Sunday, May 6, 2012

NC's Amendment One and Self-Interrogation: Asking Christians Hard Questions Before May 8th

I haven’t blogged in 2 years.  I guess a last minute blog about Amendment 1 is as good of a place to begin again as any.  I do not claim to have it all figured out; I have more questions than answers.  Please read my thoughts with grace.  I tried to write them in that manner.  I 
have also written them in a verbose manner. Be warned.

Self-Interrogation: Asking Christians Hard Questions Before May 8th

Do you want to see me shrivel up and shrink away from a conversation?  Do you want to see me shut down or re-direct a topic?  Well, bring up politics.  Nothing shoots pangs of discomfort through my mind, and even body, like the topic of politics.   Do you want me to talk for hours and never shut-up? Bring up Jesus.  Nothing strikes me to the core like the love I feel from Jesus of Nazareth.  One can imagine then that in the past couple months North Carolina's Amendment 1 has been pulling me in multiple directions.

Amendment 1 has forced me to think about how my identity as a follower of Jesus Christ informs my identity as a citizen of North Carolina. And through these past couple months I have concluded that the political use of Christianity in creating and supporting North Carolina’s Amendment One is ultimately harmful to both my faith and to my state.  This reflection will not be a cohesive or well-developed argument against Amendment 1, and it will not be a presentation of arguments that have been discusses thus far such as adverse affects of the Amendment or the definition of marriage.  I do not know what I believe about the homosexuality; therefore you will find places where my wording will offend both sides of the debate.  Maybe my view from the fence has helped me to have a different perspective on Amendment 1. This reflection is simply a last minute attempt to raise some questions for my fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am writing to my fellow believers, to my Christian community that extends throughout NC and includes a vast diversity of beliefs.  I want to write this blog not out of polemic or judgment, but with a level of concern and care that is sensitive, but still true to the urgency I feel about the issue of Amendment 1.  I am trying my best to clothe myself in love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, despite our disagreements.  

It matters to me that I work towards unity in the church, even when I must stand appalled or ashamed of another Christian’s actions or choices.  It matters to me that I not think lazily about my brothers and sisters, simply discarding them when I disagree with them.  That is why I feel it necessary to do the hard work of searching and seeking in the midst of difference and disagreement. And as May 8th barrels towards us in just a few days, I want to ask my faith family to do this hard work with me. 

I am not asking for us to all agree, I know that in the end, many believers that I look up to and respect will think I am straying because of my views about this Amendment.  Please, before you dismiss me, think and maybe even pray about the questions that Amendment 1 has risen for me.  What I am asking is that Christians not blindly accept this amendment as “the Christian thing to do”.  What I am asking is for us to introspectively reflect on where our intentions are rooted.  Can we please think critically about our role in society and about how we are to form our witness to this world? I am asking that we question the relationship between scripture and secular governing documents.  I am asking that we purely and simply ask questions. 

I beg that we’d stop assuming that we have everything figured out and that we’d stand before each other with ridiculous honesty and transparency, asking ourselves “Are we acting justly? Do we love mercy?  Are we walking humbly with our God?”  I ask that we vote “For” or “Against” on May 8th only after we interrogate ourselves in relationship to this amendment.

The following are very short reflections that raise more questions than they answer and are not exhaustive of all the issues raised by Amendment 1.  My goal is not to sling scriptures around as leverage, nor do I desire to “convince” or “convert” anybody to an anti-amendment stance with my meager words.  My goal is to present questions that we can think about as we walk prayerfully into the polls on Tuesday. Furthermore, my goal is not to present myself as some sort of theologian, ethicist, or political analyst.  I am fully aware that I don’t have everything figured out; I am just a young believer who has questions about the kingdom of God.   And if you’ve read this far, I thank you for walking along side me in my questioning.  

“The Christian Thing to Do”: Is Christianity a Homogeny or a Diverse Family?

I have heard over and over again that voting “FOR” Amendment 1 is the “Christian thing to do.”  I’ve been given multiple reasons, particularly surrounding scriptures about sexuality.  But my question is—What does it mean to do the “Christian thing”?  I have really struggled with this outlook amongst my fellow believers because there seems to be a mass assumption that all Christians believe exactly the same thing or that all Christians interpret all scripture in a unified manner.   

Since I have began my studies in seminary, I’ve come to realize that there is a vast, and I mean vast, variety of Christians who live out the work of the church differently and who see scripture differently.  While this is often problematic, it can also be one of the most beautiful things about the church.  The church is a diverse family; it is not a homogenous clump of people who are the same gender, race, or political party.   I have been feeling that as a Christian, I need to reflect on the diversity of my religion and possibly see this diversity as something to respect. 

It seems to me that many Christians attempt to ignore our diversity because to assume Christianity is a homogenous entity (typically one that exactly matches your own worldview) is to use the faith as a social force.  One can flippantly use the term “Christian” to convince and condemn and to get their way in society.  This is at the expense of acknowledging Christianity as a living, moving, body with all its different parts.   

What is the “Christian thing to do”?  I don’t know, ask two Christians from two different traditions, and you will get two very different answers; both of these answers will be rooted in scripture and driven by a desire to live a faithful Christian life.  I exhort my fellow believers to acknowledge the complicated and diverse make-up of the church and to think more deeply about the complicated issue before us as North Carolinian Christians vote “for” or “against” Amendment 1. 

We must ask ourselves, “Do I represent all Christians when I say voting for Amendment 1 is the ‘Christian thing to do’?” 

The Root of Our Intentions: Fear or Faith?

Amendment 1 is the first time I have ever publicly stood against other Christians.  I have been honest about where my vote would be cast and I have been very vocal about how it has been based on my Christian faith.  I have done this mostly through the vehicle of facebook (for the good and the bad).  This has led to multiple fruitful conversations, which have enlightened my understanding of why many Christians are voting “for” Amendment 1.  One particular reason that troubles me is the reason of “protection”.  I have heard two different arguments that are centered on “protection”.  I want to touch on both of these arguments about protection and ask whether these are rooted in fear or faith. 

The first is the political and public discussion of protection.  This is the legal protection of the institution of marriage as defined by God in the bible. I have also been told that it is critical to place in legal protections from “rogue” judges that might try to overturn NC’s marriage laws.  My question is this: what does it mean that Christians need a constitutional law to “protect” the sanctity of marriage?  What does it say about our faith in the church and in the Holy Spirit that we choose to turn to lawmakers to enforce “biblical marriage”? 

I don’t know if I have clear answers to this.  All I know is that there is a dissonance in my spirit about where our intentions are rooted.  They are rooted in fear, fear of the “other”.  Humans resort to conscious protection when they are living in fear.  What are we afraid of? And what do we have faith in? Christians are afraid of rogue judges, of marriage as an institution being undermined.  When one’s Christian convictions are based on fear, I just can’t help but wonder whether faith is truly playing a role.  Can we live out of fear of the “other” and simultaneously live out of faith in the God of all creation?

The second type of protection is one with which I am more frustrated.  It is a more subversive discussion that has been confined within the walls of some church buildings in NC.  This “protection” is the protection of future Christians from discrimination if gay marriage is legalized.  Here is a response from a Christian who I truly respect and love as a brother, who I know has a heart for God, yet that I heartily disagree with on this matter:

If a stand is not taken now, the next step for the LGBT community is to want to have their weddings in a church, and if the church refuses to perform the wedding, then the church will be guilty of discrimination and possibly a hate crime. Pardon the cliché, but with this decision [Amendment 1] we are at the edge of a very slippery slope.” 

I grew up in a tradition that preached about the future persecution and discrimination of Christians as our nation slips more and more into the abyss of “worldliness”.  I think that I have a lot of issues about how this mentality is rooted in fear.  I want to be bold and say that this is a dangerous incitement of paranoia that is causing Christians to not think critically about the issue of Amendment 1. Where in the argument above do we see faith?  Where in the argument above will Christians be acting out of love?  Self-preservation is not cohesive with the example of Jesus Christ. 

I leave each of my brothers and sisters to ask themselves, “Where are my decisions rooted?  Fear or Faith?”

Christianity: What is Dual Citizenship?

Another set of questions that has been raised for me through Amendment 1 is the question of citizenship.  How do we understand the relationship between our identities as citizens of the Kingdom of God and our identities as citizens of North Carolina?  Both of these identities reside within me at this moment, so how to they work together and how do they not work together? 

I am only a student, and I have so much to learn, but I do know that my citizenship in the Kingdom of God is eternal and that my citizenship in North Carolina is not.  I know that my citizenship in the Kingdom of God marks my relationship with the Creator and that my citizenship in NC marks my relationship to my neighbors.

For me, my eternal identity as a follower of Jesus trumps all other identifiers in my life. Ultimately I do see my state citizenship as a space to testify to Christ. But how do I form this witness?  What does it look like for our Christianity to inform our politics?  Does it look like cultural power or social power?  Does it look like “othering” our fellow citizens?  Does it look like villainizing our neighbors?   How does creating sub-citizens in our temporal context testify to our eternal context? Maybe you don’t see this amendment that way, but I do wonder if there are other ways to testify to Christianity besides picking one issue (Christian sexual ethics) and driving through the grinder of governmental law. 

Can we ask ourselves, “Have I thought critically about how my faith informs my Christian citizenship?  What does Amendment 1 do?  Does it “protect” holiness or oppress those who with those whom Christ would have sat down to dinner, does it ‘other’ those which Jesus would have ministered to through relationship?”

Christian Banners: Leviticus 18:22 or John 3:16? 

How do we feel about the fact that non-Christians of North Carolina are looking at Christianity like they are cultural crusaders carrying a banner that reads “Leviticus 18:22”?   If our neighbors see us that way, could it possibly be that our emphases are in the wrong places? 

Copy and Paste: Scripture in the Constitution? 

My response to this will be very short and blunt.  But, where I am right now in how I understand scripture and how I understand the authority of the bible for the Christian life, I find Amendment 1 to be appalling.  My question is this: Do we dare copy and paste the Word of God into a public document like it was as article from Wikipedia? Could we possibly be depleting the words of Scripture of their spiritual truth when we alienate them from their genre, context, and audience?  

The Bible is a cohesive canon that cannot be pulled apart without disrespecting the Holy Spirit that participated in its formation and canonization.  I am seriously questioning the influence that scripture has had in the writing of Amendment 1.  I believe God’s word is for all of creation.  But, I also believe that the truth of the gospel as communicated through the Word of God must be lived out in the context of the Christian life, lest is be distorted.  I question whether a governing document is the correct context by which the word of God will flourish. 

So I ask my fellow believers to ask themselves, “What is the Bible to me?  Where does the truth of the scripture flourish? What is a constitution?  Is it the right place for scripture to be communicated to the world? Could this amendment be distorting the message of the gospel?” 


I have presented only a few of the many questions that have been raised for me by this Amendment.  As frustrating and confusing as the past couple of months have been to me, they have also been a journey of learning.  I have been prompted to think critically about Christianity and myself as a believer and about how I should faithfully live out my Christian life in a changing world.  I have been pushed to reflect deeply on what it means to vote as a Christian. 

This is what I desire for my faith community, for you, my brothers and sisters: not that you automatically agree with me, nor that you be manipulated into voting one way or the other, but that before you go out to polls tomorrow, that you ask yourself some hard questions.  I beg for some self-interrogation from the body of Christ here in North Carolina.  

So I ask my fellow North Carolinians who have been washed by the blood of Christ, who live in this broken world to testify to the redemption brought to us in Christ’s death and resurrection to ask themselves, “Have I asked myself the hard questions?  Before I choose between two short but momentous words, FOR or AGAINST, Have I interrogated myself?” 

Thank you for your time.  Even if you stand on the other side of the issue from me, I thank you for walking along side me in my questioning simply by reading this reflection.   

 “This isn’t an issue about Christians defending the gospel or campaigning against sin. This is about mercy, this is about grace, this is about decency, this is about humanity. Treat people like human beings and have some compassion.  That’s what it’s about. The law is such a blunt instrument for dealing with things like this…” - Sam Wells

Monday, August 9, 2010

Car Conversations

I love car conversations. You can’t retreat from truth when you open your heart in such close proximity. And let’s not even start with the beautiful imagery of conversing and processing while both ends of the dialogue are going in the same direction, feeling the same bumps, diverting the same kamikaze squirrels. Cars are a safe place to take risks because storming out of the room also includes road burn. : ) And while some people may turn on the radio before words can ever be exchanged, you can’t deny the ample opportunity that comes in the in-between of a driver, a passenger, and their destination.

Yesterday, my Aunt Jen and I had two of those conversations as we took an hour long drive to and from a graduation ceremony. As we were physically in unison, we traveled along; processing, asking questions, and taking risks with one another.

I never grew up spending time with Aunt Jen, but circumstances have me living with her and my uncle when I'm not at school, and I take this as the time God has given us to really meet each other. This car ride was only one beautiful moment in our growing relationship. My aunt is analytical, sensible, VERY straightforward, logical, and, well, beautiful. Me, on the other hand, I am “whatever” (I say that word slow, drawn out, and with my hands randomly swirling in the air). I don’t make five year plans, I don’t make decisions, I don’t lock myself in to anything that has to do with my future. I over commit to activities that I can do in the immediate future, but I’m not opening any doors with long halls attached to them.

Aunt Jen was an accountant; she now makes war with the cat hair on her new hardwood flooring because she can’t work due to medical issues. : ) I really appreciate her and look up to her. She has worked so hard in her life, and has endured so much. She and I are very different, but we hold the same faith, and this makes me learn so much from someone who is so different from me. But here we are two very different people, different ways of processing, different ways communicating and we are pulling from our cores, trying to answer hard questions, wrestling with secret thoughts and fears.

On the way, we discussed grief, Christianity, and suicide. On our way back we talked about my future and my fears. Both rides were heavy, but healthy.

A strong Christian man who ministered to my aunt and uncle while simultaneously remodeling their home, who was loved by so many… committed suicide on Sunday morning. Aunt Jen found out 5 minutes before we were set out to leave for the graduation ceremony. We decided to go anyways. All the way there I tried to encourage and console my aunt, we discussed and asked questions. I comforted her in her grief and confusion. I prayed for her as she drove. She asked, “Why?” and I said, “I don’t know, I just don’t know.”

She drove baffled, and I rode lacking any good words of wisdom. I shared with her what little bit of comfort I could. But all in all, it was a time of questioning together and Praying. It was an hour ride of questions and prayer…and small talk in between.

The ceremony was normal; we put our sadness and confusion to the side for 2 hours. We fumbled with our programs, complained about children kicking that back of our seats, and Aunt Jen let me run around and say hello to people I hadn’t seen in a while. Then we got back in the car and headed out.

On the way back she asked me what my friend who had graduated was doing after school. I told her. Then she asked me the “dirty question.”

“Nikki, what are you going to do after graduation?”

My answer, “Um, I don’t know…whatever…who knows? God does.”

Well, that didn’t fly as an end to the conversation. She continued to ask me questions, “What about grad school? Where? What does your degree give you? What jobs are available? What other opportunities are there?”

Even when I hit her with my deep philosophical and spiritual answer to my life:

“Aunt Jen, all I want to do is love people, love God, and write pretty words along the way.”

No. That didn’t fly either, Because pretty words and hugs don’t pay off loans or push me forward, I’m guessing that is what she thought, I’m obviously putting words in her mouth at this point.

By the end of this conversation, I spilled to her all my fears of life after college, of my inability to make any decisions, of my cynicism towards society, and my fear of being tangled in a life of materialism. I talked to her about my lack of desire to just get a job, and then buy a house, to then fill that house up with things, and then be consumed with bills and legalities and this whole freaking nasty package of the American dream. I think it’s a nightmare. I’m so scared that I’m going to fold into the rest of America. It’s all cacophony when my heart is being pushed into the expectations of this society. There is no harmony when my heart is played with the tones of materialism. And right now money nags at me in my decisions and I hate it. I fear it.

I went so much deeper than simply leaving my Aunt Jen with a legitimate fear that I may turn out to be a hobo one day. As I spoke about all of this, I did it knowing that right now my Aunt is living the American dream. And I had to be honest with her, I had to back track and double think about what I said. But it was all how I feel. I laid my fear and my feelings of entrapment all out on Highway 18.

Me: Aunt Jen, when it comes to this society, to the expectations that are laid out in front of me…I just don’t fit. I just don’t think I can fit.
Aunt Jen: Well, that makes me so sad that you feel that way. You do fit in this world.
Me: No, I don’t think I do, but don’t worry; it might not be a bad thing.

I think it was good that God brought about a conversation to preoccupy her away from her grief, to switch the tables and let her minister to me. It was beautiful. She listened a lot, and mostly asked questions. We didn’t agree on everything. We came from two different places and I came so close so many times to belittling her lifestyle. But she loved me through it anyways.

With her confusion on the way there and my fear on the way back…we processed through so much together. The day had just started by the time we pulled back into the garage of my Aunts beautiful home. The moment we went inside and she set her eyes on the completely remodeled and gorgeous home that her friend had built with his own two hands; she could hold on no longer, the afternoon was spent in tears that needed to be shed. And neither of us knew how God would bring in people only later that night to minister to both of the car conversations, to bring peace to her grief and my fear. God is good and faithful like that.

Man…car conversations…turn down that radio, and get to talking. No matter where your words take you, you will both end up in the same place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When teaching taught you what you were trying to teach.

I am at a children’s home and right now we are preparing a dance/drama for a church service.

Warning: this blog is vulnerable, if that leaves a bad taste in your mouth…please skip reading this one. And please don’t pity me, its degrading.

I am teaching a drama and dance to a song called “The Best in Me” by Marvin Sapp. The boy playing Jesus is one of my favorite guys. His name is Cory, and I got to know him last year, making sure to leave last summer having told him how much I believed that God had a very special calling on his life. This summer I have watched God work so hard on his heart. Then I felt led to ask Cory to play the Jesus part in the dance. He is 17 and in the 8th grade, and he failed again this year. The dance starts with 3 skits. One where a judge tells a convict that he is worthless, one where a mom tells a daughter that she wished she hadn’t had her, and one where Jesus is crucified, dies and is taken away. The dancers come out and dance to the song; about 2/3 through the song, Jesus reappears from a crowd of dancers and redeems the convict and the abused girl. It’s pretty awesome. But here is what happened to me tonight:

As the dance was going on, the music blaring, all the dancers doing a beautiful job, Cory and I are in the back behind them waiting for the cue for Jesus to reappear. I start describing to Cory the role of Jesus he is playing now. Before, he was dying on the cross; he was in agony and was hurting. But now, I tell him, he is proud, his posture is tall, because he has just defeated death and the grave and is coming back to heal the ones he loves. I told him that all the pain he was acting out before, that he was now acting out the opposite in joy. Then I told Cory to remember everything so far that God has brought him through, to think about all the places God has healed, and imagine as best he could all the great things God has planned for his life (he began to well up) and to imagine that he was about to give that to the convict and the daughter. It was an amazing moment, where everything said was on the spot and not thought through, it was purely and beautifully truth and the Holy Spirit. But it got me thinking.

I am teaching right now about not believing what the world says, but believing what God sees in you. God has put all the children in just the right place. The girl who is the abusive mom, I just found out that her mom told her a month ago that she was a mistake and she regretted having her. The boy playing the convict is about to get moved to a different home because he snuck into a cottage and had sex with his girlfriend, he can’t find love in anything but women. The boy playing Jesus Christ is a 17 year old 8th grader. The lyrics say:

He saw the best in me
When everyone else around
Could only see the worst in me

He is mine, I am his
It doesn’t matter what I did.
He only sees me
For who I am.

Those are all the lyrics. This is all I want them to leave with. That what the world says, what Satan says, and that the lies we tell ourselves mean nothing compared to how God sees us. This leads me to one of the most vulnerable things I struggle with:

Why am I twenty one years old and single? More than that, why am I twenty one and never once dated? What is wrong with me? Why am I so un-datable? I’m nice, I’m funny, I love the Lord, and I bathe regularly…why?

What is wrong with me?

I’m going to tell you the lie that I believe:

It doesn’t matter how many criteria of a desirable woman of God that I fit, no man wants to shame himself by dating a fat girl. I’m just not good enough without a good body. I am a sister and a friend, but I'm not beautiful enough to be a wife.

This is the lie that I believe, this is the feeling that leaves me lonely, rather than content with God. This is what causes me pain on the inside. I tell myself it is a lie, but the nagging fear in the deepest part of my heart is that it might be true. Just like having a mother who doesn’t want you, and you wonder if you really are worth anything; or feeling stupid because you have failed the 8th grade so many times you might as well quit. I see Cory’s face as I tell him to imagine all the good things that God sees in him and I ask him to portray the joy of Christ in bringing him those good things. I want Cory to really believe, the kind of believe you live by. I can believe it for Cory.

But God yanked at my spirit tonight, because God also wants me to believe it for myself. If God sees the best in me, he is going to bring a man who does as well. Tonight as I was teaching Cory to lean on God’s view of him, I myself had to let go and lean. I feel less lonely; I know that who I am in Christ is enough. I find it really beautiful how God is teaching me by having me teach things I don’t even fully grasp myself. Its not lack of preparation as a teacher or leader, it is genuine dependence on a real, loving, and powerful God.

Tomorrow night all the kids in the dance and I are writing down things the world has said about us and lies about ourselves that we believe and then as a dance team we are going to rip them up and chuck them in the trash. My slip is going to say “Nikki is an undesirable fat girl.” I am going to rip that up and throw it away. Because God sees the best in me, no matter how the world sees me. I belong to him and I am not just a fat girl, I am a daughter of the KING. And one day I am going to believe that for myself just as much as I believe in God’s amazing plan for Cory’s life and the lives of these children.

*note: I appreciate comments and all, but do not pity me or repeat affirmations that I have already said in my post. I would like the luxery of being vulnerable adn honest with people thinking that I am fishing for affirmation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm such and inconsistent blogger, forgive me. I have a hard time really thinking I have anything worth saying in blog form...also, I am lazy at times.

Back in May I began seeking God very expectantly, requesting clarity by the end of this Summer. I don't often give God timelines, but I had a feeling it was OK. I have felt little direction on what I am supposed to do after college and to whom or what I am supposed to be devoting my time and energies. I am indecisive to a fault and I feel compartmentalized and spread thin over the school year. I generally avoid thinking too much on my future, but in the back of my mind, Fear continually nags at me. So I called on God to bring a stop to this. I didn't ask him for an outline to my life, I just needed the confusion out. I needed to not spend my senior year crippled in fear.
So God, with his knack for faithfulness, has brought me clarity. Not answers, just clarity. The funny thing is, I can't particularly elaborate on what that clarity is...because I just feel it. On a practical level it is in my decision to not pursue English Academia, but rather commit my life to other broken people through ministry. So on that note, here are some recent thoughts of mine. background: I've been working the Summer at a children's home. This is my second summer working with these youth who I find to be the most broken people I have ever come in contact with in my life. Last Summer I spent my time being angry. I was so livid at God for how unfair their lives were. This summer, I find myself more sad than angry. More desperate for God to just DO SOMETHING...

This blog, by one of my favorite people (everone has favorites, don't lie to yourself), has resonated with me. Check it out.

He speaks about his frustration toward the Lord because really it is sickening how many people go through this world not feeling the love of God when others around claim to have it inside of them. The injustice of the spiritually, emotionally, and physically deprived makes my heart sad. I'm connecting to what Keith is saying not because I am conflicted with the Lord over the injustice of this world to the same degree that Keith is; Because part of me believes that the anger Keith feels is rooted in love and selflessness that only God can plant in a man. But what I connect with is the need to love the unlovable.
This summer, I have been working with teenagers who have been told on many levels how worthless they are. Whether its through a parent who refuses to take a couple classes to get their child back, the DSS system that plays freaking musical chairs with their placements, or foster families who ship them off at the first sign of inconvenience; these young people are starved for real relationship and are scrapping to find false forms of it. I'm sickened...and now, I have spent two monthes here to only be another person who is in and out of their lives. But one day, this will not be the case.
Right now, I am a fleeting intern, but one day I will be a constant in the lives of broken children. They will fight and break down, they will hate me and hate this world, and I will love them despite their rage against their own existance. The gospel that is settled in my core is the only thing that can heal them. I've started ranting, but I can't help it. I can't continue to think that by writing essays, and learning thoery that I can love people more deeply. Maybe for some, this is completly possible, but I think that I'm not made that way. So there is my clarity, in all of it's muddled delivery. Its not finished, its only started :)

Friday, April 30, 2010


I often make lists of what I need to do. Sticky-notes upon sticky notes are haphazardly dispersed in my planner, each with a list of "to-do's for today," "to-do's for tomorrow," "to-do's for next week." I neatly write out the "to" to "do" and put a little underlined blank beside it. A nook waiting for a checkmark.

About two or three weeks before the end of every semester I make a list. Its a giant To-Do List, typically taking up a full sheet of notebook paper and sometimes a second column. I make the list, I cry a little on the inside, and then I make it happen. These lists of tangible assignments and obligations help me to organize my workload.

But I wonder about looking at my life why I can't just write down my goals and follow them. Its because I have very little clarity on my future goals and aspirations. But in light of some recent struggles I have gained just enough clarity to give me peace. I made a list to live by and I've memorized it. :)

I've never been brave enough to make a "bucket list" or any kind of life goal list, mostly because I don't trust myself to finish anything that I start. Here is my list that I want to act upon and continue until I die.

love people.
love God.
write some pretty words along the way.

I know it is abstract. But it is enough for me. And in a world that is constantly shifting and hurting...these are three things I want to be a part of me always.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hunting for Inspiration

Today I went hunting for some inspiration in my writing. I made a point that I was going to detach myself from my typical schooling duties and have some time for me. I decided today, that I was going to breath.

aaaah. Breathing. Rest. Any other gear besides rushing and procrastinating (I live in those two gears as a college student).

Today was a good day for breathing. We just had 2 days of heavy rain and then here comes a Sunday afternoon with warm sunshine, brisk winds, and a sky full of white puffy could not have been more perfect for me.

I left my apartment and explored some places on my campus that I've never been to before. I brought my camera, my journal, and a book. Well, I forgot a pen, subsequently there was no journaling while I was out, but I filled up a small SD card. So why did I call this little adventure hunting? Because today I made myself seek out beautiful things. I made myself turn off school mode and just live.

I went hunting for inpiration, describing things that I saw to myself and letting small things catch my eye again. I miss seeing the world around me as poetic. Beautiful things right infront of your face become a blurr if you rush around all of the time. With all that said, breathing is good and if I can't see inspiration in my daily life right now, well then I better go looking for it...why walk through life and not be inspired by it?

Here are a couple of pictures that I just found pretty. They aren't super fancy photos, they were just beautiful when I saw them. I'll explin why underneath:

I was napping on a bench and reading on and off, when I noticed this tree in the woods. Its beautiful! Its one lone purple tree in a completley green wooded area. I rarely gender trees, but this tree is the Helen of these woods. Royal and elegant. Also, when I walked underneath her, the ground was littered with purple bell flowers, like rose pedals on a church aisle. I sort of felt like a bride walking over them. I have walked past this tree multiple times and never saw it as much of anything, but today as I inentionally rested and allowed myself to be renewed I saw this tree a little different, and maybe a little clearer.

I see poetry everyday, even when I don't recognize it. What I hope becomes more of a habit in my life is this hunting for inspiration, an intentionality towards seeing beauty. Hopefully seeing a tree for more than just a tree will strengthen my vision in seeing people as more than just people. Typical hunting for animals all ends the same way...with a carcass. But my hunting...oh, it ends with ideas and ideas make change.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Peace in the Violence

One of the most poetic attributes of my God is His ability to speak through contradictions. I'm beginning to see this everywhere, that God is not bound by what I consider 'good sense'. I find it quite beautiful how through what I see as inconsistency, God brings truth. Lately I have experienced violence within close proximity to the ones I love most dearly. It hurts me to see people hurt each other. Although I know there is so much violence I ignore in my world, I'm reffering to violence and chaos within family units. Yet, here I sit on Good Friday and I see that this is a day of violence. This is a day of pain, punishment, and death. This is a day of redemption, love, and life. Today Jesus Christ paid my debt, He endured tortures and shames that I could nevery fully wrap my sinful mind and hands around. Today is the epitome of peace in the midst of violence. I find it easy to feel hopeless when I think about how much we hurt each other as humanity. But, MY GOD is a God who brings peace despite the violence. God not only brings life, but overcomes death. Today is that day.

I don't have a fully developed, lengthy, and inspirational point to this. Just that I see hope in violence...and that is poetry.