Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amazing Grace

It's funny that I can spend my whole day at the computer, via my job, and then want to come home and stare at it again while I write. 

It's like when I would get home from a 4 hour long art class and want to get out my sketch pad as soon as I returned. 

Tonight, I have the urge to understand grace. 

To soak in it. 
To spill it out. 
To pick it up again. 
To (honestly) question it. 
To at least try and understand it. 
To hold it in my hand for a split second and investigate...and study it.

Tonight I got dinner with a good friend. After I left I was prompted to think, 'Why does she care about me?'  

As I walked back to my car, for some reason I kept asking myself why? What motivates us to care? Coffee dates here, e-mails there, but why?

It's really an incredible thing when you take a second and count the amount of people that have asked you how your day was. Or the amount of times a friend remembered a seemingly meaningless detail in a story you told a month ago. 

I'm convinced these things come into play because of Grace...most importantly matter because of Grace.

I like to think about heaven. 

A lot. 

And that ultimately, Heaven will exist in a retrospect kind of way. It will undo the bad that has happened in life on earth...reaching back to our heartache on Earth and actively playing out and showing us how it was meant to be. I'm not asking for a theological debate here, but if I were God, who made something extremely beautiful like the Earth and everything within it, and some hairy bags of water (that's us) pretty much came a long and ruined it...the  first thing I would want to do when they returned home would be to walk with them and show them how beautiful everything was meant to be. Not just the landscape without pollution, or the animals without cages...but everything

That God would show us how every relationship that went wrong on Earth was meant to play out and ultimately bring us closer to Him. Or every idea that was grand and excellent on Earth that encompassed so much good but that we couldn't carry out...eventually carried out in Heaven...dislplaying exactly why we thought it was good in the first place. 

For me, that idea of Heaven means a lot. 

I'm only 22 years old and have seen a lot of heartache the world holds. 


Deceitful men. 

Deceitful women. 

Women selling their bodies. 

High school kids literally dying to find something worth living for. 

While reaching into our Earthly life, I believe Heaven will somewhat resemble a perfect functioning organism. It won't just lay there, it will work. It will function. It will move. It will grow and it will be efficient...incredibly efficient....everything done and carried out will be worth it. 

Within Heaven, we will still have to work through things, figure things out, but within this process, I believe that God's perfection and pure righteousness is sowed, allowing us to reap with Him all of the glory at the end of our toil. 

THIS, I believe is grace. 

Where you have done nothing yet reap everything...and what you reap is incredibly good. 

I don't like the idea of seeing Grace as it being something offered and then because of that vision, displaying it onward toward others....I like that idea that whatever you offer towards matter what it was brought on by.... somehow it turns out worthy

Like a question to a friend about their day...

You didn't ask because of Grace, it was made meaningful because of Grace. 

Actively working through you was this idea that that question 'How was your day?' was always meant to carry real, honest, genuineness, and when what was intended is carried out....THAT is when you see and experience Grace. 

Once you begin to understand that Grace is not what motivates you, but instead is what makes what you do worth it...

You begin to ask more and more of those questions....

"How was your day?" 

"How are you?" 

When you are not merely motivated to just ask, you begin to look forward to the desire the same significance those questions, or things, or relationships were created for in the first place. 

Grace at least for me, is not what gets me out of bed in the morning....instead, its what helps me go to sleep at night...knowing that in some retrospective, functioning, incredible, mystifying way, what I did was worthy that day....when it really shouldn't have been. 

Incredible this thing, Grace. 

Absolutely mystifying. 

....along with His peace, God's Grace does transcend ALL understanding...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Columbia's Catherine

The other day, I asked God to reveal more of his beauty to me. Whether it be witnessing a kind gesture from a stranger, or an amazing sunrise on the way to work

....little by little He has been faithful in this request.

She doesn't necessarily fit into a "box" I won't even try to fully describe her in words that would attempt to do so, but what I can say about my friend Catherine, is that she is a faithful, committed and a steadfast friend.... not only to me but to the rest of Columbia.

Before Meredith and I headed off to work last Friday, we decided to say our fair-wells to Catherine at Lakota (a coffee shop) where Catherine has worked for the last 4 years, because the next day she and her sister were moving to D.C. Little did Meredith and I know, that the rest of Columbia would be there that morning too, bright and early, ready to reminisce, say good-byes, and wish well their favorite barista in all of Columbia.

Sitting at the bar, Mere and I just watched her do what she has for the past couple of years. Meticulously scrape off extra foam from a latte or wipe down a counter, nothing TOO mind blowing. However, it was during this time that the most beautiful conversations began to flow from our side of the bar and into her "office."

"Catherine, do you remember the time we first met and you challenged my knowledge of if I knew who Dean Martin or Bing Crosby were?" an older man inquired holding a newspaper up to his face.

He asked her without even needing to look at her... knowing she would faithfully respond... in some way.

She smiled and kept working...never offering him a defined answer.

He was still pleased with her choice of response.

More and more memories of customers' "first time meeting Catherine" spilled out over that counter, as Mere and I just sat there. In the beauty. In the memories. We were somewhat speechless.

What a beautiful thing it is when you see that it is someone's faithfulness that dictates the nature of a friendship....that dictates the feeling in the atmosphere. Not necessarily the kindness, or the humor, or the wisdom.... not saying Catherine does NOT embody these things....(however, she can be sassy sometimes)...but that it is the faithfulness to a place, or to a people, or to a job, that will be missed the most.

I am reminded of God's beauty and faithfulness in my own life from telling this story. His showing up when asked. His responding in interesting ways; ways that sometimes are not clear...but are nonetheless there. His serving me time and time again. His acknowledgement of my presence and meeting me where I was at.

I have no doubt that her knowledge of random musicians as well as film directors will be missed by some in Columbia.

As well as her ability to maintain some caffeine addictions.

But it will be her faithfulness, to events, to people, to ideas, to customers....that I will miss the most.

Psalm 89:2,8 "I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Oh Lord, God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We All Sprint for Ice Cream.

Growing up, do you remember those summers that were filled with that creepy lullabye music the ice cream truck would blare? Or did you ever experience that sheer panic while frantically searching the couch cushions for enough money?

I do. Like it was yesterday.

My fastest mile time growing up was around 10 minutes (#porkinforkin) but I'm sure that if someone told me ice cream was waiting at the would have been at LEAST 9 1/2.

Ice cream was what made summer....summer.

Luckily, I work for a company that regonizes this fact, and that is why EVERY Friday afternoon in the summertime, we are offered FREE ice cream. While this suggests we are still young at heart around here, we sure don't act like it when the announcement to "come and get it" is made over the intercom. My co-workers usually finish writing their E-mails, pick up their desk a bit, and even initiate further discussions about how this or that meeting went while they mosey down the hall and up the stairs towards the afternoon's treat.

That's right, I said mosey.

But not I. Ohhhhh nooooo. Not I.

Let me take you back to the first Friday of this summer, before I knew this was the seasonal tradition where I worked.

The only reason the receptionist Georgia (the sweetest lady alive) usually makes intercom announcements for the entire company is when there is a call on someones line, or a visitor upstairs..... and that's about it.

However, this Friday she interrupted my mundane data entry and said there were delicious chocolate milkshakes waiting for everyone in the conference room upstairs.

"WHAT?!" I said aloud.

"Is this a dream?" I thought to myself.

The final, sobering thought to run through my mind was was..... "I'm down stairs and my free delicious treat is a long way away"

Before Sweet Georgia could even begin to finish her sentence about the ice cream, I pushed my rollie chair so hard beneath me it slammed into the wall behind me (the same wall I share with the VP of Sports Operations of course) and began making my mad dash up the stairs. As I sprinted past the "higher-ups" offices....all of which have glass walls by the by one I heard each of them busting into laughter.

Not at ALL concernced with their perception of me, I was the first to reach the conference room and geographically the furthest away.


After picking up my chocolate milkshake, out of breath I tried to casually make my way back to my desk.

However, it wasn't that easy.

As I mosied past each office that I had earlier sprinted past, these were the comments that started seeping out behind those glass walls...

"Who knew she could run so fast?"

"Wasn't she wearing heals?"

"Forkin, that was incredible."

Glad that my sanity was NOT one of the things audibly being called into question, I sat back at my desk, laughed at myself, and went back to work

.....not regretting for a single second letting my co-workers know exaclty how I felt about dairy products.

Why? Because for the rest of the day, I left 3 grown men laughing histarically.

I LOVE ice cream. And like when I was a child, I ran to get it.

Forgetting about professionalism, I simply did what God created me to do....

to sprint after these things that give me joy.

and because of that decision, I unintentionally left others in the same type of wake God leaves us in all the time...... one that is filled with random, illogical laughter

Sprint after the things that give you joy and let those around you see and experience you doing will reveal the Lord to others in ways you never thought.

Please take my unprofessional word for it.

Isaiah 55:12.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No frills, just church.

"Where two or more gather...He is there with us."

Simple. Delightful.

Where two or more gather...He is there.

No frills. No requirements. He's there.

This past weekend for Easter, I visisted family in Quincy, IL. A small small town where everyone knows everyone...and for the most part, everyone enjoys everyone.

My uncle is a firefighter, and works on most holidays. So there are church services for Christmas and Easter held at the local firestation so these men and their families can attend. As was the case for this Sunday's Easter Mass.

I've seen many beautiful churches in my life.

Cathedrals downtown with high rising ceilings and stained glass.

Churches with mountains in the background.

Churches with large stages and flat screens.

I think I prefer the firestation.

As we entered we passed all the firetrucks lined up outside (in order to make room for us in the interior) and gathered with about 50 other people in a somewhat dark, hollowed out, garage.

I can't even describe to you how beautiful the scene was.

We sat in fold-up chairs and listened as the engaging priest walked up and down the only isle asking questions to what looked like his friends and brothers...rather than a congregation.

Every once and a while the intercom to the station would unfortunate event played out... and the firemen rushed out the door and attended to other's neeeds.

A little girl hit her head.

An unconcious male found near the street.

The priest was interrupted numerous times with these announcements...and we would stop and pray for those people.

Then the lesson would continue.

It was messy.

The transitions between readings and songs were not flawless.

The woman playing the piano's voice was screetchy.

Children in the back had no child-care to attend, so noises would echo off the wall and interrupt the hymns.

Real messy.

At one point, my mother actually hit her head on funnel system of some sort that was hanging down from the ceiling above her chair.

Real people.

For once I felt like the church I was at was an accurate representation of the people that gathered within it.

Messy but beautiful.

as simple as "Where two or more are gathered...I am there"

You know what else was really beautiful?

I relied on the Scripture, the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ alone to change my heart.

Not the music.

Not the asthetic of the building.

Not the sereness.

Just the simple things.

The needed things.

That is all.

"If we build to please ourselves, we are building on the sand; If we build for the love of God, we are building on the Rock."- Oswald Chambers

Friday, March 25, 2011

Beatiful, Scandalous, Nightmares.

It's been a long time.

A really long time.

We'll skip the silly intro about the reasons for my absence...I just like sharing ideas. Does there need to be a regularity to my sharing?


Not in my mind.

Something I have been struggling with lately has been how I respond to sin in my life, and is feeling guilty AFTER I have repented, God-given or an extension of the Devil's work?

In my Bible study we are currently discussing Hebrews, and last night we revisted a passage I had been to many times about how Jesus suffered through EVERY temptation so that He could CONQUER every type of sin that followed.

After rememebering that Jesus had gone through every temptation, I discovered that he went through, and conquered, the temptation to feel worldly guilt as well

...exactly what I had been struggling with.

There is a BIG difference between Godly-guilt, and Worldy-guilt.

"God's guilt" (often "conviction") comes before the repentence, before one recognizes their flesh had got the best of them.

The guilt that remains AFTER I say sorry, is given to me by the the Devil...and tells me:

"I should have known better" "My reputation is marred" "People will look at me badly now"....

and other bullshit like that.

Last night when I realized that God doesnt call for that guilt I carry around after I repent...I was elated.

I felt a freedom I haven't in a while.

After a long night of great discussion (both at Bible Study and Addison's that followed), I laid in my bed exhausted

....and extremely happy.

I looked up to my celing and told my God outloud, "I love you...and you are the best....THE BEST...I don't want another God...I know you are THE one..."

I then outstretched my arm...let God hold it for a second. And with a smile I drifted asleep.

I felt like the luckiest girl in the world at that moment.
My sin was conquered guilt taken away.
I was reminded for the night the beauty of it all...and peace was on its way.

Needless to say the devil was pissed.

Ulterly fuming.

The hand of guilt that he extended to me so long was ripped away by my Savior....and he hated that.....

So later that night, in my dreams he let me know exactly how he felt about me...and once again tried throwing some guilt my direction to see if I wanted another taste.

Last night I had a nightmare where I watched myself fall into every type of temptation.

....even murder.

I watched myself fight with friends.
I watched myself murder because of jealousy.
I watched myself lie.
I watched myself cheat.
I watched myself lust.

I woke up several times during the dream and begged God to let me go back to sleep and NOT keep dreaming of these things..

but that didn't happen.

Every time I returned to sleep, I returned to a new sin I was taking part in.

When I woke up for the final time, well before my alarm at 6:45,...I was SHOCKED.

Shocked at the mere fact that the Devil would even attempt to make me feel guilt again.

....even if it was my actions from a dream that ushered in the guilt.

After laying in my bed, realizing how utterly ridiculous the attempt from the devil was, I realized God was with me in that moment as well (like he always is)

While the Devil was trying to get me to turn back to a pattern of guilt after repentance through this dream, God was showing me everything I had died to when Jesus died.

God was walking me through what my life would be without Jesus.

God was making Hebrews 2:18 "Because He himself suffered through every temptation, he is able to help those who are being tempted"...... come to life.

As I lay in my bed, shocked at whirling thoughts and emotions I had...God was asking me...

"Do you beleive you were capable of this?"
"Do you understand Jesus walked through this?"
"Do you beleive all of this died in you when My Son died?"

I cried.

.....all the way to work

...and am crying in the tiny cubicle I sit in as I write this now.

How beautiful that God revealed the darkest parts of my soul in a dream...only to remind me that guilt from any of these is not from Him

...that the death that all these bring no longer seeks MY name.

...the hounds of death can no longer track my scent.

....the cancer of death no longer invades my cells.

A temptation from the devil in a dream, that slowly turned into a reminder from God.