there are a lot of things I can do to better nurture my body for that place of encounter at the gym!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where are the VOICES?

It's time to start this blog up again. A quick update... I moved back to Washington and I am an intern at the International House of Prayer Northwest in Federal Way. It's a 3 month program, although so far I'm not really sure if you can call it a program. There is not much structure and mainly I spend 8-10 hours a day in the Prayer Room, either praying, worshiping or studying. There is some class time which has been awesome, but mostly it's just me and God here. Lots of time to think and process, and time to just rest before the Lord.

And now for what has been on my heart...

My heart has always been heavily burdened for this generation and the hardships that the average teenager and college student have to get through as they try and "grow up." On Tuesday my heart was hit yet again with the reality of what we are up against. Gary Weins (the director of IHOPNW) was leading a discussion time and he mentioned that there are two "windows" into which we can look in and see the heart of God. The two windows were, fatherhood and marriage.

Neither of these were a surprise to me. It doesn't take much to peruse through the Bible and realize that God is all about fatherhood and marriage and that He often reveals Himself through both of those things. What struck me was hearing both of those things in the same sentence. I think something along the lines of righteous anger began to rise up within me, because when you put fatherhood and marriage side by side it is so easy to see how the enemy has attacked them, and the war is on in this generation to demolish both fatherhood and marriage.

I'm 28 but I'm a prime example of the way the enemy came in and attacked those areas in my life. I have nothing, no experience from my own life with which to compare the Lord to in the way of fatherhood and marriage. I did not see either of those modeled well, and as a matter of fact I learned to mistrust fathers and hate marriage. Now before you get all worried about me, just take note that I have come a long way and have been healed of many of those wounds. I am in the place where I would love to get married and I would love to be a mother, so naturally I would want my kids to have a fabulous and godly father.

Sadly, my heart is aching for the numerous young people out there who have had similar or even worse experiences as mine. Satan has attacked these windows into the heart of God so much that now these two windows strike fear, anger, hurt, and even terror into the hearts of so many in this generation. What's crazy is that I should never have made it to my college years before someone stood up and declared the way I have grown to know fatherhood and marriage as an ungodly thing and helped me to see them in the correct, godly way. I spent years not being able to relate to God as His beloved daughter, let alone His bride. I feared all of those things. If God was my father then that meant that he would leave me and reject me. If Jesus was supposed to be my bridegroom then that meant that I would eventually find Him to be unfaithful to my heart that already had so many deep, deep wounds.

I can't even begin to express in this blog the emotions that are welling up within my soul about this. I want justice and I want righteousness and truth brought forth in this generation! The attack is only getting worse. It's totally "normal" for a kid to grow up with an abusive or passive father, if they even have a father to begin with. And then when a kid has no father to truly guide them through life they flip on the television to watch the latest episode of Modern Family, in which a modern family is portrayed as a gay couple with an adopted kid, totally desecrating God's holy intent for marriage. These are the norms of our society and so far removed from the way God intended it to be.

But where are the VOICES? Where are the ones who are crying out that this cannot be? And where are the ones who are going to steer this generation back toward the way God intended it? To call forth the fathers and pray for the marriages? I don't hear those voices much anymore. I hear the voices of compromise and the voices of those who have very good hearts but yet no longer know how to fight. Are we ashamed? Are we afraid? Why are we not rising up? Where are we when they need us?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My heart has come alive to know the Maker of all reality
My flesh has given up striving toward that false spirituality
My spirit has been awakened to the knowledge of my King
My soul is now longing to give this Man my everything

My heart has come alive to know the Lover of all humanity
My flesh has given up striving toward that false humility
My spirit has been awakened to the wisdom of my Lord
My soul is now longing to give this God all I've preferred

My heart has come alive to know the Giver of all generosity
My flesh has given up striving toward that false religiosity
My spirit has been awakened to the understanding of my King
My soul is now longing to give this Man an offering

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I'm at a place where I have to surrender everything I've ever known. My heart aches at this surrender because I don't know anything more than just that...simply surrender. This has been a long time coming. God has been laying it on my heart and asking me to surrender my life and even the work that I love, giving it all completely to Him. It doesn't make sense to my logical mind, but the ache in my heart to know Him more and to follow Him with wholehearted abandon and love is greater than any pain or struggle that I have ever known. Right now I can do nothing but follow God and somehow trust Him with all of this. The problem is, I don't know how to trust. I've spent so many years pretending that I was okay on the outside, while inside my heart was unable to trust anything or anyone. Now after several years of plowing, the Lord has brought me to a place of openness and vulnerability that I have never been in before, and the next step in that openness is to step back from myself, let go of control, and trust. It's a scary place to be, especially when I feel like no one is there to hold my hand through the process. I feel so alone, yet I know I am not because He is there walking beside me all the way. But even having faith that He is there is a place of trust I do not yet grasp. All I know is that I desperately want to be held by Him and to really know that He will never let me go. Nothing I do, no one I talk to, nor any book I read will lead me to this place of trust. For so long my hope has been found in seeing the lives of my friends and other women that I love and care about being transformed by their Maker. Watching the Lord move and work in the hearts of His precious daughters is all that has brought me through, because I know that the freedom He brings and gives is so true, and I don't doubt the testimonies that I see. But in my own life I've been waiting, waiting for so long for the Lord to break in and grant me the freedom that I seek through His unconditional love. The promise is there, but the reality is still unseen. And so I'm giving my heart and giving my all to this thing we call surrender and I'm asking Him to meet me in that place and teach me to trust.