Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Count of Monte Cristo

"I'm a writer, not a saint. I'm imperfect, and so are my writings. These are my spiritual yearnings and tainted expressions of love, hacked as best I can onto thin sheets of wood pulp (or in my case, onto a thin keyboard), in a fallen world, with my flawed perceptions, feelings, desires, and misguided intentions. In a nutshell, this is me; live with it. Don't read this unless you really want to see all of me, even the not-so-pretty parts. But if you really want to know me, keep on reading."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dealing with Self

Over the last week, I’ve been reading the book Cross Roads by William P. Young, the author of The Shack. If you read The Shack (and were open-minded about the creativity of God), then you would love Cross Roads. The story is so beautiful.

This is not a book review by any means, but I want to share a concept that has been pressed upon my heart in the last few weeks.

The main character in Cross Roads has a brain tumor that leaves him in a coma. While he is physically lying in a hospital bed in the ICU, his spirit is interacting in another place outside of time. The landscape of this place is a reflection of who Anthony Spencer is on the inside. There are broken down walls, unkempt gardens, piles of garbage and a small house that is falling apart.

At different points during his journey, Anthony has to confront some hard truths about himself. The fortresses his ego has built on one side of the property, the weeds that he has let take over pieces of the land, etc. But he isn’t left to face these demons alone. With each step of the journey, Jesus, in the form of a man named “Jack”, or the Holy Spirit in the form of “Grandmother” are with him.

They are here because you gave 
them a voice and a place in your 
soul. You thought you needed 
them to become successful.

Because of the conversations Jack and Grandmother have had with Anthony before he encounters these ‘demons’, he knows the truth about himself and about who he was created to be. What is beautiful to watch is that these characters walk with Anthony over to the squatters on his land. They don’t say a word, but stand in to give Anthony strength to take back control over his own land. They smile. They put a hand on his shoulder. But they let him take back his land. 

Love will not condemn you for being lost, 
but love will not let you stay there alone, 
even though it will never force you 
out of your hiding places. 

This book has impressed upon me the love that God has for each of us. He is not manipulative or pushy, but deeply loving and kind. Giving us the space we need, but never leaving our side.

Having faced some of my own demons in the last few weeks, I couldn’t have done it without those around me who have spoken raw truth to me. The kind of truth it hurts to hear, but motivates you to make the changes you need to make. I’m grateful for Marcy, as she’s been this incredible pillar of strength for me…walking me to the edge of the forest or the bottom of the ocean so that I could really see who I am and where God wants to take me. She’s shown me where Jesus is when all I can see is the darkness. She’s told me when to stop fighting, when to try harder, and when to be quiet and rest. She’s helped me overcome the most difficult obstacle I could ever imagine facing, and her love has been relentless and overflowing. God brought her to me because there were things I couldn’t face on my own.

So I pray that you too would have the strength today to face yourself. To show up and fight back and let God heal the places that need healing. Don’t be afraid. You can do it. It’s okay to fall. And its okay to cry, because it is hard. But you can do it, okay? Just trust me on this. You can do it. You are brave. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Karaoke for life

This past week we went to Happy Karaoke on Buford Highway (and it was every bit as shady as one would imagine). But I'm really becoming fond of karaoke as I think everyone loves to sing, regardless of how good you are. And I, am absolutely terrible. Seriously, I'm unimaginably bad. But IT IS SO FREAKIN' FUN!! And then you add in some folks from work, highly inappropriate songs, and beer... and you have an awesome night. 

Aaannndd I'd just like to add that my contribution was the Thong Song by Sisqo. Don't judge me.
Lovely Libby Gray and my dad at our tried and true favorite Mexican place
Celebrating the beautiful bride-to-be, Cameron!
Some of the girls from the shower. I LOVE them. I always feel good and full after leaving, especially after having laughed so hard I cried for hours. They are incredible women and I'm blessed to get to rub shoulders with them. Can't wait for Cam's big day!! Its going to be incredible.
Meeting HaRim's cousin Yooha. In Korea all siblings have matching names. Yooha's sister is Yoo Jin. HaRim's brother is WooRim. And the list of unpronounceable/unspellable names goes on and on and on.

Feeble run attempts:

My sweet dog:

My first batch of guac - it was KILLER:

My running buddy, Lucy

Friday, February 1, 2013

Keep Moving Forward

If there was one theme that I could pluck out from my life, it would be to 'keep moving forward.' Everywhere I turn this concept is staring me in the face, and each day I feel like the Lord sheds a little bit more light on the implications of it.

My favorite moment where this theme started coming together for me was with Jeff Dauler from The Bert Show. Last year he realized that he had become stagnant in his life and needed to make a big change. So he applied to join CNN's Fitnation to do a triathlon with Sanjay Gupta and his team. For someone who was overweight, this was a bold consideration. Throughout his training, his coach continually told him that no matter what,

always keep moving forward.

Times of transition are the hardest during a triathlon because you know what lies ahead of you, and yet it feels so much sweeter to sit down and rest, and potentially quit because the challenge just seems insurmountable. But you can't stop. You have to keep moving.

This mantra on moving forward became a defining phrase in Jeff's life, and is the very reason that he faced and conquered so many personal battles.

Part 2 of where I came face-to-face with this message was from the conference I went to last week in Indianapolis. Eric Greitens is a former Navy SEAL, and works to re-habilitate wounded soldiers when they return home from the front lines (through The Mission Continues). Men who have committed to giving their lives in service to our country struggle coming home, especially if they've been wounded and can no longer serve in the military. In those first days and weeks, they struggle to figure out who they are and if they even have a purpose on this earth any longer. And of course it would be so easy to quit.

But what is beautiful here is that Greitens works with these wounded soldiers to re-establish a purpose and a passion in their lives. He teaches them to recalibrate their hearts, and that even a shift in 2 degrees can dramatically alter their direction and destination. But shifting 2 degrees is painful. It requires courage and boldness to face the demons in yourself and to convince yourself that you are important and significant. And that people depend on you.

Everyone has a front line, where you encounter pain, tension or difficulty. But moving through that pain is where your character evolves, and allows you to get to a place of true wisdom and strength. Facing yourself in those moments where you pass your mental, emotional or physical limits is something only you can do. But you can do it if you choose to. You can keep fighting.

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" - Muhammad Ali

"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start." - Nido Qubein