P E R S P E C T I V E

Liz raised her hand. As soon as she was called on, she let my co-worker know that her feelings were hurt. As the teacher asked her why, Liz began to explain that she was trying to talk to the girl in front of her, but the girl kept rolling her eyes and not wanting to talk. The teacher asked Liz what she desperately needed to tell the other girl. And Liz simply replied with, “Well……..I just wanted to talk to her about life and stuff like that…”

Ah. The typical type of misunderstanding you are bound to find in a second grade classroom 😉 In the eyes of one girl, Liz was not talking about something of interest to her. In Liz’s eyes, what she had to say was of the utmost importance! It’s all about perspective.

Today’s post stems from a moment of thinking that came my way during a conversation I was having with a dear pal. (Does anyone use that word anymore??) From my friend’s point of view, it was simply a joke. From my (overanalyzing, a little more sensitive than the normal amount) viewpoint, it was definitely not just a joke. And so begins my simple and short post about the importance of having perspective.

The way you perceive a situation may be completely different from the way someone else perceives it. This may seem like common sense, but more often than not, I am either in situations or witness situations where I step back and think, “Ah. Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say right here & right now, etc.” To the joke-teller, it might just be that. A joke. But to the other person, it may trigger a memory, an insecurity, or just a bad feeling. At the same time, understanding and a balance has to be given and received from both sides of a situation.

At the same time, this doesn’t just have to do with conversations that are had. This can also trickle into the idea of understanding why people may behave in a certain way. Think about the person who may have a frown on their face, or the person that may respond to you in a rude manner. Boom. Perspective. How will you respond? Will you show love and grace? Or, will you allow your limited perspective to cause you to jump to conclusions and  allow your temporary emotions and reactions to rule you?

Growing up, I’ve known myself to be the person who will cry when a video of a puppy plays, a father-daughter dance, every. single. wedding. video., you name it. I would get my feelings hurt when someone gave me an ugly look, and it may not even have been meant for me, but a person behind me! Over the past couple of years and more so in the past couple of months, I’ve had to really reflect and think about what is actually being said/done, instead of allowing my emotions to drive me and simply take it for face value.

It brings a lot of understanding to us when we are able to engage with situations with the other person’s perspective in mind. So, the next time you & I react to something in a not-so-positive manner, think about the “why.” It will help us understand ourselves better as well as others. And again, all of this isn’t going to be something that will change overnight. (Side note: if it does for you- please let me know how you did it!!) For the common person, this is a process that will take some time.

Oh. And Liz? She and her friend are just fine now. Liz had the chance to talk to her friend about you know. “Life and stuff.” 🙂

Celebrating Life

As a young elementary school student, one of my favorite memories included going to Celebration Station. It was every kid’s dream. A place to play arcade games, bumper boats, go karting, and the list goes on. And the tickets. OH! The sheer delight I experienced as I would see the tickets throwing up out of the machine. Literally. I just knew I would be cashing those in for a sweet prize at the end of my day. It was a place to do just what was in its name. Celebrate good times (and eat yummy pizza)!

As I get older, I’m living in that “season of life,” where we celebrate. All. The.Time. Don’t get me wrong. I love it! I think it’s exciting, and insert all the synonyms for great, and there you have it! Multiple weekends throughout the past couple of years and upcoming year have been booked with birthday celebrations, engagements, weddings, graduations, you name it. And, they all serve the same purpose.

To simply, celebrate!

Over the past week, I have been thinking about the idea of celebration and what that entails. Whenever a [fill in the blank] event happens, we are more than likely to invest our time, money, and effort to do everything we can to celebrate the person/s involved. And, we should.

At the same time, why do we wait for an event to celebrate a person and their life? The reason why I ask is because I think people should be celebrated each and every single day. Within the last week, I was celebrated by two of my sweet, sweet blessings. One of my friends bought me a Bible that allowed for me to do creative journaling. Even yesterday, I was celebrated with some cookies, specifically Tiff’s Treats (<- These things are important ;)). And again, it was simply so I would be celebrated. And that’s just it. It really does something to your soul. And, if people here on Earth show you through these actions, how much greater is the grand celebration God showed us on the cross? It was a moment of celebration when we were reconciled to Him.

This thought came to my mind because I thought of the sweet way Jesus delights in me and celebrates me daily, even in the midst of my daily sin and failing. Even as I drove as the sun was slowly waking up today, I was reminded of how I am celebrated because I got to see the beautiful hues God painted for me. And, all I could utter was a simple, “Thank you, God.”

Think about the way the Lord delights in you and reflect on how He shows up in your day to day journey. In the same way He delights in us, let’s create a culture where we celebrate others simply for who they are.

So, my encouragement for all of us is to celebrate people. Celebrate your family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones. And, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Call someone and let them know that you want to celebrate them for their life. Surprise them! Be creative. Be encouraging. Be loving. 🙂

And last, but definitely not least, celebrate God. How do you show Him that you delight in Him? What does that tangibly look like in this upcoming week?

P.S. This is my shameless plug to help my sweet co-worker reach her dreams of having the necessary supplies for her blending learning classroom. If you would like to donate/share, please click on this link.

“Permanent” Pain

The amount and type of pain varies between each individual. Remember when you stubbed your toe when you were having a dance party for one in your room?! (Maybe that was just me). Remember the pain felt by a heartbreak? The death of a loved one? Remember when you felt as if that pain would cease to subside? And, even so, you are still continuing to work through the grief associated with their loss.

And that is okay.

Pain is something that every human will inevitably experience in their lifetime.

Temporary pain and permanent pain is still pain.

As I was thinking about this post, I was being reminded of the many moments in my life where I’ve felt pain. My pain ranges from events where I’ve received healing and events where healing is still happening and may continue to happen throughout my entire life and finally be complete when I meet Jesus.

While we were in Colombia, the Lord reminded me of 4 specific events where He wanted to do more healing. I’ll be honest. It was hard to relive those moments that had been carefully stuffed down into the deep depths of my soul where it would surely no longer rear its ugly head.

But, God.

In the moments of remembering my pain, He specifically brought those up out of the darkness spoke love over 2 of these events when I asked him where He was. When I was a 6 year old child and experiencing pain, He told me as a 26 year old daughter in a foreign country, He was holding my hand. When I was a 19 year old sophomore in college and being berated, through the warm tears running down my face, He told me He was my protector. Granted, in these moments I didn’t necessarily see Him or feel Him there. If anything, I felt the furthest from my Dad in those moments.

How untrue of a statement for me to think and feel. The God of the Universe has promised His steadfast love and presence with me for always, even in the pain.

As I was attending church this morning, the pastor shared a story of Florence Chadwick. I’ll share an abridged version that I found here.

On the fourth of July 1952, Florence, now 34, had set her goal at being the first woman to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began this historical journey, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired. Hour after hour Florence swam, but after about 15 hours, a thick, heavy fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it.

Her mother and her trainer continued to offer encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much further, but all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit.

She never had . . . until then.

As she sat in the boat, Florence found out she had stopped swimming less than one mile away from the California shoreline. Florence explained that she quit because she could no longer see the coastline-there was too much fog. She couldn’t see her goal.

Two months later, Florence got back in the water to try her task once more. This time was different. She swam from Catalina Island to the shore of California in a straight path for 26 miles. The same thick fog set in, but Florence made it because she said that while she swam, she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind.

We must fix our eyes on the shore in the midst of struggle and pain. It is also important to note that our shore may never be one that we will physically see in this life. But, God. God is still working. God is refining us daily through our pain and hurt. And, we may only see the shore when we see Jesus face to face.

It is always important to look back on the pain or look to the current pain we may be facing. As a Christian and as a human, our time here on earth is as it is written in James. It states, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

This leads the individual to ask the question, in this life, what is our hope in? And to that, God’s Word is filled with so many truths. In the midst of pain, He is refining us to look more like His Son, Jesus Christ. We may never get the answer to why this or why that has happened. In the midst of our questioning and “permanent” pain, the most important answer we receive will always remain in the fact that God gave His son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. And one day, on that sweet and glorious day, we will meet with Him face to face. And then, and then Revelation 21 will become a great reality:

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

“Permanent” pain? Only here on earth, my friend.

Before you think through these questions, I encourage you to pray for the Spirit to show what He would like to reveal to you.

A few questions to think about:
1. Where are areas of your life where God needs to heal, or continue healing?
2. How have you seen your permanent pain refine you to look like Jesus?
3. Looking ahead, what is your hope in?

Medellín, Colombia

Strength & Resilience.

Medellín reminded me of these two words. Given their history, I firmly believe that God is doing a great work within this place. This week long trip included a variety of experiences and emotions. At the same time, each experience lived and every emotion felt was perfectly orchestrated by Jesus.

I want to share two moments that could possibly provide a glimpse to everything that was experienced. I always find it a little difficult to put life-changing experiences into words, and into words that are meaningful, for that matter.

As with any Beauty for Ashes retreats, the participants are asked to engage in the activities that will later be taught and shared with the women whom are being served. One of the activities we participated in was titled, “A Saddened Heart.” And, boy oh boy. God showed up. The instructions to this activity includes asking the Lord what areas of our life need healing to begin or healing to continue.

I asked the Lord and 4 instances were brought to my mind for where the Lord wanted to shed more love and healing in those dark areas of my life. At the same time, He also revealed where He was in those moments. I won’t go into detail about these 4 instances, but I would like to encourage you to sit with the Lord and ask Him if He needs to do some healing in your life. I say this because these four areas were from very different parts of my life. One of these instances happened when I was a young girl, a teenager, and two events that happened within the last five years. For me, I felt as if these areas had already been dealt with and patched up.

And boy, I was wrong.

And, I am so happy and grateful that I was wrong. In that session, Jesus filled my heart with more and more love coupled with grace. He spoke gently and boldly with His reminders of, “I was holding your hand,” and “I was your protector,” when I had asked Him where He was. In my dark and trying moments, I initially felt alone and without my Dad. During this week, He turned my mindset right around and allowed me to focus and rest in Him. That session allowed me and the other women to shine light on areas of our lives that we tend to shove to the deepest parts of our hearts, in hopes that it will never rear its ugly head.

Within these few hours, God began to soften my heart towards the reality of our broken world. Pain exists. Brokenness exists. The call upon a Christian’s life includes sitting with and speaking life into the areas of darkness and brokenness. The call upon a Christian was never to condemn and it will never be.

In the midst of these reminders, we were able to engage with the local church in their weekly street ministry. This is a ministry this church has been committed to for over 20 years. The name of this ministry is “Aguapenela.”  Aguapanela is a drink commonly found in South America and is comprised of hardened sugar cane juice. We set out with this along with bread to provide for these individuals. As we packed into the truck, I eagerly anticipated what we were about to experience.

As we began to engage with the people there, we offered aguapanela and pan. Many were extremely grateful and began to share and talk to us about their lives. We were met with God’s people that were coming from various walks of life. Their past and current walks of life included drug use, sexual promiscuity, homelessness, etc.  We also met a young woman who had entered into another year of her life and she was without a safe place and without her family. To say it broke my heart would be an understatement. At the same time, I could only imagine what our God was feeling.

But, God.

He gently reminded me about the importance of sitting in the muck and brokenness of others, and that no one is immune to pain or hurt. He reminded me of His hand and work of redemption in my own life. He reminded me that there is more than this present brokenness. He told me that there is much work to be done and more restoration to be seen. He allowed me to see His face in the midst of the crowds of people. He reminded me that He is indeed stronger and bigger than what our mere human eyes can view and hearts experience.

We walked away from that place as the voices of our women began to exalt and sing, “There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”

Spoiler alert: No. satan doesn’t win and he will never win.

In fact, it is the complete opposite. God? God wins. Daily.
He wins in the midst of our world’s brokenness.
God is a God who redeems, restores, and sends.

Hay más.
There is more for the people of Medellín, Colombia.
And, there is more for you & me.

For more information about our trip, please head to my friend Jenny’s blog:
jennypursuinggod.tumblr.com