Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding Little Gems

Sometimes when I read the Bible I fall across a verse that glistens and shines like a little gem. It's hidden in between a mountain of other verses, but for some reason on that day, my eyes and heart will fall upon its words, and it's as if the words scream, "Listen to me! Here is wisdom! Take it, drink it in, impress it upon your heart!"

And today I found one of those gems in Proverbs (which, really is a book FULL of gems, it's like a crystal clear brook that you reach deep into and come out with shining, glistening stones!):

"The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down."
(Proverbs 14:1)

These words mean a lot to me, for I have seen what happens when a house is torn down. I have seen what folly - both by man and woman - done by their own hands can do in allowing a house to crumble down, the house which was built with the very same hands with which it was torn down.

The same hands which tear a house down can build it up.

The same mouth with which we can bless one another can also curse and destroy.

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. 
My brothers, these things ought not to be so!" 
(James 3:10)

The same feet with which we can follow Christ can also turn and run away from Him.

"If we live by the Spirit, 
let us also keep in step with Spirit." 
(Galatians 5:25)

And my heart echoes the cry of James, my brothers, these things ought not to be so! May our hands build up instead of tear down; may our mouth bless instead of curse; may our feet follow Him instead of turning away.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Last night I settled into bed after watching an episode of Downton Abbey around a quarter to one. I was home alone, but managed to fall asleep without any worry or concern for the creepy noises that seemed to awaken my fears every so often. But around 2:30 am, I awoke after drifting in an out of sleep. It was as if something was gripping my heart, telling me that something was not quite right. It wouldn't allow me to fall back asleep, and fear and anxiety began to creep in to my heart. I flipped on the lamps beside my bed, sat up, and pulled my Bible onto my lap.

My mind waded through the people I could call to pray to assuage my fears and anxiety. No one was home, so it meant I couldn't go wake anyone up to pray for me. My mom was far away and not in her bed at home, and so I couldn't call her. My dad and brother were forty minutes away, and the friends I mentally listed off I didn't feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night to pray for me. (How I was reminded how different life is here than at Redeemer, where housemates were a few feet away, and friends were often up til 3 or 4 in the morning anyways, so a text for an urgent prayer was never an issue!)

And suddenly I felt incredibly alone, in a big empty house, with no one to call to pray for me. And so my fears settled in closer around me, my anxious heart taking big beats unaware as to what was wrong.

But just as quickly as the tears began to rise, beautiful words arose in my heart.

You shall call on the Lord your God and be saved. The Lord will fight for you - you need only be still.

And so I raised my arms high and called to the Lord my God, the one who would never be a phone call or a long drive away. I called to the One who lives with me whatever new home I find myself in, and the One who sits beside me as I sleep all night.

And He answered. And He fought. I read Scripture out loud and prayed over my room, and I put worship music on until I fell asleep.

I called and He answered, for He is faithful and will never suffer the righteous to be moved. Thankful for that today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Looked for Love in Your Eyes

I think if there is one thing that has been on my heart lately, it is how much our sin affects those around us. I think we like to live in the imaginary world that the sin we commit only harms our hearts, our lives, our souls. But what we tend to forget is that we are a part of the Body of Christ. And what that means is that when one part of the body is damaged, it affects the others. So when one of us falls, we hurt the others around us. When we sin - the consequences are not only borne on our own souls and bodies, but the consequences are passed to our siblings, to our family, and to our children.

Because sin is never satisfied. Ever.

It seeks to devour. The Enemy seeks to devour whatever it can. And because of this, sin just doesn't stop at us. It wreaks havocs in families. It wreaks havoc in relationships. It wreaks havoc for generations to come.

Praise God that He offers us redemption. Praise God that He offers us His Spirit to protect, to guide, to lead us away from that path of destruction.

But that path is a wide one, a horrible one that we so easily find ourselves walking. And today my sister passed on this link to me, a poem that a wife wrote to her husband who is addicted to pornography.

Because pornography doesn't just damage the one who consumes it. It damages one's spouse, it damages the children, and it damages the woman or man who are onscreen. It's effects are widespread.

Pornography is something which devours.

And so, with a sorrowful heart, I include her poem here. You can find the original post here.

I Looked For Love in Your Eyes

"I saved my best for you.
Other girls may have given themselves away,
But I believed in the dream.
A husband, a wife, united as one forever.

Nervous, first time, needing assurance of your love,
I looked for it in your eyes
Mere inches from mine.
But what I saw made my soul run and hide.

Gone was the tenderness I’d come to know
I saw a stranger, cold and hard
Distant, evil, revolting.
I looked for love in your eyes
And my soul wept.

Who am I that you cannot make love to me?
Why do I feel as if I’m not even here?
I don’t matter.
I’m a prop in a filthy play.
Not an object of tender devotion.

Where are you?

Years pass
But the hardness in your eyes does not.
You think I’m cold
But how can I warm to eyes that are making hate to someone else
Instead of making love to me?

I know where you are.
I’ve seen the pictures.
I know now what it takes to turn you on.
Women…people like me
Tortured, humiliated, hated, used
Images burned into your brain.
How could you think they would not show in your eyes?

Did you ever imagine,
The first time you picked up a dirty picture
That you were dooming all intimacy between us
Shipwrecking your marriage
Breaking the heart of a wife you wouldn’t meet for many years?

If it stopped here, I could bear it.
But you brought the evil into our home
And our little boys found it.
Six and eight years old.
I heard them laughing, I found them ogling.

Hands bound, mouth gagged.
Fisheye photo, contorting reality
Distorting the woman into exaggerated breasts.
The haunted eyes, windows of a tormented soul
Warped by the lens into the background,
Because souls don’t matter, only bodies do
To men who consume them.

Little boys
My little boys
Laughing and ogling the sexual torture
Of a woman, a woman like me.
Someone like me.

An image burned into their brains.

Will their wives’ souls have to run and hide like mine does?
When does it end?

I can tell you this. It has not ended in your soul.
It has eaten you up. It is cancer.
Do you think you can feed on a diet of hatred
And come out of your locked room to love?

You say the words, but love has no meaning in your mouth
When hatred rules in your heart.
Your cruelty has eaten up every vestige of the man
I thought I was marrying.
Did you ever dream it would so consume you
That your wife and children would live in fear of your rage?

That is what you have become
Feeding your soul on poison.

I’ve never used porn.
But it has devastated my marriage, my family, my world.

Was it worth it?"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Looking Within

In the past few days, I've found myself with a lot of time alone. I've been sick, which means I haven't left the couch much. And I've had a pinched nerve in my back, which means that when I do get off the couch, my back screams at me to find a place to rest. Sleep has evaded me, because nights mean I simply can't get comfortable.

And what all of this means for me is that I've spent a lot of time alone. And for any of you that know me, I am one who hates being alone! If I can, I find someone to walk to and from school with me. I hate studying alone, although goodness knows I probably would get more done if I did. I hate going for walks without a partner beside me, and I hate not sharing a room with someone.

But I'm learning. Slowly. The other day I stood in the kitchen shuffling around for a can of soup, muttering to myself about spending the evening alone on the couch, a thought stopped me right in my tracks. What is it about being alone that I find so terrifying? I asked myself. Am I afraid to face myself - or worse - God?

And I've thought a lot about that question since then. I've thought a lot about how the more we look within ourselves, the more we see the Creator. The more we understand ourselves, the more we understand the Image we bear. Those thoughts seemed to push me even farther into unfamiliar territory ... of loving the time spent alone. Of using those times to reflect on the One who created me, of exploring my thoughts and hopes and dreams in the hopes of hearing what God might be speaking to me.

It seems to me that when I am stripped of friends, of a job, of school, of a familiar family ... it's in those places that I seek the one who never leaves my side. It seems that it is in the quiet of a walk alone, or a night spent on the couch blowing my nose incessantly, that He finds us there. Because life is full of distractions, be them good or bad ... but sometimes they need to be pushed aside in order for us to see What truly matters.

Maybe instead of running from being alone, I need to run towards those moments. Maybe they are sacred and precious and need to be held onto no matter the cost.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Grace Disguised

There's a part of my life that I am very open with. In fact, I've always considered myself good at talking about circumstances, but not always very good at talking about what's going in my heart. Two years ago, a new chapter began in my life: my family broke apart, and I've begun to manoeuvre my way through the broken remains. And I'm doing that ... one day at a time. And to be truthful, I've talked a lot about it: I've talked to therapists and to close friends. I've shared, but I've also held back.

But lately, I've been reflecting a lot on this chapter in my life. I've thought a lot about the day it all began; I've thought of the journey I've taken from that dark night to where I am now. I've thought of the growth, of the heartache, of the anger, and of the many backwards steps I've taken. I've wrestled with memories that I want to hold onto, but hold so much pain I push them aside. But of all these things, I've challenged myself to see the beauty that has come out of this brokenness.

The other day, I met with a friend who was journeying through a breakup. And through the conversation, I felt myself drawing near to her in her pain .... because although our pain and loss is unique to each of us, there's such a huge overarching theme. Pain is pain. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. And when we've experienced that, it allows us to meet others in the depths of their sorrow.

And as I sat there in that coffee shop, I was immensely grateful. Because although every day I wish my family was whole, I can take so much from my journey.

I am so thankful that this path I'm on has enabled me to walk alongside others in their journeys.

I'm so thankful I know what it means to grieve; because I can understand others so much better now.

I'm so thankful that I've learned that sorrow can enlarge your soul; that it can make you learn what it means to truly feel both sadness and joy.

When I see others hurting, when I see others grappling with loss, I just want them to know that when God says all things work together for His good, He doesn't mean that what happened was okay, or even should have happened. But He will USE bad things for His glory. He can turn what was literally intended as a curse into a blessing. He can show you how joy does not mean the absence of sorrow! In fact, joy and sorrow seem to go alongside one another ... for He calls us who mourn blessed. 

This past year I read one of the best books I have ever read, A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. His book is profound. Through his loss, he reaches into others' souls ... and allows them to see the grace that shines through loss. And I hope that in some small way, that light shines through me ... that Christ's redemption shines through every circumstance. Here is one of my favorite quotes from his book.

“Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way then before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never got over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life. . . . I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.” 

I have lost the world I loved, but in that loss, I too have found a deeper awareness of grace. And for that, I am so very thankful.