Saturday, May 29, 2010

Home from the Middle East

I don't really know what to say. My trip to the Middle East changed my life. I am just going to include some thoughts from my most recent journal entry, and let that speak for itself.

Since the trip I feel totally different. I see God differently. I worship differently. I do my job differently. But I'm at a place now where in some places I feel unnaturally secure, and in others I feel completely out of place. There is only one worship song I want to listen to and it only has one line "Your Kingdom come Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." It takes everything in me to not weep uncontrollably when I hear it. This was a song that we sang in ****** that revealed the depths of the hunger that the people had there. Hunger for ******. Hunger for Muslims. Hunger for the things of God. And their hunger was ravenous. Their worship was mesmerizing. I feel like they are at a place that I yearn to go. Their worship is uninhibited. They cry, they shout, they dance, they jump. They want to see the Kingdom manifested on this earth more than I've ever thought possible. How they function day to day is a great mystery to me. Just thinking about them sucks me into a place with God that I don't want to leave. I can't leave. I MUST HAVE MORE. I can't let Him go! It's too risky to look away. To consider something other than the Presence. 

When I think of ****** its hard to hold myself together. I think about their worship and devotion. I think about their faces and their prayers. I've never seen hunger like that before. Does it even exist in the States? I need to find it. I need it like oxygen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Middle East

In less than 9 hours, I will be en route to the Middle East!! I cannot begin to explain how excited I am. I will be going to two different countries that are more unique than any place I've ever visited. Different weather, different food, different religions and clothing. Different living conditions. Completely different walks of life. I've been talking to some of the folks over there pretty regularly and they are a group of radical lovers of God. They walk in signs and wonders and long to see the Middle East know God's love. They are a really incredible group and I can't wait to get over there and get under them!

As I've been saying good-byes to different people, I've been noticing that lots of people are really nervous about this trip. At the beginning of this process I too was a little bit nervous, but pretty early on I had to decide to just embrace this trip and this experience with open arms. I can't hold back because of fear or nerves. I need to be all there. Yeah its not known as being the safest part of the world, but at the end of the day, I'm still going. And I'm really excited. And amazing things are going to happen and people are going to be blessed.

So I have to focus on the things God is doing and is going to do. And the fact that we as a team have had such incredible confirmation for this trip is all the more affirming that we're meant to be there. That we have God's blessing and that He has gone before us and is coming behind us. So I'm really excited and can't wait to just be there! Because they are so far ahead of us time-wise, we'll leave this afternoon and not get there til 11:15pm tomorrow night!

Can't wait to post pictures and blogs when I return! Thank you sweet friends for all of your support and prayers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The date that will go down in history...

Yes this is long...but TOTALLY worth the read! Three of us tag-teamed in making this perfect. 

So I have a good friend, we'll call her Tammy. Tammy has only really been in serious relationships in her life and has never had the bliss…no the joy, of experiencing the casual dating world until this past year. Since then she has some really incredible stories from her experiences, and in order to humor the blog world...I'd like to let you in on some of her best date material. To preface this, Tammy is a people pleaser and would hate for anyone to be uncomfortable when sharing deep stuff about themselves. She also believes that people are not defined by their past and thinks everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves….well at least she used too….

Tammy met this guy, we'll call him Bobby, while playing volleyball. They had some mutual friends but had never really talked themselves. One night they spent 10-15 minutes talking after a volleyball game, and Tammy left thinking Bobby was a nice guy but had no idea the hilarity that was about to ensue.

Bobby tells a mutual friend that Tammy is one of the those girls that probably would love Jesus more than him and that she had a really beautiful spirit...the most beautiful he's ever seen. She receives two text messages from their mutual friends letting her know that Bobby is interested in her…this is mere hours after their volleyball game. At this point she has received a harmless Facebook message from Bobby requesting coffee. She responds “sure” and goes to bed. By the next morning she has two more awkward messages AND an email from Bobby trying to set up coffee and get her number. They decide on Tuesday night. Already a little skeptical about Bobby…she dismisses it as he’s just a little awkward. In the several days leading up to the date, he starts sending her text messages about how beautiful and amazing she is.  It sounds cute, but it was more of the creepy stalker kind of text than fawning admirer. Meanwhile Tammy wonders where he's getting this information because she really hasn't shared anything personal with him, however, she’s too awkward to call him out on it. She figures he’s just pouring on the cheese ball charm because he’s nervous. Surely Tuesday he’ll mellow out. She figures no harm in giving him the benefit of the doubt right? So wrong.

Tuesday night finally rolls around, and it's time for their first official date. He shows up a few minutes early and tells her they're going to Verde for dinner. About a mile down the road, he interrupts his own conversation (the guy loved to talk about himself) and says: “No matter how great this date goes, at the end of the night I’m not kissing you. Nor will I for the first 30 days”
Tammy is of course confused by this….they haven’t even been in the car for 5 min let alone completed their first date. 30 days?! Let’s get past 30 minutes first please. Where is this coming from?
Tammy: “ Do I look like I want you to kiss me?”
Bobby:  “ No..I was just getting awkard”
Tammy (still super confused!) “Am I making you awkward?!”
Bobby: “No…I just wanted you to know where I stood on that. I know some girls expect sex on the first date. I had a friend who’s date requested he take her home once she found out there was no chance of sex at the end of the date. So I just wanted you to know. Do I need to take you home?!”
Tammy is shocked…slightly scared and totally confused. Bobby pretty much has assumed she’s a slut and asked to take her home!? Looking back Tammy realizes that was her window of opportunity from GOD to end this date before it even got started. Sadly hindsight is 20/20…instead Tammy responded, “ No I’m fine. Let’s just go eat dinner.” She brushes it off and decides boundaries must really important for him.

The night progresses, and he slowly starts to reveal little tidbits of information about himself. Nothing too personal, just the first-date particulars.  First on docket is the fact that he used to be a meth addict and also used to deal drugs. Really? Meth addict AND dealer? You share that on the first date? I know what you're thinking, "Meth addict? Prove it!" As if on queue, Bobby pulls out his phone and starts showing Tammy pictures of some of his brain scans. He points out the damage the meth did to his brain and continues to scroll through the scans, sharing with Tammy about his former addiction.

As the meth conversation dwindles, Bobby shares that he use to deal drugs to the gay community. Throughout the night Bobby also tended to make lots of comments about gay men they happen to see and other tid bits of homosexual trivia. Tammy is starting to wonder about the fixation with the homosexual community. Just when she thinks the conversation can turn from heavy “I use to do meth” to a more light hearted conversation about college, friends, family or anything, Bobby pulls out another awkward 1st date shocker and says: “Not many know this about me, but last year I worked at a gay bar.”
Now I know what your thinking…wait…didn’t this guy used to be addicted to meth…and deal to the gay community….and after his conversion and rehab he CHOSE to work in a gay bar?! Tammy’s thoughts exactly. Bobby wanted to minister to the gays…because who better than a recovering meth addict. He worked there for 6 months until the drug influence became too great for him to withstand (shocker) and after an awkward kiss with a co-worker. What the drug influence was too much at a gay bar!? Who would’ve known! And who doesn’t like to hear how your date has in fact kissed a man before….awesome.

But enough about me, let's talk about me.  Now Bobby decides to get serious. If this date is going to ever have a chance in Bobby's mind, this girl has to know his true passion: ministering to strippers. The recovering meth addict who now passionately loves Jesus explains how the strippers are neglected and that he is willing to go into the dark places and minister to those that have been forgotten. At this point Tammy just can’t do anymore of these “shock and awe” stories. What is she suppose to do, give him spiritual points for going into the gay bars and also feeling called to rescue the strippers?! Some people are called to Africa….and some are called to save the gays and strippers. She’s feeling a little saucy and pipes up: "I don’t think that’s a man’s job.” Tammy asks. "Shouldn't a former meth-smoking, brain-scan wielding, bartender leave the vice ministry to someone without quite the track record?" He seems somewhat offended by that notion but continues on.

He starts off kind of quiet, then murmurs that one of his best friends died a few weeks ago. Drug overdose. They were really close. Finally getting somewhere normal...tragic, but more normal than brain scans and taking body shots of gay strippers.

The date winds down, and Bobby asks Tammy for a second date. Although hesitant and slightly terrified, Tammy is slow to come up with a good excuse on the spot and agrees to date #2. She now knows that “Umm you’re too much and just straight up crazy” is a perfectly acceptable reason to decline date 2. Poor Tammy...nice girls finish last. She had to learn the hard way…

Thursday begins date #2 at Cafe Istanbul. Tammy wonders if there is any other dirt this guy could possibly drag up about himself and convinces herself that the worst is over. Time to be normal and have a chance to share a little bit about her heart and passions. But boy did she jump to conclusions too quickly! First topic of conversation -- Sexual partners. Naturally. Bobby seems embarrassed to tell her about his past but not so ashamed that he won't let her guess the number of partners he's had. 5? No. 10? No. 20? No? Higher? Really? You're not even 30. 50? No. At 100 Tammy stopped guessing. How is that even possible?? To which Bobby replys “well there’s 365 days in a year when you think about it”. At this point Tammy takes a long drink of wine..and continues until the glass is empty.  Tammy awkwardly blushes then decides to make light of the situation and sarcastically ask him "Since you've done everything else, have you been to jail?" His response: "Yes, but that’s too much information for a second date." Really!? Why is that worse that doing meth, showing off your brain scans, working in a gay bar, ministering to strippers and having 100+ sexual partners?.

Towards the end of the night, Bobby tells Tammy that they should probably take things a little slower. Although confused because she never said a word, Tammy thankfully agrees. Date ends, Tammy is relieved. She thought it would drag on forever.

Saturday rolls around, and Tammy gets a call from Bobby. Hoping he's come to his senses, she's prepared for a decent conversation. Hey it couldn't get worse, right? Wrong. Bobby explains that he thinks things just aren't working out and they should break up. She's not the girl he's looking for and doesn't seem to have the passionate love for Jesus he had hoped for. Seriously? She hasn't said a word to you! All you did was talk about yourself. However, this made life easy for Tammy. She was already thinking about how you tell someone gently that your “meth dealing, brain damaged, 100 + partners, ministering to the strippers, been to jail” past just isn’t your cup of tea. It’s awkward no matter how you slice it. This saved Tammy a “come to jesus” moment with Bobby…however, she was still impressed with the break up conversation despite the fact they weren’t dating.
One week later Bobby started dating another girl.
We pray for her. A lot.

Beautiful Scarf Giveaway!!!

Remember those beautiful scarves I posted awhile back from Kristin Haner's etsy site Foulard Threads? Well there is an incredible site that is doing a giveaway for one of those scarves! Check out 5 Seed to see how to enter this wonderful contest!