“I love you.”

He whispered those words to me a week ago and sent my heart racing. I never knew I could feel like this after such a short amount of time–I never knew that my heart would skip a beat when I caught a fleeting glimpse of him walking down the hall, on the way to one office or another. I never knew that hearing him say my name would cause my breath to catch in my throat and a smile to dance across my face. I never knew that an embrace could make every dark moment disappear into nothingness as we sit together, doing nothing, just enjoying being with each other.

I thought I had known love; I thought that I had understood the little things that make a relationship work, but I was wrong. Relationships require work, they have all told me. And, i’m sure they’re right. But work and being hard are too different things. This relationship is not hard, it’s amazingly easy, amazingly peaceful, amazing blessed. I’m beginning to understand now. I’m beginning to feel love in a way I never thought possible. I’m beginning to believe in the unbelievable.

“I love you.”

As of today, it has been 2 months. A short amount of time, but at the same time, a telling journey. We have spent a lot of time together and we have both felt the same kind of love. Last night he said those three little words as he dropped me off at my apartment. He looked right into my eyes, and I could see nothing but love, passion, and beauty. I’m amazed and humbled and loved by a true treasure on earth.

this says it all:

“You should see the stars tonight

How they shimmer, shine so bright

Against the black they look so white

Coming down from such a height

You should see the moon in flight

Cutting ‘cross the misty night

Softly dancing in sunshine

Reflections of its light

Reach me now

You reach me now

And how could such a thing

Shine its light on me

and make everything

Beautiful again

And you should feel the sun in spring

Coming out after a rain

suddenly all is green

sunshine on everything

I can feel it now

I feel you now

And you should hear the angels sing

All gathered ’round their King

More beautiful than you could dream

I’ve been quietly listening

You can hear ’em now

I hear them now

And how could such a King

Shine His light on me

And make everything

beautiful

And I want to shine

i want to be light

I want to tell you

it’ll be alright

Yeah, I want to shine

I want to fly

Just to tell you now

It’ll be alright

It’ll be alright, yeah

It’ll be alright

‘Cause I’ve got nothing of my own

to give to you

but this light that shines on me

Shines on you

And makes everything beautiful

Beautiful again”

David Crowder, Stars (from Illuminate)

Emmaus.

Amazing. The weekend was splendidly amazing. There just aren’t enough words to make it make sense. everyone needs to experience it-to feel the closest to God you will EVER feel this side of heaven. To understand, without a doubt, the beauty and majesty and forever grace of God. To really love and be loved. To have total strangers pay 85 bucks a piece just to wash toliets and bleach shower curtains for you for three days. To see people selflessly cook 3 meals a day for you, with nothing but smiles and love. To meet 6 people that you are instantly closer than you have let yourself be to anyone. To hear what it means to follow Christ and understand that His commands-to love and to let yourself be loved, will change the face of time. To cry out in joy…to cry the joyful tears of your entire life that are without selfish ambition. To have someone remind you that Christ is counting on you to share his message; and all you have to do in return is count on Christ. To truly understand, you have to be there. You have to experience it. Love it, cry, and be healed. And you get to see God. It’s amazing. You MUST do it.

Tonight I leave for my Emmaus weekend. I’ll admit, I have NO idea what to expect. It makes me really nervous, quite frankly, but I think it’s a good kind of nervous-a what is going to happen, I know I’m going to be blown away, and I can’t believe how big God is type of nervous. 🙂 We’ll see. I’m sure I will write about it when I get back.

In other news, I’ve started meeting with a group of people from church as part of a creativity team for our “postmodern” service, . I think it’s going to be a wonderful creative outlet and a chance for us to do some really great things to impact the 20-30 something generation that lives, learns, and works in Bloomington. We have a lot of people right here at our doorstep that are just crying out for something to believe in, and we have exactly what they need. This service is a great chance to reach those people in a way that is honest, open, and, more than anything else, God-oriented. There’s a great quote in the book “the Emerging Church” that sums up what I feel 629 can, should, and is about–

“We should be returning to a no-holds-barred approach to worship and teaching so that when we gather, there is no doubt we are in the presence of a Holy God. I believe both believers and nonbelievers in this emerging culture are hungry for this. It isn’t about clever apologetics or careful exegetical and expository preaching or great worship bands. It is about believers in Jesus falling to their knees in worship, truly taking their faith seriously, and even repenting publicly in prayer. It is about the Spirit of God as an evident participant in our midst as the Holy Scriptures are read. This is what people in this emerging culture are drawn to. We no longer have to apologize for what we do. Explain ourselves and teach clearly, yes. But apologize? No longer. Emerging generations are hungering to experience God in worship.”

Random emails to myself. I wrote this to myself about a year ago, just to have it…now I share it with you 🙂

I don’t know that this is an email that anyone will read, but it somehow

feels better to write it all out and just listen to the beautiful music

playing in my ears. It’s amazing to me how simply beautiful life can be

sometimes–how, amid the craziness and the busyness, there is a quiet

simplicity that reminds us how fragile life is, how short our time here is,

and just how much we should try and accomplish before the sun sets on an

another amazing moment in the history of God. Dark and dreary as the world

sometimes is, there is an eerie silence that comes with understanding just

how gloriously insignificant and meaningful we all are. There is a moment,

however fleeting, when we realize that all we have is this time and all we

can do is embrace the beauty of the world around us with the understanding

that when we close our eyes, all that is left is the memory.

i don’t know that we ever really understand the significance of memories

until the immediate action is gone–when we are alone, we realize how much

we need people. when we are scared, we realize how important a hug, a

touch, or a kiss really is. When we feel like we have nothing left to give,

we realize we have everything at our fingertips, we just can’t see it and

don’t really believe it.

It is at this moment when we find the strength and courage to face the

world. It is at this moment when the secret desires of our heart become the

very reasons we try and make life work. It is when we realize how much love

there is in the world that we want nothing more than to give that love to

someone else. It is when we realize we can do anything that we want to do

everything and nothing all at once. It is when we’re standing still that we

long to move. It is when we are running crazy that we seek solitude. It is

when we are scared that we find out just how much bravery is locked inside

our bones.

It is when we realize that love is all we need that we realize it’s all

we’ve ever really known.

I don’t seek to be profound; I don’t long to immortalize the legacy of my

words for all time; it is only that at some moment I realized that the

million things going on in my heart were not being addressed and that the

truth was being stifled by my fear…

thought this was appropriate for today.

“America- Chris Tomlin

Let your glory fly

If my people will humbly pray

Turn from sin and their wicked ways

I will hear them and heal their land

And show my glory and power again

Lift your eyes up

Look to the sky

The Lord is coming, coming to America

Can you feel the fire

Can you see the wind

Blowing through

Coming to America again

Go and tell them the blind will see

The lame will walk and the slave is free

Shout the news that the lost are saved

In the name of Jesus the dead are raised”

I wrote this last year, but thought I would post it today. I was asked what I thought and what I remembered about 9/11 and what i felt:

“I had just returned from NYC a few days before. I had stood in the very spot where the Towers were on fire. I had taken pictures of the buildings and marveled at their magnificence. Three days later, I was humbled and confused as our innocence and naiveté were crushed with a single act of hatred and violence. I thought of all the statistics I had heard when I was there, I thought of the people I had met and the pride I had seen on the face of every New Yorker. Part of me didn’t want to believe that it had really happened, but the proof was there. I was at work, and we didn’t have access to a television, so a friend of mine in Texas was emailing me up-to-the-minute blurbs. I remember the email where he said the 1st Tower had fallen. I cried for all those lives that had been lost, I sat in silence for all those dreams that would never be fulfilled. I wanted to be with my family, but they were far away. I wanted to hug my mom and know that everyone I loved was okay. When the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, my first thought was that the attacks were moving west. Who would be next? The magnitude of what had happened slowly began to sink in as my boss brought televisions into work and told us we were all free to go home if we wanted to be with our families. I was part of a generation whose single concern was technology and making millions fast. Now I was part of a generation that would always remember where they were on September 11, 2001. I didn’t want to take my eyes away from the television or turn off the radio out of fear at what would happen while my back was turned. I wanted to be surrounded by those I loved and make the tragedy make sense. ..”

This morning, for some reason, the events of two years ago were really bothering me. I think last year I was still in shock; still a little unbelieving and scared and waiting for something to happen. My roommate and I were talking last night. I think one of the reasons that it is affecting me so much is that in some ways, it seems like people have started to forget. I know I’m guilty of it. We’ve quickly gone back to the self-centered, american-dream, me-only mentality that has so permeated our culture for so long. When did we change from caring about others to caring only about ourselves?

Okay, the insane amount of time between Blogs just has to stop. My life is busy, sure, but it’s not THAT busy. I’m just a little lazy and a little less-than-motivated at the moment. But, things in my life have been happening, one on top of the other. First, I want to post the partial entry from a blog i wrote a couple weeks ago, from AUGUST 24th, to be exact:

“My father died 7 years ago today. To me, that’s almost unbelievable. Not only that he is dead, but that it has been that long. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and oh what a summer it was…i became a Christian, met my very first boyfriend, and lost my father. all in about 2 1/2 weeks. And i think every single one of those events still echoes in my daily life to varying degrees….”

and then I stopped writing that entry. Life picked up and got busy again, and the thoughts and the moment and the feelings were quickly lost. Plus, service was about to start and I needed to get down to the nursery. So, that was that moment. Since then life has kept happening!

To bring you up to date: last night we had a women’s ministry event, FACE2FACE, at church. It was awesome. Claudia Mitchell, our women’s ministry leader, spoke about Hannah’s life, her story, and her makeover. Hannah’s prayer is pretty powerful. Here’s just the beginning:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;

in the Lord my horn is lifted high.

My mouth boasts over my enemies,

for I delight in your deliverance.

There is no one holy like the Lord;

there is no one besides you;

there is no Rock like our God.

Do not keep talking so proudly

or let your mouth speak such arrogance,

for the Lord is a God who knows,

and by him deed are weighed.”

It’s good to know that He knows, because I’ve just realized it’s completely possible to be joyful and bewildered at the same time. I just never knew until now how those two emotions could combine and manifest themselves. It’s a strange feeling. My life is going really well. I’m really happy, but at the same time, i can’t shake this feeling that God is saying ‘You just wait. You think it’s good now, wait until you see what I’m going to do…” and I’m waiting. There is a feeling at church. We all feel it. We know it’s about to happen. We just don’t know what ‘it’ is really. Strange, huh?

My church is reading through the entire Old Testament between August 17th and December 31st. It seems like a huge goal, but I am plugging along at a reasonable pace…there is the option to purchase the OT on CD or casette and listen to it, but that is both expensive and I don’t know that I would pay as much attention as I should listening in my car. So, I am reading. As of right now I’m mostly through Genesis. I had a friend in college who called my attention to the very beginning…”Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

So many times in my life I have found myself in a place where I feel formless and empty; where life makes little or no sense and there is an opressive darkness over the deep dreams and desires of my life (the number one desire being to see Him, to follow Him, and to experience everything He has given me in this life). And then I am reminded, through song, through friends, through this verse, that even in that moment of darkness before creation exploded all around, God was there, hovering over the waters, promising that He is about to do something amazing. And so I like to think, in my moments of darkness, God is hovering there, about to do something amazing. And He has never failed me.

Right now, I am in a creation moment. For awhile there had been this darkness, and then life exploded around me. I see beauty and passion in my friends; I feel love and joy at the simple things; I watched the sun rise over the ocean and felt God painting a masterpiece just for me to see. I stood at the edge of the Atlantic, the waves washing over my feet, and wondered aloud how people could not see God and how the world could so easily believe everything was left up to chance. I heard a baby’s laughter and saw the innocent love of a three year old who just became a big sister. A friend got out of a job she hated and already found something else. I have the honor of holding the hand of a man who has quickly come to mean something special to me. I sat on a boat, talked about books, and realized that life is made up of moment after moment of grace. And today I feel amazingly lucky and blessed!

“When I come to the edge of all the light I know and am about to step out into the darkness, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen; there will be something firm to stand on, or I will be taught how to fly.”

wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. I think it probably has something to do with the suddenly frantic pace my life has been taking. So much has been happening that I’m not even sure where to begin and where to put the words that make the most sense…and if what i’m thinking and feeling can ever really be portrayed by something as simple and archaic as language. Words are amazing. Words are my life. And yet, right here, right now, I’m suddenly finding myself unable to find the perfect phrases to tell you, dear reader, what I feel. There is a Leonard Sweet quote, though lengthy, that has haunted my waking thoughts these past few days. Here it is:

“I am part of the Church of the Out-Of-Control; I’ve give up my control to God. I’ve jumped off the fence; I’ve stepped over the line. I’ve pulled out all the stops; I’m holding nothing back. There’s no turning back, looking around, slowing down, backing away, or shutting up. It’s a life against the odds, outside the box, over the wall, “Thy Will Be done…” I’m done playing by the rules, whether it’s Roberts Rules of Order or Miss Manner’s Rules of Etiquette or Martha Stewart’s Rules of Living or Merrill Lynch’s Money Minding/Botton-lining/Ladder climbing Rules of America’s Most Wanted.

“I am not here to please the dominant culture. I live to please my Lord and Savior. My spiritual taste buds have graduated from fizz and froth to Fire and Ice. Don’t give me that old-time religion. Don’t give me that new-time religion. Give me that all-time religion that is as hard as rock and as soft as snow.

“I’ve stopped trying to make life work, and started trying to make life sing. I’m finished with secondhand sensations; third-rate dreams; I can’t be bought by any personalities or perks, positions or prizes.

“I won’t give up, though I will give in…to openness of mind, humbleness of heart, and generosity of spirit. When shorthanded and hard-pressed, I will never again simply hang in there.

“I will stand in there; I will run in there; I will pray in there; I will sacrifice in there; I will endure in there-I will do everything in there but hang. I am organized religion’s best friend and worst nightmare.

“I won’t back down slow down, shut down, or let down until I’m preached out, teached out, healed out, hauled out of God’s mission in the world entrusted to member of the out-of-control. To unbind the confined, whether they’re downtrodden or the upscale the overlooked or the under-represented.

“My fundamental identity is a disciple of Jesus. And I won’t walk through history simply “in His steps” but will seek to travel more deeply in God’s Spirit.

“Until God comes again or calls me home, you can find me filling…not killing time so that one day God will pick me out in the line-up of the ages as one of God’s own. And then…it will be worth it all….to hear these words, the most precious words I can ever hear; “well done, thou good and faithful…Out-of-control disciple.”

~Excerpted from Leonard Sweet, A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Café. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998). Pp 168-170.~

Isn’t that amazing? It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do, and the results have already started pouring in. I am happy and have suddenly found myself in a relationship I was beginning to doubt would ever appear. I feel God, I am blessed, I am loved, I am cherished. I am real and I am His. And, for the first time ever, I’m learning that that is enough…

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