Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here's To You

Quote from my friend Sam's blog, referencing one of my core values that I talk about often - community:

my friend and i were talking about how the best conversation happens after a meal. when you grab a cup of coffee and just sit around the table conversing about life. one of my friends talks about this on her blog when she talks about the friends who hang out after a party has died down to help finish off the food that is left. she says this is when the real conversation happens. i agree. it's the moments that don't have a time limit put on them. when we have no where to go and nothing to do so we sit. and talk. we look at the ocean. we discuss books and theology. we just are. we laugh. we tell stories. we reminisce...

"Cheers to the friendships well worn in/that time nor distance alter" - Brooke Fraser

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heavy Rain

I've been reading Heavy Rain this week by Kris Vallotton and it's phenomenal.

Without being too wordy, the book is essentially about "the state of the Church." It offers a birds-eye view of where the Church has been and where we're at now, focusing mostly on denominationalism vs. apostleships. I could talk about this topic forever,  but I wanted to offer a few quotes to get you thinking. To preface- denominationalism is where the Church has been...gathering around common beliefs, and splitting off to keep all the beliefs the same within one group of people. Apostleships are what we're moving towards- creating more unity in the body, stronger relationships, and believers that think for themselves and know the voice of the Spirit.

Both the Protestant Reformation and the movements that have sprung up from it all emphasize doctrinal agreement above relationship. (Apostleships value relationship and a feeling of "family" over doctrinal agreement. In apostleships, space is created for believers to take risks and make messes, but believers are also empowered to clean up those messes and hear from the Spirit themselves.)

[Denominationalism also creates a culture that is critical of anyone who thinks outside the box of tradition, and it desperately fears inspiration.] Leaders under this spirit have more faith in the devil's power to deceive believers than the Holy Spirit's ability to lead them into all truth. 

The problem is that risk-taking creates messes, exposes flaws and, more often than not, teaches us what doesn't work. But this is the process that leads to true spiritual maturity. (Apostleships center around the concept of family, and within a family there are some core beliefs, but the family doesn't split up because it's members don't see eye-to-eye on each detail. There is freedom to think creatively and learn how to communicate and say you're sorry, and ask hard questions without the fear of being "cut off.")

It is impossible for us to create a culture around us that we don't have within us...The invisible kingdom inside a person ultimately becomes the visible kingdom around them. (We reproduce what we are).

The body of Christ so desperately needs to learn how to influence society in such a way that people are drawn to us. (Kris had a great point about how believers are called to bring heaven to earth, and essentially transform society. We should be seeing crime go down, divorce rates decrease, cancer rates affected, and growth despite "recession" if we're really bringing the kind of cultural transformation we're meant to.)

Hearing about the Bible without experiencing God leads to religious form without any power. (We have to not just speak about the Kingdom, but demonstrate its power.)

We need to understand that our circumstances never cause heart issues; they only reveal them. 

Ok so none of these necessarily flow- nor do they technically stick with the topic at hand, but I love all these quotes. I figured sharing a few good quotes might be better than actually walking you through the details of apostleships and denominationalism. Because honestly, you might not care. But I might end up posting more details later because this might not quite scratch my itch.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Etsy Love

So I'm obsessed with these earrings and everyone should go buy them. I ordered 2 pairs last week and they came in the mail today, and I. LOVE. them. I'm obsessed. And for only $4.95, who can beat that deal? They are casual and nice and just plain fun. :)

The Middle East

In May of this past year I got the opportunity to take a team to the Middle East. I love missions in every way, shape and form, so getting to take a team to a very dark place was an incredible experience.

Tonight, I will be announcing this spring's trip to the ME and I'm so freaking excited. Its honestly taken me months and months to process all the God did in my heart last May, and I feel like I've only scratched the surface. The experiences I had there were unbelievable and the believers there are just unstoppable. They have been sowing into the land for years and the fruit of their prayers has started coming forth exponentially. People are getting healed and saved left and right. Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus and they are starting to experience the love of God. See this blog for day-to-day testimonies.

The group that we worked with goes on treasure hunts every day (a kind of outreach where you ask God ahead of time to give you pictures or people to look for, then you go out and find them!). That's what they do for fun regardless of how they're feeling. The believers there meet together often, worship and pray together, and encourage each other with testimony after testimony. We had a meeting on a Friday night while I was there and the leaders had to limit the testimony time to ONE HOUR, and the group could only share testimonies from that week (however testimonies still ended up taking TWO hours). These guys are radical. Even going out to dinner or to a shisha place could take hours because there were always things God wanted to do. And since He ALWAYS showed up, we had no choice but to be His hands, feet and heart.

Something in the Middle East struck a chord with me. I don't even know why, or how I got to witness such amazing faith and tenacity for the "greater" things of God as I did there. Even just getting to the Middle East was a testimony in and of itself because thing after thing fell through in the planning process- so we knew that if we actually got there, then it would be hugely significant.

I know the work we did there and will do there is marked by heaven. Those that have gone before us have paid a huge price so that we can see breakthrough every day without even trying. I don't know if I've ever seen such passion before in any ministry or group of people. I love it.

So getting to announce this years trip is just such a huge blessing to me. Even getting to share testimonies and stories is so good for my soul. I just can't wait. God is so good.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Looks I Love- Home Style

Ok so this last one isn't related to a home, but they were just too cute to skip. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm hitting a wall and breaking through

I feel like I've been going crazy the last few weeks. I work more than I want to, I sleep less than I want to, I live far away from my closest community, and I feel like I'm still not sure of who I am or what I'm supposed to be doing. I still can't manage to keep my apartment clean, but I can manage to read a few extra pages at night. I bought a new journal but haven't cracked it open yet. Too many good things happened in the last one so it's hard to close out that season and move forward into the next. Patrick travels a lot, and when he's home the job responsibilities seem to stack up considerably and I feel like I miss him at every corner.

I'm fighting through some good stuff now that I know will make me a better friend and wife, but being in process doesn't mean that the work is done. There are still things I'm learning about me and sometimes I realize "who I've always been" doesn't necessarily mean that that is what is going to work right now. It's hard to move through seasons with friendships, letting some go a little in order to re-connect with others. I hate not being best friends with everyone, but it's just not healthy to live that way. I need more space. I feel like I'm living in a shoebox some days (not literally)- my style isn't quite what I want it to be, and I'm not reading and writing the way that I want to. I'm not getting quality time with those that challenge and encourage me the most (the late partiers), and sometimes wish I could just live on a compound with all of my friends. I wouldn't care if I never saw another person because I'd be completely happen with just a few buds. We'd watch movies, take walks, do exercise classes, bake cookies, read books, journal, listen to music, drink coffee, sit on the porch and just be. If there was work to be done we'd intentionally side-track ourselves in a conversation about something spiritual or a rap song. We'd be vulnerable and sarcastic and share everything, and we'd probably have a fire pit and a trampoline in the yard (and probably train Asian kids to be ninja warriors).

I am craving my deepest relationships right now. If I can't go deep with you then we're not going to be close in this season. And I'm learning that that's just okay.

I need the space. I need the quality of life. I need the stack of books and a brand new pack of pens for my journal. I need one-on-one time and confrontation and prayer for lies I believe. I see this as a season of truly joining arms with strategic people in my life. Moving forward and getting healthier in the process. God is so good and the last few days with sweet friends has been perfect. This next season is going to be the best yet.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

S'mores as a way of life

In college my roommates and I baked. A lot. But mostly it was easy stuff because when we decided it was time to eat something fabulous and sweet, we wanted it then. Gathering a plethora of ingredients was not really on our "to-do" list.

But break and bake cookies can only be shaped into so many letters. So at some point our baking needed to evolve, and evolve it did. Enter: S'mores Season. Every night for months and months my roommates and I made s'mores in our toaster oven in Pineview. And I like a good s'more like everyone else, but it's definitely not my favorite dessert. But the company was so good and getting out the s'mores supplies meant that we had a good night of reality tv, wine, or back porch conversation ahead of us.

Sometimes we'd add butterscotch chips or M&Ms, caramel sauce or chocolate syrup- anything to spice up the basic graham, mallow and chocolate bar.

I've said it before, but I love good conversation. I love the people that stay late after a party to squeeze out the last few thoughts and questions from the day. And to me, s'mores always symbolize quality time and great friends.  You don't make s'mores when you're in a rush. You make s'mores when there's a fire and you plan on staying somewhere awhile. Being trapped in a place with friends is awesome and perfect to me, especially when no one has anywhere else to be. So you brave the awkward silences and dig a little deeper into your reservoir of conversation topics and make better friendships.