I sit here with…

I sit here with tears streaming down my face. This is vulnerability at its finest.

I’ve been trying to answer a question that has presented itself loud and clear for the past few months.
WHY?

It’s that simple.

Honestly, I have no idea, and I don’t have a highly philosophical or deeply exquisite answer to give.

Why is it that when life hits you at a 90 mile-per-hour fast curve, all you have to do is look to the left, and then to the right, and your heart breaks.

Actually, no. It shatters.

WHY is my life like this? WHY am I going through these things when other people don’t have to? WHY do I have consistent worry and anxiety? And WHY am I constantly reminded by other people of the hurt that I’m so desperately trying to mask?

It’s not even those questions that burden me daily. It’s simpler than that.

Let me put it this way.

To show and demonstrate love is one of the greatest desires of the heart. Giving love and showing love holds 50% of that desire. Receiving love and physically seeing it, that’s the other 50%.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that it really is easier to give than it is to receive, because with giving, there isn’t the constant reminder that 50% of demonstrating love is receiving.

This must be love.

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Beauty.

I love you every step of the way.

There are so many new and exciting things in my life that God has blessed me with. This year has been one of the greatest years of my life to date, but it has also been one of the hardest years. From transferring to roommates to romance, I have had my fair share of experiences.

Recently, I have been so mesmerized by poetry. Not necessarily the typical “I love you, but I don’t really love you” kind of poetry, but the kind that makes you think. The kind that moves you to become a stronger person. One of my absolute favorite poems that I have ever come across is Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe. The very first time I read it, I broke out in a set of tears and a heavy heart because of the sheer beauty that was represented.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

I have my own special love. A love that defies everything that people tend to think about relationships. A love that will be mine for the rest of my life. A love that makes me stronger, rather than a love full of manipulation and belligerent self-satisfaction. Everything about my relationship with Aaron completes my entire being. When I’m not with him, my heart literally aches. It aches for something that it found but can’t have physically for a little while. Everything that he is and will be is everything that I want in my life, and is everything that I want forever. I have found my 1 Corinthians 13 love.

I love you for all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be.
And I look forward to that moment every time I see you when I am able to jump into your arms and feel at home. When I feel safe. When I feel complete.

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Simple love

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. 
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
Where I do not exist, not you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand.
So close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Sonnet XVII
Pablo Neruda 

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Untitled

It’s times like these when you realize how truly fortunate you are. Having spent these past few days visiting poor, third world countries, it makes you begin to establish a sense of humbleness in your life.

We just got back from a cruise. Not only was it a wonderful vacation, but it was also an eye opening experience. The places that we visited weren’t only beautiful; they also had a sadness attached. As we were riding along in an old, Greyhound bus, the people outside stared up at us. I can only imagine what was going through their minds.

“Oh, those spoiled Americans. I have to accept them because they help our city thrive, but they don’t know how good they have it.”

Meanwhile, those exact same people go home each night to a house that they call a home made out of small 2×4’s and tin trashcans melted together so they’re no longer circular. That’s it. Everything that they own, their family, and their livelihood are in that small, tiny cubicle. It’s almost hard to fathom, them living as they do. I felt almost sick to my stomach to have to go back to my fancy cruise ship of a home for a week and thrive with all of the food I could possibly ever want and ice cream out the back door. I couldn’t help but think,

“What are those people going to have to eat tonight?”

The thought just sickens me. How can we allow people to live like that with the unlimited amounts of resources that we have in the United States? How can we even visit places like that & take such complete advantage of them…& not even know that we’re doing it because we’re so blinded by our own selfishness?

The workers on the cruise ship have it a little better than those who live on the mainland, but not that much. They come from all over the world to work on a cruise ship for opportunity. I recently witnessed a sloppy, inconsiderate family completely trash a booth during the buffet lunch one afternoon. They crumbled crackers all over the ground, spilt milk on the carpet, and, to top it all off, they had the AUDACITY to complain about formal night that evening in the dining room. When the busser walked up to the table after they had left, the look on his face almost drew me to tears. He smiled through it, & looked over at us with an exasperated look on his face. I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through his mind at that moment, what he thought of us.

Americans are so concerned with what’s going on in Washington D.C. and they couldn’t care less about what’s happening in the areas of poverty, not only in our own country, but around the world. I remember recalling that Jesus called us to help those who are in need, not fight incessantly about “who’s going to be the better president” or “why we should be allowed to carry guns into walmart without being harrassed.” What about those kids in our own backyard who sit on their cold floors at home, hungry and only wanting one thing: food? But sure, let’s cut taxes in public schools because we don’t think we should have to pay for the wrong doings of the parents who let their children starve. It infuriates me.

Let me ask you one question. WHO CARES? Who cares?! I’m sure that those who go to sleep hungry tonight could care less if you’re upset about who won the Iowa Caucasus or who topped your “worst person on Facebook” list for the day. America never ceases to be known around the world as the country who has everything but gives little to nothing. When did we become so selfish? Because I sure know that if Jesus were here today, walking around the streets of Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, New York, & heck, even Kansas City, He’d be so disappointed by our actions and lifestyles. Does that not mean anything? Does it not break your heart? Jesus would be hanging out with those who we constantly tear down and martyr because they don’t fit our “standards of living.” What about those men & women who sacrifice their OWN lives to help make this country a better place? Would you volunteer your life like they do? Or are you too absorbed in your arrogant lives to even consider such a thought?

I know this is harsh. I know that some of you will think it’s “unnecessary” to even post, because we have branches of government who’s job it is to take care of people like that. But the truth is, we’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we’re constantly hating those who don’t believe the way we do instead of loving them and taking care of them, what good is that doing? And if we keep turning our heads at the documentaries and commercials that show those men, women, and children in third world countries starving because it’s “uncomfortable to look at” & “that shouldn’t be happening,” what good is that doing? Every 5 seconds, a child in  OUR world dies of hunger. OUR world. Not THE world. OURS. What are you going to do? Think about it. Put your life into perspective. Think about what the true meaning of “What Would Jesus Do” means. Go outside of your comfort zone. Accept everybody. Love everybody. Help those who need you. They need us. All of us. Together.

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He Shall Reign Forever

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

I have never felt more compelled to pray and write about something more in my entire life than I do right now.
Recently, I have felt that God has been tugging and pulling on my heart more than normal.
Even in these past 3 months, He’s made significant changes in my life. I’m continuously learning what it means to seek His presence and truly understand what it’s like to have a tug on your heart, recognize that it’s from God, and do something about it.
As crazy as this sounds, it’s real life. God wants us more than ever to seek Him.

My pastor recently said,
“The Earth is crying out. Its submitting itself for recovery, but before it can recover, it has to have pain.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a theologian or if you’re a mathematician, when you sit back and truly think about what’s been happening in the world within the past few days and consider that statement, there’s nothing more true.

When I think about God, my mind goes on an adventure.
I’m constantly amazed by how GREAT His love is for me.

God is MY father. He created me in HIS image. Whatever I’m going through, I’m not alone. I’m never alone! For in Psalm is says that God is close to the brokenhearted. He heals those in need.

During prayer tonight, I felt this tugging on my heart:

God wants us to consume ourselves in His presence. He wants us to come to Him with our problems and with our issues, and also with our thanks. His heart cries out to us. His hands are reaching out to us, shaking with love and surrounded by peace. “Reach out to me, my child!” God says. “Reach out to me, and I will make you new. I want to love you! I want to heal you! You’re beautiful, wonderful, created for a purpose.” He wants us to crawl into His arms of grace and cuddle with security. There is no other God like Him.

What this world needs is God. I can’t say that enough. There are signs and subtle hints all around that God is crying out to us.

“Soon and very soon, I’ll be going to the place He has prepared for me.
There my sin erased, my shameful garden, soon and very soon.
I will be with the one I love. With unveiled face I’ll see Him. There my soul will be satisfied. Soon and very soon.”

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Outstretched Hands

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

I think that often times we forget how truly blessed we are.
How lucky are we to have the God of the universe know us by name and call us His own?
It never ceases to amaze me how often we forget things like that.
We’re never alone. Never.
That, to me, is one of the greatest and most powerful images.
To know that God is always with us, walking next to us when times are rough, walking next to us when we’re celebrating, walking next to us when we are about to give up.

How humbling is it to know that, no matter what, we are all part of a plan. Not a universal kind of plan, but to each our own. An individual plan created by God the Father. The same God who spoke the world into motion. The same God who placed you into existence. The same God who will never give up or let you fall.

Why would we settle for anything less than God’s desire for our lives?
Why do we lack patience and go against God’s will?
Why do we continue to settle for less than we deserve and continuously have broken hearts, when God is standing there with His mighty hands outstretched to you saying,
“My child, I’m here. Let me fix it.”
It’s like we ignore Him.
“That’s too hard. I’d rather learn the hard way,” we say.
When deep down, we want to surrender our hearts over to Him.
And I believe that when we do, He will mold us and challenge us to the greatest of our ability.
It’s OUR job to fulfill His desires, and in return, He will give you what you ask for in your heart.

“Be strong, and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”
Joshua 1:9

“See, I have you engraved in the palm of my hand.”
Isaiah 49:16

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:14

“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do and everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:6

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Ten Years Later

I remember where I was that morning. Social Studies class. 4th grade. Maranatha Academy.
What we were learning, I can’t remember but what had just happened to our country, I will remember for the rest of my life.

The quiet knock on our classroom door still sends shrills of fear and panic down my spine as I recall it.
My principal walked in, pulled my teacher aside, and quietly said,
“Marcia, we need to talk to you in the hallway please. It’s urgent.”

We all knew that something had happened. Little did we know, that something would change the way we would grow up & the world that we considered “safe.”

The attacks on September 11, 2001 are heartbreaking, terrifying, & aggravating.
This being the 10 year anniversary, television stations all over the airways are playing documentaries, interviews, reenactments, & movies about 9/11.
There are no words.
Emotion doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I pray that God protects our country, and that His hand is upon us.
For the families who lost loved ones, God bless your hearts. You are forever in our hearts & prayers.
For those who survived, but who face severe health constraints & debilitating issues, YOU are our heroes. You saved many lives while risking your own. I know that God is pleased with you. You are wonderful men & women.
To those who survived, we love you. Each and every one of you. May God bless you & your families. You are amazing people.

May we never forget September 11, 2001.

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