aching

imageIt’s been a while since I’ve blogged. And for a while it was because I didn’t have time. I was busy with school, extracurricular activities, and AP exams.

And other times, I would sit down at the computer open a draft, tears stinging my eyes that were raw from exhaustion, pain and sorrow. I would write in unhealthy anger and uncontrolled fury, feeling so uninspired and dull, delete the post draft and then shut my computer.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened in the last couple of months. I’m not back on my blog because my life is anymore “put together” and things are fluffy and nice than it was a couple months ago, but rather because I’ve realized that I’ve come to the end of myself.

I’m writing this post because I’m tired. I feel like my heart is being clenched and torn raw when I hold my phone frozen to my ear as I listen to the sobs of my best friend who just found out that her Mom has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I’m sober as I pull a black dress over my head, sit through the service, and offer what little words of comfort that I can to a family that’s hurting deeply. I’m angry when I open the news and find that a 5-year-old girl was tortured to death by her own parents and that the police came too late to save her. I’m speechless as I stand in front of the TV watching a tsunami wave washing over and engulfing a remote fishing town in Bangladesh. I’m tired of seeing this world so broken.

I’m aching. I’m hurt. I miss places that I can’t return to. I long for people that, as the time passes, only become shadows and glimmers of a memory. I miss Lebanon. I miss the Bekaa Valley dust on my lips. I miss the strong mint tea in chipped porcelain cups. I miss the little boy who runs ahead of me, nimbly with bare feet and laughs because he’s wearing my blue sunglasses that can’t even fit on his head. I miss the bright, humid classrooms filled with children eager to ask you questions to practice their English. A little girl with a bright pink outfit stared intensely at me, so I asked, “Ma Ism’ak?” or “What’s your name?” in Arabic. She didn’t respond, but giggled and turned away. I wonder about people who probably don’t remember me. I wonder how their stories unfolded.

Maybe you are exactly where I am. You don’t feel filled with joy, but you don’t feel like you’re at rock bottom. You just feel bland, unused and aching. I’ve found that it’s fruitful to be honest about where you are, and not to sugar-coat or ignore the aching problems that are beneath the surface. A fruitful life is not one that is without suffering, but one that has responded to suffering in the strength of God’s grace, hope and mercy.

Last Sunday’s worship at my church was beautiful. We sang a song called “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by an artist named Sandra McCracken. Since I play violin in the worship band, I got to hear it a week earlier and practice it. The lyrics express this deep pain and suffering that we see the World and ourselves go through, but also the joy of being invited to the Table to feast with our God and His people. I rarely write poetry, but the lyrics were so inspiring that I ended writing a short poem, that my worship leader, Johnny, asked me to read for the congregation. I wrote this based off of the passage Isaiah 55, where it talks about the ways that God provides good things for us, that even though we don’t know why or how, He always promises to be faithful and constant. God promises purpose in every season of our life, and I’m grateful that every day I can see it little by little.

“You, O God of Jacob, are inviting us to your Table
We need not buy wine or milk, for the Lord shall spread us a table of good things
Come, rejoice. We shall go into the fields and harvest and not return empty
We will feast and weep no more
You have mended our hearts, you have bound up our wounds
Instead of ashes, you have given us beauty
The mountains and the hills burst into song before you
And the fields will be ringing with the sound of clapping
From the olive and fig trees, whose once withered leaves have become lush and radiant
Where the thorn grows, so shall the Lord command the cypress tree to tower
And where the briar choked, so shall the myrtle flourish with a thousand blossoms
And joy shall come to this weary earth
Like a bird flying in the warmth of the morning sun
And all shall be made right once again
Come, rejoice. We shall feast in the House of our Jehovah Jireh; in the shimmering light of the garden of Peace
Weave us together, O God.
Bring us to your Table and establish Shalom.”
Friends. Let’s rejoice today in the light of our Savior. May we come to the Table humble and willing to receive your gifts. May we be bold to invite others to your Table as you establish Shalom in all the nations.
Thanks for stopping by today 🙂
Kate

 

 

 

Advertisements

Life Musings: A Kingdom

image I’m crazy. I have friends enough to inform me of my non-conformity to conventional human behavior. And in some ways, I’ve learned a ton this year how to become okay with that and owning it 🙂 Although, I must say, owning my craziness has unfortunately not made me less awkward 😀

Since my return from Lebanon, I’ve been crazier than ever. I had this thought. I wonder what it would be like if we loved deeply and without price. What happened if we let God’s grace infest our lives? What happened if we extended His grace  to others without expecting anything in return?

Her name was Eliana. A teacher in the school at Saida, Lebanon. With dark curly hair and determined eyes, they shone with strength and the light of Jesus. She spoke with deep feeling, joy and expression about the schooling program that they had for Syrian children. Eliana has a huge heart for the marginalized and children with special needs. She recognizes that there is so much creativity, wisdom and beauty that can come from the mentally ill. She’s seen it. She’s seen how love can transform a life of a special needs child. Eliana has committed her life to loving recklessly.

I want that. I want to love with a love that is not found on this earth, but found in God’s Kingdom. A love that is overwhelming, fulfilling, reckless and given with no price. Stop thinking about what is “fair” or something that we deserve because we’ve done a favor for someone. Do we deserve God’s love and grace? No, we deserve death and an eternity away from Him. But even so, His grace is there. So, extend some Kingdom love today. Give it relentlessly.

I am Left with no Words…

There is forgiveness tonight, for me, for you, for the members of ISIS, for the World.

Where can you run from His love? He will come to us like rain, like the rushing wind sweeping through desert sands of Jordan, so shall His love overwhelm, satisfy and fulfill us.

Let us kneel in humility before the Cross. Lay down your weapons, your lives, your desires at the foot of the Cross where Jesus Christ was slain.

Though our sins were like scarlet, He can make us white as snow.

His blood has washed you clean.

The Myth of Self-Esteem

image

I hear it all the time. And I’m sure you do too.

“You are BeYOUtiful.”

“Just be yourself. You do you…cuz haters gonna hate hate hate, but I’m just gonna shake shake shake it off.”

You’re welcome Taylor Swift fans;)

And I am not only seeing this in the world, but also in the Church. Slowly the Church has allowed these self-esteem messages to creep into the circle of conversations.

We love it don’t we? The warm. The fuzzy. The encouragement. The constant compliments that feed our pride.

But when we use these feel-good messages to cover the fact that we are broken, weak and utterly selfish, sinful people, we lose perspective on the beauty of the Cross and the sacrifice that Christ has made for our sins.

We act as if God needs us; that we have value in our successes; that we are beautiful already, but God “polishes us up a bit” as we walk with Him as Christians.

There is nothing that is good or beautiful in us. We are not beautiful or good because we make ourselves so, but because God is in us. In Psalm 16:2, one of my favorite verses states, “O Lord, apart from you I have no good thing.”Our worth and value lies not what we’ve done, but who He is.

So, both teenage gal and guy, you are not defined by your accomplishments, your failures, your physical appearance, your friendships, your skin color, your socioeconomic status. You are defined by the Creator who gave you worth through His loving and ultimate sacrifice.

Self-Esteem is a myth. Why? Because our worth is not found in ourselves, it is found in the beauty of our Father.

We are beautiful, accepted and redeemed because God called through the dark depths of our souls when we were utterly hopeless. Yes, rest in the truth that He loves and has redeemed you, but don’t forget His calling; His Great Comission for something more beautiful than yourself.

But I’m no poet (obviously). I can’t write out or even explain what this song, “What Grace is Mine” by Keith and Kristyn Getty encapsulates. Here, they say it better than I can:)

“What grace is mine that He who dwells in endless light
Called through the night to find my distant soul
And from his scars poured mercy that would plead for me
That I might live and in his name be known

So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him”